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Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Sunday, May 10, 2020

Updated at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 UTC)

This budget is now available at http://www.TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.

^TOP STORIES<

^'It's about the NBA': Money isn't only incentive for top prep stars to pick G League over college<

BKN-GLEAGUE-SPORTSPLUS:DTN — A few of the top high school basketball players in the country are forging a new route.

Instead of attending college or traveling overseas, five-star prospects Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix are all entering the NBA's G League professional pathway.

The revamped developmental program will give elite players an opportunity to make money while solely majoring in basketball during the mandated one-year wait between high school graduation and NBA draft entry.

2900 by James Hawkins in Detroit. MOVED

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^CORONAVIRUS<

^Ron Cook: With every step forward, a reminder of how far away we are from normal sports<

COOK-COLUMN:PG — One of our best national holidays came and went Thursday night. There aren't many better days on the sports calendar than the release date of the NFL schedule. Steelers-Giants on Sept. 14 at MetLife Stadium? On Monday night? Ben Roethlisberger's comeback game? I'm already counting the minutes. Steelers-Browns on Jan. 3 in Cleveland? What a wonderful way to end the regular season. I won't even complain about Steelers-Ravens on Thanksgiving night at Heinz Field. Not this season. Not in these pandemic times.

1100 by Ron Cook in Pittsburgh. MOVED

^BASEBALL<

^Bill Madden: Baseball's only coronavirus certainty is the destruction of the minor leagues<

BBO-MADDEN-COLUMN:NY — As baseball sits idle, we still don't know if there will be any MLB season at all, or what it will look like if there is one. The most prevalent scenario is an 82-game schedule with a July 4-5-6 start-up and teams playing in their own ballparks, at first with no fans. But any projected restart is subject to change, just like the coronavirus models. With so many uncertainties, nobody — not the scientists, the politicians or the MLB poohbahs — can predict what the pandemic landscape will be two months from now.

About all we do know is that there is almost certainly going to be no minor league baseball at all this year.

750 by Bill Madden in New York. MOVED

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^Mets manager Luis Rojas opens up about his mom Elsa on this Mother's Day<

^BBN-METS-ROJAS:NY—<Luis Rojas can talk about his mother, Elsa, and all of her inspiring attributes for hours. But the quality that Rojas most appreciates is her continued encouragement.

The Mets manager remembers his mother as an omnipresent parent in his life. She supported Rojas' goals and dreams, even when they took a turn — from aspiring to be a major league baseball player to making a greater impact as a coach.

"My mom, in my early years, my playing years, she was always there for me," Rojas, who was born in the Dominican Republic, told the News over the phone. "She didn't necessarily go to the ballpark because she was a working mom in the Dominican. She didn't see me playing much when I was playing. She was always working, she was always making sure that things were there for us. That's where all the support was."

700 by Deesha Thosar. MOVED

^NFL<

^Pat Leonard: The NFL's 2020 schedule release felt too normal; how far is too far before football sells false hope?<

FBN-LEONARD-COLUMN:NY — The NFL proceeded with its April draft on schedule when many said the league was being insensitive for doing so. And the league's decision to stand its ground ended up feeling like the correct call.

The three-day event was therapeutic for starved sports fans and millions of people confined to their homes. It kept football's offseason on schedule toward the possibility of playing a season. And it sold hope to 32 fan bases.

And hope of any kind these days is a good feeling.

Unless, that is, it's false hope.

900 by Pat Leonard in New York. MOVED

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^Chicago Bears linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe has special gratitude for 1 person during National Nurses Week — his mom, who inspires his ideas of a post-NFL career in medicine<

^FBN-BEARS-IYIEGBUNIWE:TB—<Mother's Day this year falls right in the middle of the May 6-12 National Nurses Week, an especially significant time to offer gratitude given the challenges medical professionals face because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bears inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe always has felt that gratitude for a woman who is both to him. Abiola supported his football career by taking him to practices and out-of-state football camps when he was young, and she inspires his ideas for a post-NFL career in medicine even now.

1000 by Colleen Kane. MOVED

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^Miami Dolphins sign rookie long snapper Blake Ferguson<

^FBN-DOLPHINS-FERGUSON:FL—<The Miami Dolphins signed long snapper Blake Ferguson to a four-year deal, locking up the fourth member of the team's 11-player 2020 draft class.

