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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez ‘a little nervous’ for return to game action 03.04.15 at 8:27 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: Jazz at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Lakers at Heat, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Trail Blazers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Providence at Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Notre Dame at Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Central Florida at South Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: La Salle at Saint Joseph’s, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Houston at Tulane, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: USC at UCLA, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: TCU at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: St. John’s at Marquette, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Cincinnati at Tulsa, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Oregon at Oregon State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: San Diego State at UNLV, 11 p.m. (CBSSN)
NHL: Rangers at Red Wings, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB exhibition: Phillies at Yankees, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Women, United States vs. Norway, 2 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Premier League, Chelsea at West Ham, 2:40 p.m. (NBCSN)


Alex Rodriguez is set to play his first spring training game Wednesday, marking his return to the majors after his one-year suspension that cost him the entire 2014 season.

“I’ll be a little nervous,” Rodriguez admitted. “I haven’t been in front of my — our — fans for a long time. I’m excited about that. I have some challenges ahead.”

Added Rodriguez: “I am excited for [Wednesday]. I’m not sure how ready, but I’ll give it a shot.”

The Yankees are anticipating about 9,000 fans for the game, and it’s unclear what kind of reaction Rodriguez will get. Manager Joe Girardi said he expects the Tampa crowd to support him.

“He was caught. He paid his time, and now he’s back, and he’s a Yankee and we’re going to cheer for him,” Girardi said. “Some people are going to say, ‘You know what, I might have a hard time cheering for him,’ And some people are just fans and they fall in love with a player, and no matter what they do, it doesn’t matter.”

— The Panthers, chasing the Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, found themselves scrambling for a goalie during Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs.

Following injuries to starter Roberto Luongo and backup Al Montoya, the team considered having center Derek MacKenzie play as management contacted the league office to sign an emergency contract with 41-year-old goaltending consultant Robb Tallas, who last played an NHL game in 2001.

“It’s rare. Doesn’t happen very often,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. “You’re in constant communication with the league to do the right thing, and you have to have him be legal and it has to be cleared by central registry.

“It’s hard to do that at 11 o’clock or 10:30 at night. … If we couldn’t get him cleared, it would have had to be a player.”

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Josh Smith,
NBA roundup: Josh Smith trade rumors resurface; Rodney Stuckey signs with Indiana; James Jones joins LeBron James in Cleveland 07.17.14 at 10:51 am ET
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Josh Smith‘€™s tenure in the Motor City might only last one season.

The versatile forward has been at the center of recent trade talks that could ship the former Hawk to the Kings, according to

Talks between both parties started last month before tailing off due to a lack of progress and the start of the league’€™s free agency window. Sacramento, which reportedly offered Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry in the original deal for Smith, reportedly is looking for a third team to complete the deal.

If the trade is completed, Smith will join an impressive Kings frontcourt that already includes DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Another potential factor in the deal could be Smith’€™s close relationship with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who has also been linked to trade rumors with the Kings.

— It didn’€™t take long for the Pacers to find a replacement for Lance Stephenson.

Just a day after Stephenson agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with the Hornets, Indiana signed guard Rodney Stuckey to a one-year deal, according to The Associated Press.

Stuckey, who played for the Pistons for the last seven years, was made expendable after Detroit added Jodie Meeks and D.J. Augustin to its backcourt this offseason. Last season, Stuckey averaged 13.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

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Read More: James Jones, Josh Smith, LeBron James, Rodney Stuckey
Pistons hire Stan Van Gundy as coach, top executive 05.14.14 at 1:48 pm ET
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The Pistons’ hunt for a coach is over, as the team announced that it has hired Stan Van Gundy to serve as both coach and president of basketball operations.

“€œStan is a proven winner in our league,”€ said Pistons owner Tom Gores in a team statement. “He instills his teams with passion, purpose and toughness. He is a great teacher who will help our players grow and develop. Stan is more than just a great coach, he’€™s a great leader. What I’€™m most excited about is how Stan can help us shape the franchise and instill what it means to be the best. He’s also a great communicator. My time with Stan has me convinced that he will bring our players, team and community to a very proud place.”

Van Gundy has a career record of 371-208 in his seven-plus seasons as coach of the Heat and Magic. He helped guide Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2009, before his team was bested by the Lakers in five games.

The deal for Van Gundy reportedly is for five years and $35 million. An official announcement on the contract is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

“It is an honor to be chosen to help Tom Gores build the Pistons into a team that competes for championships,”€ Van Gundy said in a statement. “Tom’s vision of building for the future, while seeking immediate improvement is a challenge that I embrace. We will work to put a team on the floor that reflects the franchise’s rich tradition and embodies the toughness and work ethic of fans in the Detroit area.”

