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Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year award for first time

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Monday.

It’s the first DPOY award for Smart, who is the first guard to take home the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. Payton was on hand at the Celtics practice facility Monday to give Smart the award.

In a social media post later Monday, Smart stated he was “blown away” by the honor.

Smart received 257 points (37 first-place votes) to finish first in voting. Forward Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns (202 points, 22 first-place votes) and center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz (136 points, 12 first-place votes) ended up second and third, respectively, in voting from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.

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Smart concluded the season ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) for a Celtics team that led the league in defensive rating (106.2) and points allowed per game (104.5). He also was ranked fifth among all NBA guards with a defensive rating of 105.2, and was first in the league with 1.1 loose balls recovered per game.

Smart, who started each of the 71 regular-season games he played, also finished tied for 10th in deflections (106) and charges drawn (16) and had a career-high 3.2 defensive rebounds per game.

The eighth-year player is the second Celtic ever to win DPOY, joining Kevin Garnett (2007-08).

Big men have dominated the award since its inception in 1982. Smart and Payton are only the two point guards to have won it. Shooting guards have won it another five times, but none since Michael Jordan in 1988. And centers and forwards have won all the rest, including Gobert in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Speaking last month, Smart said guards deserve more respect in the voting. “I’m not taking anything from the bigs,” he told ESPN.

“A vital part of the game is protecting the paint. But, as guards, we do a lot more before [our man] gets to the paint. … Contesting the 3, contesting pull-ups, making sure he doesn’t get to his spots.”

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Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles lost for season, into 2022-23 due to torn ACL

After tests revealed a torn ACL in his left knee, Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles will miss the rest of the season and need to rehabilitate into the start of the 2022-23 season, sources told ESPN.

The Jazz revealed a torn ACL that included no other structural damage after an MRI on Monday in Salt Lake City, which leaves Ingles’ future with the Jazz in question.

After eight seasons as a critical part of the franchise’s rise out of the lottery and into Western Conference contention, Ingles is in the final year of his contract.

Ingles, 34, underwent imaging upon returning to Salt Lake City after his knee buckled in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.

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Ingles will undergo surgery in the next few weeks, once he’s able to regain a range of motion in his injured knee, sources said.

Ingles has been a crucial part of the Jazz for eight seasons, averaging 7.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists this season in 25 minutes a game. Ingles has started 40 of 45 Jazz playoff games over the past five seasons.

He was the runner-up to teammate Jordan Clarkson for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award last season. Ingles is in the final year of a $13 million contract, and his expiring contract could still be useful to the Jazz in trade discussions.

Ingles has played in four Olympics for Australia, including as one of the anchors for the national team’s bronze medal in the 2020 Games. His family has become extremely woven into the fabric of the Salt Lake City community over his eight seasons, in significant part because of his foundation to raise money and awareness for autism.

The Jazz have dropped five consecutive and nine of 11 games to move into fourth place in the Western Conference.

They’ve played without Donovan Mitchell (concussion protocol) for seven straight games and Rudy Gobert (calf strain) for four games.

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Brooklyn Nets expect Kevin Durant to miss 4-6 weeks with sprained MCL

After the Brooklyn Nets diagnosed All-NBA forward Kevin Durant with a sprained MCL of his left knee, the franchise expects a four- to six-week rehabilitation before his come back, sources told ESPN.

Durant underwent imaging on Sunday morning after Saturday night’s injury, and a realistic benchmark for Durant could be a return following the All-Star break (Feb. 18-23), sources said. Nevertheless, the organization will err on the side of caution when it comes to Durant’s return.

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There was relief around the Nets that the injury wasn’t more serious, and hopefulness that he will make a full return to health in plenty of time for the playoffs. Durant left Saturday night’s game after teammate Bruce Brown fell into his knee on a play in the second quarter.

Brooklyn plays 11 of its next 14 games on the road, and thus it expects to have a Kyrie Irving-James Harden backcourt together for those matches. Irving is playing only road games because of his status as an unvaccinated player.

The Nets won 16 of 19 games last season when they had Irving and Harden together, but no Durant, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Durant has had an MVP-caliber season, averaging a league-leading 29.3 points, along with 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

Brooklyn (27-15) is a half-game behind the Chicago Bulls for first place in the Eastern Conference.

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Barca granted permission to sign striker

Barcelona have finally been given authorization to sign a new forward to replace the injured Ousmane Dembélé.

The Frenchman underwent surgery on a torn hamstring and is expected to miss close to six months of action, while striker Luis Suárez is also sidelined with a knee injury, so Barça have applied to the RFEF for special permission to sign a replacement outside of the transfer window.

Now, Mundo Deportivo state that the RFEF have granted Barcelona permission to bring in a new striker, so La Blaugrana now have 15 days to find a new striker.

They are allowed to sign someone from another Spanish side or a player who is currently without a club.

Getafe’s Ángel Rodríguez, Alavés’ Lucas Pérez and Real Betis’ Loren Morón have all been suggested, but MD believe that Leganés striker Martin Braithwaite is the most likely candidate to arrive at Camp Nou in the coming weeks.

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The club have long been linked with pretty much every striker in Spain, but director Guillermo Amor confirmed (via ​Sport) that there was a delay in gaining permission from the RFEF.

Before the ruling, he said: “A lot has been said but we still don’t have the green light from the RFEF to sign. We’ve still not received anything official. If we do, the club will take the decision that has to be taken.

“First we have to see if we get authorisation. What’s clear is that the club have been working on this a lot. We work hard every day, analysing and improving and, when the moment comes, we will do what’s best for the club. That’s not in doubt.” 

A possible reason for the delay could have been ​La Lig​a’s ambiguity over Dembélé’s injury. It was suggested that league officials were not convinced the winger will miss six months of action, so they were working closely with a specialist team to try and identify whether such a layoff would actually make sense.

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