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The Sports Report: LeBron James extension likely means no titles for Lakers

LeBron James
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Bill Plaschke: Two more guaranteed years of LeBron James?

Two more years of history, two more years of glamour, two more years of buzz.

Two more years of injury reports, two more years of bad drama, two more years of embarrassing mediocrity.

So, Lakers fans, how are you looking at this?

If you like your basketball with bells and whistles, you will react to Wednesday’s news of James’ new contract with a cheer.

If you like it with championships, however, you will react with a sigh.

Me, I think I’ll just scream.

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LeBron James agrees to extension with Lakers that makes him highest-earning NBA player

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Lakers to retire two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey in March

NBA 2022-23 schedule unveiled: Can Lakers and Clippers return to playoffs?

Breaking down the Clippers’ 2022-23 schedule: The good, the bad and the fatiguing

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DODGERS

From Jack Harris: The Dodgers have done this song and dance before.

They’ll have a veteran closer who begins to struggle. They’ll stick with him, for better or worse, down the stretch of the regular season. Then, come the playoffs, they’ll pivot, turning to someone else for ninth-inning situations in the heart of October.

In the past, it has been Kenley Jansen.

This year, it seems increasingly likely they’ll do the same with Craig Kimbrel.

He has converted only 21 of 25 saves — with all four blown saves coming in one-run opportunities.

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His ERA is 4.46 and his WHIP 1.56 — far worse than anything Jansen ever posted, even when he was regularly booed during his worst couple of seasons with the team.

In the Dodgers 2-1 win on Wednesday night, the decision to stick with him paid off.

After home runs from Austin Barnes and Max Muncy, as well as seven shutout innings from Tony Gonsolin, Kimbrel was able to seal a one-run lead in the ninth for the first time all year, stranding a couple two-out runners a night after faltering in a similar situation against the Brewers (62-54) in the team’s extra-inning loss.

CHARGERS

From Jeff Miller: On Wednesday morning, Derwin James Jr. signed a contract extension that added four years and up to $76.5 million — $42 million of which is guaranteed — to the one year he had remaining on his rookie deal.

He had been with the team throughout camp but not practicing, James limiting his participation to walkthroughs and meetings. He is expected to join seven-on-seven periods next week.

“I’m just really excited for him,” Staley said. “It’s just really special, any time you see a dream come true. That’s what happened today, a dream came true for him. You know how hard that he had to work in order to make it happen.

“This wasn’t like every other big contract that gets signed, because you know what he had to go through in order to make it to this point in his pro football career. He overcame a lot to earn this contract, and he earned every cent of it.”

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RAMS

From Gary Klein: A day after testing his arm with a heavy workload in an intrasquad scrimmage, quarterback Matthew Stafford said Wednesday he was “right on track” as the Rams prepare for their Sept. 8 opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Stafford, 34, is dealing with tendinitis in his right elbow. The defending Super Bowl champion Rams are attempting to manage the condition as Stafford enters his 14th NFL season.

“I know that I’m able to go out there and function at a high level right now,” Stafford said before practice in Thousand Oaks. “So, whatever it feels like, hopefully continues to keep getting better as it has.

“But I know that, functionally, I feel like I can do everything I need to do so just trying to continue on that road.”

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Readers asked, we answered: Matthew Stafford’s health, Rams’ defense, Chargers RBs and more

ANGELS

From Sarah Valenzuela: Mike Trout is hopeful that Friday in Detroit will be the day he can return to playing for the Angels.

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“My back feels great,” he said before the Angels’ 11-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on Wednesday.

Trout said he does not feel any pain and that he’s been cleared to play. Whether he does play Friday will depend on how he feels that day.

When he does return, the plan is for him to continue playing centerfield. He does not think he will need extra days off, but interim manager Phil Nevin said he wouldn’t be surprised if Trout ended up needing an extra rest day as he has not played since July 12.

The Angels also have a few games upcoming that will be played on turf, so Nevin plans to give a few of his everyday players additional days off.

