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Sports Morning Headlines-Thursday, 7/21/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Thursday, July 21, 2011.

Parker not locked out of hoops in France - It appears Les Bleus have their point guard.  The French Basketball Federation has obtained insurance sufficient to cover the contracts of its NBA players, paving the way for the Spurs’ Tony Parker to play in the Eurobasket tournament in Lithuania later this summer.  The announcement came via a post on the official website for FIBA, the sport’s international governing body.  The question of insurance for international players has been a hot-button issue since the start of the NBA’s lockout July 1.  Typically, the NBA agrees to pay to insure 80 percent of a player’s salary, with foreign federations left to foot the remaining 20 percent. With a work stoppage in effect, however, the NBA has been unwilling to pick up its share of the tab, leaving the often cash-strapped international teams to shoulder the full financial burden.  For the French federation, that meant securing coverage for more than $125 million worth of NBA contracts. Earlier this summer, Parker said he wouldn’t consider playing this summer unless his contract was insured.  That obstacle cleared, the 29-year-old Parker was set to join fellow French NBA players Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf and Nicolas Batum for the start of training camp Wednesday in southern France. Eurobasket, an Olympic qualifying tournament, begins Aug. 31.   READ MORE

ProjectSpurs:  Danny Green thinking about Greece? - DGAccording to San Antonio Spurs' Danny Green, he's thinking about playing in Greece. The news comes from his personal twitter account (H/T to Josh Guyer of FearCoachPop.com):  Greece?!? Hmmm...  Yep, it is an option...tough decision to make...offerring good $ too...$ that's hard to turn down lol.  Green has a non-guaranteed option with the Spurs for roughly 884 thousand dollars in the 2011-12' season. For a player like Green, who is flirting with the NBA and D-League, a reasonable contract in Greece might not be a very entertaining option to pass up.   READ MORE

Mavericks' Barea is soon to be a father - This year continues to be a memorable one for Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea. After having his best season as a professional and winning an NBA championship, Barea recently learned that his girlfriend, actress and model Zuleyka Rivera, is pregnant.  According to a report from Primerahora.com, which was translated from Spanish by The Dallas Morning News, Rivera, a former Miss Universe, will have to leave production of an acting project called "Passionate Heart" because of the pregnancy.   READ MORE

Season or not, two Mavs still may be on TV - Even without a 2011-2012 NBA season, two members of the Dallas Mavericks still could find themselves on television. Jason Terry has become the latest Mavs player rumored to be working on a reality TV show.  The website for AMS Pictures recently published a story announcing the idea of a Terry-based reality show called “Homecourt Advantage.”  From the site, about the in-development show: “Set in the glitzy world of NBA basketball star Jason Terry, this is a comical, never before-seen look at his off-court life with high school sweetheart wife, four young daughters, crazy mom and pimp dad.”  Two months ago, it was reported that when the NBA Finals concluded, Shawn Marion would be working on a similar show called “The Ladies in My Life.”   READ MORE

Yao's career now over — comma - Not period, as Rockets star will stay involved in basketball.  A day later, Yao Ming was at peace, comfortable with his decision to retire and whatever would come next.  There was, however, a realization that hit him, as if he did not have time to consider it before.  “I guess,” he said, “I have to find a job.”  That should not be a problem, with opportunities and options expected to flood in, from NBA commissioner David Stern’s stated intention to find a place for Yao in the NBA’s initiatives in China to Yao’s ownership of his China Basketball Association team, the Shanghai Sharks.  Yao made his retirement from basketball official in a packed Shanghai hotel ballroom Wednesday morning. His career is over, cut short after nine NBA seasons by foot injuries he no longer believes he could avoid. He is ready to move on, but he could not help but indicate that for all his planning, he never intended to end his career quite yet.  “I’ve been preparing ever since I began playing basketball,” Yao said at the news conference that followed his announcement. “Still, it was fast. It came too soon.”   READ MORE

Yao's legacy reaches well beyond the court - It's easy to feel sad about Yao Ming's retirement. The former Rockets center, who was tabbed for greatness as the No. 1 pick in 2002, never fully reached the immense expectations heaped upon him because his career was decimated by injuries.  Yao did not have a sad career, but it certainly didn't live up to they hype. It was sad that it ended early. It was disappointing that he never quite realized his potential. And it was upsetting that when it was time to say goodbye, the NBA was in a lockout and the Rockets weren't allowed to express their appreciation. No news conference, no statements. No contact is permitted between teams and players during the labor impasse. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey needed special permission from the NBA just to attend Yao's news conference in China on Wednesday.   READ MORE







Rangers' 12-game win streak stopped by Angels - After throwing two straight shutouts, Derek Holland felt the full brunt of what the Los Angeles Angels' offense could be if only they could show some consistency.  The Texas Rangers saw their 12-game winning streak go down the drain, two shy of the club record, after the Angels rallied from five runs down to pull out a 9-8 victory Wednesday night.  Now the defending AL champions have to start another winning streak against a pretty tough customer -- major league ERA leader Jered Weaver.   READ MORE

