Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Wednesday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EST:
– The NBA returns from the All-Star break with the trade deadline squarely in front of it and the playoffs just around the corner. Big trades and big hirings have already begun, and races in both conferences are wide open.
– LOS ANGELES – A day away from the NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers begin a new era under front-office head Magic Johnson and team president and co-owner Jeanie Buss.
– METAIRIE, La. – DeMarcus Cousins will wear No. 0 with his new team, the New Orleans Pelicans. Symbolically, it represents a fresh start for a player who has All-Star talent but who has drawn scrutiny for his combustible disposition and his inability to help his first NBA team, the Sacramento Kings, make the playoffs.
– NEW YORK – Phil Jackson has made his relationship with Carmelo Anthony worse and hasn’t made the Knicks better. Heading into the trade deadline and nearly three years since he was hired, there are questions if the guy who could do little wrong as a record-setting coach will ever get it right as an executive.
– SEOUL, South Korea – Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang appears in a South Korean court as judges hear arguments in a trial over charges that he fled the scene after slamming a car into a guardrail while driving under the influence of alcohol.
– GOODYEAR, Ariz. – When All-Star Andrew Miller pitches in the World Baseball Classic next month, Indians manager Terry Francona said the team will have its ”heart in our throat” while worrying about their prized pitcher, who could be the key to Cleveland getting back to the World Series
– JUPITER, Fla. – Marlins manager Don Mattingly says if baseball wants to speed up the pace of play it may want to bring back the taboo that was once associated with batters striking out. Mattingly believes penalizing players who strike out frequently with smaller contracts will reduce the strikeout rate, more balls will be put in play and the pace of play will increase.
– SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A.J. Pollock is health and back patrolling center field with his considerable defensive skills, and that means a lot to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2015 All-Star missed virtually all of last season with a broken wrist, the result of a head-first slide into home plate in an exhibition game two days before the season opened
– DETROIT – The NHL trade deadline is looming over the league, leading to players such as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith and forward Thomas Vanek wondering if they will be dealt. Both players have expiring contracts, making them attractive on the market, along with Arizona’s Martin Hanzal, Dallas’ Patrick Eaves and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop.
– DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t joking when he told Dan Patrick he’d immediately retire if he won the NASCAR championship this season. It was one of many nuggets to come out of the annual Daytona 500 media day.
– SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse hosts No. 10 Duke as the Orange chases its third victory over a top-10 team to bolster its chances for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Game starts 7 p.m.
– LAWRENCE, Kan. – Third-ranked Kansas can wrap up a share of its 13th consecutive Big 12 championship when TCU visits Allen Fieldhouse. Game starts 7 p.m.
– HARTFORD, Conn. – Temple, which entered the women’s basketball rankings this week at No. 23, goes on the road to face top-ranked UConn. The Huskies try to win their 102nd consecutive game after getting a scare at Tulane. Game starts 7 p.m.
– EULESS, Texas – Mack Beggs is headed to the girls state high school wrestling tournament in Texas after two opponents at a qualifying event refused to face the 17-year-old transgender who is taking steroids to transition from female to male. The attorney who tried to stop Beggs by accusing the athlete of cheating is now taking aim at the state’s governing body for public school athletics, saying its rules are forcing Beggs to wrestle as a girl.
– Two Champions League games: Porto vs. Juventus; Sevilla vs. Leicester. Both start 2:45 p.m.
– SAPPORO, Japan – For Alpine skier Yohan Goutt Goncalves, the chance to be East Timor’s sole representative at the Asian Winter Games was too good to pass up, even if it meant missing the world championships