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NBA dealing with COVID-related referee shortage as playoffs near

By BAXTER HOLMES Ten NBA referees, including veteran officials typically assigned to the NBA Finals, are sidelined because of issues related to COVID-19 and, in one case, an injury, a league official told ESPN. That figure represents the highest of its kind to date in a season during which 24 referees have missed at least one game because of health and safety protocols, a league spokesman told ESPN. Most of the absences have been tied to contact tracing, according to the spokesperson, who added that the league expects all 10 of the referees currently sidelined to be available for the playoffs, which start in less than a month. "We at the NBA have taken a very strong stance, especially with   ... Read More

Jeff Bridich steps down as GM of Colorado Rockies

By JESSE ROGERS The Colorado Rockies are in search of a new general manager after Jeff Bridich stepped down from the position on Monday, the club announced. The Rockies said the decision was a mutual agreement with Bridich. Bridich joined the organization in 2004 and and rose through the ranks. He was named senior director of baseball operations in '06 and later held the position of senior director of player development. He was promoted to general manager in October 2014. Under Bridich, Colorado made the postseason in 2017 and '18, but the handling of former star Nolan Arenado might have helped seal his fate. After signing Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million deal in 2019, the team took a step   ... Read More

Kansas City Chiefs’ Sean Culkin becomes 1st NFL player to convert entire salary to Bitcoin

By ADAM TEICHER KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If he makes the Kansas City Chiefs' roster to begin this season, tight end Sean Culkin will be the first NFL player to convert all of his salary to Bitcoin. Culkin, who is vying to be a backup behind starter Travis Kelce, would be paid his $920,000 salary by the Chiefs in U.S. dollars but in turn will convert it to Bitcoin. "I've always had a lot of interest in and a passion for finance and economics from my days at Mizzou," Culkin said. "Even before that, my dad was big, really bullish on gold. Early on, I was always exposed to his philosophies on what made gold an intractable investment looking at   ... Read More

LA Clippers sign DeMarcus Cousins for remainder of season

By ADRIAN WOJNAROWSKI The LA Clippers signed center DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of the season on Monday. Cousins' second 10-day contract expired Sunday. He signed his first 10-day contract with the team on April 5. Cousins has averaged 9.3 points and 8 rebounds in 14 minutes in each of the team's past three wins. The 30-year-old veteran began the season with the Houston Rockets, who released him after 25 games in which he averaged 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds. The six-time All-Star has career averages of 20.6 points and 10.6 rebounds over 11 seasons. The Clippers play the Pelicans on Monday night in New Orleans.   ... Read More

San Francisco 49ers like five QBs as fit with No. 3 overall pick in 2021 NFL draft; will be Kyle Shanahan’s call

By NICK WAGONER SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Three weeks after the San Francisco 49ers' bold trade up to the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, coach Kyle Shanahan said the team was already comfortable enough to draft three of the top five quarterbacks, but the team could "get there" with Nos. 4 and 5. Over the past month, Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and their staffs put in the remaining work to not only see if they could get comfortable with all five of them -- Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, BYU's Zach Wilson, Alabama's Mac Jones, North Dakota State's Trey Lance and Ohio State's Justin Fields -- but also decide which one they believe is best-suited to be their   ... Read More

Seven women sue LSU, allege violations in how Title IX complaints were handled

By HEATHER DINICH Seven women filed a federal class-action lawsuit against LSU and its leadership Monday, with the university's former president and athletic director, as well as its athletic fundraising group, among those named as defendants, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by ESPN. According to the 118-page document, the women attended the Baton Rouge campus at some point from 2013 to 2021, and "were victims of sex-based discrimination, including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and/or stalking, perpetrated by male LSU students." The women include three former LSU tennis players, two former student workers in the football recruiting office, a former student and a current student. They allege "a conspiracy" by the defendants to keep them quiet and   ... Read More

GM says Packers ‘working through’ Aaron Rodgers’ contract situation

By ROB DEMOVSKY GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Just because the Green Bay Packers haven't restructured or extended Aaron Rodgers' contract does not mean they won't in the coming days either before this week's draft or in the coming months before the season starts. That's where general manager Brian Gutekunst left things on Monday. Gutekunst and salary-cap guru Russ Ball have spent the winter and spring reworking deals in order to create salary-cap space to re-sign running back Aaron Jones, who would have been one of the marquee free agents, and keep much of the team together that played in the NFC Championship Game for the second straight season. But they have not touched Rodgers' contract -- yet. "That's kind of   ... Read More

Houston Rockets’ John Wall expected to miss rest of season with Grade 2 hamstring strain, sources say

By TIM MACMAHON Houston Rockets point guard John Wall is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a Grade 2 hamstring strain, sources told ESPN. The typical recovery time for such an injury is approximately three weeks, and the Rockets have no intention of rushing Wall back with the team eliminated from playoff contention. Wall averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists while shooting 40.4% from the floor in 40 games this season for the Rockets, who have the NBA's worst record at 15-46 in the first year of a rebuilding project on the heels of trading longtime franchise cornerstone James Harden. Wall, a five-time All-Star, had missed the previous season and a half due to   ... Read More

