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January 25

Cactus League executive: We'll be ready to host spring training, delay or no delay

After sending a letter to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred that suggested delaying spring training "to allow for the COVID-19 situation to improve here," Cactus League executive director Bridget Binsbacher told ESPN on Monday that the 10 Phoenix-area facilities that host teams will be ready to open if games start as scheduled. "If it is determined that spring training is going to start on Feb. 27, we're prepared for that," Binsbacher told ESPN in an interview. "Our focus is having a safe, secure experience for all involved. We believe we can do that on the 27th. We believe we can do that a month from the 27th." Binsbacher's letter, which was co-signed by six mayors, two city managers and a president of a tribal community, cited the Phoenix area's high COVID-19 infection rate and a model that "projects a sharp decline in infections in Arizona by mid-March." Fifteen teams are scheduled to arrive in Arizona around mid-February, with games slated to begin Feb. 27....
January 25
January 25

LA Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard, Paul George out due to COVID-19 protocols

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been ruled out for the  LA Clippers' game against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. The two stars did not join the team on its flight to Atlanta on Monday, sources told ESPN. The Clippers will be without their two best players and starting point guard Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness) as they carry a seven-game winning streak into Atlanta for the start of a six-game road trip. Depending on the extent of the NBA protocols, Leonard or George could potentially join the team on this trip, sources said. Leonard, George and Beverley played during Sunday's 108-100 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, George was held out of the final four-plus minutes with hamstring tightness and Beverley did not play in the second half due to the knee injury. Beverley also did not make the trip to Atlanta, sources said.  Leonard has been playing his best basketball...
January 25
January 25

NBA, players' union discuss possible All-Star Game in early March, sources say

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are discussing the possibility of holding an All-Star Game in early March -- with Atlanta emerging as the likely site, sources tell ESPN. The traditional All-Star Weekend -- previously scheduled for Indianapolis in February -- was canceled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but sources tell ESPN there are ongoing talks with the league and union about a March 7 game in Atlanta that would be a far-scaled-down version of the typical All-Star Weekend festivities, sources said. The NBA has a midseason break set for March 5-10. NBPA president Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns has been a proponent of the idea, which would include the showcasing and benefiting of historically Black colleges and universities and COVID-19 relief funds, sources said. Both the Atlanta Hawks' State Farm Arena and Atlanta-based HBCU campus gyms are under consideration to house a potential game, sources said. Atlanta is the...
January 25
January 25

Sources: MLBPA rejects MLB's proposal of universal DH, expanded playoffs

The Major League Baseball Players Association has turned down the latest MLB proposal for the universal designated hitter and an expanded playoff format, sources confirmed to ESPN. The news was first reported by MLB Network. The union's stance has been all along that it did not want to talk about a trade of the universal DH -- which benefits a group of players -- in return for expanded playoffs. Nonetheless, MLB included the two items in its proposal, and that concept has been turned down, per sources. The universal DH and expanded playoff format were implemented for 2020 during the 60-game shortened regular season due to the coronavirus pandemic. NL teams have used a DH when playing in AL parks since interleague play was instituted in 1997. MLB implemented a 16-team playoff format for the 2020 postseason. The top two teams in each division, plus the two remaining teams with the best records in each league, made up the eight-team fields in the American and National Leagues. The...
January 25
January 25

Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson to talk contract, QB 'deserves' extension, GM Eric DeCosta says

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Monday that the team could strike a long-term contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason, and he will speak to the reigning NFL MVP within the next 10 days. Jackson completed his third NFL season, which is the time when Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson each received their big-money deals. Based on market value, Jackson likely will command at least $40 million per season on an extension. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Jackson is scheduled to earn $1.77 million this upcoming season, which currently ranks 25th among quarterbacks in base salary. He will make significantly more in 2022 if he plays under his fifth-year option. "[He] certainly deserves a contract," DeCosta said in his 45-minute end-of-season news conference. "He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years. My intention is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many...
January 25
January 25

New York Yankees send P Adam Ottavino to Boston Red Sox in rare trade between rivals

The New York Yankees have traded reliever Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox. The trade is the first deal between the AL East rivals since one involving Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson in 2014. In addition to Ottavino, the Yankees announced they are sending RHP Frank German to Boston, with a source telling ESPN's Buster Olney $850,000 is also heading to the Red Sox. Boston, in exchange, will send either a player to be named later or cash considerations to New York. Ottavino signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Yankees ahead of the 2019 season. He proved a key part of the back end of New York's bullpen in 2019, pitching to a 1.90 ERA in 73 appearances that season. However, 2020 proved to be challenging for Ottavino, as he had a 5.89 ERA and blew three saves in 24 appearances. The right-hander will always hold a place in Yankees lore, as he was the first player in franchise history to wear No. 0.
January 25
January 25

Kansas City Chiefs LT Eric Fisher out for Super Bowl LV with torn Achilles

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Left tackle Eric Fisher won't play for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he tore his Achilles tendon in Sunday's AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs shifted right tackle Mike Remmers to Fisher's spot after he left Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills, and Remmers is the likely starter at left tackle against the Bucs, who finished the regular season tied for fourth in sacks with 48. The Bucs have seven sacks in their three playoff games, including five Sunday in their NFC Championship Game win over the  Green Bay Packers. The Chiefs have had to dig deep into their offensive line depth this season. They will play against the Bucs with three starting offensive linemen out with injuries, including both starting tackles (right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been sidelined since Week 6 with a back injury). The Chiefs also had one starter, ...
January 25
January 25

