=== News Summaries from The Sports Network - Wednesday, December 24 ===
=== Cavs' Varejao has torn Achilles ===
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson
Varejao will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn Achilles
tendon during Tuesday's game against Minnesota, the team revealed Wednesday.
Varejao collapsed under the basket while going for a rebound during the third
quarter of Cleveland's 125-104 win and had to be helped off the court.
The 32-year-old averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in 2014-15. This
will be the fourth time in the last five seasons that Varejao will miss at
least 50 games.
With an already thin frontcourt, the injury should put Cleveland in the trade
market for another big man.
Tristan Thompson will most likely replace Varejao in the starting lineup.
=== Report: Josh Smith signing with Rockets ===
(SportsNetwork.com) - Former Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith said Wednesday
that he will sign with the Houston Rockets, according to a report by the
The Pistons waived Smith on Monday, less than two years into a four-year, $54
million contract. According to the Chronicle, the Rockets are expected to
announce the signing either Thursday or Friday, once they are able to clear a
Smith averaged 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds this season for the 5-23 Pistons,
who hold the league's third-worst record.
The 29-year-old will once again play with Dwight Howard, who is one of Smith's
closest friends and a former AAU teammate.
The Pistons acquired Smith as a free agent after the 2012-13 season. During
his time with Detroit, Smith averaged 15.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
For his career, Smith has averages for 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in
781 games with the Atlanta Hawks and Pistons.
=== Rockets award McHale three-year extension ===
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets have agreed to a three-
year extension with head coach Kevin McHale that will run through the 2017-18
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey relayed the news via Twitter Wednesday
morning, with the Rockets confirming the agreement shortly afterward.
"Very excited about Coach McHale's extension," Morey tweeted. "He is the
winningest coach in Rockets history and knows what it takes to win
Though the Rockets did not reveal financial terms of the new contract, Yahoo!
Sports reported the pact to be worth close to $13 million.
McHale was in the final season of the original four-year deal the Hall of Fame
player signed to become Houston's head coach in June of 2011.
The 57-year-old's long-term status with the organization had been unclear
entering this season, with the Rockets losing in the first round of the
playoffs in each of the previous two years. However, Houston got off to a 9-1
start and ranks among the Western Conference's top teams with a 20-7 overall
McHale owns a 153-104 record in his three-plus seasons with the Rockets and
guided the team to a 54-win campaign in 2013-14, the franchise's largest
victory total since 2007-08. His .595 winning percentage is the highest in
"Kevin is an integral part of the Rockets family," said Rockets owner Leslie
Alexander. "He embodies the leadership, passion, knowledge, and team-first
qualities we need as we continue our pursuit of bringing another NBA
Championship to the City of Houston and Rockets fans all over the world."
A three-time NBA champion, McHale previously spent two separate stints
as the Minnesota Timberwolves' head coach, compiling a 39-55 record
with that franchise.
=== Pistons obtain Tolliver from Suns ===
Auburn Hills, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Pistons have acquired
veteran forward Anthony Tolliver from the Phoenix Suns in a 1-for-1 trade
announced by both teams on Wednesday.
The Suns will receive second-year forward Tony Mitchell in the swap.
Tolliver's acquisition comes one day after the struggling Pistons surprisingly
waived forward Josh Smith, the team's second-leading scorer, with nearly three
years remaining on his contract.
The 29-year-old Tolliver's strength is his perimeter shooting, having made 102
shots from 3-point range in 247 attempts (41.3 percent) with Charlotte last
season. He averaged 6.1 points over 64 games with the then-Bobcats in 2013-14,
but has seen just 11.3 minutes per game of playing time over 24 contests since
signing with the Suns in the offseason.
Tolliver averaged 3.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and made 38.7 percent of his 3-
point tries during his brief time with Phoenix.
Mitchell was a second-round pick (37th overall) of Detroit in 2013 and
appeared in 21 games with the Pistons as a rookie, scoring 22 points and
grabbing 26 rebounds.
The 22-year-old North Texas product did not play for Detroit this season, but
averaged 8.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in six games for Grand Rapids of the NBA
=== Pitt to hire Narduzzi as head coach ===
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat
Narduzzi will reportedly become the new head football coach at Pittsburgh,
with the university to make an official announcement on Friday.
The Panthers have scheduled a press conference for Friday at 3:30 p.m. (et) to
confirm Narduzzi's hire, with ESPN.com confirming through sources that an
agreement between the highly regarded Spartans assistant and the school took
place on Wednesday.
Narduzzi takes over a position vacated by Paul Chryst, who was named
Wisconsin's head coach last week following Gary Andersen's surprising
departure for Oregon State.
The 48-year-old Narduzzi constructed one of the nation's top defenses during
his eight-year tenure at Michigan State, and was named the 2013 recipient of
the Broyles Award honoring college football's best assistant coach.
