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Domestic violence charges against Panthers DE Greg Hardy dropped

02.09.15 at 11:39 am ET
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Charges of domestic violence against Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who was accused of assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend last summer, were dropped on Monday.

Hardy was convicted of domestic violence in district court in Mecklenburg, North Carolina, in July 2014. His appeal of the charges was scheduled to begin on Monday, but his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder did not appear at the hearing.

“Without her testimony, in this particular instance, the State could not proceed,” the state district attorney’s office said. The DA’s office believes that Hardy and Holder reached a civil settlement and Holder “intentionally made herself unavailable to the State.”

Hardy, a 2013 Pro Bowl selection, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10. He remains on the commissioner’s exempt list despite the dropped charges.

“His status remains unchanged until we fully review the matter,” an NFL statement said Monday.

According to an ESPN report, the Panthers are not expected to pursue a new contract with Hardy.

Read More: Carolina Panthers, Greg Hardy,

Ray Allen reportedly weighing options for next team

02.09.15 at 10:54 am ET
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Ray Allen reportedly is slated to pick a team to play for in the next 10 days, at some time during the All-Star break. The guard is a free agent and hasn’t played professionally since the NBA Finals back in June.

Teams Allen is considering reportedly include the Cavaliers, Warriors, Hawks, Wizards, Heat and Clippers.

Fox Sports Ohio said that LeBron James and Allen met in late January and that “Allen was said to be concerned with the state of the Cavs at the time.”

James and other ex-Heat players Mike Miller and James Jones “each made a recruiting pitch for Allen to join the Cleveland Cavaliers during the offseason.”

While many teams have expressed interest, most recently, Atlanta is said to have thrown its hat into the ring. Though nothing is imminent, the Hawks “have had discussions with representatives” for Allen, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As of Jan. 22, it was Washington that had most aggressively been pursuing Allen, per Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com. The Wizards apparently have interest in reuniting Allen with Paul Pierce.

With myriad teams to choose from, Allen’s decision likely will come down to what kind of role he’d be filling with a prospective team.

“If he goes to Golden State, how much is he really going to play there? If he goes to Cleveland, what’s his role going to be? Washington can guarantee a lot of minutes for him off the bench, and I think that’s a big factor in this,” Kennedy told a Washington radio station on Jan. 23.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, Miami Heat

Report: Bills’ deal with Richie Incognito worth $2.25M

02.09.15 at 9:40 am ET
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Richie Incognito

Richie Incognito

On Saturday, the Bills announced via their website that they had “reached an agreement in principle” with Richie Incognito and, according to ESPN, the deal is for one year and $2.25 million.

The former Dolphin was involved in a bullying scandal in 2013 where he and fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey bullied former teammate Jonathan Martin. The incident led to Incognito’s suspension for the remainder of that season, the last eight games.

Incognito, 31, reportedly had visits with the Buccaneers in August and Broncos in November but remained out of football for the 2014 season.

Now, with Rex Ryan at Buffalo’s helm, Incognito has landed with the Bills, despite Buffalo defensive tackle Marcell Dareus once calling him “the dirtiest player in the NFL.”

During his introductory news conference in January, Ryan expressed his intentions to “build a bully” of a football team.

“We’re going to see if you want to play it for 60 minutes,” Ryan said.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, Rex Ryan, Richie Incognito,

Report: Padres add RHP James Shields as part of offseason makeover

02.09.15 at 8:47 am ET
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The Padres appear to have added another notable name to their roster for next season. According to multiple reports, San Diego has agreed with free agent pitcher James Shields to a four-year contract, with a club option for a fifth season, worth between $72 million and $76 million.

The 33-year-old Shields will join Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrows as new members of a remodeled San Diego team. He reportedly garnered interest from the Cubs and Marlins along with some other teams in the last week.

In nine years at the major league level, Shields has spent time with Tampa Bay and Kansas City, posting a 3.72 career ERA and 114-90 record in 286 games played.

