NBA on All-Star break, but no easy answers to rest problem
The NBA has an ongoing battle with load management and finding ways to optimize player health, performance and availability. While there is a consensus that the league has problems, there is no consensus on how to solve those problems. Over the last week, The Associated Press asked a cross-section of 48 players, coaches, owners and executives if the NBA should abandon its 82-game, 170-day blueprint of a regular season for something with either fewer games or more days in the season to allow for more rest. The results were muddled: 40% said they would simply go along with whatever the league decides is best, 35% said they don’t want the current format changed and the remaining 25% wants changes.
Report: Westbrook to sign with Clippers after Jazz waive him
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Russell Westbrook has been waived by the Utah Jazz and according to a published report, the nine-time All-Star is expected to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. ESPN reports that Westbrook’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, told the outlet he will sign with the Clippers after completing a contract buyout on the remaining $47 million the guard is owed on his expiring deal. Westbrook averaged 15.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 28.7 minutes per game during a rocky tenure with the Lakers. The move would reunite Westbrook with Paul George, his former teammate in Oklahoma City. George had lobbied for the Clippers to land Westbrook.
Nuggets’ Jokic has a chance to join some exclusive clubs
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Nikola Jokic might be on the cusp of entering some highly exclusive clubs. There’s the three-consecutive-MVP club, with only Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird as its current members. Then there’s the averaged-a-triple-double club, which includes only Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook. Jokic doesn’t care about being added to either of those lists. It might happen anyway. The best team in the Western Conference so far has been the Denver Nuggets, and the biggest reason why is the 28-year-old Serbian big man who might be the NBA’s MVP for the third year in a row.
On the clock: New timer will affect more than just pitchers
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Of all of baseball’s tweaks under Commissioner Rob Manfred, the pitch clock might be the one that affects the most players. Whether you’re a pitcher, a catcher, a hitter or a baserunner, there’s no hiding from this rule change. The goal is to speed up play by limiting the parts of the game fans find particularly tedious. The clocks will count down from 30 seconds between batters. Between pitches, it will be 15 seconds with nobody on and 20 if there’s a baserunner. There are also limits on pickoff attempts that could help potential base stealers.
Column: LIV resumes after break that was anything but loud
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The PGA Tour is coming off two big weeks with Scottie Scheffler winning in raucous Phoenix and Jon Rahm at Riviera. Tiger Woods caused the biggest buzz of all. Now it’s LIV Golf’s turn. The Saudi-funded league begins its second season and will be compared with two loud weeks on the PGA Tour, with two more to follow. AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson says this wasn’t a great offseason for LIV. It signed six players, none prominent. It also had four executives leave. The LIV season starts Friday in the Mexican resort of Mayakoba. One upside is a new television partner in The CW Network.
Woods, McIlroy break ground on high-tech golf league site
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are closer to seeing their high-tech golf league become reality. The ceremonial groundbreaking for the arena that will house the league that’s being called TGL was held Tuesday at Palm Beach State College. Woods and McIlroy are among the co-founders and were there for the first step of actual construction. Play will begin early next year. Woods and McIlroy so far have 11 players committed to the league. Besides them, the league will include world No. 1 Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele.
New mother Lindy La Rocque leads homegrown UNLV to new highs
LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV women’s basketball coach Lindy La Rocque might be the exception as the coach who stays at a mid-major even if Power Five athletic directors try to lure her away. La Rocque is in her third season at UNLV and keeps taking the program up a step each year. The Lady Rebels went 15-9 in her first season, turning around a team that was 13-17 the previous year. Last season, La Rocque guided the Lady Rebels to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years. This season, they are repeat Mountain West champions with a 25-2 record and ranked at No. 24 in the AP poll.
Major league teams searching for advantages with new rules
PHOENIX (AP) — The only certainty about Major League Baseball’s new rules for the 2023 season is that everyone is going to push and pull on them in search of an edge. The size of the bases has been increased to 18-inch squares from 15. The new pitch clock is 15 seconds with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners. The increasingly frequent infield shift has been eliminated, and there is a limit of two of what MLB calls disengagements — pickoff attempts or steps off the rubber — per plate appearance.
Russian skater Valieva’s doping case to go to sports court
MONTREAL (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency says it has appealed Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s doping case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and is seeking a four-year ban. WADA is objecting to a finding by a Russian tribunal that Valieva bore “no fault or negligence” in the case. Her positive test overshadowed last year’s Beijing Olympics. WADA wants a four-year ban and for Valieva’s results to be disqualified from the date she gave the sample. That would include the Olympics.
AP source: Bucks give Meyers Leonard chance to resume career
MIAMI (AP) — Meyers Leonard is getting another chance at the NBA, nearly two years after he used an antisemitic slur while playing a video game that was being livestreamed. A person with knowledge of the negotiations said Leonard and the Milwaukee Bucks have agreed on a 10-day contract. That opens the door for the 7-foot center to play in an NBA game for the first time since January 2021. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced. Leonard’s career was jeopardized and his reputation was seriously damaged in March 2021 when it was discovered that he used a slur while playing an online game as others watched on a livestream.