Manager, Derek Holland not discouraged - Perhaps no pitcher is more scrutinized from start to start than Texas Rangers lefty Derek Holland. One outing he's the next ace, the next he's an also-ran.  Coming off two spectacular nine-inning shutouts on the heels of his worst outing of the season, Holland on Wednesday night displayed qualities that elicit the full spectrum of opinions from armchair managers. He got into early trouble, escaped, evened out, then couldn't get out of the sixth just as it seemed as though he had positioned himself for another quality start.  But he couldn't hold an 8-3 lead after falling behind 3-1. He watched his ERA balloon back up to 4.65 after being charged with seven earned runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. It was the first time the Rangers had blown a lead as big as five runs since August against the New York Yankees. Reliever Tommy Hunter inherited one baserunner when he took over with one out in the sixth and was saddled with the loss in the 9-8 defeat that saw the end of the Rangers' 12-game winning streak.  Holland, who remained 8-4, blamed an erratic fastball -- unable to pinpoint the corners -- throughout his outing, but especially in the troublesome, 31-pitch first inning for ultimately doing him in.   READ MORE

Astros activate Matt Downs from paternity list, option LHP Wright to Triple-A - Astros infielder Matt Downs was activated from the paternity leave list Wednesday following the team's 3-2 victory in 11 innings over the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park.  He's scheduled to rejoin the Astros for the start of their 10-game road trip, beginning Friday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.  Downs returned home to Alabama following the Astros' three-game weekend series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates in order to be with his wife, Leah, who gave birth on Monday to the couple's first child -- son Matthew Jr. -- who weighed seven pounds, five ounces.  The "paternity leave" roster rule was implemented in 2011 to allow a team to replace a player who is an expectant father for one to three days on the roster to be available for the birth of their child.   READ MORE

Here today, may be gone tomorrow - Someone asked Brett Myers if he'd thought much about Wednesday's home game possibly being his last for the Astros.  "I'm not worried about that," he said. "It is what it is."  How about you, Michael Bourn?  "You can't help but think about it," he said. "That's natural."  Bourn said he would prefer to remain with the Astros. So would Hunter Pence. Here's hoping they get their wish.  But change is on the way.  Manager Brad Mills has urged his players to focus on the things they can control, but that's going to be a tall order as the July 31 trading deadline approaches.   READ MORE






Players could vote on NFL deal Thursday - Now it's NFL owners who are in place to vote to end the four-month lockout.  The players passed on any vote Wednesday, even though representatives of each of the 32 teams and the NFL Players Association's executive committee were in Washington for that purpose. A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press there was agreement among those players on what items needed to be resolved before any overall offer would be accepted.  A second person, also speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are supposed to be secret, said those players gave what was termed "conditional approval" of the proposal - as it stood Wednesday.   READ MORE

Cowboys coaching staff gets back to work - The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is getting a jump start on the 2011 NFL season.  Despite the league being stuck in a prolonged labor dispute, head coach Jason Garrett and his coaching staff have returned to work this week at the team's headquarters in Irving, according to Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News.  With reports surfacing in regards to the owners and players nearing an end to the lockout, the Cowboys staff is traveling to Valley Ranch to assemble their plan of attack.   READ MORE

Lockout puts hold on bond, common charity work for Jason Witten, John Garrett - Since John Garrett arrived as the Cowboys' tight ends coach in 2007, he and Jason Witten have spent a lot of time together in the off-season.  Witten went to Valley Ranch four to five days a week, whether for organized team activities, weightlifting or to watch film. The two also share the same commitment to charitable works, bringing them together off the field, too.  But not this year.  Garrett has been banned by the NFL from communicating with Witten during the four-month lockout. In what Witten agreed was "weird," he and Garrett have crossed paths only a couple of times this off-season. They have hardly said more than "hello."   READ MORE

Texans to continue tailgate guest ticket policy - The Texans will continue their Tailgate Guest Ticket policy according to an email sent to season ticket holders today.  Season ticket holders may now purchase up to ten 'tailgate guest' tickets per game at a cost of $10 per ticket.  When purchased prior to August 9th, 2011, season ticket holders can receive a tailgate guest ticket for all 10 home games at a discounted rate of $80, according to the email.  Guest tickets will also be available for $10 per ticket on an individual game basis throughout the 2011 season.  No date was provided for the general sale of tailgate guest tickets but a logical working assumption is that it will coincide with the sale of single game tickets.   READ MORE

Can the Texans make cap space for a big FA? - John McClain went on the radio this morning and said that there’s no way the Texans can sign Nnamdi Asomugha or a top free agent because of the team’s cap situation.  First of all, consider the source. McClain is certainly well-connected and often has the inside scoop… but cap talk is not his area of expertise. It’s not mine either, but I’m good at stuff like… thinking and reasoning.  We don’t yet know what the new salary cap will be. Some have said $120 million. Some have said $127 million. Some have said that the salary floor is actually going to be $120 million. Hopefully by the end of the week some more light will be shed on the issue.   READ MORE


Prospect Alex Chiasson hitting his stride - The Dallas Stars have some promising forwards in the prospect pipeline and right wing Alex Chiasson is one who took some big strides this past season.  As a sophomore, Chiasson led Boston University in scoring with 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 35 games. He also was tops on the team in power play goals with six.  “It was a big step from my freshman year. I got more ice time and I think coach [Jack] Parker trusted me a little more,” Chiasson said. “Looking to this upcoming season, we should be pretty good.”   READ MORE

Vote Jamie Benn in TSN Contest - If you had to pick one player under the age of 24 (players born in 1988 or later) to start a franchise with, who would it be?  Would it be a top-notch goal scorer or a rock solid blueliner?  That's Hockey - with the help of former NHL coaches, general managers and players - has selected the Top 16 players under the age of 24 (born after 1987). They are matched up in a head-to-head single elimination bracket style tournament and it's up to you to crown the champ.   READ MORE

---Staff and Wire Reports contributed to this story



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