Update on the latest sports
Durant out at least through Saturday
NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant will remain out for the rest of this week and it is unclear when he will return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup, meaning he will miss more than a month with a strained left hamstring.
Blake Griffin also will be sidelined when the Nets open the second half Thursday against Boston, though he stressed he’s not injured. He and the Nets think it’s smart to take their time increasing his workload after signing Monday.
Durant hasn’t played since Feb. 13 at Golden State. The Nets hoped at first the injury wouldn’t be serious, but announced on Feb. 26 that a follow-up MRI showed a clearer picture of the injury and would keep Durant sidelined through the All-Star break.
Coach Steve Nash said Wednesday that Durant will have another scan of the injury next week.
Rangers in line to be first team back to full capacity
UNDATED (AP) — The Texas Rangers could be the first team to return to full attendance capacity. The team hopes to have a full house for its home opener next month after debuting a new 40,518-seat stadium without fans in the stands for its games last season.
An order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took effect Wednesday allowing businesses to operate at 100% if they choose.
In other MLB news:
— The Cincinnati Reds say star first baseman Joey Votto is out for an indefinite period after testing positive for COVID-19 at spring training. The 36-year-old Votto has played in four spring training games, going 4 for 9 at the plate. Last season he hit .226 in 54 games, with 11 home runs and 22 RBIs.
— Houston Astros top prospect right-hander Forrest Whitley will have Tommy John surgery. Manager Dusty Baker says Whitley was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Sunday after experiencing discomfort during a live batting practice session last week. He received a second opinion before opting for the surgery this week.
— New York Yankees left-handed Zack Britton is scheduled for surgery Monday to remove a bone chip from his pitching elbow and seems likely to be out until at least May. Left-hander Aroldis Chapman is the Yankees’ closer, and manager Aaron Boone said he will mix and match ahead of him with right-hander Chad Green, side-arming right-hander Darren O’Day, left-hander Justin Wilson and right-hander Esteban Loaisiga.
— New Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco is uncertain to be ready for the start of the season after elbow soreness forced him to stop throwing. Carrasco is in remission from leukemia and had the novel coronavirus vaccine. Carrasco will take a few days off without throwing and the Mets hope he can resume throwing by the end of next week.
— A 24-year-old sports gambler Benjamin Tucker Patz faces up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty of sending threatening social media messages to players with the Tampa Bay Rays after the Rays lost to the White Sox in 2019. A criminal complaint says Patz made numerous violent threats against athletes and their family members through anonymous Instagram accounts.
Boeheim scores 27, hits 6 of Syracuse’s 14 3s in ACC tourney
UNDATED (AP) — Conference basketball tournaments continue as teams try to earn automatic berths in the NCAA tourney.
In the ACC, Buddy Boeheim hit six of Syracuse’s 14 3-pointers and finished with 27 points as the Orange beat North Carolina State, 89-68 in the second round.
In other ACC action:
— Isaiah Wong scored 20 points for the second straight game and Miami became the first No. 13 seed to ever reach the quarterfinals in the ACC tournament, upsetting No. 5 Clemson 67-64.
— Freshman Mark Williams set season highs with 23 points and 19 rebounds for his second double-double to lead 10th seed Duke to a 70-56 win against Louisville, putting the Blue Devils in the ACC quarters.
In Big East Action, Qudus Wahab had 19 points and seven rebounds and Georgetown limited Marquette to 14 first-half points in posting a 68-49 victory in the opening game of the tournament.
In other Big East battles:
— Chuck Harris was clutch for Butler, drilling a straightaway 3-pointer and then sinking the game-winning free throws with three seconds left in overtime as the tenth-seeded Bulldogs ousted Xavier 70-69.
Over in the Big 12, Scotty Pippen Jr. went 15 for 15 from the free-throw line and finished with 22 points to send Vanderbilt past Texas A&M 79-68, the Commodores first conference tournament win in four years.
Also in the Big 12:
— Nijel Pack hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points and ninth-seeded Kansas State used a pair of big runs to beat eighth-seeded TCU 71-50 in the first round.
NFL sets salary cap at $182.5 million, down 8% from 2020
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL’s salary cap will be $182.5 million per team in the upcoming season, a drop of 8% from 2020.
The league’s loss of revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic caused the first decrease in the cap since 2011, which followed an uncapped season. Free agency begins next Wednesday, though the “legal tampering” period starts Monday. The NFL is close to agreement on extensions of its broadcast contracts, but those deals won’t affect the 2021 season.
