January 23, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

INDIAN WELLS, Calif —Serena Williams’ name is on the entry list for the Indian Wells tournament for the first time since she vowed in 2001 to never return.

The Williams sisters were scheduled to meet in the semifinals that year, but 20 minutes before the match, Venus withdrew and fans booed them. Serena went on to win her second title there, but she and Venus said they would not return, and they have skipped the last 12 events. Their father later said he heard racial slurs from the crowd during the final.

Tournament director Steve Simon said Wednesday that while it's too soon to know whether Serena Williams will play or not, officials are pleased to see her name on the entry list.

During the Australian Open, Williams said she considered a return to Indian Wells after watching a movie about the late South African President Nelson Mandela, inspired by his message of reconciliation.

Venus Williams’ name was not on the list of entries released for the BNP Paribas Open from March 3-10.

Also entered on the women's side were No. 2 Victoria Azarenka; No. 3 Maria Sharapova; No. 8 Jelena Jankovic; No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki; Ana Ivanovic, who beat Serena Williams in the Australian Open this week; and Daniela Hantuchova.

Leading the men’s entries were defending champion Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and the rest of the top 10 players.

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January 16, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

Javaris Crittenton, a former first-round NBA draft pick perhaps best known for his gun-in-the-locker-room confrontation with former Washington Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas, was indicted Wednesday on drug charges in Atlanta, where he’s already awaiting trial for his alleged role in the shooting death of a mother of four.

Crittenton and 13 other people were named in the indictment that was initially the result of an investigation conducted by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, according to a source close to the investigation. According to that source, Crittenton conspired to deal cocaine and marijuana in the months before he was indicted last year for his alleged role in an August 2011 Atlanta shooting death.

Shortly after 6 a.m. ET Wednesday, DEA agents, federal marshals and local police descended on Crittenton’s home on a cul de sac in Fayetteville, a suburb just south of Atlanta. Crittenton was led away in handcuffs and was booked into the Fulton County Jail. A call to Crittenton’s Atlanta-based attorney, Brian Steel, went unreturned.

In April 2013, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Crittenton and his cousin, Douglas Gamble, for murder in the death of Julian Jones, 22, a mother of four children. That 12-count indictment also accused Crittenton and Gamble of participating in a criminal street gang and linked both to a second shooting in Atlanta that occurred five days before Jones’ death.

According to court documents, both of the August 2011 shootings were in retaliation for a robbery committed against Crittenton and his cousin. On April 13, 2011, Crittenton and his cousin were held up at gunpoint by two men outside a southwest Atlanta barbershop and robbed of more than $55,000 worth of personal items and jewelry, according to a police report of the incident.

According to the district attorney’s office, “Crittenton and the other suspects are accused of selling multi-kilo quantities of cocaine and several hundred pounds of marijuana” during a seven-month investigation dating to June 2012. He will have an initial court appearance Thursday morning on those charges; he had been on limited house arrest as he awaited trial for murder.

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January 16, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

DETROIT -- Jim Caldwell got a ringing endorsement from one of his mentors when Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew was doing his homework.

The Lions hired Caldwell on Tuesday to replace fired coach Jim Schwartz, ending a search that included a phone conversation between Mayhew and Tony Dungy.

"Martin called me and said we're looking for a leader who can help turn our locker room into a winning one and to help us get the most out of our investment in Matthew Stafford," Dungy recalled in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I told Martin that Jim Caldwell is exactly what you're looking for. He'll lead by making people accountable and by being a role model on and off the field. And with his attention to detail and history of developing quarterbacks, Stafford is going to flourish just like Peyton Manning did with us in Indianapolis."

Detroit wanted to replace Schwartz with someone with experience as a head coach, ideally with a track record of tutoring quarterbacks.

Caldwell helped the Indianapolis Colts reach the Super Bowl after his debut season in 2009, but was fired two years later after a 2-14 season while Manning was injured, dropping his three-year mark to 26-22.

Before Caldwell was hired by the Dungy-led Colts in 2002 to be their quarterbacks coach, he had the same job for Dungy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Caldwell was hired by Baltimore two years ago to be their quarterbacks coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator late in the 2012 season. The Ravens went on to win the last Super Bowl.

The Lions will introduce Caldwell as their coach Wednesday during a news conference at Ford Field.

"We believe Jim is the right man to lead our team and deliver a championship to our fans," Lions owner William Clay Ford said in a statement.

The Ravens struggled on offense in 2013 and might've replaced Caldwell if he didn't get another job. Baltimore ranked 29th on offense overall - 30th rushing and 18th passing - last season with Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice.

Still, Caldwell's body of work was enough to also make him a candidate to lead the Washington Redskins and Titans. Former Tennessee coach Mike Munchak and ex-Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak were also considered by the Lions.

"I'm excited because he has worked with some good coaches and he did a good job with the Colts," Lions offensive guard Rob Sims said in a telephone interview. "Players seem to like him, so I'm looking forward to being a part of the next chapter of Detroit Lions football with him leading us."

Caldwell won his first 14 games with the Colts in 2009 before losing the final two games of the regular season while resting Manning and most of the other starters. The Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. Indy was 10-6 the following season and won another AFC South title, then lost to the New York Jets in a wild-card game. With Manning out for all of Caldwell's third season, the Colts lost 14 games and Caldwell lost his job.

