Update on the latest sports
AP source: NBA, Raptors denied permission to play in Canada
TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian government has denied a request by the NBA and the Raptors to play in Toronto amid the pandemic, and the team says it will start the season next month in Tampa, Florida.
An official familiar with the federal government’s decision told The Associated Press on Friday there is too much COVID-19 circulating in the United States to allow for cross-border travel that is not essential. The official says there’s a chance that at some point next year the decision could be reviewed.
The Raptors and the NBA needed an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel.
NBA’s offseason sprint continues with free agency starting
UNDATED (AP) — Free agency in the NBA has started. No deals can be signed until 12:01 p.m. Sunday, and many of the biggest available names — such as the Lakers’ Anthony Davis and Fred VanVleet, who has seen his star rise meteorically with the Toronto Raptors — did not make immediate decisions on their futures. Davis is expected to remain with the Lakers; the question there is how the new deal will be structured. VanVleet is expected to command at least $80 million over the next four seasons, if not more, and Toronto has made clear that they would like to keep the undrafted guard who became a huge part of the Raptors’ run to the 2019 NBA championship.
Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard’s time as free agents didn’t last long, Dragic and Leonard have both decided to return to the Eastern Conference champions the Miami Heat, each telling The Associated Press on Friday evening that they have agreed to accept Miami’s offer of two-year deals — the second year is a team option on both contracts.
Meanwhile, the NBA is investigating whether one — a widely reported sign-and-trade move that would have sent Bogdan Bogdanovic from Sacramento to Milwaukee — happened earlier than league rules allow. A person with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday that the league is probing whether such an agreement existed, because if it did free-agent negotiations with Bogdanovic would have clearly started earlier than permissible.
Training camps open in about a week and a half.
Browns’ Garrett on COVID list; Giants add 3
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns defensive star Myles Garrett has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday’s game against the Philadephia Eagles. The NFL leader in sacks, Garrett was placed on the COVID list on Friday by the Browns, who had isolated him at home the previous two days because he was showing symptoms.
It’s not clear when Garrett will return, so his status for next week’s game at Jacksonville is in question.
Garrett has 9 1/2 sacks and is one of the biggest reasons the Browns are in the playoff hunt. Cleveland hasn’t been to the postseason since 2002, and the 18-year absence is the league’s current longest drought.
In other virus-related NFL news:
— Sam Darnold might be back leading the New York Jets’ huddle as soon as next week. The quarterback will be sidelined for the second straight game with a shoulder injury but coach Adam Gase was optimistic Friday that Darnold could return for next Sunday’s home game against Miami. Gase said Darnold is feeling better after beginning an interval throwing program this week and has a good shot to play next week, but, he’s out for the Jets play the Chargers in Los Angeles this Sunday.
— The New York Giants have had three more players test positive for COVID-19. The Giants, who have a bye this weekend, learned about the results Thursday night and told the unidentified players to self-isolate. Contract tracing has started.
— The San Francisco 49ers have waived defensive end Takkarist McKinley after he failed a physical. The Niners claimed McKinley off waivers earlier this week after he failed a physical in Cincinnati but then cut him after he failed their physical as well. The Niners also placed three more players on the COVID-19 list with receiver Brandon Aiyuk, left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Daniel Helm being added.
— The Denver Broncos have told season ticket holders that due to the increase of COVID-19 cases, Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins will be the last one played with fans in attendance at Empower Field at Mile High this season. The Broncos have been allowing 5,700 fans into their games. The Broncos’ final three home games, against the Saints, Bills and Raiders, will be played without any fans in the stands.
— Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams returned to practice Friday and is expected to play Sunday at Indianapolis despite dealing with an ankle injury this week. The injury had prevented Adams from practicing Thursday. Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Friday that Adams had made good progress and “should be good to go” on Sunday. Adams hurt his ankle in a 24-20 victory over Jacksonville. He has nine touchdown catches to tie for the NFL lead despite missing two games with a hamstring injury.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Washington State v. Stanford canceled
UNDATED (AP) — The Pac-12 has canceled Washington State’s football game at Stanford. The conference said Saturday night’s game has been called off because the Cougars don’t have enough scholarship players available because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. This is the first game both schools have had canceled this season because of the coronavirus.
In other college football news related to the pandemic:
— Tennessee’s 70 year old athletic director Phillip Fulmer is in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus. And Miami’s 46 year old Manny Diaz is the latest active coach to become infected. Tennessee plays at No. 23 Auburn on Saturday. Diaz says he will work virtually with the No. 12 Hurricanes until he can return to the field. Miami is not scheduled to play again until Dec. 5 at Wake Forest.
— Washington State starting quarterback Jayden de Laura has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t play in Saturday’s game at Stanford. The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported that de Laura might also miss the Nov. 27 game against Washington if he is placed in a 14-day quarantine. Redshirt sophomore Cammon Cooper and redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz are listed as backups to de Laura on the team’s depth chart. Neither has ever taken a snap in a game for the Cougars.
— Seventh-ranked Cincinnati’s game against No. 25 Tulsa has been moved again in a shuffling of the American Athletic Conference football schedule. The Bearcats and Golden Hurricane are now set to play Dec. 12, a week before the planned date of the conference championship game. The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 17, then moved to Dec. 4. The AAC also announced new dates for five other games postponed because of COVID-19 issues. The first is Memphis at Navy on Nov. 28.
