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The Sports Report: Lakers looking to sign JR Smith

JR Smith
(Tony Dejak / AP)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell and, after some time off because of double pneumonia, we’re back!’

Tania Ganguli reports that the Lakers are working to sign guard JR Smith for the rest of the season, which would reunite LeBron James with his former Cleveland teammate as the Lakers head to Florida for the resumption of the NBA season.

Smith, 34, will be added to replace Avery Bradley, who decided to not join the team in Florida because of family reasons. Once Bradley is officially listed as a player who opted out, the team can add Smith starting at 9 a.m. on July 1.

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Replacement players must follow a protocol to ensure they can safely join a team at the secluded ESPN Wide World of Sports campus next month.

According to the NBA’s health and safety manual, any player signed to a contract after June 23 has to complete a questionnaire about his medical history, be examined by team doctors who will review whether or not he is at risk of complications because of COVID-19 and undergo COVID-19 testing that follows the same protocol the rest of the team follows. Lakers players were administered drive-up tests for both the virus and its antibodies on June 23.

Teams have until July 1 to finalize their rosters and travel party, which can include 35 people. The Lakers’ first of eight games before the playoffs will take place July 30 against the Clippers and will be televised on TNT at 6 p.m. PDT.

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BASEBALL

Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross have opted out of the abbreviated 2020 season “for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones,” the team announced Monday. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake, 32, also opted out of 2020, forfeiting about $5.2 million in prorated salary.

Zimmerman, who made his major league debut Sept. 1, 2005, cited his family circumstances — he has three young children, including a newborn, and a mother who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — as the reason for his decision.

“Everyone knows how much it means to me to be a part of a team, and I will miss that camaraderie dearly this year,” Zimmerman said in a statement. “Of course I would love to pursue back-to-back titles. I cannot speak for anyone else, but given the unusual nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I truly appreciate the organization’s understanding and support.”

The decisions of Zimmerman, Ross and Leake come four days before teams are scheduled to begin training camps in their home stadiums and with COVID-19 cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations rising dramatically in several states — including Florida, Texas, Arizona and California — that are home to MLB teams.

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Leake was not considered a “high-risk individual” as part of MLB’s health and safety operating manual, so he will forfeit his 2020 salary. His father, Chris Leake, suffered a catastrophic fall from the roof of a home he was working on in 2013 and is paralyzed from the waist down.

Ross went 4-4 with a 5.38 ERA last season and was expected to compete for the Nationals’ fifth rotation spot. The right-hander did not issue a statement, but his family may have played a role in his decision. According to the Athletic, Ross’ father is a pediatrician and his mother is an emergency room nurse in Oakland.

NHL

According to Helene Elliott, 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play program began, the league said Monday, more than double the total previously announced.

In Phase 2, which began June 8, players are permitted to work out at team facilities in small groups and on a voluntary basis after they undergo COVID-19 testing.

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Phase 3 will be marked by the opening of full training camp for the 24 teams scheduled to compete in postseason play. That’s scheduled to begin July 10 but might be delayed because the NHL and its players’ union have not reached a comprehensive agreement on key issues such as testing protocols for training camp and the resumption of play. They also haven’t agreed on the location of the two playoff hub sites where players will live and compete in as tight a “bubble” as possible in order to mitigate the chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

No fans will be allowed to attend games at those sites, at least to start.

An announcement on the hub cities is expected this week. Los Angeles, which would be a neutral site because the Kings didn’t qualify for the expanded, 24-team postseason tournament, has remained in the running as the field of candidates dwindled from 10 to five.

The other cities still in contention are Chicago, Las Vegas, Edmonton and Toronto.

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BORN ON THIS DAY

1833: Golfer Willie Park Sr. (d. 1903)

1912: Former Rams owner Dan Reeves (d. 1971)

1938: Runner Billy Mills

1944: Baseball player Ron Swoboda

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1957: Race car driver Sterling Marlin

1960: Former Duck Randy Ladouceur

1962: Baseball player Tony Fernández

1965: Basketball player Mitch Richmond

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1965: Former King Steve Duchesne

1966: Boxer Mike Tyson

1967: Triple jumper Sheila Hudson

1970: Former Dodger Mark Grudzielanek

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1972: Former Angel Garret Anderson

1973: Former Dodger Chan Ho Park

1975: Race car driver Ralf Schumacher

1985: Swimmer Michael Phelps

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DIED ON THIS DAY

2002: Baseball player Pete Gray, 87

AND FINALLY

Michael Phelps wins eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics. Watch it here.

Until next time...

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