Sources: MLBPA rejects universal DH, expanded playoffs

The Major League Baseball Players Association has turned down the latest MLB proposal for the universal designated hitter and an expanded playoff format, sources confirmed to ESPN. The news was first reported by MLB Network. The union's stance has been all along that it did not want to talk about a trade of the universal DH -- which benefits a group of players -- in return for expanded playoffs. Nonetheless, MLB included the two items in its proposal, and that concept has been turned down, per sources. The universal DH and expanded playoff format were implemented for 2020 during the 60-game shortened regular season due to the coronavirus pandemic. NL teams have used a DH when playing in AL parks since interleague play was instituted in 1997. MLB implemented a 16-team playoff format for the 2020 postseason. The top two teams in each division, plus the two remaining teams with the best records in each league, made up the eight-team fields in the American and National Leagues. The...
January 25
January 25

Tom Brady's parents both battled COVID-19 last year; Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB was 'stressed out'

Tom Brady's father says both he and his wife battled COVID-19 last year, which "stressed out" the star quarterback as he was beginning his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady Sr., in an interview Monday with ESPN Radio's #Greeny, said he was hospitalized for three weeks at one point last year and that both he and his wife, Galynn, were "sick as a dog." Brady Sr. noted that the couple, both 76 years old, did not watch the Bucs' first two games this season because of his hospitalization, saying it was the first time in their son's football career that they missed any games. "We've never missed a game at Michigan or New England or wherever," he told ESPN. "For the first two games when I was in the hospital, I didn't even care if they were playing -- much less missing the game. It was a matter of life and death, just like anybody who goes to the hospital. That's serious stuff." Tom Sr. said Galynn, who is a breast cancer survivor, did not require...
January 25
January 25

Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski apologizes to student reporter for response that went viral

Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski reached out and apologized to a student reporter days after a viral exchange between the two. Jake Piazza, a reporter for the Duke Chronicle student newspaper, asked Krzyzewski about his team's "next step forward" after Saturday's 70-65 loss to Louisville -- Duke missed multiple shots in the final minutes -- but the longtime head coach wasn't in the mood to answer. "Yeah, why don't we just evaluate this game? I'm not into what our next step forward is right now," Krzyzewski said on the postgame Zoom call. He then compared the scenario to Piazza exiting a difficult class and immediately being asked about his "toughest test." But Piazza, who had made the trip from North Carolina to Kentucky, said Krzyzewski called him once he got back to his apartment in Durham. "Our call was short, but the sincerity in his apology was genuine," he wrote in a column on Monday. "And in the end, I appreciated the call." The...
January 25
January 25

Cactus League asks MLB to delay start of spring training because of COVID-19 pandemic

Leaders of all eight Cactus League cities have sent a letter to Major League Baseball saying it would be "wise" to delay the start of spring training due to the high rate of COVID-19 infections in Arizona's Maricopa County. "In view of the current state of the pandemic in Maricopa County -- with one of the nation's highest infection rates -- we believe it is wise to delay the start of spring training to allow for the COVID-19 situation here," reads the letter, first acquired by TV station KPNX in Phoenix. "This position is based on public data from University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which projects a sharp decline in infections in Arizona by Mid-March." The letter was signed by the executive director of the Cactus League, the city managers of Phoenix and Tempe, the mayors of Mesa, Scottsdale, Surprise, Glendale and Peoria, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community president The Cactus League serves as the spring training home for 15...
January 25
January 25

Texas Longhorns coach Shaka Smart tests positive for COVID-19

Texas coach Shaka Smart announced Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation. "I tested positive for COVID and am in isolation away from our team and my family," Smart said in a statement. "I am working remotely and look forward to rejoining our team in person when it is safe to do so." Texas, ranked No. 5 in this week's AP men's basketball poll, is scheduled to face Oklahoma on Tuesday and travel to Kentucky on Saturday. It's unclear whether either game will be impacted by Smart's positive test, and the school hasn't announced who will take over as interim head coach if Smart is forced to miss games. The Longhorns' associate head coach is K.T. Turner, who spent seven seasons at SMU before moving to Texas last offseason. The Longhorns had games against Iowa State and TCU postponed last week because of COVID-19 issues in the Cyclones' and Horned Frogs' programs. Texas is 11-2 overall, 5-1 in the Big 12 and in the mix for a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament.
January 25
January 25

Suspended WR Martavis Bryant joins CFL's Toronto Argonauts

Wide receiver  Martavis Bryant, who has not played in the NFL since 2018 because of an indefinite suspension for multiple drug policy violations, has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Bryant's last season in the NFL was with the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018, when he had 19 receptions for 266 yards in 12 games. He played that season while a yearlong suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy was under appeal, then he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December 2018. Bryant applied for reinstatement in 2019 but has not been reinstated by the league. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2014 to 2017 but was suspended for the entire 2016 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He also drew a four-game suspension in 2015 for the same reason. The Steelers traded Bryant to the Raiders before the 2018 season. Bryant, 29, was a...
January 25
January 25

