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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Chinese league warns ex-NBA star Steve Francis about behavior

12.22.10 at 7:46 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA: 76ers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNEE; WEEI)


‘™¦ Former NBA star Steve Francis is finding the going rough as a professional in China. The 33-year-old Beijing Ducks guard is struggling, and his frustration is showing. He reportedly entered his first game with an ice pack still on his ankle ‘€” and played (albeit only 17 seconds) with the ice. And on Tuesday he received a “serious warning” from the Chinese Basketball Association for making an obscene gesture on the bench. The league also ordered Francis’ team to “educate and criticize” the player for his “uncivilized behavior.”

‘™¦ With the Pistons struggling, veteran guard Richard Hamilton has lost his grasp on his starting spot. Fellow UConn alum Ben Gordon has been starting over Hamilton, who is off to a slow start. Hamilton skipped Sunday’s game with an upset stomach, and a team source told The Detroit News that the sharpshooter “quit” on the team. Terry Foster in The Detroit News writes that it’s time for Hamilton to go.

‘™¦ Former Giant Michael Strahan piled on his former team, saying of Sunday’s collapse vs. the Eagles, “They should be ashamed of themselves.”

‘™¦ With the Dolphins struggling, Greg Cote in The Miami Herald writes that it’s time to go after Bill Cowher as coach, to replace Tony Sparano.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 22, 1949, which Celtics rookie scored 26 points and gave an accordion concert at halftime of a victory over the Minneapolis Lakers?

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Read More: Bill Cowher, Michael Strahan, Richard Hamilton, Steve Francis

Report: Patriots work out Sam Aiken, two others

12.21.10 at 9:01 pm ET
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According to Mike Reiss of (via twitter), the Patriots worked out three free agents: wide receivers Sam Aiken and Andy Fantuz as well as defensive lineman Landon Cohen. The Pats reportedly have an open roster spot after waiving defense lineman Louis Leonard.

Aiken is the most familiar of those names, having spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons with New England as a special teams player and wide receiver. He set a career high with the Pats in 2009 by making 20 grabs. But he was released at the end of training camp this year and signed for the Browns, for whom he played three games before getting released in mid-October.

Fantuz plays for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. He led the CFL in receiving yards this year with 1,380, and was named the Most Outstanding Canadian in the CFL.

Cohen, a seventh-round draft pick in 2008 by the Detroit Lions, was a backup for the Lions in 2008 and a starter in 2009 before getting cut by the Lions on the final day of training camp. He signed with the Jaguars and played two games with Jacksonville before getting cut. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds.

Read More: andy fantuz, canadian football league, landon cohen, New England Patriots

Jets’ Mark Sanchez has MRI on shoulder, should be fine

12.21.10 at 11:45 am ET
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Coach Rex Ryan said Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez had an MRI exam Monday on his right shoulder, which was “kind of sore” after being banged up early in the team’s 22-17 win over the Steelers Sunday. Ryan said Sanchez’s soreness began after a hit on the Jets’ second drive. “It was like the first time he ran with the football,” Ryan said. “His arm was in an awkward position, but it never affected him.” Referring to the MRI as simply “precautionary,” Ryan expects Sanchez will be fine to start at the Bears next Sunday, although he does plan on limiting the QB slightly in practice this week. “Anytime it’s your quarterback, you’re going to make sure he’s OK,” Ryan said. In the game against the Steelers Sanchez went 19-of-29 for 170 yards with a rushing touchdown and no interceptions.

Read More: Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Rumor Mill,

Padres finalize contract with Orlando Hudson

12.21.10 at 11:42 am ET
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The Padres have finalized their two-year, $11.5 million contract with second baseman Orlando Hudson. The team was simply waiting for the 33-year-old to pass a physical exam. Hudson spent the 2010 season with the Twins and hit .268 with six home runs and 37 RBIs. General manager Jed Hoyer says the Padres are thrilled to have Hudson on board, as their focus during the offseason was to build strength up the middle. “Orlando is a proven winner, a four-time Gold Glove winner and I think he’s going to bring a ton of offense to our team, a ton of defense and a ton of energy,” Hoyer said.

Read More: Jed Hoyer, Orlando Hudson, Rumor Mill,

Sources: Ricky Nolasco agrees to new contract with Marlins

12.21.10 at 11:41 am ET
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Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco has agreed to a three-year, $26.5 million contract pending a physical examination, reports the Associated Press. The contract breaks down to give Nolasco $6 million next season, $9 million in 2012 and $11.5 million in 2013. He made $3.8 million last season, going 14-9 with a 4.51 ERA. The 28-year-old missed the final month of the 2010 season after undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery, but is expected to be ready for the start of spring training. This agreement further solidifies the Marlins’ rotation as they prepare to open a new stadium in 2012.

