LeBron James flew to New York for star-studded pickups.

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James took a private jet from Akron, Ohio, to New York on Tuesday morning to participate in high-profile pickup games that featured Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors, among others.

The games took place at Life Time Athletic at Sky, where Anthony spends the bulk of his offseason training.

James played for approximately two hours, a source said. Then he flew back to Ohio to attend his annual LeBron James Family Foundation function at Cedar Point amusement park.

“He just has a love for basketball,” a source close to James said, adding that the Cavs star plans to partake in some pickup games in Los Angeles in the near future.

Another source said Durant traveled from the Washington, D.C., area to take part in Tuesday’s games.

Kyle and his teammates battle to the locker room.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — The Chicago Bears sent left guard Kyle Long back to the locker room early Monday after he was involved in multiple skirmishes with both offensive and defensive players.

“There’s a certain standard we have and it’s something we weren’t very pleased with,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I haven’t had a chance to visit with him yet, but it’s something that we’ll handle it internally.”

Long got into it with teammates in team and individual drills before the Bears instructed him to leave. Monday’s practice — Chicago’s final one in Bourbonnais — was closed to the public but open to the media and select season-ticket holders.

Fox didn’t want to speculate about Long’s motives behind the outbursts.

“I really can’t answer that at this point, I’m sure obviously there was some frustration, again that’s not how we operate,” Fox said. “I didn’t really see everything, just know that there was a disturbance and we don’t need that. That’s why he left the field.”

The Bears have slowly increased Long’s team reps in practice as the three-time Pro Bowler works back from a right ankle injury suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last November. Long underwent surgery to repair the ligament damage to the ankle, but opted not to surgically fix a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Chicago is in the process of moving Long from right to left guard — the third position change of his five-year career. Long lined up at right tackle during the 2015 season.

Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. share criticism and support each other

 

Friends for some time, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) exchange jerseys after a game at Pittsburgh on December 4, 2016.

Friends for some time, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) exchange jerseys after a game at Pittsburgh on December 4, 2016.

LATROBE, Pa. — Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. might sit out Friday’s Steelers-Giants preseason game at MetLife

Stadium, but Brown expects Beckham to push him in the NFL receiver hierarchy this season.

Brown, 29, who’s close with Beckham, 24, knows both players are up to the challenge.
“Everybody’s coming …That’s what makes the game competitive and amazing,” Brown told ESPN. “A guy like Odell Beckham is a

game-changing guy, trying to unlock the codes. One of my close friends. I always tell him, keep coming.”

Brown says he and Beckham are constantly critiquing each other’s games, including sharing personal videos of their

offseason receiving work — “little stuff, sending clips so we can see each other,” he said.

Brown has a personal videographer who often films his workouts, which usually make their way onto social media platforms.

Beckham, Julio Jones and Brown are widely considered the game’s three best receivers. Brown is aiming for a fifth

consecutive 100-catch season, which hasn’t been done in NFL history.
“If you want to be the best, you have to strive to be the best and sponge off everything,” said Brown of the learning

process with Beckham.

Brown added he can’t detail the notes he shares with Beckham, but that “we share information” on how receivers best get

open.

Both players understand that criticism comes with the job of a high-profile star, Brown said. Beckham has faced scrutiny

for his impatience during games, while Brown navigated an ill-advised Facebook Live locker-room post after a playoff win in

Kansas City.

Brown calls Beckham a “mature guy” who doesn’t need advice on how to handle himself. For now, Brown is busy working on

route combinations with Ben Roethlisberger, whom Brown calls “a general.”

“You’ve got to stay tuned. We’re working on some good stuff,” said Brown of his work with Roethlisberger. “He’s a warrior,

he’s a general. Grateful to play with him.”

Cowboys Tyrone Crawford is in practice by ankle injury

OXNARD, California — Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was carted off the field Tuesday night with a right ankle injury suffered in practice.

Crawford was injured while chasing down Ezekiel Elliott on a run, when their legs became tangled and Elliott inadvertently stepped on the defensive lineman’s right ankle. Crawford grabbed for his lower leg and was tended to immediately.

He was in obvious pain as he left the field. A source said the hope is the ankle is not broken, but Crawford was taken to a local hospital for X-rays. After practice, teammates said a quick prayer for Crawford.

“When you have a guy like that — not only is he a great football player, but he’s a leader and there’s a void there and you are going to need somebody to step up,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “The sense of urgency for everybody has to go through the roof right now. … If there’s a way to come back, he’ll find a way.”

