Kobe, Italian team are working 'intensely' on deal

516262.jpg

Kobe, Italian team are working 'intensely' on deal

From Comcast SportsNet
ROME (AP) -- Kobe Bryant's representatives and Virtus Bologna are "working very intensely" to bring the Los Angeles Lakers' star to Italy during the NBA lockout. Bologna President Claudio Sabatini had told The Associated Press on Friday he had reached a tentative deal with agent Rob Pelinka for a 10-game contract worth more than 3 million. "Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna and the management of Mr. Bryant are working very intensely to try and create this important deal," the two parties said in a joint statement Monday. "Reaching such a complex deal requires both sides' maximum attention for every little detail. "Everyone wants a positive outcome to the deal, the goal of which is Kobe Bryant's presence in Italy, economic interests for the 17 clubs in Serie A and more attention for all of Italian basketball." The deal, however, hinges on other clubs changing their schedules to ensure Bologna has five home games during Bryant's 10-game contract. Bologna also wants its opening five away games played in Italy's biggest arenas, and wants to avoid an early-season bye. Smaller clubs Cremona and Varese have been reluctant to alter their schedules, although the Italian league said Saturday it was intervening to help spur an agreement. "I hope that very shortly we'll have a deal," Sabatini told the ANSA news agency. "I want to thank Kobe, who demonstrated again overnight that he wants to return to Italy." Bologna would need to have the deal signed by the end of this week to register Bryant before its opening game with Roma on Sunday. With Venezia recently added as a 17th team, the Italian league released its full schedule Monday. Although it could be changed again if Bryant signs with Bologna. After hosting Roma, Bologna visits Avellino the following weekend, then plays at Olimpia Milano, which recently signed Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari. In the following seven rounds, Bologna has home games with Cremona, Varese and Sassari; away games with Teramo, Montegranaro -- which is in talks with Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani -- and Biella; and a bye in the eighth week. Bryant lived in Italy between ages 6 and 13 while his father played in the country. He still speaks fluent Italian and has said it would be a "dream" to play in the country. In New York on Saturday, NBA owners and players failed to reach a new labor deal after about seven hours of talks focused mostly on the league's salary cap structure. The sides were meeting again Monday, though time is getting short to save the scheduled start of the regular season on Nov. 1.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

new-england-patriots-helmets-121215_0.jpg

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)