Ferguson, a former LSU standout the Dolphins selected in the sixth round of last month's NFL draft, will receive a contract that pays him nearly $3.5 million over a four year period, and will likely received a signing bonus of $190,452.

550 by Omar Kelly. MOVED

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^'Cowboys got a steal,' says former TCU lineman who played for Mike McCarthy's Packers<

^FBN-COWBOYS-MCARTHY:FT—<Former TCU offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse feels that the Dallas Cowboys' ability to hire Mike McCarthy is the equivalent of a much-needed pick-six.

Newhouse started his NFL career under McCarthy with the Green Bay Packers, part of a successful run that included winning the Super Bowl in the 2010 season and then three straight NFC North titles from 2011-13.

"I think the Cowboys got a steal, if there ever was a steal for a Super Bowl-winning coach," said Newhouse, whose cousin was the late Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse.

500 by Drew Davison. MOVED

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^Bucs Mike Evans on Tom Brady: 'He's a franchise changer.'<

FBN-BUCCANEERS-EVANS:PT — Mike Evans has cobbled together six straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the NFL, five of them while catching passes from Jameis Winston.

Evans has only played with about three other quarterbacks dating back to his time with Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M.

So it's not surprising the Bucs receiver will miss Winston. That said, Evans is more than excited about being a teammate of Tom Brady's. He made that clear during a video chat on Instagram with former Bucs receiver Louis Murphy.

450 by Rick Stroud in Tampa, Fla. MOVED

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^NBA<

^Ira Winderman: Even if no NBA until August, worth wait for LeBron, Riley, Whiteside<

^BKN-WINDERMAN-COLUMN:FL—<At first, it sounded a bit absurd, Milwaukee Bucks part-owner Marc Lasry mentioning the possibility of the NBA resuming play deep into the summer on Thursday on CBNC's Halftime Report.

"I think you'll start seeing fan-less games," he said, "and you'll start seeing them hopefully in August."

It was a comment that created pause, the league going to such lengths for a restart.

The amount of revenue at stake for the chairman and CEO of Avenue Capital Group is significant, as it is for the rest of the league's owners.

But they hardly are alone.

750 by Ira Winderman. MOVED

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^'I'm back.' Everything you need to know about Michael Jordan's 1995 return to the Chicago Bulls — and the famous 2-word fax that preceded it.<

^BKN-JORDAN-RETURN:TB—<When Michael Jordan had a message to deliver to the world, he used what was, at the time, the best and fastest medium at his disposal: a fax machine.

Twenty-five years ago, Jordan sent out, perhaps, the most famous fax of all-time, a two-word statement that would become iconic for its simplicity. All at once, the message served as a declaration to the basketball world and helped lift Jordan's career into further legendary status, forever changing the Bulls and NBA.

1050 by Jamal Collier. MOVED

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^Miami-Dade provides formal clearance for Heat workouts at AmericanAirlines Arena<

^BKN-HEAT-WORKOUTS:FL—< Miami-Dade County has cleared the Miami Heat to resume workouts at AmericanAirlines Arena, with the decision on such sessions now resting with the team.

In issuing Amendment 2 to Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 15-20, the county noted:

"Effective as of 6:00 p.m. on May 8, 2020, Emergency Order 15-20 is amended so as not to preclude the use of facilities owned or leased by a professional sports franchise, solely by employees of such franchise for training purposes; however, prior to and as a precondition of engaging in such training, the franchise shall submit to and have approved by the County a plan addressing the franchise's approach to mitigating COVID-19 risk at the facility through social distancing, periodic testing, or both."

900 by Ira Winderman in Miami. MOVED

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^Wait, Erik Spoelstra is turning 50 this year? Heat coach looks back and ahead<

^BKN-HEAT-SPOELTRA:FL—<It is the circle of NBA life, one that soon will come full circle for the Miami Heat.

When Pat Riley began his stewardship of the Heat in 1995, it came at the age of 50. On Nov. 1, coach Erik Spoelstra turns 50.

For Riley, the South Florida portion of his NBA career has been about what he has accomplished since reaching that birthday milestone. To Spoelstra, it is about what comes next.

"Fifty is a number I want to enjoy," Spoelstra during an NBA Twitter interview with TNT studio host Ernie Johnson.

700 by Ira Winderman. MOVED

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^NYC high school basketball coaches sound off on G League professional pathway program<

^BKN-GLEAGUE:NY—<The NBA's G-League professional pathway program has changed the basketball landscape as we know it, and some of New York's high school basketball coaches have mixed reviews.