Defensive line is among the Cowboys’ biggest questions entering the season and the team can ill afford to lose Crawford, who has been a starter at different spots along the line since 2015. The Cowboys already will be without David Irving and Damontre Moore to start the season because of suspensions, and do not have a ton of experienced depth to begin with.

Dallas drafted Taco Charlton in the first round in the spring. He has been working at both left and right defensive end throughout camp. If Crawford, who has been bothered the past two years by shoulder injuries that required postseason surgeries, misses extended time, Charlton will need to become a bigger part of the Cowboys’ defensive line rotation.

“Hopefully nothing is bad,” Charlton said. “I’d hate to lose our leader on the defensive line. But at the end of the day, the next man has to step up and do their job.”

Allen Iverson in the Dallas BIG3 game unexpectedly did not appear

Allen Iverson did not show up for his team’s BIG3 game in Dallas on Sunday, an absence that was unexpected for the fledging 3-on-3 basketball league.

“We had no advance warning and do not have information as to all the circumstances surrounding his absence. The league is launching an investigation to gather all the facts and then will make an informed, official statement,” the league said.

Allen Iverson

 
Iverson is one of the league’s marquee names, which kicked off in June. The Basketball Hall of Famer serves as player and coach for Three’s Company.

Iverson has played sparingly during the season. He sat out the team’s game in Philadelphia on July 16, a homecoming for the former 76ers legend.

BIG3, co-created by rapper Ice Cube, is composed of eight teams that travel each week to a different city. Other notable names who play or coach in the league include Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Julius Erving.

Pablo Sandoval back to the giant, waiting for the body after the release of the red socks

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has struck a minor league deal to return to the San Francisco Giants, pending a physical, according to multiple reports.

The former Giants star is en route to San Francisco after his release from the Boston Red Sox earlier Wednesday. Sandoval, who will turn 31 in August, will take a physical for the Giants then begin playing in Triple-A Sacramento, the reports said.

Because Sandoval is on waivers, he won’t be able to sign a contract until later in the week, when he officially becomes a free agent.

“I’m waiting for Friday to make a decision, and the Giants are one of my options,” Sandoval told ESPN’s Marly Rivera by phone. “I have a few teams interested, but I can’t make a decision until Friday.”

The 2012 World Series MVP with the Giants was let go Wednesday by the Red Sox when he didn’t report after being designated for assignment last week. It officially ended the Boston tenure for the once-celebrated free agent, who never was healthy enough to live up to the expectations that came with the $95 million contract he signed in 2014.

“He did a lot here, and we’ll never forget that,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told KNBR 680 radio on Wednesday. “Sometimes, it makes sense, especially when you’re looking at it financially, it doesn’t cost you a lot.”

First baseman Brandon Belt expects Sandoval to again become a fan favorite.

“He was a big part of our World Series runs, so I think he’s always going to have a place here in San Francisco and everybody’s going to love that he’s back,” Belt said while walking into the ballpark Thursday. “I haven’t seen him in a while, so I don’t know. I think he was definitely a fan favorite, so I don’t think there’s going to be any problem with that.”

With the Red Sox unable to find a team willing to take on part of his salary, Sandoval moved on after 161 games, 575 at-bats, 136 hits and 14 homers for Boston — but not a single one of them in the postseason.

He’ll now rejoin the reorganization he helped to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

“I loved the way he played,” Bochy said. “He had so much enthusiasm, and that got infectious in that dugout. And of course, what he did for us on the field … a young guy that needed some help, so we all tried to do our part to make him a better player.

“He was a great guy to have on the club. A hard worker, a quick learner.”

The Knicks, the Rockets work in Carmelo Anthony’s trading venues

The New York Knicks and Houston Rockets have expanded the scope of a possible Carmelo Anthony trade to include four-team scenarios, league sources told ESPN.

No deal was imminent Wednesday, but the Knicks and Rockets are confident that they have a willing third-team trade partner, the sources said.

The fourth team was needed to move a particular player contract that neither the Knicks nor Rockets could or would accept in the deal, league sources said.

Anthony, 33, has two years and $54 million left on his contract.

The complexity of including multiple teams and assets in a deal creates time-consuming challenges, and there’s no guarantee that a deal can be reached.

Nevertheless, New York has been pushing hard to unload Anthony in recent weeks, although it hasn’t necessarily changed an asking price that makes the deal a challenge for Houston, league sources said. The Knicks aren’t interested in the Rockets’ older players and big contracts, so new teams have to be brought into the deal to find a way to satisfy the Knicks.

