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Drake says he wants to lead WNBA expansion team in Toronto

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Grammy-award winning artist and Global Ambassador for the Toronto Raptors, Drake has been a driving force in helping grow the team’s brand in recent seasons and next he has his sights set on a WNBA team.

“@WNBA I need a Toronto team,” Drakewrote on his Instagram storytoday.

Shortly after he posted a photo with Las Vegas Aces and Australian Opals center Liz Cambage, jokingly calling her the ‘face of the franchise’.

The Raptors have surged in both popularity and value in recent seasons, winning the NBA championship in 2019 and this yearForbes ranked them as the 10th most valuable franchisein the league.

With the WNBA growing in viewership and popularity, this season in particular, the league has discussed potential expansion, with commissionerCathy Engelbert indicating as much ahead of Game 1 of the 2021 WNBA Finals last month.

Expansion is on the horizon,”she said.

“I suspect by next summer or this time next year, in our 26th season, we’ll be talking about the number of teams and a list of where [new franchises might land,” EngelberttoldESPN’s Mechelle Voepel and Tisha Thompson in October.

Ahead of the Raptors game against the Washington Wizards today, head coach Nick Nurse was asked about Drake’s comments and added his support to the idea.

“I think it’d be great. I think Toronto should have a team,”Nurse said.

“This is a golden age, the number of people playing, the amount of talent pouring out. I imagine it’d be wildly successful.”

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel suffers setback before Man United clash

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said on Friday that Ben Chilwell has suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and the next six weeks will determine whether he needs surgery which could rule him out for the majority of the season.

The 24-year-old was forced off midway through the second half of Tuesday’s 4-0 Champions League win over Juventus with a knee problem following a challenge by midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

– ESPN’s Notebook: The inside stories in football

Reports had suggested Chilwell was set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines but Tuchel was upbeat about the possibility of the England international avoiding an operation.

“Ben has a partial ACL tear and the decision is to treat it conservatively,” Tuchel said. “The next six weeks will tell the story if he makes it and will be fully available within this six weeks, or after the six weeks or needs surgery after that.

“Now I only care about the six weeks. The first reaction of his body is very positive so hopefully it stays like this.

“This is the decision after all the examinations and it is a very responsible decision, there is no rush in it and no pressure. This is the reasonable way to do it so all the focus is on the next six weeks.

“We need to talk about it again in six weeks. Maybe we don’t need to talk about it again because everything is fine because this would be the best case. There is a worst case and some shades of grey in between. We have to wait. It does not help if we start now speaking about worst-case scenarios because there is also a best-case scenario.”

Chilwell was in a rich vein of form having forced his way into the first team, scoring three goals in four matches during October and Tuchel added: “There is never a good moment for big injuries and for injuries in general but this for him personally is a very bad moment because he was so involved, so good and so full of confidence.

“He was a huge part in our performances and victories in the last weeks. We are very sad but he is actually at the moment very positive. I just spoke to him some minutes ago. He is very positive because his body reacts very positive to the first treatment and the injury. After a while, you have to refocus on the positive things which is now the next weeks.”

Chilwell later posted a message on his Twitter account and wrote: “Very frustrating picking up an injury in a moment like this when I am really enjoying my football and playing in this team.

“I will do everything I can to get back on the pitch as soon as possible. Thank you for all the messages of support.”

N’Golo Kante is also set to miss Sunday’s visit of Manchester United after suffering a twisted knee against Juventus. Tuchel said it would be “almost a miracle” if he makes the game and instead the midfielder is likely to be sidelined for a few days.

United will be managed be caretaker boss Michael Carrick after the club sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday and although they arrive 12 points behind leaders Chelsea, Tuchel said they could still be considered contenders.

“I was [expecting them to challenge for the title] and maybe I still am,” said Tuchel. “I will never write anybody off, not in this league and not in this game because it is a big club, first of all, but a very experienced and individually a top level group of players.

