Mikel Arteta adds starlet Matt Smith to senior training ahead of season restart

Arsenal youngster Matt Smith joined the first-team training session on Tuesday as manager Mikel Arteta continues to ease the talented 19-year-old into the fold.

Smith is yet to appear in a senior squad for the Gunners, but he has regularly joined in training sessions since Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December.

The midfielder is said to be one of the most exciting young talents in the academy, and he has impressed for the U23 side this year with a number of eye-catching performances.

With hopes the Premier League will resume in June, Smith may get his chance to impress in the coming months, especially if fixture congestion sees the need for Arteta to rotate his team.

As reported via Football.London, Gunners coaches have described Smith as "a composed midfielder with an eye for a pass" and someone who "typically looks to operate as a deep-lying playmaker, tasked with controlling the tempo of games and picking out runners in the final third".

He signed his first professional contract with the club last year, and at the time said: "It’s an amazing feeling. Arsenal is a massive club and I’ve supported it my whole life. I’ve been here since I was seven, so this is a really proud moment."


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The NHL’s 2020 draft lottery explained: Everything you need to know

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a new format for the 2020 NHL draft lottery as part of the league’s “return to play” plans for completing the 2019-20 season this summer. This version will retain some aspects of previous lotteries, with important updates to account for the unprecedented nature of this season.

It was a lot to digest, and represents some bold changes from previous draft lotteries. You probably have some questions, and we’re here to provide the answers:

How many picks are determined by this new lottery format?

The NHL announced that the top three picks in the 2020 draft will be determined in three separate draws, which has been the format for the draft since 2016. There had been speculation that only the first pick would be chosen via the lottery, and that there might be restrictions on how many spots a team could jump should they win the lottery. Instead, the NHL essentially stuck with its current lottery format for the top three picks.

How many teams are in the 2020 NHL draft lottery?

There are 15 teams in the lottery. They include the seven teams that would not take part in the 24-team, conference-based tournament should the NHL return this summer to complete its season: The Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks (whose pick belongs to Ottawa), Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

The other eight teams eligible for the top picks are the ones that lose in the “qualification round” of the postseason, i.e. the No. 5 seed through the No. 12 seed in each conference. Those teams will take part in a second draft lottery before the 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, if necessary.

Wait, there are two draft lotteries?

Maybe! The NHL is going to hold a draft lottery on Friday, June 26. There will be three draws. The seven teams that aren’t returning to play will take part. There will be eight “placeholder” spots eligible to win the lotteries, too. The 15 teams’ involvement will maintain previously established lottery odds.

As per usual, the winning team from the first draw will no longer be eligible for the second or third draws. All number combinations originally assigned to this team will become “re-draw combinations” for the second and third draws. The remaining teams’ odds will increase on a proportionate basis for the second draw based on which team wins the first draw.

If three non-qualification round teams win all three of the top picks, we end there with just one lottery drawing. Those teams would own the top three picks, and the rest of the draft order would be determined by the current standings points percentages of non-return to play teams, as well as the teams eliminated in the qualification round.

However, if any of the “placeholder” spots wins a draw for one of the top three picks, then we’re going to have a second draft lottery, which will be held between the end of the qualification round and the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoff quarterfinals. That draft would feature the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round. In each Phase 2 draw, all participants will have the same odds. The team that wins that lottery would then win the highest “placeholder” spot in the top three. If another “Phase 2” draw is necessary, the first team’s numbered lottery ball will be removed.

Can we have an example?

Let’s say, for the sake of Red Wings fans, that Detroit wins the lottery on June 26. But the winners for the second and third overall picks are “placeholders” for teams that are in the qualification round. A second draft will be held after those teams are eliminated, and only those eight eliminated teams would be eligible for the second and third overall picks. Which brings us to a potential problem with this format.

What’s the problem with the format?

The Pittsburgh Penguins are fifth in the Eastern Conference with a .623 points percentage, which is the seventh best in the NHL. They had a 92% chance of making the playoffs if the regular season had been completed, per Moneypuck. The Edmonton Oilers are fifth in the Western Conference with a .585 points percentage. They had a 93.3% chance of making the playoffs had the season been completed.

If Pittsburgh loses in the qualification round to the Montreal Canadiens and the Oilers lose to the Chicago Blackhawks — and neither of those results is that outlandish — there’s a chance that presumptive No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafrenière could be receiving passes from either Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid next season, rather than serving as a foundational piece for a rebuild in Detroit or Ottawa.

This is not what the draft, nor the draft lottery, intends to do in a typical season. But this season is anything but typical.

What are the draft lottery odds for the first draw on June 26?

