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Heat give Spoelstra extension

Associated Press / December 17, 2011
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Erik Spoelstra and the Heat agreed on a contract extension yesterday, ending speculation that team president Pat Riley’s protégé would be a lame-duck coach this season.

The Heat typically do not release terms of deals for coaches and executives, and Riley did not divulge any details of Spoelstra’s new deal. Spoelstra is beginning his fourth season as coach and his 17th season with the team overall.

“We have one of the great young coaches in the league, an absolute member of this family and has been for a long time, so we want him to become a Hall of Famer,’’ Riley said. “So it’s been taken care of.’’

Riley also addressed his own status with the team, reaffirming that he loves his role in Miami and does not see himself leaving any time soon.

In his first three seasons, Spoelstra has gone 148-98 in regular-season games, 18-15 in playoff games. A year ago, he led the Heat to a 58-24 mark and a 14-7 record in the postseason, where Miami lost the NBA Finals to Dallas in six games.

Bryant getting a divorce

Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce from the Lakers star, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split.

She filed papers in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif.

A representative for the couple released a statement saying, “The Bryants have resolved all issues incident to their divorce privately with the assistance of counsel and a Judgment dissolving their marital status will be entered in 2012.’’

The couple have been married for 10 1/2 years and have two daughters, ages 8 and 5.

In the statement, the Bryants “ask that in the interest of our young children and in light of the upcoming holiday season the public respect our privacy during this difficult time.’’

Bryant met his wife in 1999 on a music video shoot when Vanessa Laine was 18 years old. Six months later, she and the 21-year-old Bryant became engaged. They married in April 2001.

Hornets bring back Smith

The Hornets and 7-foot free agent forward Jason Smith agreed to a three-year contract worth $7.5 million. Smith played for the Hornets last season, averaging 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game. His best game came when he scored a career-high 20 points against Washington in one of the six games he started . . . Bobcats forward Eduardo Najera had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and will miss 6-8 weeks. The team said the injury was discovered during an MRI earlier in the week. Najera figured to play a reserve role this season. He played in 31 games last season for the Bobcats, averaging 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 12 minutes . . . The Bulls waived guard Keith Bogans, who started all 82 games last season and averaged 4.4 points in 17.8 minutes per game. The Bulls, who had been holding him out of practice, had a $1.73 million contract option with a Dec. 19 deadline . . . Swingman Maurice Evans, a union vice president during the lockout, re-signed with the Wizards for one year . . . In exhibition games, Lou Williams scored 19 points and Philadelphia beat the cold-shooting and light-defending Wizards, 103-78, before a sparse crowd in Washington . . . Derrick Rose and Luol Deng each scored 16 points to help the Bulls beat the host Pacers, 95-86.

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