Tagged in: players

Celtics defeat Heat in game 3 on Eastern conference finals

After falling 2-0 behind in the series following Thursday’s defeat, Celtics players apparently aired their frustrations in a raucous locker room and it seemed to do the trick as they were never behind in a 117-106 triumph.

The Celtics were also boosted by the return of Hayward, who scored six points in 31 minutes of a welcome return from an ankle injury that has kept him out since August 17.

“I didn’t expect to play him that much,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“I thought he looked pretty good, he asked to come out a couple times – the wind caught up to him a couple times – but I thought he did what he’s done all year.”

Kemba Walker scored 21 points and Marcus Smart 20 as the Celtics, for whom Tatum added 14 rebounds, shot 48.2 per cent (41 of 85) as a team, outscoring Miami 60-36 in the paint.

“I’m extremely tired right now, my ankle is pretty sore, but I’m proud of the way we fought and proud of us getting the win,” Hayward stated.

“They are a hard-playing team, they compete. They are obviously extremely well coached and they don’t give up.

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“I think they also have a lot of guys that can get going, especially from the outside, so leads aren’t safe and they can score in bunches, as we’ve seen in the first two games.

“Tonight, I think me personally, just trying to help us offensively, being somebody who can get in the paint, create, also trying to help us rebound, bring the ball up. I think if we can run, that can’t set their defense and we have so many good athletes, so many guys that can score and bring up the ball – it makes it difficult for them.”

For Miami, Bam Adebayo had 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyler Herro scored 22 to lead six players in double figures for the Heat, who had just their second defeat in 12 playoff matches en route to their lead in the Eastern Finals.

“We didn’t play hard enough,” said Jimmy Butler, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

“We weren’t playing basketball the way that we have been to win the games that we have been winning.”

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MLB targets 60-game season starting July season

Major League Baseball plans to hold a 60-game campaign that will start around July 24 but first needs players to sign off on a health-and-safety protocol and to pledge to arrive at home stadiums by July 1 to prepare for the season, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

Owners voted to implement a 60-game season on Monday, hours after the MLB Players Association rejected a 60-game proposal that would have included an expanded postseason and other ancillary salary bumps.

After nearly three months of fruitless negotiations, MLB opted to use the right given to it in the parties’ March 26 agreement to impose a calendar of its desired length. By choosing a season of 60 games, the league will pack in about as many games as it can through Sept. 27, the league’s self-imposed cutoff for the regular season.

Additionally, the 60-game season could serve as a buffer against a grievance by the MLBPA, which in the case of a potential implementation has been expected to charge that the league did not fulfill its duty to complete as full a season as possible.

The league could file a grievance against the union as well.

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After commissioner Rob Manfred flew to the Phoenix area to meet with union executive director Tony Clark last Tuesday, the league considered it had the framework of a deal in place. But union members balked at the 60-game framework and proposed 70 games plus a larger chunk of postseason bonus money than the $25 million the league was offering, as well as a cut of TV revenue from playoff expansion in 2021.

Owners were livid. They rejected the proposal and asked players to consider the original 60-game framework. On Monday evening, the players rejected it by a 33-5 vote, setting the stage for the implementation. With implementation, that is all moot. What isn’t is that after all this time, Major League Baseball finally looks like it will try to have a season.

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Golfers playing through bizarre is new normal

Players at the Charles Schwab Challenge who participated in virtual press conferences on Tuesday stated they accept and support the conditions imposed for the first PGA Tour event since the abbreviated Players Championship in mid-March, protocols that involve both testing for coronavirus and restrictions on the golf course. Still, the “new normal” is likely to take some getting used.

After arriving in Fort Worth, all 148 players in the field (and their caddies) had to undergo a nasal swab test. Players, caddies and others then received a temperature scan of their foreheads and answered a series of questions about COVID-19 symptoms in order to gain entry to Colonial Country Club—a routine that will be recurrent daily throughout the entirety of the tournament.

Once on the grounds, Tour officials have encouraged everyone to keep space between themselves and others, creating some unusual breaks from the routine found at most tour events. “You’re getting your own range balls,” said Jordan Spieth, the 2016 champion at Colonial. “You’re scooping your bucket.”

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The PGA Tour enacted these sweeping regulations and recommendations in order to ensure the safety of everyone involve in staging a return after its longest break—March 12 to June 9—since World War II.

As one of the first professional sports to resume play, golf has a chance to set an example about how sports can return to some form of responsible competition and entertainment.