Via the NHL, here they are:

1. Detroit Red Wings: 18.5%
2. Ottawa Senators: 13.5%
3. Ottawa Senators*: 11.5%
4. Los Angeles Kings: 9.5%
5. Anaheim Ducks: 8.5%
6. New Jersey Devils: 7.5%
7. Buffalo Sabres: 6.5%
8. Team A: 6.0%
9. Team B: 5.0%
10. Team C: 3.5%
11. Team D: 3.0%
12. Team E: 2.5%
13. Team F: 2.0%
14. Team G: 1.5%
15. Team H: 1.0%

Keep in mind that Ottawa owns the Sharks’ No. 1 pick. The Sabres have a higher regulation/overtime winning percentage than the Devils, to break their points percentage tie (.493).

This seems like a lot of trouble to go through. Why not just hold a lottery for the non-qualification round teams?

Two reasons. While no doubt excited to play on in the qualification round, teams like Montreal (.500 points percentage) and Chicago (.514) would rather swap a chance at a top prospect for the honor of losing three more games in their seasons. So it was important to include teams in the process that would have likely missed the playoffs if the season was completed.

However, some of the NHL’s general managers were adamant about not creating a format where a team could both win the lottery and the Stanley Cup in the same season, as slim as those odds are. This tracks back to the NHL’s desire to hold the entry draft before the season was restarted, following the NFL’s success with its virtual draft. This new lottery format ensures that none of the teams that advance to the Round of 16 Stanley Cup tournament can win one of the first three picks, unless they hold an eliminated team’s first-round pick.

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Ianis Hagi completes permanent move to Rangers

Ianis Hagi completes permanent move to Rangers as Genk confirm sale of 21-year-old Romania midfielder

  • Ianis Hagi has joined Rangers on a permanent deal after a successful loan spell
  • GENK confirmed the move and wished Hagi ‘the best of luck in his future career’ 
  • Hagi scored three goals in 12 appearances before the season was curtailed 

Rangers have exercised their right to sign Ianis Hagi on a permanent deal, according to Belgian club Genk.

The Romania midfielder joined Gers on loan in the winter transfer window with the Ibrox club holding an exclusive right to buy the 21-year-old.

And Genk revealed on their official website that Hagi would definitely be joining the Light Blues.

Rangers have completed the permanent signing of Ianis Hagi, GENK have confirmed

‘We wish Ianis the best of luck in his future career,’ a statement read.

Hagi scored three goals in 12 appearances for Rangers before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season.

He became a popular figure at Ibrox after scoring a brace in Rangers’ 3-2 Europa League victory over Sporting Braga.

Hagi goes for goal during Rangers’ Europa League last 16 home clash with Bayer Leverkusen




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Huge offer in the works to entice retired Mike Tyson into a fight

Mike Tyson is getting closer to a return to fighting — and it may not just be boxing.

The former heavyweight champion is expected to be offered a contract by Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship that will exceed the $AUD30 million pact the company extended to Tyson earlier this month and include charitable donations, the organisation’s president told MMA Fighting.

“I think I know what we need to do to make this thing happen,” BKFC president David Feldman said.

The 53-year-old Tyson, whose last official boxing match was a 2005 loss to Kevin McBride, has teased a return to combat sports. He’s posted videos of intense workouts and pictures of his new ripped physique in recent weeks.

Tyson has expressed interest in partaking in a charity boxing match and has already seen potential opponents line up.

“We got many guys,” Tyson said during an interview with rapper Lil Wayne on Saturday. “Listen, we’ve got so many guys that want to do this, man.

“We’re in calls, we’re doing business with guys right now. You’re not going to believe the names when the names come out. Sometime this week, we’ll have the contract done.”

Tyson (left) would still be a scary proposition 15 years after retiring.Source:Supplied

Former UFC stars Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock have expressed interest in a fight with Tyson no matter the medium, according to MMA Fighting. Former rival Evander Holyfield, 57, has begun posting his own training videos and is open to a third bout between him and Tyson for charity.

“I would do that! Yes, I want to fight Mike Tyson,” Holyfield told the Sun this month. “I can definitely handle him. … But Mike would have to want to do it as well.”

Tyson was back in a ring this week as he appeared on All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view and presented the company’s new TNT title to winner Cody Rhodes.

This article first appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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Cuban’s plan: Tourney for NBA’s final 2 seeds

  • Joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009
  • Covers the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks
  • Appears regularly on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has suggested a plan to the NBA league office that would include all 30 NBA teams playing five to seven regular-season games before a play-in tournament to determine the final two playoff seeds, he told ESPN on Tuesday.

Cuban considers it a must for all 30 teams to participate in the resumption of the NBA season, tentatively planned to take place at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, because of the financial impact of fulfilling local television contracts.

In Cuban’s proposal, the top 10 teams from both conferences would qualify for the postseason and be reseeded based on record. There would be two play-in matchups — either single games or a best-of-three series — pitting seeds 17 vs. 20 and 18 vs. 19. The winners would advance to play the 15th and 16th seeds for the final spots in the playoff bracket.

