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The Inside Track | NEWSWIRE

Bucks Acquire Villanueva From Raptors for Ford

July 01, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Milwaukee Bucks traded point guard T.J. Ford to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night for forward Charlie Villanueva and cash.

Ford averaged 12.2 points and a team-high 6.6 assists in 72 games last season after a spinal-cord injury that sidelined him for 1 1/2 seasons.

"He was an inspiration to all of us when he found the will and strength to fight back from the neck injury he suffered during his rookie season," Bucks General Manager Larry Harris said. "We wish him much success in Toronto."

The 6-foot Ford was the No. 8 pick in the 2003 draft.

Harris hopes Villanueva will fill the team's need for a power forward to complement 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, the top pick in the 2005 draft.

Villanueva, selected seventh overall in the 2005 draft, averaged 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 81 games.

Shortly after the NBA's free-agency season began at midnight Eastern time, the Cleveland Cavaliers contacted LeBron James to offer him a five-year maximum contract extension worth about $80 million, a deal that could keep him with the team through the 2012-13 season.

For months, James has said he has no plans to leave. However, until he says he has accepted the offer, nothing is certain. He can't officially sign anything until July 12.

"I'm not talking about it today," a smiling James said at a Friday afternoon news conference held by the Cavaliers to introduce draft picks Shannon Brown and Daniel Gibson.

Guard James Posey was a key part of the Miami Heat's run to the NBA championship. And he wants to be a part of the title defense too.

Posey decided to exercise his $6.4-million option to stay with the Heat next season, electing not to become a free agent. He and the Heat probably will talk about a long-term deal in the coming weeks.

The Heat, meanwhile, picked up reserve guard Jason Kapono's $1.1-million contract for next season. The former UCLA star averaged 4.1 points in 51 games last season.

HOCKEY

Toronto Cuts Ties With Belfour, Domi

The Toronto Maple Leafs declined to pick up the option on goaltender Ed Belfour and bought out the contract of enforcer Tie Domi, cutting ties with two of their most popular players.

Belfour, 41, had a disappointing season, compiling a 22-22-4 record with a 3.29 goals-against average. He sat out the last portion of the season because of a recurring back problem.

In three seasons with the Maple Leafs, he went 93-61-15 with a 2.51 GAA.

Domi, 36, didn't fight much last season and finished with five goals and 11 assists. The fan favorite played 12 seasons with Toronto.

He is Toronto's all-time leader in penalty minutes and ranks third in NHL history.

Four-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings. Financial terms weren't disclosed. He led all NHL defensemen last season with a career-high 80 points.

The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed right wing Justin Williams to a five-year, $17.5-million contract, keeping the 30-goal scorer among the franchise's core young players.

The Stanley Cup champions also re-signed defenseman Niclas Wallin to a four-year, $6.9-million contract, and right wing Craig Adams to a three-year, $1.8-million contract.

The sale of the St. Louis Blues to a group led by Dave Checketts was completed, and the new owners immediately named top NHL broadcaster John Davidson as team president.

MOTOR RACING

Earnhardt Gets Another Victory at Daytona

Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway for the first time in more than two years, winning the NASCAR Busch Series Winn-Dixie 250.

Earnhardt took the lead early in a Chevrolet and dominated the rest of the way, holding off Brian Vickers after a late restart. Vickers finished second, followed by series point leader Kevin Harvick.

Earnhardt led 88 of 103 laps and picked up his 21st Busch Series victory.

Road racing specialist Boris Said of Carlsbad was the surprise winner of the pole for tonight's NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, posting a lap of 186.143 mph in a Ford.

It was the second pole of his career -- the other was at Infineon Raceway's road course in 2003. Tony Stewart, the defending race winner, qualified second at 185.651 mph in a Chevrolet.

Mike Skinner moved into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' career poles lead, qualifying first for today's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas City, Kan.

It was the 28th pole for Skinner, moving him one ahead of Jack Sprague, and his series-leading fourth pole of the season. He had a fast lap of 31.437 seconds with a qualifying speed of 171.772 mph in a Toyota.

JURISPRUDENCE

Armstrong Wins Ruling in Doping Libel Case

Lance Armstrong won a preliminary court ruling in a libel case against a British newspaper over doping allegations.

The High Court in London ruled in favor of the seven-time Tour de France winner, saying an article published in the Sunday Times in June 2004 "meant accusation of guilt and not simply reasonable grounds to suspect."

After reading the article, along with the headline, photographs and captions, any "reasonable reader would have understood [the article] ... to mean that Mr. Armstrong had taken drugs to enhance his performance in cycling competitions," Judge Charles Gray said.

The verdict means the newspaper will go to trial having to defend the position it is accusing Armstrong of using drugs and not that it was simply raising "questions" about his conduct as a professional cyclist.

The trial is to begin Nov. 21.

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