Read More: James Shields, san diego padres,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Patriots Malcolm Butler, Julian Edelman make cameo at Grammys

02.09.15 at 8:17 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Clippers at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Boston University at Lafayette, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Duke at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Baylor, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Coyotes at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler made a cameo on the Grammys Sunday night, joining teammate Julian Edelman onstage to help present one of the awards.

The Super Bowl hero appeared nervous as he stood alongside Edelman and actor Josh Duhamel. As Duhamel was about to announce the winner of the award for best rock album, Butler (after getting a subtle nudge from Edelman) reached over and took the envelope from Duhamel.

“Once again, another interception by Malcolm,” Edelman deadpanned.

In a backstage interview, Butler said he’s starting to recover from the emotional high of the Super Bowl and its immediate aftermath.

“I’ve been coming down,” he said (via the New York Daily News). “I’ve been coming down lately, but coming back here brought me back up. But I’m managing it well. You’ve got to get over that. I don’t want one play to define me as a player, so back to work, sooner or later.”

As for the actual play, Butler admitted that he was concerned the Patriots might not be able to pull out the win.

“I’m not going to tell a story,” he said. “Me and the whole Pat Nation felt that way. But never give up, keep playing hard, and things like that happen.”

— Knicks owner James Dolan, no stranger to embarrassing himself, is back in the spotlight again for his obnoxious response to criticism from a longtime fan of the team.

The fan, 73-year-old Irving Bierman, emailed Dolan to complain about the team’s poor performance under his guidance and requested that he sell the club. “You have done a lot of utterly STUPID business things with the franchise,” wrote Bierman, who said he has been a fan of the team since 1952. “Please NO MORE.”

In his response, Dolan got personal with Bierman and suggested he takes his allegiance elsewhere.

Wrote Dolan: Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am.just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21 year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks dont want you.

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Read More: Dean Smith, James Dolan, Julian Edelman, malcolm butler

Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell gets 15 months probation, faces NFL suspension for marijuana

02.06.15 at 1:44 pm ET
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A week after Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount had his marijuana possession charge dropped after completing 50 hours of community service, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell faces 15 months of probation for marijuana passion and DUI charges. Bell’s sentence was imposed on Friday.

Bell, who finished the regular season with the second most rushing yards in the league, likely also will face a suspension of up to two games, according to defense attorney Robert Del Greco Jr.

Blount and Bell were arrested together on Aug. 20 of last year when they were teammates in Pittsburgh. Blount was released by the Steelers later in the season and signed with the Patriots soon after.

“I think it would be fair to say that [Bell] was relieved to have the hearing, eager to comply with the court’s conditions, and hopefully he will do so in a way that he’ll earn a dismissal and his expungement,” Del Greco said.

After completing his probation, paying $2,000 in court costs, and forfeiting a portion of his salary for each game he is suspended, Bell will be able to petition to have his record expunged.

Read More: Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount,

Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist reportedly out at least a month with neck injury

02.06.15 at 1:29 pm ET
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After missing a game against the Bruins on Wednesday, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will miss at least one month due to a neck injury, according to a New York Post story.

Lundqvist was hit in the throat by a Brad Malone shot on Saturday in the team’s victory over the Hurricanes. Lundqvist finished the game and played in the Rangers’ win over the Panthers two days later, but he sat out against the Bruins after suffering headaches since the incident.

Cam Talbot, who started in place of Lundqvist on Wednesday, stopped 18 shots as the Rangers beat the Bruins. Talbot will be the team’s top goalie until Lundqvist’s return.

The Rangers have not specified what the injury is.

Read More: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers,

Doug Marrone ‘not looking back’ on decision to leave Bills

02.06.15 at 11:11 am ET
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Doug Marrone

Doug Marrone

When Doug Marrone quit his head coaching job with the Bills, many were under the impression that he had bailed. However, Marrone says he didn’t quit on Buffalo, but rather he just took the option written into his contract.

“I had an opportunity that was in the contract to opt out,” Marrone told Tim Graham of The Buffalo News. That opportunity also included taking $4 million from the Bills, which upset the locker room a bit.

Marrone was hired as the offensive line coach for the Jaguars on Jan. 20 after opting out of his Buffalo contract on Dec. 31.