Source: New York Yankees send P Adam Ottavino to Boston Red Sox in rare trade between rivals

The New York Yankees are trading reliever Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox, a source confirmed to ESPN. The trade is the first deal between the AL East rivals since one involving Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson in 2014. By moving Ottavino, the Yankees free up some cash, while the Red Sox add a late-inning arm. New York is also kicking in $850,000 in the deal, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney. The Athletic earlier reported news of the trade. Ottavino signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Yankees ahead of the 2019 season. He proved a key part of the back end of New York's bullpen in 2019, pitching to a 1.90 ERA in 73 appearances that season. However, 2020 proved to be challenging for Ottavino, as he had a 5.89 ERA and blew three saves in 24 appearances. The right-hander will always hold a place in Yankees lore, as he was the first player in franchise history to wear No. 0.
January 25
January 25

Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Derrick Henry playing virtual Pro Bowl using Madden NFL 21

Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams and Derrick Henry will be among the real-life participants controlling the AFC and NFC in the virtual Pro Bowl using Madden NFL 21 on Sunday. Watson, Henry, Snoop Dogg and Keyshawn Johnson will represent the AFC. Murray, Adams, Bubba Wallace and Marshawn Lynch will represent the NFC. Each player will play for one five-minute quarter -- exact head-to-head matchups have not been determined -- while playing from his home using the official AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters. The Pro Bowl will be hosted by Charissa Thompson and Michael Strahan at 5 p.m. ET and will be streamed on the EA Madden NFL Twitch channel and the NFL's YouTube, Twitter and Facebook platforms. "We'll be taking the Pro Bowl to the virtual world of Madden this weekend and I can't wait to do it big with football fans in my favorite game," Snoop Dogg said in a media release explaining the particulars of the game. "I'm a Madden NFL star. So...
January 25
January 25

Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Derrick Henry playing virtual Pro Bowl using Madden 21

Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams and Derrick Henry will be among the real-life participants controlling the AFC and NFC in the virtual Pro Bowl using Madden 21 on Sunday. Watson, Henry, Snoop Dogg and Keyshawn Johnson will represent the AFC. Murray, Adams, Bubba Wallace and Marshawn Lynch will represent the NFC. Each player will play for one 5-minute quarter -- exact head-to-head matchups have not been determined -- while playing from their homes using the official AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters. The Pro Bowl will be hosted by Charissa Thompson and Michael Strahan at 5 p.m. ET and will be streamed on the EA Madden NFL Twitch channel and the NFL's YouTube, Twitter and Facebook platforms. "We'll be taking the Pro Bowl to the virtual world of Madden this weekend and I can't wait to do it big with football fans in my favorite game," Snoop Dogg said in a media release explaining the particulars of the game. "I'm a Madden NFL star. So Kyler and...
January 25
January 24

Patrick Mahomes leads defending champion Kansas City Chiefs back to Super Bowl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After last weekend's playoff win against the Cleveland Browns, safety  Tyrann Mathieu stole a look in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room at injured quarterback Patrick Mahomes. That quick peek told him Mahomes would not only return to play in Sunday night's AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills, but he would play well. "He was in the locker room and he had that look in his eye like, 'Don't forget about me,''' Mathieu said after Mahomes led the Chiefs to a 38-24 victory over Buffalo and a berth in Super Bowl LV against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "Just watching him work throughout the week, he was the same old Pat, the same teammate, the same leader, moving around, trying to extend plays. "On top of that, he's a gamer. It doesn't necessarily matter the situation or the circumstances. He tends to rise above all that.'' Mahomes, who was knocked out of last week's...
January 24
January 24

Kansas City Chiefs (-3) open as favorites over Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV

The GOAT is a 'dog in the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs opened as consensus 3-point favorites over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. The line was trending up Sunday night, with some sportsbooks moving to Kansas City -3.5. Barring significant line movement, it will be only the second time Brady has been an underdog in his 10 Super Bowl appearances. In his Super Bowl debut, Brady and the Patriots were 14-point underdogs against the St. Louis  Rams in 2002, a game New England won outright. The Chiefs were 3.5-point favorites over the Buccaneers when the teams met in Tampa, Florida, during Week 12 of the regular season. Kansas City won 27-24. The rematch in the Super Bowl also will take place at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, but oddsmakers don't expect there to be any home-field advantage for the Bucs. Brady led Tampa Bay to the franchise's second Super Bowl appearance by holding off the Green Bay...
January 24
January 24

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner hopes Deshaun Watson sticks with Texans

HOUSTON -- Houstonians everywhere are hoping the Texans and quarterback  Deshaun Watson can reconcile before the 2021 season begins. Even in the mayor's office. On Sunday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted that the city "loves" Watson and the Texans and as the mayor, "I pray we move forward together." Later in the day, Turner followed that by tweeting he values Watson as a player, but he respects him even more as a person. "I know he loves this City because I have seen how much he has given of himself and his treasure to people in this City," Turner tweeted. "I am humbled to be his Mayor. I hope that won't change anytime soon." Watson is upset with the Texans' organization because of the way it handled the process of finding a new general manager, eventually hiring Nick Caserio, sources previously told ESPN. Watson has not asked for a trade, but on Sunday, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the Texans' coaching decision is not expected to change...
January 24
January 24

Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur said call to kick FG late 'felt like right decision'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Matt LaFleur said that while he did end up regretting his decision to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands and kick a field goal with 2:09 left in the Green Bay Packers' 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, he trusted the thinking behind the move. Down eight points (31-23) at the time and facing fourth-and-goal at the 8-yard line, LaFleur sent Mason Crosby in for a 26-yard field goal instead of giving Rodgers one more shot at the end zone (and then a 2-point-conversation attempt) to tie the score. Crosby converted, but Rodgers never got the ball back thanks to Tom Brady and a pass interference call on Packers cornerback Kevin King that allowed the Bucs to run out the clock. "Yeah, anytime it doesn't work out, you always regret it, right?" LaFleur said after the game. "It was just the circumstances of having three shots and coming away with no yards and knowing that you...
January 24
January 24

Aaron Rodgers uncertain about future with Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Even Aaron Rodgers doesn't know what the future holds for him with the Green Bay Packers. That's how he left things after Sunday's 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game. "[The Packers have] a lot of guys' futures that are uncertain -- myself included," Rodgers said as part of an answer about how different the team could look next season and what the 2020 campaign meant to him. "That's what's sad about it, most, getting this far. Obviously, it's going to be an end at some point, whether we make it past this one or not, but just the uncertainty's tough and finality of it all." The 37-year-old presumptive NFL MVP is under contract through 2023 via the $134 million contract extension he signed in 2018. But his long-term future with the Packers was thrown into question when general manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to select Rodgers' possible eventual replacement, Jordan Love, with the 26th pick in...
January 24
January 24

Memphis Grizzlies have fifth straight game postponed

Wednesday's game between the Bulls and Grizzlies at FedExForum in Memphis has been postponed due to the NBA's health and safety's protocols. It will be the Grizzlies' fifth straight game postponed under the policy and sixth overall, matching the Washington Wizards for most in the NBA. The Wizards returned to action on Sunday, their first game in 13 days after six players tested positive for COVID-19 and three others had to miss several days following contact tracing. The NBA said the game is being postponed due to contact tracing with the Grizzlies and the fact the team will not be able to practice before the scheduled game. The Grizzlies have no new players entered into the health and safety protocols, a source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The next scheduled game for the Grizzlies is Saturday in San Antonio against the Spurs. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
January 24
January 24

Sources: Brad Hand, Washington Nationals agree to 1-year, $10.5M deal

Closer Brad Hand and the Washington Nationals are in agreement on a one-year, $10.5 million contract, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN's Jeff Passan on Sunday. The 30-year-old left-hander is poised to become Washington's closer in his 11th major league season, joining the back end of the bullpen that already includes Will Harris, Daniel Hudson and Tanner Rainey. Hand had another solid season as the closer for the Cleveland Indians in 2020, leading the major leagues with 16 saves, but he was a victim of the team's salary purge heading into 2021. Cleveland declined his $10 million option in exchange for a $1 million buyout. Cleveland tried to deal the three-time All-Star after the season but was unable to find a trade partner. Hand was acquired from the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline in 2018. In two-plus seasons with Cleveland, he had 58 saves in 65 chances and a 2.78 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 107 innings over...
January 24
January 24

Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur said decision to kick FG late 'felt like right decision'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Matt LaFleur said that while he did end up regretting his decision to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands and kick a field goal with 2:09 left in the Green Bay Packers' 31-26 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game, he trusted the thinking behind the move. Down eight points (31-23) at the time and facing fourth-and-goal at the 8-yard line, LaFleur sent Mason Crosby in for a 26-yard field goal instead of giving Rodgers one more shot at the end zone (and then a 2-point-conversation attempt) to tie the game.   Rodgers never got the ball back thanks to Tom Brady and a pass interference call on Packers cornerback Kevin King that allowed the Bucs to run out the clock. "Yeah, anytime it doesn't work out, you always regret it, right?" LaFleur said after the game. "It was just the circumstances of having three shots and coming away with no yards and knowing that you not only need the...
January 24
January 24

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold off Green Bay Packers to punch Super Bowl ticket

Tom Brady is going back to the Super Bowl. For a 10th time. At the age of 43. But this time it comes as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady and the Bucs knocked off the No. 1-seeded Green Bay Packers 31-26 in Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. They now will face the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs -- a 38-24 winner over the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's AFC Championship Game -- at Raymond James Stadium in Super Bowl LV. The Bucs will become the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium. As Brady walked off the field Sunday, he shouted to teammate Devin White, "D-White, where we going? We're going home!" "I guess when I was holding the Halas Trophy, I was like, 'Oh my gosh. We're actually gonna do it,'" coach Bruce Arians said. "We can dream about looking across the street [at the stadium] for two weeks." Arians will become the second-oldest coach behind Marv Levy to...
January 24
January 24