Michigan State has ranked in the top 10 of the FBS ranks in both total defense
and rushing defense in each of the last four seasons. The Spartans' 293.5
total yards allowed in 2014 is the seventh-best mark in major college
football, and they finished sixth overall in rushing defense (97.5 ypg).
Narduzzi will be Pitt's fourth head coach since 2010 and inherits a program
that has gone 6-6 in the regular season in each of the last four years. The
Panthers are currently preparing for the Jan. 2 Armed Forces Bowl, with
offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph to serve as interim head coach for the game.
This will be the first head coaching job for Narduzzi, who had previously been
the defensive coordinator at Rhode Island (1998-99), Miami-Ohio (2003) and
Cincinnati (2004-06) before joining then-Bearcats sideline boss Mark Dantonio
at Michigan State.
=== Nussmeier named new Florida offensive coordinator ===
Gainesville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Former Michigan offensive coordinator
Doug Nussmeier has accepted the same position with Florida, the Gators'
athletic department announced Wednesday.
It's the first major hire made by new Gators head coach Jim McElwain, who left
Colorado State earlier this month to replace the fired Will Muschamp.
Nussmeier, who supplanted McElwain as Alabama's offensive coordinator after
the latter was named Colorado State's head coach in December of 2011, became
available when Michigan dismissed Brady Hoke at the conclusion of a
disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2014.
The onetime NFL quarterback and 1993 Walter Payton Award recipient
previously worked with McElwain on John L. Smith's staff at Michigan State
from 2003-05. Nussmeier was the Spartans' quarterbacks coach and McElwain
an assistant head coach in charge of wide receivers.
"Doug and I have worked together on the same staff and I've known him for
years," McElwain said. "We are like thinkers in that he will adapt to the
players we have in the program and develop them as we continue to evolve."
Nussmeier had a successful run upon taking over for McElwain at Alabama,
with the Crimson Tide establishing school records for points scored (542) and
total offense while winning the 2012 BCS national championship. Alabama
ranked seventh nationally in pass efficiency the following season, in
which quarterback A.J. McCarron finished as the runner-up for the Heisman
His offense at Michigan didn't produce the same success, however, with the
Wolverines averaging a modest 20.9 points per game and ranking 110th in FBS in
Nussmeier also replaced McElwain as offensive coordinator at Fresno State in
2008 following the new Gators head coach's move to Alabama. He was there one
year before joining Steve Sarkisian's staff as the OC at Washington, where he
spent three seasons and helped the Huskies to a pair of bowl games.
"I'm excited to reunite with Coach Mac -- we obviously have a long history and
share similar philosophies," Nussmeier said. "I'm honored to join The Gator
Nation and work for one of the most storied programs in all of college
Nussmeier passed for 10,824 yards during his collegiate career at Idaho and
played five seasons in the NFL with New Orleans and Indianapolis from 1994-98.
=== Sharks enforcer Scott suspended 4 games ===
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - San Jose Sharks forward John Scott has
been suspended four games by the National Hockey League for his actions
during a game against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
Scott swung his right arm at Ducks forward Tim Jackman, catching him flush
in the face with his glove and the butt end of his stick at the 8:18 mark of
the second period.
As a repeat offender, Scott's $34,146.36 fine was based on his average annual
salary, which automatically goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
He will not be eligible to return until Jan. 5, when the Sharks play the Jets
=== Stricker recovering from back surgery ===
(SportsNetwork.com) - Steve Stricker, who has battled a balky back for several
years, had outpatient back surgery on Tuesday and is home recovering.
The surgery was to "relieve issues stemming from acute and chronic L5
radiculopathy' according to a statement on PGATour.com.
Stricker, a 12-time PGA Tour winner, has played just 24 official events over
the past two seasons. That was by design so he could spend more time with his
He skipped the FedExCup playoffs due to the bulging disc in his back.
Stricker returned to play in Tiger Woods's Hero World Challenge and the
Franklin Templeton Shootout. After playing those two events, doctors told
Stricker that he would continue to have hip and quad pain if he did not
undergo the surgery.
The 47-year-old will rest and rehab his back over the next six weeks. After
that time, Stricker will be able to begin practicing and doctors expect all
restrictions will be lifted after eight weeks.
"I'm very excited to get back to practicing and competing in 2015 and expect
to be 100 percent physically, which really excites me," said Stricker, whose
last win was at the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. "I've been limited
the last several years and I'm confident the procedure will allow me to
perform at the level I expect from myself.
"I don't have a target date for a return to the PGA Tour at this point, that
will very much depend on how my body responds to the surgery and rehab."
Prior to scaling back his schedule the last two years, Stricker had eight
victories from 2009-12. He finished inside the top-20 on the FedExCup points
standings each year from 2007-14.
