NEW YORK — The NBA estimates an increase of 40,000 miles of travel in the postseason if it scrapped its current conference format and took the top 16 teams.
Calls to change the system were renewed this week when LeBron James left Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers, which could create another strong Western Conference team, where both Houston and Golden State finished above .700. The only team in the Eastern Conference with a similar record was Toronto. Houston and Golden State met in a thrilling West final before the Warriors swept the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
Commissioner Adam Silver has said ideally there would be a format allowing the two best teams to meet for the title, but he has repeatedly expressed concern about the additional travel that would be created if teams were seeded 1 to 16 in the postseason, instead of the current format in which it’s the top eight teams in each conference.
The league says it averages about 90,000 miles of total travel in the postseason and estimates that would increase to 130,000. It estimates, based on historical data, an average of 2½ series per year matching teams separated by three time zones before the NBA Finals, with about a 90 percent chance of at least one per season.
A 1-to-16 format would likely mean the league would have to balance the schedule so teams played the same amount of games in the regular season against East and West teams, instead of playing more against the teams on its side.
That would create about 150,000 additional miles of travel in the regular season, the league estimates, from the 1.4 million miles of total travel in 2017-18.
Cavs sign top pick Sexton to rookie contract
CLEVELAND — Collin Sexton signed his rookie contract on Wednesday with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are taking their first steps since LeBron James announced he’s leaving to sign a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sexton will have to settle for a four-year contract that could be worth $20.2 million over its length. Per NBA rules, Sexton can make a maximum of $4.1 million next season. The value is based on where he was selected. His contract is guaranteed for two years, with the Cavs holding options for the last two years.
Yankees place Torres on the 10-day DL
NEW YORK — Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday because of a strained right hip.Torres was removed after striking out in his second at-bat in the fourth inning before the Yankees went on to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2.
Beckham’s news stadium targets golf course
MIAMI — David Beckham’s latest soccer plan for Miami might be decided by the city’s voters.
Beckham is scheduled to appear before the Miami city commission next week as he and his partners aim to move closer to picking a stadium location for their Major League Soccer franchise. The Beckham group’s latest proposal calls for a 28,000-seat stadium on the site of what is now the Melreese Country Club, a public golf course owned by the city that sits near Miami International Airport.
If commissioners approve, voters would decide on Nov. 6 whether to change the city’s charter and allow what would be a no-bid deal to lease 73 acres at the Melreese site to the group. The deal Beckham is proposing calls for the city to collect nearly $140 million in rent payments over 39 years, a rate of roughly $3.5 million annually.
Beckham’s group would pay an additional $20 million over 30 years to help fund a planned 58-acre park on the site.
Dee Ann Andretti dies at 76
Dee Ann Andretti, the wife of famed driver Mario Andretti and matriarch of one of the most prominent families in motorsports, has died. She was 76.
Andretti died Tuesday, a few weeks after suffering a heart attack. Grandson Marco Andretti announced her death on social media , posting: “RIP Grammy Andretti. You will be missed.” The IndyCar Series later confirmed her death.
Dee Ann Andretti mostly stayed in the background and raised their three children while her husband became one of the world’s most successful race car drivers.
She is survived by her husband, sons Michael and Jeff, daughter Barbie Dee and seven grandchildren.
Exhibit features football player turned artist
RALEIGH, N.C. — At heart, Ernie Barnes the professional football player was always Ernie Barnes the artist. His teammates on the San Diego Chargers nicknamed him “Big Rembrandt” because he was always scribbling on pieces of paper.
He ended up painting vivid and highly acclaimed images from the playing field and from African-American life. Now, an exhibit has opened in his home state titled “The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes.” The exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History includes 38 paintings by Barnes, many unseen by the public until now, along with several pieces of memorabilia. It’s the first exhibit of Barnes’ artwork in 11 years, and the first since he died at age 70 in 2009 in Los Angeles. It continues through March 3.
Foster suspended for PEDs
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has been suspended without pay for the first two games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s conduct and substance-abuse policy.
The NFL said that Foster will also be fined for violations from a weapons offense and misdemeanor drug charge that were resolved earlier this offseason. Foster says he accepts the league’s decision and apologized for hurting the team.
DeGale vacates IBF super middleweight title
LONDON — James DeGale announced Wednesday that he has vacated his IBF super middleweight title.
“I have relinquished my IBF title as I look to secure big fights in the final chapter of my career,” the 32-year-old DeGale wrote on Twitter. “This is the final phase of my career where I want to be involved in the biggest fights possible. My team have been working very hard behind the scenes and we’ve got some exciting news to announce soon.”
DeGale became the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a professional world title when in 2015 he outpointed Andre Dirrell in Boston.
He has since defended it largely on American soil, including drawing a unification fight with Badou Jack and reclaiming his title following an unexpected defeat by Caleb Truax in London, but is expected to conclude his career in Britain.