In other NFL news:
— The New Orleans Saints have informed receiver Emmanuel Sanders and linebacker Kwon Alexander they’ll be released in moves that will save the club nearly $20 million against the NFL’s salary cap, a person familiar with the situation said. Following the releases of Sanders and Alexander, the Saints were projected to remain about $32 million above the salary with about a week to get below it. Sanders had 61 catches for 726 yards last season.
— The Dallas Cowboys have been awarded the maximum four compensatory picks in April’s NFL draft, while the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers will get three apiece. The NFL announced today that there will be 32 such picks this year. Carolina, Chicago, Kansas City, the Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans and Philadelphia get two apiece. Baltimore, the Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Tennessee will have one each. Compensatory selections are awarded to a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year.
— The Buffalo Bills have released receiver John Brown and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson in moves made to free up much-needed space under the newly announced salary cap. Brown had one year remaining on a three-year, $27 million contract and Jefferson had one year left on the two-year, $13.5 million contract.
— The Carolina Panthers have restructured the contracts of running back Christian McCaffrey and linebacker Shaq Thompson, freeing up an additional $11 million in salary-cap space. The moves leave the Panthers about $30 million under the cap, but the team has $17 million of that pegged to sign draft picks and to have on hand for the start of the season in case additional moves need to be made.
— The New York Giants released starting guard Kevin Zeitler on Wednesday, a day after franchising defensive lineman Leonard Williams in a move that will cost the team at least $19.3 million. Zeitler, who turned 31 Monday, started 85 straight games before missing a start Dec. 15, 2019 with an ankle injury. Zeitler was scheduled to make $12 million and have a cap hit of $14.2 million in 2021.
— The Cincinnati Bengals have signed backup quarterback Brandon Allen to a one-year contract. Allen, who was signed by the team as a free agent in August, ended up starting five games last season after Joe Burrow suffered a knee injury. Allen completed 90 of 142 passes for 925 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.
— Broncos running back Melvin Gordon will likely avoid NFL discipline after his drunken driving charge was dismissed and he pleaded guilty in Denver County Court to lesser charges of excessive speeding and reckless driving. Gordon was arrested Oct. 13 in downtown Denver when he was clocked going 71 mph in a 35 mph zone. Gordon is entering the second season of the two-year, $16 million free agent contract he signed a year ago.
— The Minnesota Vikings made their costliest move yet for salary cap compliance Wednesday by terminating the contract of left tackle Riley Reiff with one year remaining. Though Reiff plays a critical position and 2020 was by most measures the best of his four seasons with the Vikings, cutting him will trim $11.75 million off the team’s cap charges. They’ll carry $3.2 million in dead money.
Wild fend off Golden Knights
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Wild remain hot since splitting their first 12 games of the season.
Joel Eriksson Ek recorded his second career two-goal game and Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 24 shots as the Wild held off the Golden Knights, 4-3.
Kahkonen won his eighth straight start by overcoming Dylan Coghlan’s hat trick.
Coghlan had never scored an NHL goal until the first period. He added two more in the last six minutes after the Wild grabbed a 4-1 lead.
Kirill Kaprizov (kah-REEL’ kah-PREE’-zahv) scored for Minnesota’s league-worst power play, snapping a 1-1 deadlock early in the third.
The Wild are 9-2-1 in their last 12 games.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes could be without top goalie Darcy Kuemper for a significant amount of time due to a lower-body injury.
Kuemper was injured in Monday’s game against Colorado. The team said Wednesday he is listed as week to week.
Kuemper, who missed three games earlier this season with a lower-body injury, went down to a knee in the third period against the Avalanche. He asked the officials to stop the game and skated off to the locker room.
Athletes appeal to NCAA in protest of anti-transgender laws
UNDATED (AP) — More than 500 college athletes have signed a letter to the NCAA Board of Governors asking the organization to refuse to schedule championships in states that have banned transgender participation in sports.
The move follows a wave of legislative efforts across the country aimed at transgender athletes.
The letter to the NCAA asks the board to uphold the organization’s nondiscrimination policy, citing the decision to move championships out of North Carolina in 2016 in response to House Bill 2, which legislated transgender use of public restrooms.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-LONG FIRED
AP source: Kansas AD Jeff Long fired after Les Miles debacle
UNDATED (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that Kansas has fired athletic director Jeff Long less than two days after mutually parting with Les Miles amid sexual allegations dating to the football coach’s time at LSU.
Kurt Watson will serve as the interim athletic director as the school begins searching for both a new AD and new football coach.
It was Long who had hired Miles, his friend of more than 30 years, despite question marks in the coach’s background that ultimately led to his firing Monday night.