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    • Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant’s rehab from an MCL sprain is going well, according to an update from the Warriors on Wednesday, and he could even return before the end of the regular season. But will Durant be 100 percent when he comes back?

      Surely, Warriors fans have bad memories of Stephen Curry not being quite his usual self after suffering an MCL injury during the opening round of last year’s playoffs. Curry shot just 40.3 percent from the field in the NBA Finals and had more turnovers than assists as Golden State lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games.

      To get an idea of whether the lingering effects of Curry’s MCL injury are typical, and what to expect from Durant, let’s take a look at how other players have performed after returning from similar injuries.


    • San Francisco Giants reliever Will Smith said Friday he will have Tommy John surgery next week, meaning he will miss the 2017 season.

      The left-hander, who was projected to pitch the eighth inning for the Giants this season, made the decision to have the procedure in Los Angeles after consulting with doctors this week. He said he opted to have the procedure over rehab so as to not risk missing even more time.

      The Giants acquired Smith, 27, in a trade-deadline deal with the Milwaukee Brewers last season. After starting the 2016 season on the disabled list, he went on to record a 3.35 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 40⅓ innings.

      Smith was dominant in 2015, striking out 91 batters in 61⅓ innings.


    • CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Mitch Trubisky tried to ignore the cameras following his every move during North Carolina’s pro day, down to the guy holding a pole to extend a microphone over his head as he simply stood around talking with his receivers on a sideline.

      It’s just another facet to Trubisky’s “interesting journey” — a rapid rise from quarterback yet to make a college start to a player being projected as a possible top-10 draft pick in the span of just eight months.

      “I feel like I’ve been really prepared, and I’m just going to continue to show coaches and teams who I am and what I can bring to the table, what I can bring to a new organization,” Trubisky said after Tuesday’s workout.

      “I’m very happy with how the process has gone so far. I’m confident in myself and I’m just going to keep it rolling and I just can’t wait to play some more football.”

      Trubisky, a native of Mentor, Ohio, drew a larger-than-usual crowd to UNC’s pro workouts. Tar Heels spokesman Kevin Best said the pro day attracted 75 NFL officials representing all 32 teams.

      Trubisky said he has meetings scheduled with several teams including the Cleveland Browns — his home-state team with the No. 1 overall pick — the San Francisco 49ers (picking at No. 2), the New York Jets (No. 6), the Kansas City Chiefs and the Arizona Cardinals.

      The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior threw with a group that included receiver Ryan Switzer, tailbacks Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan and tight end Jack Tabb. All the while, ESPN had live coverage, while NFL Films and ESPN The Magazine had video crews following Trubisky around even as he went to grab a cup of water before making his first throw.

      “No one puts more pressure on myself than me,” Trubisky said. “So you can have as many cameras out here as you want. I’m still going to be the hardest on me than anyone else who’s out here. I try to put that aside and just try to come out here and have fun with the boys. … If you try to be something that’s not yourself, it’s not going to work out for you.”

      In his only season as the Tar Heels’ starter, Trubisky set program records with 3,748 yards passing and 30 touchdowns, as well as for completions (304), attempts (447) and total offense (4,056).

      He also ranked in the top 10 nationally by completing 68 percent of his passes after two seasons seeing spot duty.

      “Everybody knows he can throw the football,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “You can turn on the tape and see he throws it, and throws it great. It’s all the intangibles. If I’m one of these teams that’s interested in Mitch, I’m going to dinner with him, you know. I’m not just spending a 15-minute interview with him at the combine.

      “I’m going to say, if he’s going to be the face of my organization, I’m going to invest millions of dollars in him, I’m going to get to know him. And I’m going to know him well. And that’s what he does best.”

      Trubisky also got a chuckle at the chatter that followed his announcement at the NFL Combine that he’d prefer to be called by his full name of “Mitchell” going forward.

      “Someone asked what my mom preferred and that was the answer,” Trubisky said with a laugh. “Mitch, Mitchell, you guys are welcome to use either one. … I was trying to do my mom a favor, and it actually made her happy.”


    • Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena on Thursday defended his usage of closer Jeurys Familia in the World Baseball Classic over a report that some New York Mets officials felt Pena had overused Familia during the team’s opening games.

      Though Mets manager Terry Collins has said he is fine with how Pena has used Familia, who saved 51 games for New York last season, the Daily News reported Monday that two Mets sources faulted Pena for using Familia in consecutive games in helping the Dominicans win Pool C over the weekend in Miami.

      “It’s been addressed,” a Mets source close to Familia said, according to the Daily News report. “It’s been addressed.”

      Pena spoke out in defense of his usage of Familia in an interview with ESPN Digital before the Dominican Republic’s 3-0 win over Venezuela in a second-round game Thursday night.

      Familia pitched the ninth inning for the save, allowing two bloop singles that put runners on the corners before striking out Alcides Escobar to end it.

      ”Listen, I didn’t hear any of that,” Pena told ESPN Digital’s Enrique Rojas. “Familia is among those who have thrown the fewest pitches of any pitcher on the team.”

      After Thursday’s one-inning save, Familia, 27, has tossed 3⅓ innings in four relief appearances so far at the tournament. He closed out the Dominican Republic’s opening 9-2 win over Canada by retiring the game’s final batter on four pitches, then used 11 pitches to get the save in a 7-4 win over the United States in Game 2. He then needed nine pitches to record three outs in a 10-3 win over Colombia.

      ”We’re definitely determined to win, but at the same time, me as the manager, I have to be very careful with the players,” Pena said. ”In our last game, I didn’t use [Hansel] Robles, and I didn’t plan to use him, because he had already pitched three times in the tournament. I also didn’t use [Alex] Colome and, thanks to God, Familia.”