TE Greg Olsen retires from NFL, will join Fox Sports as broadcaster

Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen announced before Sunday's NFC Championship Game that he plans to retire and join Fox Sports' NFL coverage. Olsen spent the 2021 season with the Seattle Seahawks after nine years with the Carolina Panthers, where he became the first tight end in NFL history to have three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2014 to '16. The Panthers released Olsen, 35, during the 2020 offseason under new coach Matt Rhule. He signed a one-year, $6.6 million deal with Seattle in February. In July, Olsen signed a deal to be Fox Sports' No. 2 NFL television analyst, paired with Kevin Burkhardt, after he retires. "Proud of what I was able to accomplish in this league, proud of the relationships and everything that the game has given me,'' Olsen said during Fox Sports' pregame show. "But sometimes, when it's time, it's time, and my time in the NFL now has come to an end. I'm excited for the next chapter. ... I've got it all out of my...
January 24
January 24

New York Yankees acquire pitcher Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh Pirates for four prospects

The New York Yankees added another bounce-back candidate to their starting rotation Sunday, acquiring Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates for four minor league prospects. Pittsburgh received pitchers Miguel Yajure and Roansy Contreras, infielder Maikol Escotto and outfielder Canaan Smith in the trade, which has been announced by both teams. Taillon, 29, was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2010 and was a 14-game winner for the Pirates in 2018. But the hard-throwing right-hander appeared in just seven games in 2019 and missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. The Yankees agreed to the trade less than two weeks after signing two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who also is looking to rebound from back-to-back injury-marred seasons. Taillon, who has spent his entire professional career in the Pirates' organization, tweeted Sunday that it was a "bittersweet day" for...
January 24
January 24

Houston Texans' coaching decision won't affect Deshaun Watson's desire to leave, sources say

The Texans' coaching decision is not expected to change Deshaun Watson's thinking, as the quarterback is still expected to want out of Houston, no matter who the head coach is, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. The Texans are expected to request a second interview with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and could ask for a second interview with  Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy after Sunday's AFC Championship Game, sources told ESPN. Frazier privately has told some people that he thinks he has a legitimate chance to land the Texans' job and has tried assembling a coaching staff in the event that he does. Bieniemy had a strong staff, but some of his candidates are beginning to accept other jobs. But Watson has been upset with the Texans over, among other issues, the process they used to hire general manager Nick Caserio, sources told ESPN, leading to widespread speculation that Houston could trade the star...
January 24
January 24

Sources: New York Yankees acquire pitcher Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh Pirates for four prospects

The New York Yankees have added another bounce-back candidate to their starting rotation, acquiring Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates for four minor league prospects, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan and multiple reports. Pittsburgh will receive pitchers Miguel Yajure and Roansy Contreras, infielder Maikol Escotto and outfielder Canaan Smith in the trade, sources told Passan. Taillon, 29, was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2010 and was a 14-game winner for the Pirates in 2018. But the hard-throwing right-hander appeared in just seven games in 2019 and missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. The Yankees agreed to the trade less than two weeks after signing two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, who also is looking to rebound from back-to-back injury-marred seasons. Taillon and Kluber, if healthy, could provide the Yankees with much-needed experience and depth in their...
January 24
January 24

Houston Texans expected to seek second interviews with Bills' Leslie Frazier, Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy, sources say

The Houston Texans are expected to request second interviews with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy after Sunday's AFC Championship Game, sources told ESPN. Both candidates believe they have a legitimate chance to land the Texans' head-coaching job and have begun assembling coaching staffs in the event that they are hired, sources said. Frazier is said to have had a strong interview with the Texans and has previous head-coaching experience from his time with the Minnesota Vikings. Bieniemy is viewed in many circles as a head coach in waiting, though he has recently been passed over by several teams. As Houston's head-coaching search ramps up, the winning coordinator from Sunday's game could be the loser in the Texans' search, as they would have to wait to hire him. The Texans could act quicker with the coordinator from the losing team. This scenario played a key role in...
January 24
January 24

Sources: Super Bowl teams not allowed in Tampa until 2 days before game

In a season unlike any other, Super Bowl week also will not be like any other. Super Bowl teams always arrive in the city of the game one week in advance, but this season's participants are not allowed to arrive in Tampa, Florida, any earlier than the Friday before Super Bowl LV, league sources told ESPN. If the Buffalo Bills win the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, they have tentative plans to arrive in Tampa on Friday, Feb. 5, two days before the Super Bowl, according to sources. If the Kansas City Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl, they do not plan to arrive in Tampa until the day before the Super Bowl, according to sources. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who booked a spot in the game by beating the Packers on Sunday, spent the week practicing opposite Raymond James Stadium, in clear sight of the Super Bowl LV banners now hanging on the stadium. All of these changes and adaptations are being done to keep teams in the COVID-19 prevention routines they have...
January 24
January 24

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, Anthony Davis 'still have trouble' with Kobe Bryant's death

Three-hundred and sixty-three days following Kobe Bryant's death and 104 days after winning an NBA championship in his honor, the  Los Angeles Lakers' co-captains, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, reflected on the time that has passed since the world lost Bryant. "Man, it's a saying that time heals all," James said after a win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday at the United Center, where Bryant's idol, Michael Jordan, used to play. "And as devastating and as tragic as it was and still is to all of us involved with it, only time. And it takes time. Everyone has their own grieving process." Many among the Lakers and in Bryant's family and close circle of friends are still in mourning, nearly a year after a helicopter crash killed 41-year-old Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. "As we approach his one-year anniversary, it saddens our hearts to actually come to the realization that he's gone," Davis said. "I know I still...
January 24
January 24