The playoffs would then proceed with best-of-seven series.

A point Cuban emphasizes is that all but two teams — the exceptions being the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors — would have a mathematical possibility of qualifying for the postseason under his proposal. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, the teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, are four games behind the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets.

“It’s fair. It’s entertaining,” Cuban told ESPN.

Cuban’s Mavericks would stand to have the most to lose in a play-in scenario under previously discussed terms, which would include the teams that are seventh through 10th in the conference standings.

The Mavs are seventh in the Western Conference standings with a 40-27 record, eight games ahead of the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies. Dallas’ record is better than all but four teams in the East.

Cuban acknowledges it would be challenging to schedule all the games required to make his proposal work. However, he believes it is the plan that would best address the league’s financial issues and desire for competitive fairness, as well as allowing playoff teams to ramp up for the postseason, hopefully limiting injuries after a long layoff.

Cuban’s concern with the reported World Cup-style group stage idea, aside from not including all 30 teams, is that it “throws away the value of the whole season.”

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Charlie Edwards targets title glory alongside brother at Selhurst Park

‘It’d be a dream come true to fight in our backyard and both with world title fights’: Charlie Edwards targets championship glory alongside brother at Selhurst Park after moving to Frank Warren’s stable

  • Charlie Edwards has joined up with Frank Warren after leaving Eddie Hearn
  • The 27-year-old is now on the same promotion as his younger brother Sunny
  • Edwards now wants a title fight within 18 months after signing multi-fight deal
  • He hasn’t fought since no contest bout with Julio Cesar Martinez last August
  • Since then Edwards has vacated the WBC flyweight world championship 

Charlie Edwards is dreaming of double world title glory under the lights at Selhurst Park after joining his brother Sunny in the stable of Frank Warren.

The Croydon fighting siblings have fought on the same bill only once – when they were young amateurs.

Now the former WBC flyweight world champion has swapped Eddie Hearn for rival Warren, however, they are ready to share a stage once more.

Charlie Edwards is hoping to secure a world title under the lights at Selhurst Park

‘I went and watched a Crystal Palace game not so long ago and looked at the stadium,’ Edwards told Sportsmail.

‘It’d be a dream come true to fight in our backyard, both with world title fights and both winning them on the same night… we’ve only ever fought on the same card once. It was Newham ABC show where we both boxed for Newham and we both won so our record is 1-0 and we’re looking forward to carrying it on in the pro ranks.’

He added: ‘I must have been about 15. He would have been 12… for me it was always on my bucket list – as a professional boxer I wrote out all the things I’d achieved and what else I want to achieve and it’s ticking another section off… I’m not naive – me and my brother are both knocking on the door for world title fights so who says we can’t both win a world title on the same night? That will go down in history for two British brothers.’

Charlie has joined his younger brother Sunny (above) under the stable of Frank Warren

Having only fought on the same card once before, Edwards dreams of he and his brother winning world title fights on the same night at Selhurst Park, the home of Crystal Palace

The 27-year-old had been promoted by Hearn and Matchroom since turning professional in 2015. But after becoming a free agent last December, Edwards has signed a multi-fight deal with Warren in the hope of securing another world title within 18 months.

‘I’m six years deep into my career,’ he said. ‘I fancied a change first and foremost because I was getting fed up of the same old shows, the same old faces.’

His advisors held talks with Bob Arum’s Top Rank but Edwards said: ‘Frank Warren came through with the best offer, the best career path, and it seemed like he really valued me… I wouldn’t say (Matchroom) under-valued me but I just felt like the same kid who walked in as a professional off the GB squad.’

Edwards has not fought since last August when his fight with Julio Cesar Martinez was deemed a no contest after he was hit while down on the canvas

Edwards hasn’t fought since last August, when he made the second defence of his WBC flyweight crown against Julio Cesar Martinez at the O2 Arena. Dead at the weight, Edwards was stopped in round three, only for the result to be changed to a No Contest after Martinez hit the champion while he was on the canvas.

The British fighter later vacated the belt and is now planning to challenge at super-flyweight – where his brother operates – or bantamweight.

‘In 17 professional fights, I’ve had five world title fights so it’s been a great journey but it was just time for that change and I know what Frank’s got planned for me and where the career is going to go now.’

Late in 2019, Edwards vacated his flyweight title to compete in the super-flyweight division

Over recent months, Edwards has relocated to Sheffield and has been training at his new home during lockdown, as well as working on a fitness clothing brand (‘Even Better’) which is due to be finalised in the coming months.

For now, he and the rest of boxing are battling to return following the coronavirus shutdown and Edwards insists he would box behind-closed-doors.

