NBA legend won't be returning next season

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NBA legend won't be returning next season

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Larry Bird has resigned from the Indiana Pacers, effective from the end of August. Bird, perhaps the most respected and beloved basketball figure in a state obsessed with the sport, is the Pacers' president of basketball operations. He spent four years building the team into an Eastern Conference contender and was this season's NBA executive of the year, but is instead moving on after saying just a month ago that he was willing to stay. Bird said health issues were among the reasons for his departure. He said he may need shoulder surgery and cited longstanding issues with his back. "I just think it's time," he said at a news conference on Wednesday as the team announced an executive reorganization. Bird said he was prepared to leave last year with the organization headed in the right direction. He and owner Herb Simon had discussed his eventual departure for a few years. Bird also said that payroll issues with the small-market Pacers did not affect his decision. "(Simon) knows to get to the next level we're going to spend some money," Bird said. "Every time I went to Herb about a player or about money to spend, he questioned it. And he should. At the end of the day, he always said go ahead and do what you have to do to make this team better. That's the support you need. ... We're going to spend money." Bird said he plans to take a year off and get healthy before he evaluates his situation. He did not rule out a return to basketball. Owning a team used to be a goal, but he said he no longer has that interest. Simon said he had hoped to keep Bird, who will stay on for the draft when the Pacers are scheduled to pick No. 26 overall in the first round on Thursday. His contract expires on Aug. 30. "I feel sad (with) the announcement that Larry's going to be leaving us," said Simon, who continued to talk to Bird about staying as late as Monday. "Larry could have stayed here as long as he wants, but he has his own reasons. The Pacers organization appreciates everything he's done for us in his nine years. We wish him the very best and hope that we can still be associated with him in the coming years." The 55-year-old Bird was the Pacers coach from 1997-2000, taking the team to its only NBA Finals appearance that final year before he returned to the team's front office in 2003. He took full control as president of basketball decisions after the 2007-08 season, when Donnie Walsh left to become the New York Knicks' president. Walsh is returning as the Pacers' president. Kevin Pritchard, the director of player personnel, is being promoted to general manager, replacing David Morway, who resigned on Tuesday. Walsh said he won't travel the country to evaluate collegiate prospects, leaving that to Pritchard. Bird had said just a month ago that he wanted to stay and expressed interest in a three-year deal rather than the annual "handshake" agreements he had with Simon. Bird won three MVP awards and three NBA titles during his Hall of Fame career with Boston. As the Pacers' president, he took a franchise humbled by the brawl between Pacers players and Detroit fans in 2004, made a series of difficult trades to get rid of troublemakers, rebuilt through the draft and returned the Pacers to the Eastern Conference semifinals this season. It was Indiana's deepest postseason run in seven years.

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Need to Know: The five Redskins under the most pressure entering camp

Need to Know: The five Redskins under the most pressure entering camp

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 21, six days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 201 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 51 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 20
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 29
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 43

Five Redskins who are under pressure going into training camp

QB Kirk Cousins–Going first with the most obvious. He’s under pressure to get this team back to the playoffs. Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine will help the running game and perhaps the defense will improve. But this team still will rise and fall by scoring points through the air. From his point of view, he’s on a one-year deal. If he is going to get a record long-term deal next year–or get the Redskins to cough up $35 million on the franchise tag–he’s going to need to play well.

WR Terrelle Pryor–He also is in the one-year contract situation so he needs to impress all 32 teams to drive up his value. He’s also being counted on to replace the 1,000-yard production of either Pierre Garçon or DeSean Jackson. Or maybe both. That’s a lot to put on the plate of a player in just his second full-time year at his position.

CB Josh Norman–Cousins has the highest 2017 salari on the team but Norman has the biggest contract on the team and he didn’t have the impact to match it last year. It’s not that he had a bad year but it’s reasonable to expect more interceptions and fewer penalties. It’s fair to give him a pass with it being his first year in the system. However, the Redskins have a window to release him without a debilitating cap hit after this season and if the value isn’t there you can’t rule out them pulling the trigger.

S Su’a Cravens–Everyone knows that Cravens is perhaps a step slow for a safety. He needs to make up for it with anticipation, which means paying attention to all the details in practice and doing a lot of extra film study. There is no questioning his work ethic but it’s a lot to absorb in a hurry.

OLB Preston Smith–When he is on, few are better. When he’s off, he can disappear for games on end. Consistency is the key for Smith this year. If he catches on and starts playing at his best all the time, he may be in line for a lucrative contract extension next offseason. If he falters, Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, and Ryan Anderson all will be waiting to lay claim to his snaps.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Orioles bats rally to compete sweep of Rangers

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USA TODAY Sports

Orioles bats rally to compete sweep of Rangers

BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones both homered and drove in three runs, and the Baltimore Orioles rallied to beat Cole Hamels and the Texas Rangers 9-7 on Thursday night to complete a four-game sweep.

Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis also went deep for the Orioles, who trailed 5-1 in the fifth inning before coming back to hand Hamels (4-1) his first loss in 10 starts this season.

Baltimore hit 10 home runs in the series and outscored Texas 34-11.

The Orioles' four-game winning streak is their longest since a six-game run in early May, and it puts them within three games of .500 (46-49) for the first time since July 4.

Miguel Castro (2-1) worked the sixth for Baltimore after starter Wade Miley allowed five runs over five innings.

Mike Napoli homered for the Rangers, whose five-game skid matches their season high.

Adrian Beltre had two hits for Texas and has 2,985 for his career, tied with Sam Rice for 31st place on the all-time list.

Hamels brought a 21-inning scoreless streak into the game and extended it to 24 -- third-longest of his career -- before Schoop homered in the fourth.

Jones and Trumbo connected in the fifth, and Hamels was lifted after Baltimore used three straight singles to pull even in the sixth. Jones greeted Jeremy Jeffress with an RBI double, and Schoop capped the uprising with a two-run single for an 8-5 lead.

Davis homered in the seventh, and the Rangers scored two in the ninth off Zach Britton.

Hamels gave up seven runs, along with a season-high nine hits and three home runs.

Beltre singled in a run for Texas in the first inning, and Carlos Gomez made it 2-0 with an RBI double in the fourth.

Napoli hit his 21st home run with two on in the fifth.