“At the end of the day, I had two outstanding years in Buffalo and I think [new owners] Terry and Kim Pegula are going to be outstanding,” Marrone said. “I really can’t say enough about the people within the organization, from the trainers to the public relations department to the equipment people. They were outstanding.

“I had a three-day window in my contract, which was obviously difficult because of the time aspect of it. My family and I made a decision to leave. … And we’re not looking back. We’re looking forward, and it’s that simple.”

According to Ryan O’Halloran of jacksonville.com, it was clear that Marrone was “avoiding any specifics for why exactly he wanted out of Buffalo.”

Read More: Buffalo Bills, Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars,

Thinking Out Loud: Providence’s victory at Georgetown a monumental one

02.06.15 at 10:49 am ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the real Tiger Woods

— Providence’s win Wednesday night at Georgetown brought out a couple of firsts. It was PC’s first win in Washington over the Hoyas since 2005, and it was the Friars’ first win on the road against a ranked team since a 2004 win at UConn.

— Even more impressive was the comeback from a 13-point second-half deficit. Do-everything guard Kris Dunn was on the bench in foul trouble, and the outcome looked to be all but decided in favor of a tough, physical Hoyas team. The effort over the final 10 minutes of the game was as gritty a performance for a PC team as we’ve seen in the last 10 years — every bit as good as the second-half performance at Butler earlier this year — and is as good a win as any team has had in the Big East this season.

— Balance has been, and will remain the key to any Friars success this season. When they get balanced scoring, it’s difficult for an opponent to pick their poison. When they get a balanced defensive effort, the Friars can be suffocating in their 2-3 zone, and that was a major problem for Georgetown in the last 10 minutes of Wednesday’s game. Now if PC could just figure out how to do this against St. John’s. Just sayin’.

— Freshman forward Ben Bentil came up with his first career double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds), and grew up quite a bit against the physical Hoyas. His body is already strong, and his basketball ability is beginning to catch up to his strength.

— The physical nature of Wednesday’s matchup brought out the best — and maybe a little bit of the worst — in both teams. So physical was the finish that the Hoyas — who did their own pushing, shoving and clubbing throughout — had a hard time getting through the handshake line at game’s end. Sensing potential trouble and possible emotions getting out of hand, Ed Cooley quickly sent his team to the locker room before words, or anything else, could be exchanged. Such is life in the always-emotional, always-physical Big East.

— If the Friars could learn how to shoot with any consistency, or accuracy, they’d be a real handful for anyone they face come tournament time. As it now stands, the Friars’ defense will carry them as far as they can go — and that still might be enough on most nights, when they extend the zone and plug the middle.

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Tigers lineup uncertain after Victor Martinez injures knee again

02.06.15 at 10:26 am ET
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Tigers veteran Victor Martinez needs surgery after tearing the medial meniscus in his left knee. Martinez hurt the same knee three years ago during an offseason workout, but then it was his anterior cruciate ligament.

“It’s not the same injury, but I’m still holding my breath,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

No timetable has been announced for Martinez’s return, but the Tigers are hoping he isn’t out for a lengthy period of time. The last time Martinez his knee, the Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract that January. Fielder was traded to the Rangers, though, after two seasons in Detroit. For now, the Tigers’ plans for this offseason haven’t been severely affected, general manager Dave Dombrowski wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

“There are no changes in our plans at this time,” Dombrowski added. “We will evaluate that after his surgery.”

Last year, Detroit relied on the duo of Martinez and Miguel Cabrera for offensive power, but with Martinez’s injury and Cabrera returning from right ankle surgery, that might not be a surefire combo.

However, Ausmus said he has players like Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez he can slide into the designated hitter slot if Victor Martinez is still not 100 percent.

In terms of first base, if Cabrera needs more time, Ausmus said catcher Alex Avila can log time at first in the spring, as can infielder Andrew Romine.

For right now, Detroit will have to wait and learn more to see what its lineup with look like for the season.

“You try to make the best of it,” Ausmus said.

Read More: Brad Ausmus, Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera, victor martinez