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Sports briefs for Jan. 12, 2014

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Neck exam to decide Manning’s future

The future of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning playing beyond this season will be decided by the results of an offseason exam on his surgically-repaired neck, according to ESPN.

Citing sources, ESPN reported that Manning will have the exam in March, which is required in his contract. If the exam shows that his neck is stable, Manning plans to return to the Broncos next season. However, if there is an increased injury risk, Manning may retire.

Manning, 37, set NFL single-season records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) in 2013.

Manning had fusion surgery on his neck in 2011, which weakened his throwing arm and forced him to miss the entire season. He was then released by the Indianapolis Colts. He signed a five-year, $96 million deal with the Broncos in 2012.

Bulls coach Thibodeau denies Knicks rumor

Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau denied a report by the New York Daily News that he has a deal in place to take over as the New York Knicks’ coach next season.

Thibodeau is represented by CAA, the only firm that Knicks owner Jim Dolan deals with in negotiating with players and coaches.

Thibodeau, a former Knicks assistant, is under contract with the Bulls through 2016-17.

Thibodeau laughed off the report after Saturday night’s 103-97 win over the visiting Charlotte Bobcats.

“Come on, now. Come on,” Thibodeau said. “That stuff’s ridiculous. It really is. First, I was being traded. I could care less about that stuff. I’ve said it before: I love this team, I love the guys that we have and I love the fighting spirit of this team, so that’s all I’m thinking about.”

There have been earlier reports of Thibodeau being unhappy with the Bulls. The team was slow to give him a contract extension and he objected to the front office letting go of assistant Ron Adams.

NBA: Mavericks’ Ellis fouled Pelicans’ Rivers

The NBA announced Sunday that a foul should have been called late in the fourth quarter of the Dallas Mavericks’ 110-107 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday at American Airline Arena.

“After reviewing postgame video, we have determined a foul should have been called on Dallas’ Monta Ellis for illegal contact on the arms of New Orleans’ Austin Rivers while Rivers was attempting a three-point field goal,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said in a statement. “Rivers should have been awarded three free throws with 0.6 left on the clock.”

Dallas led 106-99 with 2:42 to go. Mavericks forward Nowitzki and guard Jose Calderon made free throws in the final 20 seconds to hold off the Pelicans.

Winnipeg fires coach Noel

The Winnipeg Jets announced Sunday that they fired head coach Claude Noel and replaced him with Paul Maurice.

Noel was in his third season as the Jets’ coach. He signed a contract extension seven months ago.

The Jets lost their fifth straight game Saturday and fell to 19-23-5 on the season. The 6-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets dropped the Jets to third-to-last in the Western Conference.

Assistant coach Perry Pearn was also let go.

Noel was 80-79-18 as Winnipeg’s coach. He went 37-35-10 in his first season with the Jets. The team was 24-21-3 in last season’s lockout-shortened season, placing ninth in the conference.

Noel’s first season as coach was also the franchise’s first since relocating from Atlanta. The Jets moved to the West this season as part of the NHL’s realignment of its divisions and conferences.

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