Update on the latest sports
AP source: Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons agree to buyout
DETROIT (AP) — Blake Griffin’s time in Detroit is over. A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Griffin and the Pistons have agreed to a contract buyout.
The Pistons announced last month that they would keep Griffin out of the lineup while resolving his future. His exit is another significant step in a rebuilding process that has Detroit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 10-26 record. Detroit traded Derrick Rose to the Knicks last month.
Griffin, who turns 32 later this month, joined the Pistons in a trade during the 2017-18 season. He had a terrific 2018-19 season, helping Detroit get to the playoffs. But his health has been a concern in Detroit, just as it had been when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Griffin has averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the 20 games he’s played this season.
Washington releases Alex Smith
UNDATED (AP) — Washington has released veteran quarterback Alex Smith.
The move clears just under $15 million in salary cap space for Washington, which is hoping to figure out its long-term QB situation and fill many holes in the aftermath of a 7-9 season.
Coach Ron Rivera said he met with Smith this week, each side figured it was best to move on, and the organization granted Smith’s request to be released. The AP Comeback Player of the Year hopes to continue playing next season at age 37.
Smith made a triumphant return to NFL action last season, two years after breaking two bones in his right leg and requiring 17 surgeries to repair it. His battle against a life-threatening infection and long rehab process to get back on the field became a documentary and an inspirational tale.
In other NFL news:
— The Buffalo Bills have signed veteran safety Micah Hyde to a two-year contract extension. The Bills announced the signing and a person with direct knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press it averages out to close to $9.6 million a year. The 30-year-old Hyde had one season remaining on a five-year contract he signed upon joining the Bills in free agency in 2017 and is now locked up through 2023. He is entering his ninth NFL season after spending his first four with the Green Bay Packers.
— The NFL has hired Maia Chaka as the first Black female official in league history. She will work games during the 2021 season. Chaka enters the NFL after working in the Pac-12 and Conference USA. She was selected in 2014 for the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, which identifies college officiating talent with the goal of showing them some of the same experiences as NFL officials before determining if they have the ability to succeed as an NFL official. The NFL did not specify which officiating position she will work.
— The NFL is taking steps to learn more about different ways to help players manage pain. Last month, the NFL and NFL Players Association asked researchers with experience conducting controlled, experimental studies related to pain management to submit information that may be useful in treating players. The joint pain management committee comprised of medical experts appointed by the league and the union wants to know about alternatives to opioids, including CBD and other cannabis-derivative products, that may help players recover from sports-specific and musculoskeletal injuries.
Flames fire coach Geoff Ward, replace him with Darryl Sutter
UNDATED (AP) — The Calgary Flames have fired coach Geoff Ward and replaced him with Darryl Sutter, who will lead the team for the second time.
The team announced the moves shortly after Ward coached the Flames to a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night. The Flames went 11-11-2 under Ward this season.
Ward became the interim coach when Bill Peters resigned in November 2019 following an investigation by the team into allegations of racism and assault by Peters. He was formally named the coach in September 2020. Ward went 35-26-5 in 66 games with the Flames.
In other NHL news:
— Longtime Chicago Blackhawks defenseman and three-time Stanley Cup winner Brent Seabrook says he’s unable to continue playing because of injury. The team doctor says among Seabrook’s many recent injuries, a lingering issue with the 35-year-old’s right hip is preventing him from playing hockey again. Seabrook will likely remain on long-term injured reserve for the foreseeable future because he has three years remaining on his contract. Seabrook helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He also won a gold medal playing for Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Astros minus 8 pitchers because of coronavirus protocols
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Houston Astros are minus eight pitchers because of COVID-19 protocols, but general manager James Click says there are no plans to pause activity at the team’s spring training camp.
Manager Dusty Baker says pitchers Cristian Javier, Pedro Báez, Francis Martes, Enoli Paredes and Hector Velazquez were out Friday, a day after Baker said three other pitchers were sent home. It’s not known whether the eight pitchers tested positive for the virus or came in close contact with someone who had tested positive.
The Astros aren’t in any danger of running out of pitchers. They have 39 pitchers in camp.
n other MLB news:
— New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he’s feeling better after getting a pacemaker and hopes to return to the team Saturday or Sunday. Boone said he would have been back with the Yankees on Friday if not for novel coronavirus protocols. He had the pacemaker inserted Wednesday and was discharged from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday. Boone said he felt light-headed at times during the offseason and reached out to his cardiologist for testing. He said monitoring determined he had a low heart rate.
— Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams says the shoulder soreness that kept the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year from pitching in the playoffs shouldn’t affect his readiness for the start of the season. Williams also doesn’t expect it to hamper his comfort level in throwing the changeup that became one of baseball’s most unhittable pitches last season. The Brewers are being cautious with Williams as he works his way back. The 26-year-old right-hander says he doesn’t expect to make his Cactus League debut until after the Brewers’ second scheduled off day March 17.
T25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS/LOYOLA
No. 20 Loyola cruises to 73-49 win over Southern Illinois
ST. LOUIS (AP) — No. 20 Loyola earned a 73-49 win over Southern Illinois on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Freshman Jacob Hutson had 13 points and Lucas Williamson and Braden Norris each added 11.
Loyola opened the game on a 10-0 run before Anthony D’Avanzo scored the Salukis’ first basket 5:23 into the game.
The Ramblers have won three straight games against Southern Illinois after sweeping a two-game set in Chicago to close out the regular season.
The Salukis were playing without guard Lance Jones, who was injured in the first half of Thursday night’s game against Bradley.
D’Vanzo led Southern Illinois with 18 points and freshman Dalton Banks, making his first career start in place of Jones, added 12 points.
Loyola led 35-22 at halftime and held a double-figure lead for the final 27:29 of the game.