To do that, however, the participants must take ownership, Speith said.

“A hundred percent. I totally think we all as players have responsibility for it to go off very smoothly,” he said. The Tour has limited the number of people who can be on the grounds, allowing no spectators or family members of the players to be in attendance. There is none of the usual infrastructure you find at a Tour event, no grandstands or hospitality areas or fitness trailers. What there are plenty of, however, are hand sanitizers stations throughout the course.

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Chelsea ready to offload several players

A source close to Chelsea says that the club is in the process of an overhaul sales of many players and that no one is secure right now including the best midfield in the league, N’Golo Kante.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard took on the job at Chelsea not long ago and he’s already unveiling his plan to give Chelsea a new look. He wants to sell players like N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and many other first-team players as he plans to focus on top young players.

Chelsea is ready to be very active in the transfer market soon the coronavirus clears, they are in the market for Dortmund player Jadon Sancho. However, Manchester United is also in the race to pay for Sancho’s transfer to Old Trafford.

United has set aside about £120million to finish the deal and if Chelsea wants him, they’d have to be able to spend more than Man U.

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Chelsea just got of a transfer ban for violating Fifa rules in January and the blue’s boss plans to wait until the summer of 2020 to offload players so he could spend more on the young, more energetic, and skillful players that he has on his radar.

Frank Lampard has shown interest in securing Leicester city’s left-back Ben Chilwell, and they are also looking to contact Lyon for Mousa Dembele’s transfer cost. Also, Lampard has strategies for Arsenal’s fantastic Stricker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang along with Timo Werner of RB Leipzig.

Since the blue was able to sell their star striker Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for a whooping £102 m, this shows that they have a lot of money in the bank to use on new players. And if they want to let go more players as they have a plan to do, they’d be able to buy better players.

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Latest hearing on when could MLB actually start

Over the past two weeks, as states have started to plan their reopenings, nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum — league officials, players, union leaders, owners, doctors, politicians, TV power brokers, team executives — has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The season could still take many forms with games starting in front of empty stadiums still very likely when play does reopen.

Major League Baseball and its players are increasingly focused on a plan that could allow them to start the season as early as May and has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.

The plan, sources said, would dictate that all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the Phoenix area, including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and perhaps other nearby fields.

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Players, coaching staff and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium, sources said. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return.

Rob Manfred said after a conference call with all 30 teams that Major League Baseball will push back Opening Day until mid-May at the earliest after the federal government recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

There are folks at the team level who think that a return in June might be possible but, in the end, may be an optimistic projection.

The realities of the federal and state main directions and the calendar of baseball preparation supports that: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just recommended having no crowds of greater than 50 for the next eight weeks — and assuming that MLB and the players’ association would respect that direction (and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t), that would mean that spring training wouldn’t resume until mid-May, at the earliest.

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Arsenal players, coaches agree 12.5 wage cut

Arsenal players and coaching staff have approved to take a voluntary 12.5 per cent pay cut to help support the club financially during the coronavirus crisis.

Talks will continue on an individual basis with some players who have not agreed to the deal, but the vast majority of players have agreed to blanket measures. The proposal will stay on the table for those who have not yet agreed to it.

A statement from the club clarified the agreement is based on the assumption that the 2019-20 Premier League season will be completed, and that full broadcasting revenue will be received as a result.

The statement read: “The move follows positive and constructive discussions.

“In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family.

“Reductions of total annual earnings by 12.5 per cent will come into effect this month, with the contractual paperwork being completed in the coming days.

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“If we meet specific targets in the seasons ahead, primarily linked to success on the pitch, the club will repay agreed amounts.

“We will be able to make those repayments as hitting these targets, which the players can directly influence, will mean our financial position will be stronger.

“The agreement is based on the assumption we will finish the season 2019-20 and receive the full broadcasting revenues.

“The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our matchday and commercial income.

“We are proud and grateful to our players and staff for pulling together to support our club, our people and our community in these unprecedented times which are some of the most challenging we have faced in our history.”

Last Monday, players refused a wage-cut proposal but talks with manager Mikel Arteta helped steer the club towards an amicable resolution.

Despite cutbacks, transfer plans are still being made.

The Gunners have contacted Reims over a potential €15 million (£13m/$16m) move for 22-year-old centre-back Axel Disasi, while fellow defender Pablo Mari is hopeful his loan switch from Flamengo will be made permanent.

