- Associated Press - Saturday, March 15, 2014


Phil Jackson won NBA titles as a player and a coach. He’ll now try winning as an executive.

And this quest will take him back to where his career began.

Jackson has agreed to run the New York Knicks’ front office and will be formally introduced by the team at a news conference at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday morning, a person familiar with the negotiations between the 11-time champion coach and the franchise told The Associated Press on Friday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Knicks would only confirm that a “major announcement” involving team executives was scheduled. Jackson also did not make any immediate public comment, but the move had been expected for several days - and was practically confirmed earlier this week by Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who said he had heard the Hall of Fame coach was “coming on board.”



Steve Smith didn’t waste time finding a new home, signing a three-year contract with the Ravens about 24 hours after being released by Carolina.

The Ravens announced the signing of the 34-year-old Smith on Friday.

Smith was released by the Panthers after 13 seasons. He should provide a solid weapon for quarterback Joe Flacco.

“This has been an organization with a history of giving veteran players a chance and meshing them with younger players,” Smith said on a conference call Friday.

Smith ranks 19th in the NFL in career receptions. He caught 64 passes for 746 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. Smith is Carolina’s all-time leader in receptions (836), yards receiving (12,197) and touchdowns (67).

In other moves Friday, suspended former Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner said he has agreed to a contract to join Darrelle Revis in New England, where Browner will miss the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy; LB Brandon Spikes agreed to a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills; two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman agreed to a one-year contract with Chicago; Oakland signed free-agent defensive lineman Antonio Smith to a two-year, $9 million contract and cornerback Tarell Brown to a one-year, $3.5 million deal Friday; veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan found a new home in Miami after an injury-plagued 2013 with the Rams; Detroit re-signed tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who will get a $16 million, four-year contract with half the money guaranteed; Green Bay re-signed defensive tackle B.J. Raji to anchor their defensive line; and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told The Associated Press, “You can say I’ve been released, yes” when asked if Tennessee had cut him.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s cancer has returned.

The Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo said in a statement that the cancer was found when the former Buffalo Bills star came in for follow-up testing after having oral surgery to remove cancerous cells last year.

The statement says the hospital’s head and neck cancer specialists are determining a course of treatment.



PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) - Robert Garrigus figured out Innisbrook for a 5-under 66 to build a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the Valspar Championship.

Garrigus is among the longest hitters in golf, and he took advantage of his power on a pristine afternoon in the Tampa Bay area. He birdied all the par 5s for the second day in a row. Garrigus has made only two other birdies this week, on a par 3 and a par 4.

Garrigus was at 7-under 135. He was three shots ahead of Kevin Na, who shot a 68

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Bernhard Langer birdied three of the last four holes for an 8-under 63 and a two-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s Toshiba Classic.

AGADIR, Morocco (AP) - Spain’s Alejandro Canizares shot a 4-under 68 to maintain a one-stroke lead after the second round of the European Tour’s Trophy Hassan II.



BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - Denny Hamlin ended two weeks of Team Penske dominance by winning the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Hamlin set a track record with a lap at 129.991 mph to earn the top starting spot. It broke the mark of 129.535 set by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch a year ago, and ensured that neither Brad Keselowski or Joey Logano won the pole for the first time since NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying debuted three weeks ago.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in a rainy qualifying session Saturday, while four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will start the race from 12th after being caught out by the wet conditions.



PANAMA CITY (AP) - The New York Yankees are preparing for a pair of exhibition games against the Miami Marlins in the home country of Mariano Rivera, the retired career saves leader.

A fundraising dinner for Rivera’s foundation and the games Saturday and Sunday at Rod Carew Stadium highlight a weekend that is a tribute to the pitcher, who retired after last season.

Rivera told reporters Thursday night before the Yankees’ split-squad arrived that “I feel like a peacock.”



INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) - Novak Djokovic beat Julien Benneteau 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open.

On the women’s side, No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat sixth-seeded Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4 to reach Sunday’s final for the first time in eight appearances.

Radwanska will play Flavia Pennetta, who defeated error-prone Li Na 7-6 (5), 6-3 in a matchup of 32-year-old players. It was Li’s second loss of the year.



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Texas’ Kaitlin Petrillose broke the women’s NCAA pole vault record by clearing 15 feet, 1 inch in the Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Petrillose broke the mark of 14-11 set by Arkansas’ Tina Sutej in 2012.

Florida State’s James Harris turned in one of the top individual performances of the meet, clearing 7-7¼ in the high jump, and nearly pushing the collegiate record of 7-9¾.

In the team standings, the Oregon led with 24 points heading into the final day. The Ducks’ Edward Cheserek won the 5,000 in 13:46.67 and teammate Parker Stinson was third.



FAYENCE, France (AP) - Carlos Betancur outsprinted world champion Rui Costa to win the sixth stage of the Paris-Nice and take the overall lead in the weeklong race.

AREZZO, Italy (AP) - Peter Sagan showed off his uphill sprinting skills to win the third stage of the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico race and Michal Kwiatkowski took the overall lead.

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