Anthony is willing to waive his no-trade clause for a deal to the Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources said. The Cavaliers haven’t abandoned pursuit of Anthony, league sources said.

Houston moved to the top of Anthony’s list of preferred destinations with the arrival of close friend and All-Star guard Chris Paul to join MVP runner-up James Harden.

Through 14 NBA seasons, Anthony, a 10-time All-Star, has averaged nearly 25 points a game. He has played the past seven seasons with the Knicks, who say they’re committed to rebuilding around Kristaps Porzingis and younger players.

The Knicks’ front office has been privately saying that the organization’s marching orders are now focusing on players 25 years old and younger, league sources said.

The Yankees’ Sanchez was tempered at Ryan’s Logan Morrison rocket

Gary Sanchez had a simple response after Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Logan Morrison said the New York Yankees catcher didn’t belong in the Home Run Derby.

“It’s not my fault he didn’t get selected,” Sanchez said through an interpreter.

 

Gary Sanchez is heading to the Home Run Derby.

 
Morrison has 24 home runs this season, tied for second in the majors, but he didn’t get an invitation. Sanchez has 13 home runs in an injury-shortened first half and is competing in Monday’s event.

“Gary shouldn’t be there,” Morrison told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. “Gary’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby.

“I remember when I had 14 home runs. That was a month and a half ago.”

Sanchez will join his Yankees teammate, rookie Aaron Judge — the overall leader in home runs with 28 — Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas and Minnesota’s Miguel Sano on the four-man team that will represent the American League.

“What can I say?” Sanchez said. “They gave me a call, gave me an invitation to participate.”Morrison said Wednesday that his comments weren’t about Sanchez.

“People can read it and say he’s jealous of Gary because he got picked, but it’s not about that,” Morrison said before Tampa Bay’s game in Chicago against the Cubs. “Eric Thames got slighted, too. How is that guy not in the Home Run Derby for the National League? It’s a flawed system.”

Sanchez has the fewest homers among those competing, but he missed more than a month of the season because of a strained biceps.

Defending champion Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, teammate Justin Bour, Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger and Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon make up the National League team.

Sanchez did have one stipulation for participating in the derby.

“I told them, ‘I don’t even know if I’m making the All-Star Game,’” Sanchez said. “If I make the All-Star Game then for sure I’ll do it. It’s an honor to participate in the event. It’s not my fault he didn’t get selected. Like I said before, I’m just happy to participate and it will be an honor to be part of it.”

Morrison might get a chance to go to the All-Star Game. Although he wasn’t chosen for the AL team, he is on the five-man ballot for the final spot on the squad.

Gordon Hayward told Jazz that he was refusing to choose that would be a free agent

All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward formally notified the Utah Jazz on Thursday that he is declining his $16.7 million player option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to league sources.

Hayward had a Thursday deadline to make the decision. According to league sources, he will visit the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat once free agency starts Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET before granting a face-to-face recruiting meeting with the Jazz.

ESPN reported earlier this month that the Heat concerned the Jazz as much as Boston in free agency, but the Celtics have since amped up their interest in Hayward, who played for Boston coach Brad Stevens at Butler University.

The Celtics, sources say, have been focused in recent days on trying to secure a free-agent commitment from Hayward and then trying to complete a trade for Indiana’s Paul George, in hopes of potentially assembling another superteam in the Golden State mode by adding those two alongside All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas and former All-Star Al Horford.

But league sources say the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers all remain in trade pursuit of George, which could enhance Utah’s odds of keeping Hayward.

‎The Celtics and Heat can offer Hayward a four-year maximum deal valued at $127 million. Only the Jazz can offer a five-year deal worth an estimated $180 million.

Adrian Peterson bought a pair of Yeezys for FB John Kuhn

John Kuhn and Adrian Peterson have spent most of their careers playing for two rivals, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. But this season, they’ll both suit up for the New Orleans Saints. It’ll be Kuhn’s second year with the team.

Peterson is aware that Kuhn will play an integral role in his success this season, so the former Vikings star went out of his way to give the fullback a fresh pair of cream Yeezy Boost V2s to show his appreciation.

And from the look of things, it gave Kuhn some added motivation to block for the seven-time Pro Bowler.

Usually, offensive lines reap these types of benefits, but the popular Kanye West shoe, designed by Adidas, is both expensive and hard to come by.

So it was probably a lot easier for Peterson to get his hands on one pair instead of five.

Peterson has scored double-digit rushing touchdowns in eight of his 10 NFL seasons. With Kuhn’s help, he’ll be aiming to increase that mark to nine seasons in 2017.