Minnesota Vikings CB Patrick Peterson says he’ll wear No. 7 in 2021 season

By COURTNEY CRONIN MINNEAPOLIS -- New Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson is the first player to take advantage of the NFL's relaxed rule on jersey numbers that now permits defensive backs to wear Nos. 1-49. On his All Things Covered podcast, Peterson said he'll be switching from the No. 21 he donned for the past decade with the Arizona Cardinals to No. 7, the number he wore during his standout collegiate career at LSU and in high school. "I always wanted to rock No. 7," Peterson said. "Once they made the change, it was easy for me because 7 has always been my number. I felt like 7 was my number. Like 21 is Deion's [Sanders] number, you know what   ... Read More

Oakland Athletics extend win streak to 13, longest in MLB since 2017

By BALTIMORE -- The Oakland Athletics were not deterred by a six-game losing streak to open the season. They were simply going to "Ride the Wave," a mantra the team embraced to get past the adversity. Jed Lowrie hit a three-run homer and the Athletics won their 13th straight game, building a big lead early and beating the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 on a rainy Saturday night. "You just go out there and grind on it," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said about the challenging conditions. "Play as long as you can until someone says it's no longer playable." This is the third-longest winning streak in Oakland history. The A's won 14 straight in 1988 and set a then-American League record   ... Read More

San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis calls post-homer trolling of Trevor Bauer ‘payback time’

By ALDEN GONZALEZ On his way to second base on his first home run Saturday night, San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. turned toward his dugout and covered one of his eyes, teasing Los Angeles Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer for occasionally pitching with one eye closed. After crossing home plate on his second home run, Tatis imitated a strut popularized by UFC star Conor McGregor -- the one Bauer often deploys after dominant half-innings. After the game, which the Dodgers won 5-4 at Dodger Stadium, Bauer made it a point to speak out in support of Tatis' actions. "I like it," Bauer said. "I think that pitchers who have that done to them and react by throwing at people,   ... Read More

Magic coach Steve Clifford to miss multiple games after positive coronavirus test

By ADRIAN WOJNAROWSKI After testing positive for the coronavirus, Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford will miss multiple games, starting with Sunday night's game against Indiana, sources told ESPN. Clifford has been asymptomatic, but after receiving a positive test Sunday morning -- his third positive in a four-day span -- he will be forced to enter the league's health and safety protocols for the immediate future, sources said. Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin will replace Clifford on the Magic's bench, Clifford said Saturday night. Clifford, 59, originally tested positive Thursday night. He returned two negative tests Friday, giving hope that the first positive was a false result, then learned Saturday afternoon that a test he took that morning came back positive. "I   ... Read More

Central Michigan QB John Keller in serious condition after being shot

By CHRIS LOW Central Michigan quarterback John Keller was among two shooting victims at an off-campus party Saturday night, university officials said Sunday in a statement. Keller was in serious condition, according to CMU president Dr. Bob Davies, and another CMU student who was shot, Tyler Bunting, was in stable condition. According to the CMU student newspaper, CM Life, an investigation determined that several subjects arrived at a party, and shortly after, a fight broke out. Sheriff's department officials said in a release that someone went to a vehicle during the fight, retrieved a weapon and then started firing at the party. Davies said in the university statement that "local law enforcement, led by the Isabella County Sheriff, continues to   ... Read More

Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey leaves Baylor for LSU

By ALEX SCARBOROUGH Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey, who won three national championships in 21 seasons at Baylor, is leaving for LSU. LSU announced the blockbuster hire on Sunday. Mulkey, who grew up in Tickfaw, Louisiana, will be introduced in a news conference on Monday. "Kim Mulkey is a champion and a Hall of Famer, and we are thrilled to welcome her home," said LSU director of athletics Scott Woodward in a statement. "Her accomplishments are unprecedented, her passion is unrivaled, and her commitment to winning in all aspects of life -- in the classroom, on the court, and in the community -- is unparalleled. We look forward to working with her as she instills that championship   ... Read More

Bumgarner throws seven hitless innings in shortened win for Diamondbacks, won’t go in books as a no-hitter

By ATLANTA -- Madison Bumgarner threw a seven-inning no-hitter, an achievement that won't count in the Major League Baseball record book but completed a dominant day of Arizona Diamondbacks pitching for a 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves and a doubleheader sweep Sunday. After Zac Gallen threw a one-hitter to win the opener 5-0, Bumgarner did even better. Bumgarner struck out seven, and the only Braves batter who reached base against him came on shortstop Nick Ahmed's throwing error in the second inning. The one hit across the two combined games meant the Braves amassed the fewest in a doubleheader in MLB history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. The previous fewest was two hits by Cleveland against the   ... Read More

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