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WTA considering extending Tour

The Women’s Tennis Association is working on boosting players’ earnings when the sport resumes after the coronavirus.

The WTA is also taking into account extending the 2020 season to help players in the lower tiers who have had no opportunity to earn money on the tour since the season was suspended in early March.

“The WTA is diligently working with our tournaments to maximize earning possibilities when the professional tennis circuit is able to resume and is considering an extension to the current 44-week season to enable more tournaments to take place,” the association told Reuters in a statement.

“It is our sincere hope to return to the court as soon as possible – when the health and safety or our players, fans and staff can be guaranteed, we will be back competing.”

The men’s ATP Tour and the WTA suspended all tournaments until June 7th once several countries started to close borders in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.

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The International Tennis Federation (ITF), the sport’s governing body, also postponed its lower-tier World Tennis Tour until June 8th.

The WTA season ending finals are scheduled from November 1-8 before the season heads into a break of eight to 10 weeks.

The WTA is well aware that without tournaments and prize money on offer, it leaves several players with financial concerns.

“We wish there was a way everyone, especially those in need the most, could be compensated at the level they were expecting, but the needs are so great and the WTA unfortunately is not in a financial position to do that,” the WTA stated.

“Professional tennis players are independent contractors and not employees of the WTA.  As a result, a player’s compensation is based on on-court competition and when tournaments are not held this puts a pause on their principal revenue flow.

“The WTA fully recognises the challenges these athletes are facing as well as those similar challenges being dealt with from millions of people around the world during this unprecedented situation.”

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NBA to pay players full salaries due April 1

The NBA and its players are in a very difficult financial situation. With matches suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak, teams have no revenue incoming.

Players have guaranteed contracts, though, so the two sides have to sort out how to approach this crisis in a manner satisfactory to all involved. While no long-term plan has been made, the NBA took a short-term step to appease the players on Friday.

Teams will pay players their next scheduled check on April 1, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

Typical NBA contracts spell out payments on the first and 15th of every month during the season, though different pay schedules can be spelled out within individual contracts.

That means that, for the most part, the league’s next payday after April 1 would have come on April 15.

The league will give teams “additional guidance” on that payday in the near future.

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While short-term solutions are necessary, the league has a bigger long-term problem to solve if it hopes to settle its finances. As it presently sits, the owners stand to take the brunt of the fall for lost games.

While salaries are guaranteed in advance through contracts, the cap is based on projected revenue. The league didn’t build coronavirus into its plans, so players had been set to be paid as if this was a normal season. 

The league has tools it can use to force a compromise. All player contracts have force majeure clauses that allow teams to withhold 1/92.6th of their salary for every canceled game, and 10 percent of player salaries are held in escrow in case players wind up earning more in a given season than the CBA allows. That means that, in all likelihood, the players and the league will work together to find a compromise that splits the burden of these lost matches evenly among both sides.

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Two Lakers’ players test positive on Coronavirus

Two Los Angeles Lakers players tested positive for the coronavirus, the team has affirmed. 

The names of the players were not made public and they are in midst of a 14-day self-quarantine. 

The tests were taken by the Lakers on Wednesday and were administered entirely within the players’ cars, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The Lakers took the tests after superstar Kevin Durant and three other members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. 

The Lakers were the last team to play the Nets before the campaign was indefinitely suspended, as Brooklyn bested Los Angeles 104-102 last Tuesday night.

The list of NBA members to test positive for the virus continues to grow. As of Thursday, there have been 14 confirmed or reported cases spanning seven different teams.

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, eight of the league’s 30 teams have undergone team-wide testing. The teams that are openly known are the Jazz, Thunder, Raptors, Nets, Lakers and Sixers. The Raptors came back with negative test results.

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While some have been frustrated with the ease with which NBA teams seem to be acquiring the tests considering its lack of widespread availability, NBA spokesman Mike Bass made the argument to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that testing players across the league’s landscape is essential. 

NBA team facilities will reportedly be closed to players and team staff beginning on Friday in order to try to curb the outbreak of the virus.

During this time, players are able to travel outside of the city where they play, but they must stay in the country. Despite this, Silver stays optimistic that the season can still be salvaged, to an extent. 

While a return to basketball this season would be great, it’s obviously secondary to the health and safety of the teams, players and fans.

The NBA will certainly explore all feasible avenues when it comes to getting back on the floor, but the situation is fluid, and something that the league can’t control. Like everyone else, they just have to hope that the virus can be curbed in a timely manner.

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