If you were to design some sort of computer program capable of customizing the perfect player to round out the Sixers lineup, that player would look a heck of a lot like the one they just acquired. In fact, nobody should be surprised if Tobias Harris ends up sticking around town longer than Jimmy Butler. But that's a conversation for later.
800 by David Murphy. MOVED
^Dennis Smith Jr. ready to lead Knicks
BKN-KNICKS-SMITH:ND — It was just over two weeks ago when Dennis Smith Jr. missed his sixth straight game for the Dallas Mavericks, the team listing various ailments as the reason, but neither side hiding the reality that he had separated himself from the team for two weeks to try to force his way out of Dallas.
All of which makes it hard to imagine that Smith arrived in New York to make his debut Sunday afternoon in the starting lineup and by Tuesday night, with one practice under his belt, was being described this way by David Fizdale, his new coach.
"He took total command of the team tonight," Fizdale said after Smith put up 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.
800 by Steve Popper in New York. MOVED
^Warriors' Klay Thompson on Kevin Durant's pending free agency: 'We're handling it great'
BKN-WARRIORS-THOMPSON:SJ — One of the Warriors' pending free agents has been noticeably silent. Ever since the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas presumably to clear cap space for Kevin Durant, he has not spoken to local reporters during practice and postgame availability.
One of the other Warriors' pending free agents has been remarkably candid. For the past week, Klay Thompson has shown the same measured outook toward Durant's uncertain future as he has with any shooting slump.
600 by Mark Medina in Oakland, Calif. MOVED
^Pelicans' Mirotic wants to focus on finishing strong, then focus on his upcoming free agency
BKN-PELICANS-MIROTIC:TB — For the 2017 offseason, the Bulls let Nikola Mirotic attempt to set his price in restricted free agency, but no offer sheet from another team materialized and he re-signed for two years and $27 million.
That contract, which the Bulls traded to the Pelicans in February 2018, expires this summer. Mirotic will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time.
"I'm very excited," Mirotic said. "My focus now is to get healthy and finish strong this season. You know I'm March man as well. March is coming."
400 by K.C. Johnson in Chicago. MOVED
TNS expects coverage from the following games:
Denver at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m. EST
New Orleans at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Charlotte at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
San Antonio at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
^Blocking shots in the NHL: 'You close your eyes and pray'
HKN-BLOCKING-SHOTS:RA — Brock McGinn was down on the ice, in pain. A lot of pain.
The Carolina Hurricanes forward had just blocked a shot by defenseman Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, the puck catching McGinn near his left ankle. He struggled to get up, finally hobbling to the bench, grimacing as others around him patted him on the back.
Nearly everyone in the arena seemed to have their eyes on McGinn, as if somehow feeling part of his pain.
650 by Chip Alexander in Raleigh, N.C. MOVED
^Rangers trade Cody McLeod to Predators for draft pick
HKN-RANGERS-PREDATORS-TRADE:ND — Hours before they are to take on the Boston Bruins in the third game of their five-game homestand, the Rangers announced Wednesday that they have traded rugged forward Cody McLeod to the Nashville Predators for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft. The Rangers called up Vinni Lettieri from their Hartford farm team to fill the roster spot.
McLeod, 34, returns to Nashville a little more than a year after the Rangers claimed the enforcer off waivers from the Predators in January 2018.
200 by Colin Stephenson in New York. MOVED
^Wild captain Mikko Koivu will miss rest of season
The veteran center is set for surgery on Friday, the team announced.
The 35-year-old Koivu is the team's all-time scoring leader, with 688 points on 201 goals and 487 assists. He has one more year on his contract, at $5.5 million.
Koivu was injured during a 5-4 loss in Buffalo when he collided with Sabres winger Tage Thompson near center ice.
200 by Sarah McLellan. MOVED
^Mike Sielski: Carter Hart has made the Flyers better pretty much by himself
HKN-SIELSKI-COLUMN:PHI — Start with the save. Start there because it was more than just a brilliant moment of goaltending from Carter Hart, more than just the play that preserved the Flyers' 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.
Start with Hart's throwing himself to his right across the crease to the open side of the net, with Nikolay Goldobin's shot thudding against the inside of Hart's right arm, with everyone at the Wells Fargo Center gobsmacked that Hart arrived just in time, Spider-Man style, to prevent a game-tying third-period goal.
950 by Mike Sielski in Philadelphia. MOVED
^Jimmy Greenfield: The Blackhawks are playoff contenders and need to act like it
HKN-GREENFIELD-COLUMN:TB — Don't do it, please. Don't be upset the Blackhawks are making a run at the playoffs.
Resist the urge to be anything less than thrilled that Patrick Kane is playing like a man possessed, that Jonathan Toews has recaptured a prime that appeared to be gone, and that the Hawks' power play is practically a sure thing.
