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India snubs 8 players for Davis Cup tie

India snubs 8 players for Davis Cup tie

NEW DELHI (AP) Leander Paes is the only prominent player in a depleted Davis Cup squad announced Friday by the All India Tennis Association for the match against South Korea following an impasse with other players over their demands.

The AITA selected little-known VM Ranjith, Vijayant Malik and Purav Raja as the other members of the squad for the best-of-five series from Feb. 1-3.

The group of eight rebel players, including Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna and doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, failed to confirm their availability in time for a selection committee meeting after threatening to sit out if their demands were not met.

The AITA agreed to most of the demands pertaining to team management and prize money this week, but the players still weren't satisfied.

The AITA named a new coach in former Davis Cup player Zeeshan Ali, fired team doctor Vece Paes and agreed to remove non-playing captain Shiv Mishra after the match against South Korea. It also announced an increase in the share of prize money for Davis Cup players.

However, the players said they were not happy with Ali as coach, wanted Mishra removed immediately and also wanted more transparency in financial matters.

The AITA also had tinkered with the idea of picking Prakash Amritraj, a 437th-ranked former Davis Cup player who could not play in the tournament after 2008 because of a sports ministry ruling that only Indian passport holders could represent the country.

But the AITA did not get a clearance from the sports ministry, which ruled that Amritraj, son of former player and commentator Vijay Amritraj, could not be picked as he continued to hold a U.S. passport.

Ranjith is the highest ranked singles player in the squad at 517th, while Malik is ranked 542nd. Raja is ranked 155th in doubles and is likely to partner with doubles specialist Paes, who is ranked third.

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NBA, G League to offer $125,000 contracts to elite prospects

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USA Today Sports

NBA, G League to offer $125,000 contracts to elite prospects

The G League will begin offering "select contracts" worth $125,000 next year to elite prospects who are not yet eligible for the NBA, a move that could slightly lessen the handful of one-and-done players at the college level.

There is no determination yet on how players will be identified as potential targets for such a contract. The G League said Thursday that it is establishing a working group to develop that process and other criteria, and that there will be no cap on how many players could be signed to a select deal.

"We recognize that talent assessment is inherently subjective," G League President Malcolm Turner said. "But as the name would suggest, this working group will be charged with identifying the relevant pool of players who may be offered a select contract. It's not as if any player can unilaterally raise their hand and dictate that they will join the league playing under a select contract."

Players will be eligible to sign the select deal if they turn 18 by Sept. 15 prior to the season that they would spend in the G League. The move follows recommendations released earlier this year by the Commission on College Basketball, a group that was chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and was tasked with reforming the college game.

The commission report said "elite high school players with NBA prospects ... should not be `forced' to attend college."

Turner said the move addresses that concern.

"We've tried to answer the basketball community's call for an alternative in a timely and thoughtful way," Turner said.

Players who receive the select contracts all will become eligible for the NBA draft the following year. Their rights would not be retained by an NBA club beforehand, no matter which G League affiliate they wind up with.

Under current rules, players are not eligible to enter the NBA draft until they are a year removed from high school -- though that is expected to change through an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players in time for the 2022 draft.

The G League has allowed 18-year-old players in the past, but never before under any elite designation.

While it is apparent there are still details to be ironed out -- such as how these select players will be allocated to G League teams -- NCAA President Mark Emmert said he appreciates the G League's plan.

"Obtaining a college education continues to provide unmatched preparation for success in life for the majority of student-athletes and remains an excellent path to professional sports for many," Emmert said. "However, this change provides another option for those who would prefer not to attend college but want to directly pursue professional basketball."

And this could put the G League and some big-name NCAA programs on a collision course.

Players can sign letters of intent to play for a Division I school in the 2019-20 season starting next month, and there's nothing to suggest that some of the top recruits -- whether they've signed or not -- won't consider going to the G League for $125,000 instead of college next season. That means the potential is there for some awkward situations if a player signs with a school, and later backs out of that commitment to turn pro.

The G League's working group is expected to be formed and functioning within the next couple of weeks, but it's unclear when the process of players contacting the league and vice versa will begin. It is expected that there will be an advisory council to tell athletes who contact the G League about their potential eligibility for a select deal, much like how college football players can ask about their potential NFL draft status.

"There might be some collision points, but our role and what we intend to do is educate and inform the marketplace," Turner said. "We're also not going to be targeting those who have already made their decisions."

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James called the NCAA model "corrupt" and said he would suggest to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver a plan to expand the G League and turn it into more of a farm system with an eye on truly preparing young talent for the NBA.

"As the NBA, we have to figure out a way that we can shore up our farm league," James said in February, when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "And if kids feel like they don't want to be a part of that NCAA program, then we have something here for them to be able to jump back on and not have to worry about going overseas all the time."

Through the first two nights of this NBA season, 35 rookies -- most of them having left college early -- made their debuts. Of the 35, only five scored more than 10 points in their first game.

 

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Stanley Cup champions in the house for Wizards home opener

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@MonSportsNet

Stanley Cup champions in the house for Wizards home opener

It was a full D.C. family affair Thursday night inside Capital One Arena for the Washington Wizards' home opener against the Miami Heat. 

Several Washington Capitals were in attendance on their night off just 24 hours removed from an overtime-thrilling win against the Rangers, 4-3. 

Andre Burakovsky, who buried the game-winner for the Caps Wednesday night, was courtside with teammate Devante Smith-Pelly. Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey and Dmitrij Jaskin were posted up together in a different row. 

It's not all that often that basketball and hockey communities intersect (or get along), but that's certainly not the case in D.C. 

Now, if the reigning Stanley Cup champions can rub off some magic on the Wizards, we really could be referring to this city as the "District of Champions." 

 

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