The Pistons are a far cry from the franchise that made it to consecutive NBA Finals in 2004 and 2005, as the team has missed the playoffs for five years in a row. Despite adding Josh Smith in free agency this past offseason to an already talented frontcourt Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, the Pistons posted a 29-53 record in 2013-14. The team has gone through a massive overhaul, as coach Maurice Cheeks was fired in February and resigned from his post as team president in April.

The team will reportedly introduce Van Gundy at a press conference on Tuesday.

Read More: Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Joe Dumars, Josh Smith
NBA free agency update: Pelicans reportedly offer $44 million contract to Tyreke Evans; teams begin lining up for Andre Iguodala 07.02.13 at 12:14 pm ET
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The New Orleans Pelicans rebranded themselves by changing their mascot this season, and they are starting to do it in terms of their personnel this offseason.

The Pelicans strengthened their backcourt on draft day by dealing for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Now, they are making an aggressive move for another guard, as they offered a four-year contract worth as much as $44 million to restricted free agent Tyreke Evans, according to USA Today.

Evans averaged 15.2 points, 3.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in 65 games with Sacramento last season. His production has declined each year since he won Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 — a season in which he averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds.

The Kings have the right to match any offer sheet that Evans signs before the league lifts its moratorium on July 10. Evans has already visited with the Pistons and has a meeting scheduled with the Hawks soon.

If the Pelicans do sign Evans, the question will be how they will use him. Holiday is coming off an All-Star season and Eric Gordon averaged 17 points per game last season. The Pelicans also drafted Austin Rivers with the No. 10 pick of the 2012 draft, and he averaged 6.2 points and 2.1 assists per game last season.

Evans — who started his career as a point guard before shifting over to shooting guard — played some small forward last season. However, Evans has resisted playing small forward in the past and would raise questions on how the guard rotation would work.

For the Pelicans to be able to afford Evans’€™ contract — which they priced so high that the Kings likely would not match the deal — New Orleans would try to unload Robin Lopez‘€™s contract according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Lopez is set to make around $5.1 million in 2013-14.

If the Kings lose Evans to the Pelicans, they are already on making plans to find his replacement. The Kings met with free agent Andre Iguodala on Monday, adding to the list of teams trying to bring in the forward. Iguodala also is being targeted by the Pistons and his team from last season, the Nuggets, according to Slam Online.

Iguodala is not the only star player the Pistons are looking to add, as they are pursuing Hawks forward Josh Smith. Detroit has met with Smith, according to USA Today, but has not yet offered him a contract. Smith will meet with the Hawks on Tuesday.

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Read More: Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Monta Ellis, Tyreke Evans
Report: Nets make push for Hawks’ Josh Smith 02.11.13 at 9:54 am ET
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The Celtics‘ days of Atlantic Division dominance appear to be ending, and the division might soon get even tougher. According to an ESPN report that credits league sources, the Nets — who began Monday with a 1½-game lead over the Celtics for second place in the division behind the Knicks — are making a push to acquire Hawks forward Josh Smith or Bobcats guard Ben Gordon before the NBA’s Feb. 21 trading deadline.

Forward Kris Humphries is the player the Nets are said to be offering as the centerpiece of either deal, with shooting guard MarShon Brooks available as well.

Smith is set to become a free agent following this season and is expected to demand close to maximum salary, so the Hawks risk losing him and getting nothing in return if they stand pat.

The 6-foot-9 Smith is in his ninth NBA season, all with the Hawks, after going directly from high school to the pros. In 46 games this season, he’s averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.2 blocks — all slightly above his career averages.

Read More: Ben Gordon, Bobcats, Hawks, Josh Smith
Hawks suspend Josh Smith one game 01.16.13 at 2:03 pm ET
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The Hawks suspended forward Josh Smith, their top scorer, for one game for “conduct detrimental to the team,” general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement on Wednesday. Smith, who will miss Wednesday’s game against the Nets, also was fined an undisclosed amount.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Smith was thrown out of practice on Tuesday. Coach Larry Drew acknowledged that there was “an incident in practice.”

“At that particular point, something had to be done,” Drew said. “I met with Danny afterward, and the rest of the staff, we actually slept on it. We all came back in agreement that we had to take the measure that we did. That we would do it, that would be our stand. After tonight’€™s game, again, we will embrace Josh once again.”

Smith is averaging 16.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The Hawks have lost six of their last seven games and seven of their last nine. Before that skid, they were 19-9 with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

“Clearly I am competitive and was frustrated by our recent losses,” Smith said in a statement. “I understand and respect the team’s actions and just want to get back on the court to do whatever is necessary to help my teammates. I apologize for letting them down and apologize to our fans for not being available for tonight’s game.”

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Josh Smith,