Resist feeling conflicted when Erik Gustafsson is blasting overtime goals from the point like a youthful Brent Seabrook, when veteran Cam Ward and rookie Collin Delia are taking turns standing tall in the net or when Alex DeBrincat snipes another wrist shot past an unprepared goaltender.
700 by Jimmy Greenfield in Chicago. MOVED
TNS expects coverage from the following game:
Boston at NY Rangers, 8 p.m. EST
^Sources: The OC position was Art Briles' if he wanted it, but Southern Miss backed out
Sources said the reason USM officials told Briles he would not be offered the position was because of concerns over the NCAA's investigation of both he and the Baylor football program.
According to sources, Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson wanted Briles and interim athletic director Jeff Mitchell approved it.
450 by Mac Engel. MOVED
^FSU football has a plan at quarterback, Willie Taggart just won't discuss it right now
FBC-FSU-TAGGART:PT — After failing to sign a quarterback for the second year in a row, Florida State coach Willie Taggart has a plan to solve his lack of depth at the game's most important position.
It's a pretty good plan, too, Taggart insisted Wednesday. Just don't press him for any details.
"I don't necessarily want to discuss it right now," Taggart said during his signing day news conference.
650 by Matt Baker in Tallahassee, Fla. MOVED
TNS expects coverage from the following games featuring teams in the AP top 25:
No. 24 Maryland at Nebraska, 7 p.m. EST
Creighton at No. 14 Villanova, 8 p.m.
No. 19 Wisconsin at Minnesota, 9 p.m.
^Brendan Marks: Every new NASCAR season brings one thing in particular
It's good to read, right? Feels just as good to write, if we're being honest.
This weekend officially (sort of?) begins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season. Come Sunday afternoon, just as it'll be practically every weekend from now until November, there will be actual racing to watch. No more preseason chatter. No more predictions or artificial headlines.
Just actual cars, actually racing.
550 by Brendan Marks. MOVED
^Dennis Anderson: Conservation officer has proved worthy of DNR's highest accolades
OTD-ANDERSON-COLUMN:MS — The call Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Mitch Boyum received was urgent, asking him to drive from his home in St. Charles, in southeast Minnesota, to Lanesboro, 24 miles away.
Come quickly, the caller said. Bring your boat.
Campers were trapped on an island in the Root River. Heavy rain was falling, and the river was rising fast.
Adam Eide, the Rushford police chief, arrived in Lanesboro about the time Boyum did, as did Preston Police Department Sgt. Blaise Sass.
900 by Dennis Anderson in Minneapolis. MOVED
^Brooks Johnson: Fly-tying makes a hard sport harder and more rewarding
OTD-JOHNSON-COLUMN:DU — If I were to write a book about this endeavor, I'd call it "This Is Extremely Frustrating And I Will Never Stop Trying."
It's a working title.
This month I decided to make a difficult and rewarding sport even more difficult and rewarding by learning how to tie flies.
I'm already a novice fly fisherman, having netted just a few baby brookies on North Shore streams in the past few years. Despite going to college in Missoula, Mont., I didn't manage to pick up a fly rod until I left — too busy picking up pint glasses, alas.
750 by Brooks Johnson in Duluth, Minn. MOVED
^Lake of the Woods booming in final ice season of super-sized bag limit
OTD-ICESEASON-BAGLIMIT:MS — The caterpillar tracks on Tim Hill's transport rig creaked loudly as he departed shore with another load of Lake of the Woods ice anglers.
It was 23 degrees below zero on a sunny, windless Friday afternoon and business was booming. Arnesen's Rocky Point Resort, self-proclaimed as one of the world's largest ice fishing operators, was welcoming yet another weekend crush of 350 visitors.
Hill, better known as "Wingnut," grabbed the steering wheel with both hands to turn the vehicle's beefy front skis. "Let's go fishing!" he said.
750 by Tony Kennedy in Roosevelt, Minn. MOVED
^Polar vortex can't keep fat bike enthusiast from finishing another Arrowhead 135 race
That's understandable when you're gearing up for a grueling, 135-mile wilderness ride on a fat-tire bike from International Falls to Tower, Minn.
"It was sort of a sense of foreboding," said Jensen, 57, a Grand Forks attorney and fat-tire bike enthusiast. "We woke up Sunday morning up in International Falls, it was 44 below, and my car wouldn't start."
950 by Brad Dokken. MOVED
^Dennis Anderson: Duck plan on deck? Minnesota needs it to come together — and quick
Yet the long-awaited update to the Department of Natural Resources' 50-year — 50-year — duck plan hasn't yet been started.
That was the astonishing news delivered at the recent DNR Roundtable by wildlife section chief Paul Telander, who was responding to a simple question: "How's the duck plan update coming?"
450 by Dennis Anderson. MOVED
^Best times for anglers
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