      Pena said he is taking great pains not to overuse any pitchers in the WBC and to avoid using them on short rest.

      “I refer to all the pitch-count charts, the pitching reports, and closely track all pitches our pitchers make each inning,” Pena told ESPN. “The last thing I want to see is any of my players pick up an injury here.”

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    • PITTSBURGH — Le’Veon Bell disapproves of LaVar Ball’s logic about beating Michael Jordan.

      The Pittsburgh Steelers running back sent out a series of tweets responding to Ball, the outspoken father of the Ball brothers, including UCLA star Lonzo Ball.

      Ball, 49, recently told USA Today that “back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.” Ball played at Washington State in the late ’80s.

      Bell wasted no time pointing out Ball’s resume and how he’ll “say anything for attention.”

      “Lavar Ball, you have to understand you averaged a whole 2 points per game at Washington State… [you] know damn well Jordan would TORCH you!” Bell said in a series of tweets.

      The 6-foot-9 Ball averaged 2.2 points per game at Washington State, according to Yahoo! Sports.

      Bell is a basketball man himself, known to discuss hoops with teammates in the locker room or play pick-up games locally. Looks like the Steelers will have a new debate topic once they reconvene for spring workouts.


    • METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis says he will play Saturday in Charlotte against the Hornets despite suffering a left wrist contusion that kept him out of the second half of Wednesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.

      Davis collided with Raptors guard Norman Powell in midair on an alley-oop attempt with 6.7 seconds left in the second quarter and said he hit his wrist on the rim before falling hard to the ground.

      The 23-year-old All-Star went through a full practice Friday, and both he and Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Davis feels “fine.”

      “I hit it on the rim pretty bad, and it was just pretty swollen and very sore,” Davis said. “I tried to catch a basketball and dribble, and it just wouldn’t allow me to do it at that point in time. It feels a lot better now.”

      Davis appeared to hit his head after falling to the hardwood but said he didn’t remember doing so.

      “If I did, I don’t remember, which is bad,” Davis said with a laugh. “But I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t have like a knot on my head. I’m just glad it was something minor.”

      Davis has missed four full games this season, including one for planned rest, and parts of 11 others.

      Wednesday marked his 61st game of the season, tying his total from last season, when he missed a career-high 21.

      In his fifth season, the four-time All-Star is averaging career highs in points (27.8 per game), rebounds (11.6) and field goal attempts (20.1) and makes (10.1) and is tied for career highs in assists (2.2) and minutes (36.1).


    • The Arizona Cardinals and tight end Jermaine Gresham have agreed to a four-year deal, the team announced Tuesday.

      Financial terms of the contract were not announced.

      “I’m happy. This wasn’t about the money. More than anything, it was about winning and the security,” Gresham told ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

      Gresham, 28, returned to the Cardinals last season after spurning a multiyear offer for more money to chase a title. He instead opted to play another year with quarterback Carson Palmer, whom Gresham teamed with in Cincinnati in 2010.

      He finished last season with 37 catches for 391 yards and two touchdowns while starting 14 games and playing in all 16. It was a significant increase from his first year with the Cardinals in 2015, when Gresham had 223 yards, but a far cry from his career high of 737 in 2012 with Cincinnati.

      While Gresham’s role increased last season, he ranked second on the team with nine penalties. He received two taunting penalties in the final three weeks.

      The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Gresham is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who spent five seasons with the Bengals after being drafted 21st overall out of Oklahoma in 2010. He has 335 receptions for 3,336 yards and 27 touchdowns in 105 games.


    • INDIANAPOLIS — Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook says Joe Mixon should be at this week’s NFL scouting combine.

      Mixon was absent during Friday’s running back workouts because a league policy bars players convicted of violent crimes from attending. Mixon and Westbrook were college teammates.

      Westbrook also has had run-ins with the law, acknowledging he’s spent time in jail but was never convicted.

      Mixon was placed on probation, ordered to complete community service and suspended for the 2014 Oklahoma football season after punching a woman in the face. The video surfaced late last year.

      Westbrook said he felt Mixon had “paid his debt to society.”

      Earlier this week, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn said “I don’t think it’s real fair” Mixon couldn’t attend.


    • The New England Patriots have informed linebacker Dont’a Hightower that they won’t use their franchise tag on him, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

      Hightower will test the free-agent market, but a source tells Schefter that the Patriots will still try to bring him back.

      The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Hightower has made big-time plays on the game’s biggest stage. His fourth-quarter strip sack of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI was cited by head coach Bill Belichick as a game-changing play in the team’s 25-point second-half comeback.

      And with 1:06 remaining in Super Bowl XLIX, he tackled running back Marshawn Lynch at the 1-yard line on the play before cornerback Malcolm Butler’s dramatic interception to help the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks.

      A 2012 first-round draft choice from Alabama, Hightower was named a Patriots captain for the first time in 2016. He finished the season with 65 tackles, 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits.

      “He’s a great football player,” Belichick said the day after Super Bowl LI. “A versatile player, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, setting the edge, defensive end in passing situations. It’s very similar to what he did at Alabama and very similar to what Coach [Nick] Saban told me he would do for us: ‘He’ll be on the field for you every down and it’s just a question of where you want to put him.’ He can do all those things. Not only that, High’s smart, he’s tough, he gives us good leadership, and a lot of communication.”

      Hightower turns 27 on March 12. He earned $7.751 million in 2016, as the Patriots had picked up the fifth-year option of the five-year contract he had signed as a rookie.

      The Patriots have closely managed Hightower’s injury situation in recent seasons, as he has played a full NFL season only once in his career. Hightower played 67.9 percent of the defensive snaps in the 2016 regular season, 54.2 percent in the 2015 regular season and 76.7 percent in the 2014 regular season.