‘When all this blows over I’m in a very good position and I’m very stable and ready to go again with no stresses.’




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Rory McIlroy to ride in all-star bike race

World number one Rory McIlroy will join NBA All-Star Gordon Hayward and six-time Olympic track champion Allyson Felix in an all-star spin-bike race.

The 31-year-old’s opposition in the men’s race includes fellow golfers Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson.

Tennis players Victoria Azarenka and Monica Puig join Felix in the women’s race.

The winners of the event will be the riders to register the highest power output over the 20-minute session.

Also in the men’s race are NFL Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and US six-time Olympic swim medallist Matt Grevers, while LPGA golfer Morgan Pressel and Olympic champion gymnast Kyla Ross are in the women’s event.

The event is the latest of a series of made-for-television contests that have attempted to fill the gap in the sporting schedules created by the coronavirus outbreak.

Over the weekend, 5.8 millions US cable viewers tuned in to watch golf stars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson combine with NFL Super Bowl champion quarter-backs Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in a charity golf event.

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MJ in ’11: No Dream Team for me if Isiah picked

Old audio of Michael Jordan has surfaced in which he says he told NBA executive Rod Thorn, who was part of the USA Basketball selection committee, that he wouldn’t play on the Dream Team in 1992 if Detroit Pistons star point guard Isiah Thomas was also selected to the team.

“Rod Thorn called me, and I said, ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team,'” Jordan is heard telling reporter Jack McCallum in a 2011 interview, which was aired on his podcast “The Dream Team Tapes.”

“[Thorn] assured me,” Jordan is heard saying in the old interview. “He said, ‘You know what? Chuck doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.'”

“The Last Dance,” ESPN’s documentary on Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, has renewed debate about Thomas’ absence from the Dream Team. After an episode highlighted Thomas’ Pistons leaving the court rather than shaking hands with the victorious Bulls after the 1991 Eastern Conference finals, Thomas lamented the possibility that the action cost him a spot on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team — the first to feature NBA players, producing the greatest collection of star talent basketball has ever seen.

In “The Last Dance,” Jordan said he didn’t have anything to do with Thomas not making the Dream Team.

“Before the ’92 Olympics, Rod Thorn calls me and says, ‘We would love for you to be on the Dream Team,'” Jordan said in the documentary. “I say, ‘Who’s all playing?’ He says, ‘What does that mean?’ I say, ‘Who’s all playing?’ He says, ‘Well, the guy you’re talking about or you’re thinking about, he’s not going to be playing.’

“I respect Isiah Thomas’ talent. To me, the best point guard of all time is Magic Johnson and right behind him is Isiah Thomas. No matter how much I hate him, I respect his game. Now, it was insinuated that I was asking about him, but I never threw his name in there.”

Thorn and fellow NBA executives Jack McCloskey and Russ Granik were part of the selection committee formed by USA Basketball that was headed by the late C.M. Newton, the then-Kentucky athletic director who also served as an assistant under Dream Team coach Chuck Daly. Mike Krzyzewski and P.J. Carlesimo also served on the committee and were Daly’s assistants on the team.

Thorn, who was the Bulls’ general manager when the team selected Jordan in the 1984 draft, recently told ESPN’s Golic & Wingo that Thomas’ name never came up in a phone call concerning the Dream Team.

“There was never anything in my conversation with [Jordan] that had to do with Isiah Thomas, period,” Thorn told Golic & Wingo. “He said, ‘I’ll do it.’ … Isiah’s name never came up during that conversation. He never backtracked and said he didn’t want to do it from that time on, to those of us in the NBA office.”

According to McCallum’s account of the selection process in his book “Dream Team,” Thomas had plenty of support from the USA Basketball committee. Ultimately, Jordan’s opposition to having Thomas on the team — as well as the unwillingness of any other member of the Dream Team to advocate for him — doomed Thomas’ chances, McCallum wrote in his book.

The decision might have been easier since a year had passed since the Pistons had won their second NBA championship, and Thomas had been limited to 48 games by a wrist injury and averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game during the 1990-91 season.

“I don’t know what went into that process,” Thomas said in the Jordan documentary. “I met the criteria to be selected, but I wasn’t.”

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton contributed to this report.

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LISTEN: Will Greenwood’s podcast – Henry Slade

On this week’s podcast episode, Will Greenwood and Rupert Cox catch up with England and Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade.

Our duo chat to 29-time capped England international about his life in lockdown and the coronavirus worries he has experienced during these strange times.

The 27-year-old also discusses playing professional rugby as a Type 1 diabetic, and also the conversations he has held with the Exeter Chiefs doctor in relation to Covid-19.

Slade also chats playing at inside-centre, outside-centre and at out-half, and which is his favourite position to date.

Greenwood and Slade also face off in a quiz, while the latter talks through his role in Jonny May’s try against Australia in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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