Kyrie Irving relishes 'winning time' after coming up big late for Nets in bounce-back win

NEW YORK -- With a once double-digit lead whittled down to just one point in the final quarter of the Brooklyn Nets' Saturday night game against the Miami Heat, Kyrie Irving took over. He splashed in clutch 3-pointers, had driving layups and made key free throws to help lift the Nets to a 128-124 victory. Down the stretch, Irving said his mentality was: "It's winning time." "I've always said that throughout my career," Irving said. "When it gets down to that point, obviously you just want to buckle down on the defensive end, get stops, and I felt like we did that." The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Nets, who dropped a pair of games at the  Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week. Irving's 18 fourth-quarter points were the most he has scored in a final quarter since joining Brooklyn. "We had two losses where we had to learn a lot very quickly," Irving said. "And we just moved on to the next night. And I feel like we gave the...
January 24
January 24

Dustin Poirier stuns Conor McGregor with second-round TKO at UFC 257

Dustin Poirier avenged his loss to Conor McGregor and picked up by far the biggest win of his career. The perennial UFC lightweight contender shocked McGregor, beating him via TKO after swarming him with punches at 2:32 of the second round Saturday night in the main event of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Poirier first hurt McGregor on the right leg with kicks to the calf. With McGregor's leg compromised, Poirier ripped off a series of hard-punching combinations. The closing blow was a shovel right hand that dropped McGregor. Poirier followed on the ground, and referee Herb Dean stepped in to call it, marking the first KO or TKO loss of McGregor's 13-year career. McGregor and Poirier had fought before, with McGregor winning a featherweight match by first-round TKO at UFC 178 in 2014. "I felt his presence less, his aura less," said Poirier, who entered the fight as a plus-275 underdog. "I just saw another fighter tonight. I think the first time, I was kind of...
January 24
January 24

Source: Kansas City Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely to play vs. Buffalo Bills

The Kansas City Chiefs will likely have running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire but be without Le'Veon Bell for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Edwards-Helaire is listed as questionable due to ankle and hip injuries. The team is still unsure exactly how much he will be able to play; it will depend on how he feels pregame and, if active, in the game, the source said. Edwards-Helaire hasn't played since being injured in the Chiefs' Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints. Bell, questionable with a knee injury, is unlikely to play, the source told Schefter. He had just two rushes for six yards in the Chiefs' victory over the Cleveland Browns last week. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, questionable with a calf injury, is considered a long shot to play, the source said.
January 24
January 24

Stipe Miocic-Francis Ngannou rematch set to headline UFC 260

The UFC heavyweight championship will be on the line on March 27. A rematch between champion  Stipe Miocic and  Francis Ngannou will headline UFC 260, the promotion announced Saturday night. The co-main event will feature UFC featherweight champion  Alexander Volkanovski against  Brian Ortega. The location for UFC 260 has yet to be announced, but sources told ESPN the fight is expected to take place in Las Vegas. Miocic defeated Ngannou via unanimous decision at UFC 220 in January 2018. Ngannou (15-3) has won four fights in a row, all by first-round stoppage. Miocic (20-3) has won two straight since losing the belt to Daniel Cormier two years ago. He defeated Cormier in a trilogy fight in August.
January 24
January 23

Michigan Wolverines halt all athletic activities for 14 days following positive tests for new coronavirus strain

Following positive tests for a new coronavirus strain within Michigan athletics, the state department of health and human services has closed all facilities and paused all University of Michigan teams and activities for up to 14 days, according to a release from the school. Per the release, the state is taking a cautious approach to the new SAR-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 strain of the virus, which is "approximately 50 percent more transmittable." All athletes, coaches and staffers are required to quarantine, beginning Saturday, possibly for two weeks. "Canceling competitions is never something we want to do, but with so many unknowns about this variant of COVID-19, we must do everything we can to minimize the spread among student-athletes, coaches, staff, and to the student-athletes at other schools," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in the statement. It's unclear how games and other teams might be affected beyond the potential two-week quarantine. The No. 7 Michigan men's...
January 23
January 23

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry passes Reggie Miller for second-most career 3-pointers

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry passed Hall of Famer Reggie Miller for the second-most made 3-pointers in NBA history after making his 2,561st career 3-pointer early in the second half of a 127-108 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Curry is now just 411 made 3-pointers behind Hall of Famer Ray Allen for the most in NBA history. Miller offered Curry his congratulations in a surprise visit during the postgame video call with reporters. "You are an inspiration to so many little ones like mine," Miller said while holding his young son, Ryker, who was wearing Curry's jersey. Curry was clearly touched by Miller's postgame appearance, which came in the middle of an answer in which Curry was discussing just how much it meant for him to pass Miller on the list. "It's special," Curry said. "I was trying to enjoy it in the middle of the game because I knew it was on the horizon and I knew how much I looked up to him growing up, watching him play, playing...
January 23
January 23

