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Denver Nuggets promote Calvin Booth to general manager

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DENVER — The Denver Nuggets have promoted Calvin Booth to general manager.

Booth, 44, is in his third season with the Nuggets after being hired as assistant GM in 2017. He succeeds Arturas Karnisovas, who left Denver in April to become the Chicago Bulls‘ top decision-maker.

Tim Connelly, the team’s president of basketball operations, called Booth “one of the brightest basketball minds in our league,” and added, “We are very fortunate to have him as part of our organization and are extremely excited for his new role.”

After a decade-long NBA playing career, Booth served as a scout for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012-13, followed by a four-year stint in the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ front office, first as a scout and then as director of player personnel.

Booth played at Penn State, where he was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 1998. He was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 1999, beginning a 10-year playing career with seven teams.

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WNBA players to wear T-shirts opposing Dream owner

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WNBA players are wearing “Vote Warnock” T-shirts to games this week to support Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is challenging Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) for her Senate seat.

Last month Loeffler wrote a letter to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert objecting to the league’s promotion of Black Lives Matter — which is painted on the courts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where the league is holding its return — and instead advocating for teams to add American flags to jerseys.

Elizabeth Williams, a forward on the Atlanta Dream, told ESPN that the league’s executive committee began exploring the shirt idea as a response to Sen. Loeffler’s statements, because “for effective change to happen, there has to be policy changes. And so if we’re going to sit here and talk about wanting justice reform, part of that is making sure that we have officials in office that understand that.”

Williams said that the Dream and other players have made a coordinated effort not to discuss Sen. Loeffler or her statements in recent weeks, and instead focused on how they could best support a candidate they felt better represented their political views.

“I think when all this stuff started happening with her, we didn’t want to feel like we were pawns,” Williams said. “We can only control so much about what the league does [in regard to Sen. Loeffler], and so for us, we wanted it to be bigger than that.

“That’s kind of been the theme of this season. So we wanted to make sure we could still keep the focus on our social justice movement, and funny enough, Reverend Warnock is somebody who supports everything that we support and just happens to be running in that seat. So it just worked out really well.”

Williams said that Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird initially came up with the idea.

Bird told ESPN that participation in the campaign to support Warnock is voluntary and that all players have discussed the idea over Zoom calls while at the IMG Academy, where the season resumed in late July.

“This was a situation where given what was said in regards to the owner of Atlanta, and how, basically, she came out against a lot of what the women in our league stand for, I think was emotionally tough for a lot of the women in our league to hear that,” Bird said. “But very quickly we started to realize that this was only happening for her political gain. This was something that she wanted. And the more noise we made, whether it was a tweet saying to get her out, that was just playing into her hands.

“I’m not some political strategist, but what I do know is that voting is important. And I think our league has always encouraged people to use their voices and to get out and vote.

“So, what a great way for us to get the word out about this man, and hopefully put him in Senate. And, if he’s in Senate, you know who’s not. And I’ll just leave it at that.”

Last month, Loeffler told ESPN that she fears that the WNBA’s public support for the Black Lives Matter movement could drive some fans away.

“I think a lot of people feel that they may not have a place,” Loeffler said. “They may feel excluded from this sport and other sports that make them feel like American values aren’t at the core of what we’re doing here.”

She also contends that there is a difference between saying “Black lives matter” and the organization Black Lives Matter.

“I think we all agree the life of every African American is important,” Loeffler said. “There’s no room for racism in this country, and we have to root it out where it exists. But there’s a political organization called Black Lives Matter that I think is very important to make the distinction between their aim and where we are as a country at this moment.

“The Black Lives Matter political organization advocates things like defunding and abolishing the police, abolishing our military, emptying our prisons, destroying the nuclear family. It promotes violence and anti-Semitism. To me, this is not what our league stands for.”

Former Atlanta Dream player Layshia Clarendon, who has written and spoken out about Loeffler’s comments, was also heavily involved in the planning of the WNBA players’ campaign.

“It’s important for us to support voting and the overall campaign to flip the Senate,” said Clarendon, who now plays for the New York Liberty. “We want people in office who support the same values and morals as we do. Rev. Warnock is pro criminal justice reform, for LGBT+ rights, and pro choice/reproductive rights. Those are the kind of people we want representing us, because that’s what our league stands for.”

ESPN’s Holly Rowe contributed to this report.

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Clippers lose Patrick Beverley in first quarter vs. Suns to left calf soreness

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Patrick Beverley will not return to play against the Phoenix Suns due to a left calf soreness.

Beverley started before leaving the game with 3:54 remaining in the first quarter. He was listed as questionable to return before being ruled out in the third quarter.

Beverley had four points and two rebounds in his third game back since leaving the team briefly to tend to an excused family emergency. The Beverley injury comes as the Clippers were getting closer to being whole. Lou Williams rejoined the team for his restart debut against the Suns after spending 10 days in quarantine following his departure from the bubble to tend to a family emergency.

Forward Montrezl Harrell is still not with the team and coach Doc Rivers said there is no update on a timetable for his return yet. Harrell left the team on July 17 to tend to a family emergency. The grief-stricken forward recently posted on social media that his grandmother passed away.

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Nets (+19) shock Bucks for largest NBA point spread upset since 1993

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The Brooklyn Nets just shocked the bubble with the largest NBA upset point spread-wise since 1993.

The Nets, who closed as consensus 19-point underdogs, defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 119-116 Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. According to ESPN Stats and Information research, it’s the largest upset point spread-wise since the Dallas Mavericks beat the Seattle Supersonics as 19.5-point underdogs on April 4, 1993.

The Bucks were looking to lock up the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs but still elected to rest some starters down the stretch against a depleted Brooklyn roster.

In addition to injured stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Waller-Prince each opted out of the conclusion of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and likely would-be starters Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert were ruled out ahead of Tuesday’s matinee.

Garrett Temple was the only Brooklyn starter with more than four starts this season. The other four starters — Lance Thomas, Rodjon Kurucs, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Tyler Johnson — combined to start seven games this season.

Brooklyn’s makeshift roster resulted in the 19-point spread, the largest line since the 2017-18 season when the Rockets were 19-point favorites against the New York Knicks. Still, the underdog Nets took a 94-88 lead into the fourth quarter and held on with Temple hitting a jumper with 7.3 seconds left to help finish off the Bucks.

In the past 30 seasons, teams favored by 19 or more were 49-2 straight-up entering Tuesday’s game.

There were a few believers in Brooklyn at the betting windows, but not many. Sportsbook operator BetMGM reported taking a $600 money-line bet on the Nets at 13-1 odds, resulting in a $7,800 profit. The majority of the action was on the Bucks to win straight-up.

At sportsbook PointsBet, 94% of the money bet on the moneyline was on the Bucks. PointsBet communications director Patrick Eichner told ESPN that there were a “significant number” of $1,000 money-line bets on Milwaukee at -3,000 odds. The $1,000 bets would have won just over $32 each.

ESPN Stats and Information researcher Ryan Satsky contributed to this report.

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