What to Watch: Summer 2018

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K-State junior defensive back D.J. Reed smiles in celebration during the football game against the Charlotte 49ers at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017. (George Walker | Collegian Media Group)

Summer can tend to be a dead period without college football and basketball, but thankfully there are still some things to keep sports fans occupied.

The NBA Playoffs, as well as the league’s free agency period, will be very intriguing.

K-State faithful should also keep an eye out to see how former football players perform as they try to make NFL rosters.

NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, as the conference semifinals are underway. It can seem to take a long time, but it is already May, and the Finals will be here at the very end of May.

When the NBA regular season began, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors seemed like the favorites to meet in the Finals for a fourth straight year. Now though, that matchup does not appear to be set in stone.

In the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers are playing very well. “The Process” appears to finally be coming full circle. The Boston Celtics are without star players Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, but they are led by veteran forward Al Horford and young bloods Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier.

Cleveland also has a tough test in their conference semifinals matchup with the Toronto Raptors.

On the Western Conference side of the bracket, things are competitive as well.

The Houston Rockets beat out Golden State for the No. 1 seed in the West. They are currently tied 1-1 with the upstart Utah Jazz. Utah will give Houston a run for its money, but the Rockets still appear to have the best shot to dethrone Golden State.

As for the Warriors, they appear to have things under control, leading the New Orleans Pelicans 2-0.

My prediction: Houston will come out of the West, while LeBron James will muscle Cleveland to its fourth-straight Finals appearance. Houston will prevail in six games to win its first title since 1995.

NBA Free Agency

The summer in the NBA is always an exciting time when it comes to free agency.

Two of the biggest names to hit the market this offseason will be LeBron James and Paul George.

James has a player option, meaning he can choose to opt into the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, or opt out and explore other options.

Over the course of this NBA season, there has been a lot of speculation as to where James would go if he left his home state of Ohio. The most mentioned teams have been the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers.

All eyes will be peeled to see where The King decides to take his talents next.

George has been most connected to the Lakers, or to stay in Oklahoma City with the Thunder. The Thunder have said they are making it a priority to re-sign George, and rightfully so. NBA fans will be eager to see if George decides to go home to LA, or stay in OKC to try and lead them to a title amidst a deep Western conference.

Wildcats in the NFL

Five former K-State football players will be trying to make NFL rosters this summer.

Cornerback D.J. Reed was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, while kicker Matthew McCrane and wide receiver Byron Pringle were signed by the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

The Chiefs have yet to announce their training camp dates for late July and early August. They hold training camp on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, so fans could potentially travel to see Pringle in action.

In recent days, two more former Wildcats were given a shot at the NFL.

Former quarterback Jesse Ertz will get another chance after an injury-plagued college career. Ertz has been invited to participate in the New Orleans Saints mini-camp from May 4-7.

Former defensive tackle Will Geary received an invite from the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles to attend their rookie mini-camp, on May 10-12.

Keep an eye out for how these former K-State gridirons fare in making NFL rosters.

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