Michigan Wolverines halt athletic activities for 14 days following positive tests for new coronavirus strain

Following positive tests for a new coronavirus strain within Michigan athletics, the state department of health and human services has closed all facilities and paused all University of Michigan teams and activities for up to 14 days, according to a release from the school. Per the release, the state is taking a cautious approach to the new SAR-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 strain of the virus, which is "approximately 50 percent more transmittable." All athletes, coaches and staffers are required to quarantine, beginning Saturday, possibly for two weeks. "Canceling competitions is never something we want to do, but with so many unknowns about this variant of COVID-19, we must do everything we can to minimize the spread among student-athletes, coaches, staff, and to the student-athletes at other schools," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in the statement. It's unclear how games and other teams might be affected beyond the potential two-week quarantine. The No. 7 Michigan men's...
January 23
January 23

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry passes Reggie Miller for most second-most career 3-pointers

Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry passed Hall of Famer Reggie Miller for the second-most made 3-pointers in NBA history after making his 2,561st career 3-pointer early in the second-half against the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Curry entered the fourth quarter of the game 411 made 3-pointers behind Hall of Famer Ray Allen for the most in NBA history. The record-breaking 3 came in fitting fashion. Curry drove into the lane early in the second half, kicked the ball out to Draymond Green on the wing, relocated in the corner and nailed the shot off a quick pass from Green.  "What defines Steph is his ability to hit the 3s on or off the dribble," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said prior to Saturday's game during a video conference with reporters. "Either on the dribble with all of his movement or playing off the ball and that's probably where he and Ray Allen are most alike. Reggie was much more an off-ball, catch and shoot 3-point guy. Shoot off pin downs...
January 23
January 23

Sources: Stipe Miocic-Francis Ngannou rematch to headline UFC 260

The UFC heavyweight championship will be on the line on March 27. A rematch between champion  Stipe Miocic and  Francis Ngannou will headline UFC 260, sources told ESPN. The co-main event will feature UFC featherweight champion  Alexander Volkanovski against  Brian Ortega, according to sources. The date and location for UFC 260 have yet to be announced, but sources said the fight is expected to take place in Las Vegas. Miocic defeated Ngannou via unanimous decision at UFC 220 in January 2018. Ngannou (15-3) has won four fights in a row, all by first-round stoppage. Miocic (20-3) has won two straight since losing the belt to Daniel Cormier two years ago. He defeated Cormier in a trilogy fight in August.
January 23
January 23

Detroit Lions actively seek to trade QB Matthew Stafford, sources say

In an arrangement the two sides have discussed and mutually agreed upon, quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to not return to the Lions this offseason, with Detroit listening to trade offers starting this week, league sources told ESPN on Saturday. With new general manager Brad Holmes and new head coach Dan Campbell now in place, the Lions will soon begin trade discussions that most likely will result in a new quarterback for the team -- largely influenced by what and whom Detroit will get in exchange for Stafford, sources told ESPN. The Lions are expected to receive at least a first-round pick, league sources said. Stafford approached the Lions about the possibility of a trade being in the best interest of both parties, but the franchise tabled that discussion until completing the coach and GM searches, a source told ESPN's Michael Rothstein. Holmes and Campbell were told before they were hired that trading Stafford could be a possibility, sources told ESPN....
January 23
January 23

Detroit Lions to actively seek trade for QB Matthew Stafford, sources say

In an arrangement the two sides have discussed and mutually agreed upon, quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to not return to the Lions this offseason, with Detroit listening to trade offers for its former No. 1 overall pick starting this week, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Saturday. With new general manager Brad Holmes and new head coach Dan Campbell now in place, the Lions will soon begin trade discussions that most likely will result in a new quarterback -- largely influenced by what and who the Lions will receive in a trade for Stafford, sources told ESPN. The Lions are expected to receive at least a first-round pick, league sources said. Stafford, the former No. 1 overall pick who has not had a playoff win in his 12 seasons with the Lions, is expected to bring back a handsome return for multiple reasons. He turns 33 in March, has two years remaining on a team-friendly contract that is due to pay him a combined $43 million -- $20 million this...
January 23
January 23

Short-handed Washington Wizards sign centers Alex Len, Jordan Bell

WASHINGTON -- The short-handed Wizards signed free-agent centers  Alex Len and  Jordan Bell on Saturday, trying to fill out a roster decimated by COVID-19 and injuries. The Wizards have scrapped six games since a win over the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 11 made them 3-8. They are scheduled to play Sunday at San Antonio. Six Washington players have tested positive for COVID-19, and three other players were sidelined after contact tracing determined they might have been exposed to the virus. Starting center Thomas Bryant is out for the season with an injured left knee, and point guard Russell Westbrook is still dealing with a left quadriceps injury. Westbrook is listed as questionable for Sunday's game, and he said that he doesn't know if he'll play. Coach Scott Brooks said Westbrook is progressing and looking good so far. The 7-foot-0 Len has averaged 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds in 474 games over eight seasons with Phoenix, ...
January 23
January 23

Green Bay Packers activate Tramon Williams, who could become first to play for two NFL teams in a postseason

