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#SportsReport: ESPN Layoffs Hit Writers, On-Air Talent

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In the NBA playoffs, Washington topped Atlanta 103-99 to lead the series 3-2 and Boston won against Chicago 108-97 to take a 3-2 series lead.

Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has been fined $100,000 by the NBA for confronting a referee during live game action. Byron Spruell, the NBA's president of league operations, announced Alexander's fine Wednesday. The incident occurred Tuesday in the final minute of the first quarter during the Rockets' 105-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In other NBA news:

— Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers fully expects Steve Kerr to find a solution to his debilitating health issues and be back on the bench without being forced out of coaching altogether because of complications from two back surgeries. The 51-year-old Kerr plans to be examined at Stanford this week. He didn't coach the Warriors in Games 3 and 4 at Portland last week while dealing with extremely uncomfortable symptoms

— Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has been fined $100,000 by the NBA for confronting a referee during live game action. The incident occurred Tuesday in the final minute of the first quarter during the Rockets' 105-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

— Cleveland officials have committed the final chunk of financing for $140 million in upgrades planned at the Cavaliers' home arena. The makeover of Quicken Loans Arena would include more space for dining and gathering.


In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Nashville beat St. Louis 4-3 to take a 1-0 lead in the series and it was Edmonton over Anaheim 5-3 for a 1-0 series lead. The Rangers open their series with Ottawa tonight at 7 p.m. and Pittsburgh goes up against Washington at 7:30 p.m.

The Boston Bruins are bringing Bruce Cassidy back as coach. The team said on Wednesday it will drop the interim tag from Cassidy's title. Cassidy replaced Claude Julien in February and helped the team return to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

The Buffalo Sabres have signed prospect defenseman Devante Stephens to a three-year entry-level contract. The Sabres made the signing despite working without a general manager after Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma were fired last week. Chief amateur scout Jeff Crisp is overseeing that portion of Buffalo's hockey department on an interim basis.

—Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin has had surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder and should be ready for training camp in September. The team says he is expected to make a full recovery in four months.

— The Vancouver Canucks have named Travis Green their new coach. Green spent the last four seasons coaching the Canucks' top farm team, the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. He replaces Willie Desjardins, who was fired after three seasons in Vancouver.


In Major League Baseball, the Yankees beat Boston 3-1 and Atlanta topped the Mets 8-2. The Yankees continue their 3 game series with the Red Sox tonight at 7 p.m. and the Mets see the Braves in New York this afternoon at 1 p.m.

Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes has dropped his appeal of a four-game suspension for throwing behind the head of Baltimore's Manny Machado and will begin serving it Wednesday night. Barnes was suspended and fined Monday and had originally said he'd appeal. Manager John Farrell said before the team's home game against the New York Yankees that the right-hander would start his suspension on Wednesday.

—Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia sat out Wednesday's game against the Yankees with a sore left knee, his third straight since the Orioles' Manny Machado slid into the back of his leg.

— Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was out of the starting lineup Wednesday, a day after colliding with a teammate in the outfield. Manager A.J. Hinch says Altuve banged up his left shoulder.

— The New York Mets pushed back Noah Syndergaard's turn in the rotation by a day, and Robert Gsellman started Wednesday night against the Atlanta Braves in his place.

— The Seattle Mariners have put Felix Hernandez on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

— Giants leadoff hitter Denard Span suffered a setback in his recovery from a shoulder injury and was placed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday.

— The Washington Nationals placed reliever Koda Glover on the 10-day disabled list with a left hip impingement. The team has recalled left-hander Matt Grace from Triple-A Syracuse to take his place.


Round 1 of the NFL draft begins tonight at 8 p.m. The selection process continues through Saturday.

Attorneys for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning are trying to convince a judge that the dealers suing the two-time Super Bowl MVP tried to pressure him to settle a memorabilia lawsuit by releasing select notes that weren't related to the disputed goods. Emails released by the court on Wednesday were part of a motion seeking sanctions against one of the plaintiffs' attorneys after he released an email from Manning in 2010 that seemed to indicate he provided fake memorabilia rather than authentic game-used goods.

The New York Jets have waived running back Brandon Burks, wide receiver Darius Jennings, long snapper Josh Latham, linebacker Jeff Luc and defensive lineman Julien Obioha. The team announced the moves Wednesday as it trims its roster on the eve of the NFL draft. The Jets, who have 76 players under contract, have seven picks in the draft — including No. 6 overall.

Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement after agreeing on a two-year deal with the Raiders that paved the way for a trade to his hometown team in Oakland. Lynch passed a physical Wednesday and agreed to a restructured two-year contract. Those were the final steps needed before Seattle could trade his rights along with a 2018 sixth-round pick to the Raiders for a 2018 fifth-rounder. Lynch also must apply to the NFL for reinstatement from the retired list before he can play.

The Green Bay Packers have signed veteran offensive lineman Jahri Evans as they look to fill a hole up front left by the departure of free agent-right guard T.J. Lang.


ESPN is laying off about 100 employees, including former athletes-turned-broadcasters Trent Dilfer, Len Elmore and Danny Kanell, in a purge designed to focus the sports network on a more digital future.

The cuts will trim ESPN's stable of on-air talent and writers by about 10 percent.

The 37-year-old network has been squeezed by rising fees to broadcast live events at the same time hordes of cord-cutting TV viewers have been canceling their ESPN subscriptions. ESPN has lost about 10 million subscribers during the past six years, based on estimates by Nielsen Media Research.

The downturn prompted an even bigger round of layoffs affecting about 300 workers in 2015, but on-air talent was mostly spared from those cuts.

ESPN chief John Skipper said Wednesday the company wants to provide distinctive content all the time on multiple screens, with more personality-oriented "SportsCenter" broadcasts, and is keeping people best suited to the new strategy.

ESPN isn't saying who has been fired. Many are releasing the news on social media, including Dilfer, NFL reporter Ed Werder, baseball reporter Jayson Stark and college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil.

Former morning host Jay Crawford, football columnist Jane McManus, ESPNU host Brendan Fitzgerald, hockey reporter Pierre LeBrun, soccer reporter Mike Goodman, baseball analyst Jim Bowden and baseball reporter Mark Saxon were among the others to announce their departures.

"Our goal continues to be to maximize our unparalleled scale in every medium with storytelling that stands out and makes a difference," Skipper said in a memo to employees. "We are well-equipped to thrive going forward by embracing those themes."

ESPN's recent troubles have become a drag on the profits of its parent, The Walt Disney Co.


Syracuse has signed Canadian high school star forward Oshae Brissett to a national letter of intent to play for the Orange next season. The 6-foot-8, 195-pound Brissett, of Mississauga, Ontario, played for Athlete Institute Prep this past winter. Brissett verbally committed to Syracuse in November.


Oak Hill Country Club has been selected to host the 80th Senior PGA Championship in 2019. This marks the second time in 11 years the tournament will be played on the club's Donald Ross-designed East Course, located just outside of Rochester, New York.

©2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.