Read More: Hot Stove, Ricky Nolasco, Rumor Mill,

Report: Dominican National Team has interest in Calipari

12.21.10 at 11:08 am ET
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According to Inside Puerto Rico Basketball blog there has been “communication” between the Dominican Republic Basketball Federation and John Calipari about the possibility of Calipari taking over as coach of the national team.

It is believed that if the Kentucky head coach agrees to the position, it would be a similar deal to that of Rick Pitino, who agreed to coach Puerto Rico’s national team next summer at the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“Guys like Cal and Rick don’t take jobs like this for the money,” a source told Inside Puerto Rico Basketball. “Guys at that level have made more money then they can spend in their lifetime so the money is not the issue. Taking this type of job doesn’t hurt recruiting or prevent a coach and his staff from running an elite program. In a highly competitive recruiting environment taking a job like this increases exposure for both the coach and the program he is coaching. Most importantly, it helps to develop new recruiting contacts internationally which in today’s game is a must.”

Read More: John Calipari, Rumor Mill,

Austin Rivers adds to his reputation as best high school player around

12.21.10 at 8:32 am ET
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Austin Rivers, the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, added to his reputation as the best high school player in the nation by scoring 42 points against previously-unbeaten Dwyer (FL) High at the City of Palms Classic, Monday in Fort Myers. The Winter Park (FL) High standout made five straight three-pointers at one point. The 6-foot-5 Rivers is committed to Duke for next season.

Read More: Rumor Mill,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Tom Coughlin takes time out in the dark

12.21.10 at 7:59 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

No games scheduled


‘™¦ Giants coach Tom Coughlin dealt with the Giants’ disastrous loss to the Eagles on Sunday in his own way. At Monday’s press conference, he told reporters: “What did I do? I sat in a room with the lights out for about two and a half hours. It’€™s not funny. It’€™s not the way it’€™s supposed to be.” Coughlin said he is moving forward with punter Matt Dodge, despite berating him on the field for not kicking the ball out of bounds as instructed on the game-winning touchdown that completed a fourth-quarter meltdown. Dodge received the support of his teammates, and normally reserved quarterback Eli Manning attempted to rally the troops by calling a team meeting.

‘™¦ With the Dolphins eliminated from the playoffs, Greg Stoda of The Palm Beach Post writes that Bill Parcells deserves the blame for the mediocre season.

‘™¦ Darren Rovell at CNBC’s Sports Biz writes that colleges need to stand up to bowl organizers and say no to the ticket arrangements that force them to shell out big bucks whether or not the seats are filled. He uses UConn as an example of a team that will lose at least $2.5 million for its Fiesta Bowl appearance.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 21, 1937, which legendary Bruins goalie became the first in NHL history to surrender a goal to his brother?

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Read More: Bill Parcells, Matt Dodge, Tom Coughlin,

Yankees may turn to prospects for rotation

12.21.10 at 1:27 am ET
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The Yankees wanted Cliff Lee, but saw him spurn their nine-figure offer to head to Philadelphia instead. The best alternative on the market this winter was 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, but according to multiple reports, New York decided not to pursue the right-hander over concerns about his fit for the market. They want Andy Pettitte back, but the 38-year-old has informed the club that he is leaning towards retirement, GM Brian Cashman said (according to Jack Curry of the YES Network, via twitter).

The rest of the free-agent market is less than promising. Carl Pavano is the closest thing to an appealing pitcher on the market, and his previous four-year tenure in New York was such a disaster that the Yankees are almost certain not to pursue him. The trade market beyond Greinke does not offer obvious solutions. While there has been speculation that New York could make a run at 2010 AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, Cashman told, “That ain’t happening.”

So where do the Yankees turn now? According to the same piece, Cashman feels that he might have little choice but to seek internal answers for his rotation behind returning starters CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.

“I’m not saying I want to do it,” Cashman told the website, “but I may have to do it.”

It appears that 23-year-old Ivan Nova (who went 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA for the Yankees in seven starts last year) is a virtual lock for the rotation. If Pettitte changes his mind and returns to pitch in 2011, that would round out the Yankees’ five. But if he does not, then Cashman said that he was prepared to turn to a prospect without major league experience, with the article citing Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi and left-hander Manny Banuelos as possibilities. None of those pitchers has ever thrown a big league pitch.

While the Yankees might not make a big move this offseason, however, that does not foreclose the possibility of the team adding a starter in the coming months. Cashman suggested to that his team need not make a move before the July 31 deadline for non-waiver trades.

“In the past, we might have gone out and traded away prospects just to get someone in here,” Cashman said. “But realistically, I have until July to get this solved.”

Tim Tebow will remain Broncos’s starter

12.20.10 at 6:50 pm ET
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With Kyle Orton still recovering from bruised ribs, Broncos‘ interim coach Eric Studesville has named rookie Tim Tebow the team’s starting quarterback for their game against the Houston Texans this Sunday. Tebow completed 8-of-18 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown in a 39-23 loss to the Raiders in his first career start. He also ran for 78 yards and another score.

Read More: Kyle Orton, Rumor Mill, Tim Tebow,