Tuesday Sports in Brief

WNBA

NEW YORK (AP) — Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams was suspended without pay by the WNBA on Tuesday for 10 games — nearly a third of the season — for a domestic violence incident.

Williams was arrested on April 29 and charged with two felony counts, one involving the assault of an individual with whom she was in a relationship and the other involving a threat to another person with a firearm. Her criminal case is ongoing.

The WNBA conducted its own investigation and consulted with a panel of experts in the field of domestic violence. Among other factors, the league said it took into account the nature and seriousness of the allegations, including the involvement of a gun. The WNBA also will require Williams to participate in counseling.

NEW YORK (AP) — Natasha Howard denies allegations she abused her wife in a statement provided by her lawyer Tuesday night.

“The allegations that have been made against me are very serious. I deny them.” the statement said.

The Seattle Storm All-Star was accused by her wife on social media Saturday of physically threatening and abusing her. No charges against Howard have been filed. She posted a minute-long, expletive-filled video on Twitter from March in which she yelled at Howard about being threatened by the Storm forward. She also posted screen shots of conversations she had with Howard’s agent and the team’s general manager.

Howard, who filed for divorce on Monday, said she is prepared to cooperate with the Seattle Storm’s investigation as well as that of the WNBA.

HOCKEY

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s NHL expansion team is close to an agreement with Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis to become its first general manager, a person with direct knowledge tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team had not made an announcement.

The expansion Seattle franchise is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season as the NHL’s 32nd team.

The 56-year-old Francis has been in hockey operations since shortly after the end of his Hall of Fame playing career. All of that time has come with the Carolina Hurricanes, including four seasons as their GM.

—By AP Sports Writer Tim Booth.

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — The Capitals have re-signed winger Jakub Vrana to a $6.7 million, two-year contract, the biggest item left on Washington’s offseason checklist.

The 23-year-old restricted free agent set career highs with 24 goals, 23 assists and 47 points last season. He has 80 points in 176 NHL regular-season games.

The Czech had three goals and five assists during the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup run and scored first in the title-clinching Game 5 in the final at Vegas.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Veteran defenseman Michael Del Zotto has agreed to a one-year contract to return to the Anaheim Ducks.

Centers Chase De Leo and Justin Kloos and defenseman Chris Wideman also signed Tuesday with Anaheim.

Del Zotto had three assists in 12 games last season with the Ducks, who acquired him from Vancouver in January and traded him to St. Louis in February. The 10-year NHL veteran didn’t play for the Blues in the postseason while they won the Stanley Cup.

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks traded Artem Anisimov to Ottawa on Tuesday in exchange for Zack Smith, a swap of 31-year-old forwards.

Anisimov played four seasons for the Blackhawks, scoring 77 goals and adding 78 assists in 291 games, including 15 goals and 22 assists last season. The Russian has also played with the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets over 11 years in the NHL.

Smith played 70 games last season for the Senators, scoring nine goals and adding a career-high 19 assists. The Canadian has played his entire 11-season NHL career with the Senators with 94 goals and 99 assists in 612 career games. Smith was placed on waivers last September only to go unclaimed. He had nine goals and 19 assists for the rebuilding Senators last season.

NBA

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers and All-Star guard Ben Simmons have agreed to a $170 million, five-year contract extension.

Simmons was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016. He made his NBA debut in the 2017-18 season and was the Rookie of the Year. He was an All-Star for the first time last season. He has averaged 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists in his two seasons.

Philadelphia is 101-58 in regular-season games when Simmons plays. He has had 22 triple-doubles in the past two seasons, tied for third most in the league with Denver’s Nikola Jokic and trailing Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (59) and the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (26).

FOOTBALL

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings running back Roc Thomas has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy and program on substances of abuse.

The league announced the punishment Tuesday, the week before training camp begins. Thomas can participate in preseason practices and games. If he makes the team he’d be eligible to return to action Sept. 23.

Thomas was sentenced to three years of probation in May after pleading guilty to fifth-degree felony possession of marijuana. He was arrested at his apartment in January, when police officers found 143 grams of the drug.

BASEBALL

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have placed center fielder Byron Buxton on the seven-day injured list for players with concussion-like symptoms, just as first baseman C.J. Cron and left fielder Eddie Rosario returned from their injuries.

The Twins also designated right-handed reliever Mike Morin for release or assignment Tuesday before their series opener against the New York Mets. Buxton was hurt Saturday while making a head-first, diving catch of a sinking line drive. He was sidelined for 13 games last month with a bruised right wrist.

SPORTS BETTING

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) — New York joined the growing list of states allowing wagering on sports after an upstate casino cut the ribbon on a new betting lounge Tuesday and took its first bet — $20 on the Seattle Mariners.

The state’s entry comes more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban that had restricted sports betting outside of Nevada. Gambling officials and casino executives in New York are eager to catch up to New Jersey, where gamblers have placed more than $3 billion worth of sports bets in the first full year since wagering became legal in that state.