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New-look Browns rename home to FirstEnergy Stadium

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New-look Browns rename home to FirstEnergy Stadium

CLEVELAND (AP) Cleveland Browns Stadium's name will change, and a dome and artificial turf are still options, but don't expect cheerleaders or jazzing up the team's beloved orange helmets, team owner Jimmy Haslam said Tuesday.

An electric utility, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., bought the naming rights to the stadium, which will be known as FirstEnergy Stadium. Financial terms of the long-term deal weren't disclosed.

``We believe that FirstEnergy and the Cleveland Browns share the same culture, the same desire to win,'' Haslam said after a curtain was raised to show the name logo mounted over a stage decorated with fake grass.

It will be the 23rd NFL venue with a naming rights deal.

Former Browns owner Randy Lerner declined to sell naming rights to the stadium, which opened in 1999 when the team was reintroduced as an expansion franchise.

Haslam bought the Browns from Lerner for around $1 billion last October. Art Modell had moved his team to Baltimore after the 1996 season.

The naming deal includes provisions for stadium signs, event sponsorships and advertising.

No ratepayer money will be used to pay for the name rights, the utility said.

``Both FirstEnergy and the Browns share a rich tradition in this region and it makes good business sense,'' said FirstEnergy President and CEO Tony Alexander.

While FirstEnergy will provide the name, it doesn't provide electricity to the stadium, which is hooked up to the city-owned Cleveland Public Power, FirstEnergy and city officials said.

``There is some irony there,'' said Martin Sweeney, president of the Cleveland City Council, whose approval is needed to change the name of the city-owned stadium.

The lease specifies that the council can only reject a name for limited reasons, including an embarrassing name that promotes illegal drugs, underage drinking or a sex-oriented business. Those don't apply in this case, Sweeney said.

Mayor Frank Jackson said he backed the change. ``The decision to sell naming rights is a business decision by the Browns' owner and he is within his rights to do so,'' he said in a statement.

On other stadium-related questions, Haslam deflected questions on the possibility of building a dome over the open-air stadium or ripping up weather-battered grass in favor or artificial turf. All options remain open, he said.

``We're going to look into everything,'' Haslam said.

But cheerleaders to entertain the blue-collar crowd are out and, anticipating a question, so are changes in the orange helmets, a fan favorite, Haslam said.

On the hiring side, Haslam said he expects a decision soon on a general manager/player personnel executive. No names were mentioned.

Last week, Cleveland hired Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski as its sixth head coach since 1999. The team fired coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert.

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Ja Morant turning into a 'hell, yeah' NBA Draft option if Wizards get lottery lucky

Ja Morant turning into a 'hell, yeah' NBA Draft option if Wizards get lottery lucky

The Washington Wizards selected John Wall first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft. Other lottery picks followed in subsequent years. None were point guards. Nobody bothered contemplating such a scenario.

That’s no longer the case.

There is Wall’s uncertain physical status for next season and beyond because of a ruptured Achilles.

Thursday’s mind-blowing performance from Murray State point guard Ja Morant put such contemplation into overdrive.

For many NBA-only fans, the 12th seeded Racers' 83-64 thrashing over no. 5 Marquette in its West Region first-round game marked the initial opportunity to watch the buzz-worthy Morant. He did not disappoint.

Morant, who only trailed Duke phenom Zion Williamson for jaw-dropping highlights this season, dazzled with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists. His next chance to wow comes Saturday against fourth-seeded Florida State.

Imagine the Wizards receive some lottery luck ahead of June’s NBA Draft. Not the overflowing pot of gold kind that means grabbing Williamson first overall, but jumping up above the average options to the second or third selection. Washington (30-43) has a 26.3 percent chance of landing a top 4 selection, according to the draft website Tankathon.

Williamson might be the only player selected ahead of Morant in June in what one NBA executive deems a two-player draft. “Zion makes it feel better than it is. After Zion and Ja, just an average draft,” the executive said.

You’re on the clock. Duke’s RJ Barrett is another top 3 candidate, but Morant gained ground on the wing guard and others all season by averaging 24.0 points, 10.0 assists and multiple viral video moments a game. By June, Morant might be the clear-cut second-best player.

Wall’s recovery timeline keeps the five-time All-Star sideline for the majority if not all of the 2019-20 season. He will eventually return, however. That factor cannot be ignored especially with his 4-year, $170 million supermax contract starting next season. Ideally, the selection compliments Bradley Beal and Wall in the starting lineup.

Wall also turns 29 in July and recovery from such a devastating injury presents significant unknowns.

Tomas Satoransky, Wall's primary backup and the current starter, is a restricted free agent this summer. The Wizards would like him back, but the marketplace might have other ideas.

Time’s up. Turn the selection card in. Take Morant or not?

“Hell, yes!” multiple college basketball sources responded via text.

Others went with a standard roster-building approach.

“I take the best player available and figure it out,” an NBA scout texted.

In other words, hell yeah on Morant.

Another NBA scout received his first extended look at wispy yet athletically super-charged Morant last summer at Chris Paul’s basketball camp. “I thought he was ordinary because he played more off the ball,” the scout said of the 6-foot-3, 174-pound Morant. “But now he’s really, really good. Can pass with either hand.”

The scout offered an NBA comparison: John Wall. “Not as fast as John, but he’s got the same explosive athleticism at the rim.”

The counter-argument, a mild one at that, looks beyond next season.

Playing time ranked high among the reasons why the Wizards sought low-cost backup point guards over the years for Wall. Combo guards aside, if Wall goes 35-38 minutes nightly, why invest significant assets into a 10-13 minute-a-game player.

There’s some debate over whether Morant could play off the ball next to Wall. The sophomore is shooting 33.6 percent on 4.8 three-point attempts per game this season.

Based on the initial reaction from the various sources, nobody cares. Take the talent and figure out the rest. It's unclear what the Wizards have in Wall going forward. Maybe trade one of them down the line. The Wizards only have three healthy players under contract for next season. The 2019 first-round pick could immediately become a high-rotation player.

Such expectations rise if the Wizards jump up in the lottery. Historically there’s no chance they consider a point guard in the lottery with Wall on the roster. Times are different especially if there’s a chance to grab a hell yeah talent like Morant.

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Troy Brown found out he was starting against the Nuggets through Twitter

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Troy Brown found out he was starting against the Nuggets through Twitter

The Wizards' 113-108 loss to the Nuggets Thursday marked Troy Brown's first NBA start. And the Wizards' rookie guard impressed, scoring a career-high 13 points and snagging five rebounds.

How did Brown find out he was starting, you may ask? Through Twitter, of course!

Head coach Scott Brooks told reporters Brown was taking the injured Trevor Ariza's place in the starting five before notifying Brown himself, and like every 19-year old kid, Brown gets his news on Twitter.

And Thursday night, Brown's Twitter timeline brought him some of the biggest news of his basketball career. 

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