“This is still the case. Part of the performance from us is to not let them perform because once we let them perform you can see within seconds and minutes in every game the full potential and talent of these players.”

Tuchel also hailed the tactical influence of Ralf Rangnick, who is set to become United’s interim boss but not in time for Sunday’s game.

Rangnick gave Tuchel his first coaching opportunity with Ulm Under 15s when he was forced into early retirement as a player aged 24 due to a knee injury and the Blues boss offered a curious endorsement of Rangnick’s methods.

“He helped me a lot,” Tuchel said. “He was my coach and then one of the main figures to convince me to try coaching.

“He had a huge influence on all of us at this time because he showed us that it is not necessary to follow people to the toilet in football games.

“That was the belief in those days, that the defenders follow their strikers wherever they go. He showed us that it is possible to defend everybody in a zone.”

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Lakers superstar LeBron James doesn’t feel suspension was warranted for altercation with Isaiah Stewart

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Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James doesn’t believe a suspension was warranted for his involvement in the altercation with Detroit big man Isaiah Stewart.

James made a dominant return to the lineup against Indiana, pouring in 39 points to go along with five rebounds and six assists in the 124-116 OT win.

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Postgame, he gave his account of what happened in the incident that incensed Stewart.

“It was a box out in the free-throw line. His elbow got kinda high, if you watch the film it got me off-balance a little bit,” James explained.

“I tried to swimdown on his arm and when I swung down on his arm he got off-balance and the left side of my hand grazed his face. I knew right away, I knew right away I had caught some part of his head so I went over to apologize to him and obviously you guys seen what happened after that. Definitely accidental.”

Stewart made repeated attempts to get at James, requiring multiple staff members to hold him back as blood streamed down his face. Stewart received a two-game ban for the reaction, while James was sidelined for one game.

The Lakers would lose that one game without James, 106-100 at Madison Square Garden to the New York Knicks. LeBrondoesn’t believe he should have missed the contest.

MORE: LeBron James gets couple ejected in Indiana

“I’m definitely not that type of player. I hate to see that, what escalated after that.

“I didn’t think itwarranted…I thought it warranted an ejection because of what happened after that. Having me in the game, the excitement from the fans, what could possibly happen after that, but a suspension I didn’t think was warranted but the league made that call.”

Los Angeles climbed back to .500 at 10-10 on the season with the win against the Pacers, as they try to shake off a slow start to the season. Fellow star, Anthony Davis missed the game against Indiana with a fever.

Davis will have one night to recover before the Lakers host Sacramento at STAPLES Center – tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson cleared for full team activities; still no return timeline

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the team announced on Friday evening.

Williamson, who is recovering from a fractured right foot, had his latest set of scans on Wednesday. They were evaluated by Pelicans team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Montgomery and by Dr. Richard Ferkel, a surgeon who has worked on NBA players in the past.

“It’s been a long road to get him to this point,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Anyone that’s ever dealt with any type of injury like that, it’s hard to come back from. It’s hard mentally. He’s done a great job pushing through. Z has an opportunity now to be a full go in practices, and we’ll have a practice soon. Hopefully that’ll add some juice to our team. He’s a huge part of what we do there.”

The Pelicans said Williamson went through 4-on-4, full-court work on Friday while the team is in Utah for a back-to-back. New Orleans plays Utah on Friday and Saturday before heading to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Monday. The team will travel back to New Orleans on Tuesday and then play the Dallas Mavericks the following day.

Because of the team’s schedule, it’s likely the Pelicans won’t have a full practice for Williamson to participate in until Thursday.

In a news release, New Orleans said it has yet to determine when Williamson will return to game action.

“It’s more about how he responds to practices,” Green said. “How he responds to the physicality of playing against his teammates. How he responds to getting up and down. Just giving a timeline is tough on that. We want him back as soon as possible. But it’s all predicated on how he feels after workouts, and the medical team will work diligently with him and we’ll go from there.”

Williamson has yet to play in a game this season because of the fractured foot. In his absence, the Pelicans have gotten off to a 4-16 start.

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