— The University of Pittsburgh says its players will be outfitted with face coverings to use on the field and sideline during its home game against Virginia Tech on Saturday, in accordance with recent guidelines handed down by state officials in Pennsylvania. In a statement, Penn State said the new orders include exceptions for competition to be played without face coverings “in the context of rigorous and stringent University and Big Ten testing, health and safety protocols.” The Nittany Lions host Iowa on Saturday.
Red Sox tab Will Venable as bench coach in Cora’s return
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox have hired Will Venable to be a bench coach on manager Alex Cora’s staff.
Venable spent the last three seasons with the Cubs as a first- and third-base coach. He was a 12-year veteran as a major league outfielder, mostly with the San Diego Padres.
Venable’s father, Max, also spent a dozen years in the majors.
The Red Sox also said that Jason Varitek has been named game planning coordinator, Ramón Vázquez will be the quality control coach and interpreter, and Kevin Walker has been named bullpen coach.
Elsewhere in the majors:
— The New York Mets have signed right-hander Sam McWilliams, who’s spent six years in the minor leagues with three other organizations. The 25-year-old will get $750,000 in the majors and $195,000 in the minors. The 6-foot-7 McWilliams was in Tampa Bay’s 60-player pool this year. He is 30-35 with a 3.85 ERA in his career, making 94 starts and 15 relief appearances. McWilliams pitched in the Philadelphia and Arizona systems before making it to Triple-A with Tampa Bay in 2019.
— The Tampa Bay Rays have designated outfielder Hunter Renfroe for assignment, helping clear room on the 40-man roster for three young prospects who were not part of the team’s run to the World Series. Renfroe, 28, played in 42 games with 34 starts during the pandemic-shortened regular season and hit the first grand slam in Rays postseason history during the team’s wild-card playoff sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays. Renfroe batted .156 with eight homers and 22 RBIs. He appeared in 12 games with six starts during the postseason, batting .174 with two homers and seven RBIs.
Live Fast Motorsports becomes 3rd new NASCAR team for 2021
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Live Fast Motorsports has announced the formation of a NASCAR team. That brings the total to three new teams for the Cup Series in 2021.
The team is owned by drivers B.J. McLeod and Matt Tifft. McLeod will drive the No. 78 Ford next season. Tifft’s one season as a Cup Series driver ended late in 2019 when he suffered a seizure at Martinsville Speedway. He has not raced since.
The Live Fast entry joins new teams owned former driver Justin Marks, as well as one co-owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.
Djokovic beats Zverev, advances to semifinals at ATP Finals
LONDON (AP) — Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich) has completed the semifinals lineup at the ATP Finals by eliminating Alexander Zverev by beating the German 6-3, 7-6 in an empty O2 Arena.
The top-ranked Djokovic is lined up with Dominic Thiem (teem) on Saturday as he goes for a record-tying sixth title at the season-ending event and a first since 2015. Rafael Nadal (rah-fay-ehl nah-DAHL’) will take on Daniil Medvedev (DAN’-ihl MEHD’-veh-dehv) in the other semifinal.
Nadal is trying for the 10th time to win his first ATP Finals crown.
Streb shoots 63 to lead Villegas by 2 shot at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Robert Streb is the leader going into the weekend at the RSM Classic with history on his side. Not only is Streb’s only PGA Tour victory at Sea Island, but, the last four winners had the 36-hole lead. Streb doesn’t want to be the one who breaks that streak. He got in position with a 9-under 63 that matched his career low.
Two shots behind is Camilo Villegas, the sentimental favorite at Sea Island. Villegas is trying to overcome the death of 2-year-old daughter Mia this summer. She was diagnosed with tumors on her brain and spine.
Kim leads McDonald in Pelican Women’s Championship
BELLEAIR, Fla. (AP) — Breakthrough winners in their last starts, Sei Young Kim and Ally McDonald were on top again Friday in the Pelican Women’s Championship. The second-ranked Kim shot a 5-under 65 at Pelican Golf Club to take a one-stroke lead over McDonald into the weekend. McDonald had a 66.
Kim had an 8-under 132 total in the first-year tournament originally set for the same week as the PGA Championship in May.
AP source: USA Basketball entering bubble for AmeriCup games
UNDATED (AP) — USA Basketball and the national teams from Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico will be moving into a bubble in Indianapolis over the coming days. The teams are preparing for the second round of FIBA AmeriCup qualifying games this month. It will be the first bubble-type format in the U.S. for an international event. Players, coaches and staff will go through strict testing and other protocols before arriving in Indianapolis and during their time at the event. The U.S. is inviting 14 players to training camp.
Shiffrin to start 1st in comeback ski race after 10 months
LEVI, Finland (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin will start first in Saturday’s World Cup slalom which ends her 10 month break from racing.
The official start list released by FIS says Shiffrin has been given No. 1 during the bib draw for the slalom season opener.
Shiffrin hasn’t raced since January. Her season was cut short following the death of her father in February and the cancellation of the remainder of the season amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Sweden team including slalom specialist Anna Swenn Larsson is in quarantine and will miss this weekend’s races after one of its coaches tested positive for COVID-19.
Soccer players’ union in England wants reduction in heading
LONDON (AP) — The union representing soccer players in England wants less heading of balls in training amid growing concerns about brain injury diseases among former professionals.
The decision by the Professional Footballers’ Association follows a meeting of its management committee which assesses research into dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. It was announced this month that Manchester United and England great Bobby Charlton had been diagnosed with dementia.