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Sports briefs for July 10, 2013

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

UNC’s leading scorer is subject of probe by school

North Carolina is conducting its own investigation into media reports that link P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels’ leading scorer last season, to a convicted felon.

Hairston’s name is not mentioned by the athletic department, but USA Today reported earlier that Hairston was tied to two vehicles rented by Haydn Thomas.

North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said the university would consider disciplinary measures “where the facts show mistakes in judgment and/or actions.”

Hairston was arrested June 5 for possession of marijuana and driving without a license in Durham, N.C. According to the police report, a 9-millimeter handgun and a magazine with nine rounds of ammunition were seized from the Yukon that was rented by Thomas.

Hairston also received a speeding ticket on May 13 in a 2012 Camaro SS, which USA Today reported to be rented by Catinia Farrington, who has the same address as Thomas.

USA Today’s investigation found vehicles rented by Thomas or Farrington — including the Camaro and a Mercedes-Benz — receiving nine unpaid citations on North Carolina’s campus between February and May.

NASCAR teams face no penalties over roof flaps

Sixteen teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and 15 teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series can breathe a little easier.

NASCAR announced Wednesday that after a thorough review it will not assess any penalties to the 31 teams that had to change out the spacers that support the hinge bar of the car’s roof laps last week at Daytona International Speedway. The roof flaps are a design feature that helps to prevent cars from going airborne in the event of a spin.

NASCAR required the 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup teams to swap out non-conforming spacers that were first noticed during the inspection process prior to the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Daytona for the Coke Zero 400. The issue delayed some cars getting out on the track for practice while they replaced the unapproved parts.

The 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup cars that were out of compliance included Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin, Casey Mears, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Michael Waltrip, Martin Truex Jr. and Carl Edwards.

The 15 Nationwide cars included Blake Koch, Landon Cassill, Trevor Bayne, Kenseth, Mike Bliss, Brian Vickers, Robert Richardson Jr., Jason White, Reed Sorenson, Michael Annett, Cole Whitt, Busch, Travis Pastrana, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Dexter Stacey.

Senators, Canucks go outdoors for game

The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks will play an outdoor game in the Heritage Classic on March 2 in Vancouver’s BC Place, the NHL announced Wednesday.

The Heritage Classic between the Canadian teams returns after a break and joins a list of outdoor games scheduled for next season in the NHL.

Inclement weather should be less of a concern because BC Place, which hosted the 2010 Olympics, has a restractable roof.

“With one of the world’s great facilities as the setting, and one of the world’s most scenic cities as the backdrop, the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at BC Place in Vancouver will honor hockey’s Canadian heritage,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “With the excitement, the entertainment, the competitiveness and the fun of this game, the Canucks and Senators will create special memories for hockey fans everywhere.”

The NHL earlier announced outdoor games next season between Toronto and Detroit in Ann Arbor, Mich., Anaheim and the Los Angeles Kings in Dodger Stadium, the Islanders and Rangers in New York’s Yankee Stadium and Chicago and Pittsburgh in Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Scioscia fine with Trout skipping HR Derby

Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia is not a fan of the Home Run Derby, so he didn’t mind at all that Mike Trout wasn’t invited to participate.

Trout, who was named to his second All-Star team, was thought to be a candidate for one of the four slots on the American League’s team, but the final spot went to Yoenis Cespedes. The others are Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder and Chris Davis.

Scioscia told Trout over the weekend he preferred that Trout not participate because he thinks the big swings of the derby can wear out a player and create bad swing habits.

Trout has 15 homers this season. He hit 30 last season.

Free-agent guard Ellis parts with agent

Free-agent guard Monta Ellis, still looking for the best deal on the market, fired his longtime agent, Jeff Fried, on Wednesday,

Ellis rejected a three-year, $36 million contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks after the season and was hoping to sign with the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavricks or Charlotte Bobcats. There are reports that Ellis will hire Dan Fegan as his new agent.

“I only wish Monta and his family the very best,” Fried said. “He is a superstar on the court and a character individual with tremendous integrity off the court.”

Ellis has a career scoring average of 19.4 points per game and last season averaged 19.2 points and 6.0 assists for the Bucks.

The 27-year-old Ellis is hoping to land a contract in the neighborhood of $40 million over four years.

Josh Smith joins Pistons with $54M deal

The Detroit Pistons signed free-agent forward Josh Smith to a multiyear contract on Wednesday, the team announced.

The team did not release contract terms, but CBSSports.com reported the deal to be worth $54 million over four years.

Smith, 27, spent the past nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. He averagd 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals in 676 career games. He is the 24th player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assista and 1,000 blocked shots.

“Josh is a two-way player and we look forward to blending his talents with our young core,” Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. “He was the No. 1 guy we were after in free agency.”

Last season, Smith and Miami’s LeBron James were the only two NBA players to average at last 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game.

Suns acquire Bledsoe, Butler from Clippers

Guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler were traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Phoenix Suns in a three-team trade that became official Wednesday.

Bledsoe, 23, was the centerpiece of a deal that involved Jared Dudley to the Clippers and a future second-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks. In addition, the Bucks receive another second-round pick from the Clippers and agree to sign-and-trade guard JJ Redick to Los Angeles.

The Clippers coveted perimeter shooting to balance the floor and play off of drive-and-dish point guard Chris Paul. New coach Doc Rivers ran set plays for Ray Allen in Boston to maximize his deft shooting from 3-point range and likely envisions a like approach with Redick.

The Suns are rebuilding with a new general manager and head coach, Jeff Hornacek, heading the turnarond. At the center of the plan of Ryan McDonough is a bounty of draft picks in the next three drafts.

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