The NBA is offering the best of the best high school basketball players a one-year deal worth anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000 to forego college and train directly with the pros. They've already pried a number of would-be top college recruits to the program: Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and top-ranked point guard Daishen Nix.

"I think it's a great opportunity for these kids and these families to have the opportunity to earn money for their abilities," said Anwar Gladden, head coach of the dominant South Shore girl's basketball team (22-2). "I just think that I want kids and families to make wise decisions. Do your homework, do your research, and do what's going to be best for you and your family. But I think the more opportunities student-athletes have, the better.

700 by Kristian Winfield. MOVED

^No matter how long the coronavirus delay, don't expect Kevin Durant back with the Nets this season<

^BKN-NETS-DURANT:NY—<Kevin Durant will not return to the Nets this season, reports ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Durant, who has not played at all so far in his first season with the Nets, continues to rehab from the ruptured Achilles injury he suffered as a member of the Warriors in last year's NBA Finals.

The NBA's coronavirus hiatus continues to remain in place longer than the "minimum 30 days" the NBA originally established, and some have wondered how the extended time away from play would impact Durant's injury timeline. Nets GM Sean Marks called Durant's potential return "a $110 million question" in a recent interview with Australian site Newshub.

450 by Kritian Winfield. MOVED

^COLLEGE BASKETBALL<

^Coronavirus, what went wrong last year, 'The Last Dance': One-on-one with Roy Williams<

^BKC-UNC-WILLIAMS-QA:RA—<Around this time last year, Roy Williams was visiting prospects in the Class of 2020, and playing golf on his days off. But these days he's communicating with his players through Zoom, recruiting by phone and watching "The Last Dance."

"In fact, I haven't been anywhere since Monday after the ACC tournament was canceled," Williams said in a one-on-one interview with The News & Observer.

The coronavirus has changed many lives, including Williams'.

1950 by Jonathan M. Alexander. MOVED

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^COLLEGES<

^Chip Scoggins: Don't want Gophers to cut sports? Then buckle up for big changes.<

^SCOGGINS-COLUMN:MS—<Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle can't talk about the effect of COVID-19 on his department's financial health in concrete terms because he can't see the finish line. He just knows things will be painful.

Best-case scenario is a $14 million projected loss in revenue in 2020-21. The "moderate" scenario calculates a loss of $30 million if sports return in the fall without fans, or if there is a shortened season.

Rhonda McFarland, chief financial officer of Gophers athletics, didn't sugarcoat that scenario Friday when addressing the Board of Regents.

"There are only a handful of athletic departments that could manage a $30 million loss," McFarland said.

700 by Chip Scoggins. MOVED

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^MIXED MARTIAL ARTS<

^Arash Markazi: UFC carried on in wake of positive COVID-19 tests. Will other sports?<

^MMA-MARKAZI-COLUMN:LA—<NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was on a conference call with representatives of the league players' association, discussing restarting the season. His stance about one issue was clear.

If the NBA was going to resume play, it would commit to staying on course even in the face of a positive COVID-19 test, or, depending on the circumstances, even a few of them.

He didn't know at the time that the leader of another major sports enterprise was already dealing with similar circumstances.

650 by Arash Markazi. MOVED

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^Trump thanks UFC president Dana White for bringing back sporting events during coronavirus shutdown — 'We need sports'<

^MMA-TRUMP-WHITE:NY—<As President Trump reaches for a return to normalcy during the coronavirus pandemic, Dana White and UFC were one of the first steps back.

UFC 249 moved forward Saturday night, not at the Barclays Center as originally planned but at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., where no fans were allowed and most personnel — but not White or ring announcer Bruce Buffer — wore masks.

"I want to congratulate (UFC President) Dana White and the UFC," Trump said during a video message that aired on ESPN during Saturday's fight.

350 by Katie Feldman. MOVED

^HUMOR<

^Sideline Chatter: 49ers also managed to get nearly full Subway punch card under salary cap<

^SIDELINECHATTER:SE—<Hey, 49ers, did you remember to check under the couch cushions, too?

Broc Rutter, the QB from North Carolina Central, got only a $279 signing bonus from San Francisco because that's all the Niners had left after depleting their bonus pool for undrafted rookies.

1000 by Dwight Perry. MOVED

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