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NBA officials lockout appears 'unavoidable'

The lead negotiator and spokesman for the referees union, Lamell McMorris, says it's evident the league is not interested in further discussions.

September 18, 2009|Helene Elliott; David Wharton; Eric Sondheimer | Staff and Wire Reports

The lead negotiator and spokesman for the NBA's referees union said Thursday a lockout appears "imminent and unavoidable" following the latest breakdown in talks.

Lamell McMorris said the officials made another $1 million in concessions in their proposal, but they believe it's evident the league is not interested in further discussions. The officials then headed home after spending the last 24 hours meeting in Chicago.

"It's become evident that the league would not be interested in continuing conversation at this time," McMorris said.

The contract between the NBA and its officials expired Sept. 1, and the sides have been trying to reach a new two-year deal. McMorris said they largely agree on salaries, but the union has balked at the league's attempt to change retirement benefits.

Without a new deal, replacement officials will be used when exhibition play opens Oct. 1. The NBA last began a season without its regular referees in 1995-96, when the caliber of officiating was roundly criticized.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have added some much-needed size on the perimeter by signing 6-foot-7 shooting guard Sasha Pavlovic to a one-year deal.

Pavlovic agreed to a buyout with the Phoenix Suns this week. The Cavaliers traded him to Phoenix as part of the deal that brought Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland.

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Veteran forward Juwan Howard signed a one-year contract with the Portland Trail Blazers, the team announced.

Howard, a 15-year veteran, averaged 4.1 points in 42 games with Denver and Charlotte last season.

Terms were not disclosed.

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The New York Knicks have signed free-agent guard Sun Yue.

Team President Donnie Walsh announced the deal on Thursday without disclosing terms.

The 6-foot-9, 205-pound Sun averaged 0.6 points, 0.2 assists and 2.8 minutes as a rookie for the Lakers last season.

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World champion Spain has beaten France, 86-66, and Serbia upset Russia, 79-68, at Katowice, Poland, to advance to the semifinals of the European basketball championship.

Serbia turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter against the defending champions, taking control with a 17-0 run to build a 38-24 lead. Russia couldn't get closer than 10 points the rest of the game.

Spain dominated previously undefeated France, running out to an early 23-12 lead and extending it with hot shooting and a smothering defense that held Tony Parker to six points.

The Lakers' Pau Gasol led Spain with 28 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Guard Rudy Fernandez had 16 points and six steals.

Spain, which is looking for its first European title after finishing runner-up six times, will play Greece or Turkey in the semifinals on Saturday.

HOCKEY

Ducks fall to Canucks, 3-0

Steve Bernier scored in the first period, and Kevin Bieksa and former Duck Aaron Rome scored in the second to lead Vancouver to a 3-0 exhibition victory over the Ducks at the Honda Center. Roberto Luongo made 19 saves in the first two periods and Corey Schneider stopped nine shots in the third to earn the shutout for the Canucks, who dropped the Ducks' exhibition record to 1-1.

-- Helene Elliott

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The Minnesota Wild signed right wing Petr Sykora to a one-year, $1.6-million contract.

Sykora, 32, skated with the team on a tryout basis for two practices, and once he passed his physical the deal was done on Thursday.

ETC.

Howland has an appendectomy

UCLA basketball Coach Ben Howland is expected to return to work Monday after undergoing a standard appendectomy, a university spokesman said.

The surgery was performed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on Wednesday. "The medical staff and community at UCLA are simply the best and I'm so grateful to all of them," the coach said in a statement.

-- David Wharton

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A former Kentucky high school football coach was found not guilty in the death of a player who collapsed at a practice where the team was put through a series of sprints on a hot summer day.

In a rare criminal prosecution of a coach, David Jason Stinson, 37, was charged after 15-year-old Max Gilpin collapsed at an August 2008 practice as the team ran a series of sprints known as "gassers." He died three days later at a Louisville hospital of heat stroke, sepsis and multiple organ failure. His temperature reached at least 107 degrees.

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Fedor Emelianenko, the Russian heavyweight considered the most skilled mixed martial arts fighter in the world, will debut for the fight organization Strikeforce against Brett Rogers on a card that will be televised by CBS on Nov. 7, the network announced. The site has yet to be finalized, officials said.

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Israel Vazquez, the Huntington Park fighter who required three eye surgeries after winning the third bout of his riveting trilogy against Rafael Marquez in March 2008, will return to the ring Oct. 10 at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles against Angel Priolo.

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The stewards at Fairplex Park, in consultation with the California Horse Racing Board and Fairplex management, canceled the first two races on the program for Thursday when they received documentation that 11 of the 14 mules in those two races had received medication within 24 hours of the race in contravention of CHRB rules.

-- Eric Sondheimer

PASSINGS

Clark, former Lions coach, was 72

Monte Clark, who coached the Detroit Lions for seven years and led them to the playoffs in 1982 and 1983, died at age 72.

He died Wednesday night at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, the team said Thursday. Clark, who starred as an offensive lineman at USC in the 1950s, had a bone marrow malignancy associated with lung and liver disease. Story, Section A.

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