=== Manziel formally put on IR ===
Berea, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Browns have officially ended
Johnny Manziel's rookie season by placing the rookie quarterback on injured
Browns head coach Mike Pettine had already stated during his Monday press
conference that Manziel would miss Sunday's season finale at Baltimore with a
hamstring injury the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner sustained in Cleveland's Week
16 loss to Carolina.
Manziel wasn't able to meet expectations in his NFL debut, as the first-round
pick was beaten out by journeyman Brian Hoyer in the preseason and served as
the backup for the Browns' first 13 games. He got his chance to start in
Cleveland's game against Cincinnati on Dec. 14, but managed just 80 passing
yards and was intercepted two times in a 30-0 loss to the Bengals.
The former Texas A&M star was 3-for-8 for 32 yards before exiting late in the
first half of Sunday's 17-13 setback to the Browns.
Hoyer replaced Manziel but hurt his throwing shoulder during the Carolina game
and did not take part in Wednesday's practice. His status for Sunday's contest
If Hoyer cannot play, either newly signed Tyler Thigpen or undrafted rookie
Connor Shaw would draw the starting assignment at quarterback. Thigpen was
just signed by the Browns on Tuesday, while Shaw is currently still on the
team's practice squad.
Nose tackle Ishmaa'ily Kitchen was also put on IR Wednesday due to a leg
injury, while fellow defensive lineman John Hughes was activated from injured
reserve/designated to return.
Hughes has been sidelined since spraining his right knee against Oakland in
Week 8. The third-year pro had 10 tackles in four games (two starts) prior to
=== Rivers, Kirkpatrick, Bullock earn AFC weekly honors ===
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip
Rivers, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and Houston kicker Randy
Bullock were selected as the AFC's top players for Week 16 of the NFL season.
Rivers earned the offensive award for the sixth time in his career with 356
yards passing and four touchdowns in San Diego's 38-35 overtime win against
San Francisco. He helped the Chargers overcome a 21-point deficit, tying for
the largest comeback in franchise history.
Kirkpatrick claimed the defensive honor, helping Cincinnati secure a playoff
spot with two interceptions of Denver's Peyton Manning in the Bengals' 37-28
win over the Broncos on Monday. He picked off Manning on each of Denver's
final two drives, returning the first interception 30 yards for a touchdown
while the second came with just over a minute left to seal the victory.
Bullock converted each of his six field goal tries in Houston's 25-13 win over
Baltimore to nab the special teams award. The victory kept the Texans alive in
the AFC playoff race.
Other offensive nominees included Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who
completed 35-of-47 passes for 396 yards with four touchdowns in a 37-35 win
over Minnesota; Cincinnati running back Jeremy Hill, who rushed for 147 yards
with a touchdown against the Broncos; and Houston's Arian Foster, who compiled
119 scrimmage yards and threw a touchdown pass in the win over the Ravens.
Defensive consideration went to Jacksonville linebacker Khalil Mack, who
recorded 15 tackles in a 21-13 win over Tennessee; and Houston's J.J. Watt,
who notched eight tackles and a sack against Baltimore.
Miami's Terrence Fede was up for the special teams award after his blocked
punt resulted in a safety and the winning points against the Vikings.
=== Wilson, Matthews, Bosher claim NFC's best of Week 16 ===
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell
Wilson, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Atlanta punter Matt
Bosher were chosen as the NFC's top players for Week 16 of the NFL season.
Wilson was the top offensive player for the second time this season and the
fourth time in his career, leading the Seahawks to a 35-6 win at Arizona that
has the defending Super Bowl champions in position for the top seed in the NFC
playoffs. He threw for 339 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 88 yards with
a score, leading a Seahawks offense that generated a franchise-record 596
Matthews claimed the defensive award for the fourth time in his career,
helping the Packers claim a playoff spot in a 20-3 win at Tampa Bay. He
notched six tackles, four of which resulted in losses, and 2 1/2 sacks,
leading a Green Bay defense that limited the Buccaneers to just 109 total
Bosher picked up the special teams honor after four of his five punts finished
inside the 20-yard line in Atlanta's 30-14 win at New Orleans. He averaged
44.2 yards per punt and the Falcons allowed zero punt return yards in the
dominating victory that has them a win away from the NFC South title.
Other offensive nominees included Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who had 15
catches for 115 yards in a loss to Washington; San Francisco running back
Frank Gore, who had 158 rushing yards with a touchdown in an overtime loss to
San Diego; and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who completed 18-of-20 passes for
218 yards with four touchdowns in a 42-7 romp over Indianapolis.
Defensive consideration went to Giants defensive end Kerry Wynn, who had a
sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and three tackles in a victory over
St. Louis; and Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who had a sack, six
tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the win over the Eagles.
Redskins kicker Kai Forbath was considered for the special teams award after
his 26-yard field goal with five seconds to play gave Washington a win over
12/24 19:25:46 ET