In Baltimore, Caldwell replaced offensive coordinator Cam Cameron toward the end of the 2012 regular season and he seemed to give the offense a boost as it went on to win the Super Bowl against San Francisco.

Helping the Lions win one playoff game would be a relative feat: Detroit has only one playoff victory - more than two decades ago - since winning the 1957 NFL title.

Caldwell, who won two playoff games in his first season with the Colts, will be counted on to use his experience with quarterbacks to make Matthew Stafford better. Detroit drafted Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009 and after two injury-shortened seasons, he has been spectacular at times and shaky at others.

When the Lions needed him most, he was at his worst last season. He had an NFL-high 14 turnovers from Week 11-16 as Detroit dropped five of six games, plummeting out of first place in the NFC North and wasting an opportunity to win a division title for the first time since 1993.

Caldwell's first job as a head coach was at Wake Forest, which fired him in 2000 with a 26-63 record over eight seasons. Caldwell, who is from Beloit, Wis., played defensive back for Iowa and began his coaching career in 1977 as a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes.

Caldwell later went on to coach quarterbacks, wide receivers and outside linebackers from 1982-84 for Bill McCartney at Colorado.

"He's one of the finest people I've ever met," McCartney said in a telephone interview. "He has tremendous character. If he says something, you can take it to the bank and hang your hat on it. His players will trust them and they'll rally for him. He's ready for this.

"Every home, every business and every NFL team rises or falls because of leadership. And, the Lions have a leader now."

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January 16, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

OAKLAND—The Golden State Warriors have been searching for a suitable backup to point guard Stephen Curry since veteran Jarrett Jack signed with Cleveland as a free agent last summer.

The Warriors had hoped Toney Douglas could help fill the void — he couldn't.

Now they’re counting on Jordan Crawford for more production.

The Warriors acquired Crawford and reserve shooting guard MarShon Brooks from the Boston Celtics on Wednesday as part of a three-team trade.

Golden State sent Douglas to the Miami Heat, who traded seldom-used center Joel Anthony, two draft picks and cash considerations to the Celtics in a move that creates financial flexibility for the two-time defending NBA champions.

Miami gave Boston its 2015 protected first-round pick — originally acquired from Philadelphia — and 2016 second-round pick. If the 76ers don’t make the playoffs the next two seasons, the 2015 first-round pick will be a second-round selection.

The deal gives Golden State more scoring punch behind Curry after the defensive-minded Douglas had struggled to provide much support.

Crawford is averaging 13.7 points and 5.6 assists this season, but he became expendable with Boston expecting All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to return soon from a knee injury that has kept him out since last January. Crawford also is shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from 3-point range.

Brooks had two up-and-down years with the Nets before splitting time with Boston and the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Develop­ment League this season. He’s averaging 3.1 points in 10 games with the Celtics.

Crawford and Brooks were not expected to be in uniform for Golden State’s home game against Denver on Wednesday night.

The Warriors had hoped Douglas could serve as the primary ball-handler behind Curry, but he missed 14 games because of a stress reaction in his left tibia and he hasn’t been able to find a rhythm since he returned. Douglas averaged 3.7 points, 0.8 assists and 11 minutes in 24 games this season.

For the Heat, the gains are largely financial, both short- and long-term.

Anthony was making $3.8 million this season — more than double what Douglas is earning — and is on the books for another $3.8 million next season. The deal should save the Heat more than $10 million in salary and luxury tax payments over the next two seasons, and that may help when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all decide to become free agents this summer.

“It’s always difficult trading a player like Joel who was a big part of the past two championship teams and will always be a part of the Miami Heat family,” Heat President Pat Riley said in a statement. “This trade gives us great flexibility moving forward in our journey to win an NBA Championship. Joel was a true professional who worked hard every day and we wish him the best in the future.”

And because point guard Mario Chalmers is currently dealing with an Achilles problem, Douglas also could provide some insurance there as well. Another option is that the Heat choose to simply absorb whatever's left on Douglas’ $1.6 million contract this season to open a roster spot, one that they could possibly target free agent center Andrew Bynum with.

Anthony played in 12 games for Miami this season, logging more than three minutes just four times. He scored a total of six points and has been largely an afterthought in the Heat rotation since the team signed forward Chris Andersen to be their top big-man reserve last year.

The Heat also are awaiting the return of center Greg Oden, who has not played in a regular-season game in more than four years but has been steadily progressing in a rehab program since signing with Miami in the offseason.

AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this story.

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January 16, 2014

Floyd Mayweather Jr. says his next opponent will be decided within a week. One thing's for sure, it's not Manny Pacquiao.

Mayweather Jr., who arrived in South Africa on Wednesday, named Britain's Amir Khan and Argentina's Marcos Maidana as contenders for his next bout in Las Vegas on May 3 but said "we don't know. We will know within the next seven days."

The undefeated Mayweather, now 45-0 after dominating Canelo Alvarez for a majority decision in September, also passed off Pacquiao's renewed attempts at making their mega fight happen as desperation because of the Filipino's unpaid tax issues.

Mayweather said of Pacquiao "two losses and tax problems later, now he all of a sudden want to say: `You know what? I'd do anything to make the fight happen.'"

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