COLLEGE SPORTS

From Ben Bolch and Teresa Watanabe: Concerned about UCLA’s hasty exit from the Pac-12, the University of California system leadership proposed Wednesday new rules that could limit campuses from making major decisions involving athletics contracts on their own.

An interim report, discussed during a regents meeting at UCLA’s Luskin Center, recommended potential limits on the UC president’s ability to delegate decision-making authority to campuses on such issues as athletics affiliations or conference memberships in certain cases. They include those that would have a significant adverse impact on other campuses in the UC system; raise major issues involving university policy; or could create significant risk of reputational harm to the university or any UC campus.

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While the regents have not taken action to stop the Bruins’ move — alongside cross-town rival USC — to the Big Ten in 2024, they have voiced concerns about the unilateral decision that essentially excluded them from the process. The regents are expected to vote on the proposal to change the delegation of authority in similar situations during their September meeting.

Current regents policy allows each university to control its athletics operations based on precedent. In 1991, the UC Office of the President delegated authority to campus chancellors to execute their own contracts, including intercollegiate athletic agreements.

But Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib told The Times earlier that the delegation of authority “didn’t necessarily anticipate this type of action.”

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1923 — Helen Mills, 17, ends Molla Bjurstedt Mallory’s domination of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn. championships and starts her own with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

1958 — Floyd Patterson knocks out Roy Harris in the 13th round at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles to retain his world heavyweight title.

1964 — The International Olympic Committee bans South Africa from competing in the Summer Olympics because of its apartheid policies.

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1994 — South Africa is introduced for the first time in 36 years during the opening ceremonies of the 15th Commonwealth Games held in Victoria, British Columbia. South Africa had been banned from the Games since 1958 because of its apartheid policies.

1995 — Thirteen-year-old Dominique Moceanu becomes the youngest to win the National Gymnastics Championships senior women’s all-around title in New Orleans.

2004 — Paul Hamm wins the men’s gymnastics all-around Olympic gold medal by the closest margin ever in the event. Controversy follows after it was discovered a scoring error that may have cost Yang Tae-young of South Korea the men’s all-around title. Yang, who finished with a bronze, is wrongly docked a tenth of a point on his second-to-last routine, the parallel bars. He finishes third, 0.049 points behind Hamm, who becomes the first American man to win gymnastics’ biggest prize.

2008 — A day after winning an Olympic gold medal in Beijing, Rafael Nadal officially unseats Roger Federer to become the world’s No. 1 tennis player when the ATP rankings are released. Federer had been atop the rankings for 235 weeks.

2013 — For the first time in Solheim Cup history, the Europeans leaves America with the trophy. Caroline Hedwall becomes the first player in the 23-year history of the event to win all five matches. She finishes with a 1-up victory over Michelle Wie and gives Europe the 14 points it needed to retain the cup.

2013 — Usain Bolt is perfect again with three gold medals. The Jamaican great becomes the most successful athlete in the 30-year history of the world championships. The 4x100-meter relay gold erases the memories of the 100 title he missed out on in South Korea two years ago because of a false start. Bolt, who already won the 100 and 200 meters, gets his second such sprint triple at the world championships, matching the two he achieved at the Olympics.

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2016 — Jamaica’s Usain Bolt completes an unprecedented third consecutive sweep of the 100- and 200-meter sprints, elevating his status as the most decorated male sprinter in Olympic history. He wins the 200-meter race with a time of 19.78 seconds to defeat Andre de Grasse of Canada. American Ashton Eaton defends his Olympic decathlon title, equaling the games record with a surge on the last lap of the 1,500 meters — the last event in the two-day competition. Helen Maroulis defeats Japan’s Saori Yoshida 4-1 in the 53-kilogram freestyle final to win the first-ever gold medal for a United States women’s wrestler.

2018 — Accelerate cruises to a record 12 1/2-length victory in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar, becoming just the third horse to sweep all three of Southern California’s major races for older horses in the same year.

2021 — Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hit for the cycle for the second time in his career as they beat the Miami Marlins 11-9.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Freddie Freeman hits for the cycle. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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