The Green Bay Packers have elevated recent cornerback acquisition Tramon Williams to their active roster for Sunday's NFC Championship Game with the visiting  Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Williams, who was acquired by the Packers and put on their practice squad after he was waived by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, could become the first in NFL history to play for two different teams in the same postseason. Williams, 37, had three tackles in the Ravens' 17-3 AFC divisional playoff loss at the Buffalo Bills last week. Williams previously played for the Packers from 2007 to 2014 and 2018 to 2019, and he had a key role in the team's run to Super Bowl XLV with interceptions in playoff games versus the  Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. "It's special," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the team's decision to sign Williams this week. "He's one of those teammates you just love playing with over the years....
January 23
January 23

Domani Jackson, No. 5 recruit in 2022 class, commits to USC

Five-star cornerback Domani Jackson announced his commitment to USC on Saturday, choosing the Trojans over Arizona State, Clemson, Michigan and Ohio State. Jackson is the No. 5-ranked prospect in the 2022 class and the No. 1 prospect from California. He is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound cornerback from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, and gives USC the No. 1 in-state prospect two recruiting cycles in a row. That might sound mundane, but coach Clay Helton and his staff finished the 2020 cycle with the No. 54-ranked recruiting class and only one ESPN 300 commitment in wide receiver Gary Bryant. California prospects were fleeing the state, including Bryce Young, the No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback in 2020 who flipped from USC to Alabama. The Trojans staff, which added secondary coach Donte Williams in February 2020, made a concerted effort to take back the west and keep the local prospects at home. Those...
January 23
January 23

Garrett Richards, Boston Red Sox reach 1-year, $10 million deal, sources say

Starting pitcher Garrett Richards and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan on Saturday. The deal is pending a physical. Richards' biggest success during the pandemic-shortened season was staying healthy. The veteran right-hander made 10 starts for the San Diego Padres in 2020, going 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA, 46 strikeouts and 17 walks. He was moved to the bullpen late in the season and during the playoffs. The 32-year-old veteran fared much better against right-handed hitters (.589 OPS) than left-handers, who had an .853 OPS against him during the season. Richards has had a long history of arm injuries. He had Tommy John surgery to repair his damaged ulnar collateral ligament after making 16 starts for the Los Angeles Angels in 2018, and he signed with the Padres after that season with the knowledge that he'd be rehabbing for most of the first year of his two-year, $15 million deal. He did get...
January 23
January 23

Columbus Blue Jackets send Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine in swap of disgruntled stars

The Blue Jackets and Jets have completed a blockbuster trade to swap disgruntled stars as winger Patrik Laine is headed to Columbus while center Pierre-Luc Dubois has landed in Winnipeg. Forward Jack Roslovic, a Columbus native, is also headed to the Blue Jackets as part of the deal. Columbus is sending Winnipeg its 2022 third-round pick. Dubois, 22, signed a two-year, $10 million contract extension ahead of training camp, though sources confirmed to ESPN that as he negotiated he also told management he wanted to be traded. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen wasn't in a rush to move Dubois -- the No. 3 pick of the 2016 draft -- preferring to wait until he could land the best return. However, the situation escalated with Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella benching Dubois after the first period on Thursday. "He hasn't given a reason why he wants to leave," Tortorella told 97.1 The Fan last week. "He should get in front of it. That's the way...
January 23
January 23

Columbus Blue Jackets send Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg Jets for Patrick Laine in swap of disgruntled stars

The Blue Jackets and Jets have completed a blockbuster trade to swap disgruntled stars as winger Patrik Laine is headed to Columbus and center Pierre-Luc Dubois moves to Winnipeg. Forward Jack Roslovic, a Columbus native, is also headed to the Blue Jackets as part of the deal. Columbus is sending Winnipeg its 2022 third-round pick. Dubois, 22, signed a two-year, $10 million contract extension ahead of training camp, although sources confirmed to ESPN that as he negotiated, he also told management he had a desire to be traded. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekkalainen wasn't in a rush to move Dubois -- the No. 3 pick of the 2016 draft -- preferring to wait until he could land the best return. However the situation escalated with Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella benching Dubois after the first period on Thursday "He hasn't given a reason why he wants to leave," Tortorella told 97.1 The Fan last week. "He should get in front of it. That's the way I think...
January 23
January 23

Brooklyn Nets' defense thumped by Cleveland Cavaliers in 'two humbling losses'

After a 125-113 loss to the  Cavaliers on Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets leave their road trip to Cleveland 0-2 and have a slew of defensive breakdowns to review in their next film session. "This was two humbling losses," Nets point guard  Kyrie Irving said after Friday's game. Scoring wasn't an issue for the Nets, even without Kevin Durant, who sat out after playing over 50 minutes in Brooklyn's double-overtime loss Wednesday. On the defensive end, the Nets couldn't slow down the Cavaliers in the paint. In Wednesday's loss, the Nets gave up 64 points in the paint. They gave up another 70 in Friday's defeat, with Cavaliers center  Jarrett Allen finishing with 19 points off the bench to go along with 19 points from center  Andre Drummond and 25 points from guard  Collin Sexton. The 134 points in the paint are the most Brooklyn has allowed in a two-game span over the past 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats &...
January 23

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