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ESPN: Texans Exercise Contract Option on J.J. Watt


Scott Halleran/Getty Images(HOUSTON) --  The Texans have officially exercised the fifth-year option in defensive end J.J. Watt's contract for the 2015 season, according to ESPN.

Teams have until May 3 to make a decision on whether to exercise the fifth-year option, which is guaranteed for injury only until the final day of the 2014 league year.  The Texans didn't hesitate to pick up Watt's option before the deadline passes.

For players drafted in the top 10, the value of the fifth-year option is equal to the transition tag for their position during this offseason.  The two sides are likely to work out a long-term contract somewhere down the line.

Watt was drafted by the Texans with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft.  Over his first three NFL seasons, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year has 36.5 sacks.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio 

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Cardinals Place RHP Joe Kelly on DL


Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  The St. Louis Cardinals have placed right-hander Joe Kelly on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

Kelly was injured while trying to beat out a bunt attempt in the fourth inning of the Cardinals' 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.

In a corresponding move, the team optioned righty reliever Keith Butler Triple-A Memphis and recalled rookie right-handers Eric Fornataro and Jorge Rondon.  Both could make their MLB debuts during this weekend's series against the Washington Nationals.

In three starts for the Cardinals this season, Kelly is 1-1 with a 0.59 ERA.  He came into spring training unsure of what his role would be this season, but he eventually beat out Carlos Martinez for the team's fifth starter spot.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio 

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Clippers' Blake Griffin Advocates Medical Marijuana in the NBA


NBA via Los Angeles Clippers(NEW YORK) -- He may not be the first one to do it, but Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin may be the biggest NBA star to endorse the use of medical marijuana in the NBA.

Griffen feels marijuana should be legalized not only in the NBA, but in all professional sports.

"It doesn't really affect me, but so many guys would probably benefit from it and not take as many painkillers, which have worse long-term effects," Griffen told Rolling Stone Magazine. "So I would vote yes. I just think it makes sense."

The advocacy for the legalization of marijuana for professional athletes has grown louder in recent months. Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders recently came out and supported the use of marijuana for athletes just after it was announced that he would be suspended five games by the NBA for using the drug.

Going further, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has also came out and said that the NFL should look into medicinal marijuana.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Bulls Confident in Derrick Rose's Return


NBA via Chicago Bulls(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago Bulls may be gearing up for a playoff run, but the team is also eagerly awaiting the return of point guard Derrick Rose for next season.

Back in November, Rose had surgery to fix a meniscus tear in his right knee, and was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Still, General Manger Gar Forman reiterated that not only Rose will return, he will return at full strength, and return to the player fans were accustomed to seeing.

Rose played in just 10 games this season and missed all of the previous season with a torn ACL he suffered in the opening round of the playoffs. Rose has missed 152 out of the past 162 games.

When healthy, Rose is one of the best players in the NBA. The 25-year-old Rose won the NBA's MVP Award during the 2010-2011 season. For his career, Rose has averaged 20.8 points and 6.8 assists per game.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Mark Cuban Thinks New Bucks Owners Got a Great Deal


Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Reality Rocks(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- Even though the Milwaukee Bucks were the worst team in the NBA during the 2013-2014 season, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks the new owners of the team got a real bargain.

Recently, longtime Bucks owner Herb Kohl recently agreed to sell the team to hedge-fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for $550 million.

"I think they got off cheap," Cuban said. "I think that was a bargain. I think it's worth a lot more than that. I think someone got a bargain. You can't look backwards. You've got to look forward. You don't value teams based off what happened in the past."

Back in January, Forbes valued the franchise at $405 million, which was the lowest among the 30 NBA teams.

Cuban also went on to suggest that the true value of an NBA franchise is around $1 billion.

Back in 2000, Cuban purchased the Mavericks for $285 million. They were recently valued now at $765 million, eighth-highest among NBA teams.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Padres Pitcher Josh Johnson Will Visit Dr. James Andrews


Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- San Diego Padres starting pitcher Josh Johnson will have his right elbow evaluated by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews next week.

Johnson, 30, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Padres in November. but has been on the disabled list since March 21 with a right forearm strain.

Visiting Dr. Andrews is nothing new for Johnson. Last October, Andrews removed bone spurs from Johnson's right elbow, and in 2007 he performed Tommy John surgery on the 6-foot-7 right-hander's same elbow.

Johnson, a two-time All-Star, has pitched in nine big league seasons, eight with the Marlins and one with the Blue Jays. During that time Johnson pitched 998 innings, compiling a 58-45 record to go along with a 3.32 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 915 strikeouts.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Rangers Score Three in the Third to Take 1-0 Series Lead Over Flyers


Bruce Bennett/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin all scored in the third period to lift the New York Rangers past the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1, in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series Thursday night.

The game was tied at one apiece with 12:25 left in the third period when Flyers center Jason Akeson was called for a four-minute double minor for high-sticking. The Rangers capitalized with Richards and Stepan scoring 47 seconds apart.

Philadelphia actually took an early 1-0 lead when Andrew Macdonald's slap shot found the back of the Rangers' net at the 7:28 mark of the first period. But just minutes later New York answered back when Mats Zuccarello backhanded his own rebound past Flyers' goalie Ray Emery.

Emery, who was filling in for the injured Steve Mason, made 32 saves in the loss. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 14 of the 15 shots he saw in the win.

The Flyers still haven't won a game at Madison Square Garden since March 6, 2011.

Game 2 is Sunday in New York. The puck is scheduled to drop at noon.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Kentucky's James Young Declares for NBA Draft


Jamie Squire/Getty Images)(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- Kentucky freshman James Young announced Thursday he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

"My time at Kentucky has been special to me, something I'll always treasure, but I feel that I'm ready to take the next step to the NBA," Young said. "I've learned more this year, on and off the court, about life from Coach Cal and the staff and appreciate all of their guidance and support. I can't say enough about my teammates; the journey helped us build a bond that we will always share for the rest of our lives."

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Young averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season for a Wildcats team that advanced to the national championship game. According to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, many NBA executives believe Young is a first-round pick.

''From Day 1, the NBA people who came to our practices in the preseason raved about him,'' Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in a statement. ''He's done everything we've asked of him all season, investing himself in his brothers for the betterment of the team, and I think we all saw the end result in the tournament and Final Four.

"Whatever team drafts James is not only getting a superb athlete, they are getting the ultimate teammate.''

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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ESPN: Frank Haith is Leaving Missouri for Tulsa


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Frank Haith has verbally agreed to leave Missouri and become the next men's head basketball coach at Tulsa, according to ESPN.com.

Haith takes over for the recently departed Danny Manning, who is now the Wake Forest head coach.

Haith has spent the last three seasons in Columbia, compiling a 76-28 record and making the NCAA Tournament twice. Last season Haith guided the Tigers to a 23-12 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament, where the team lost to Southern Mississippi in the second round.

Haith takes over a Tulsa team that went 21-13 last season and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Scoreboard Roundup - 4/17/14


Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NHL Playoffs: First Round - New York Rangers 4 - Philadelphia Flyers 1 (Rangers lead series 1-0)

St. Louis Blues 4 - Chicago Blackhawks 3  3OT (Blues lead series 1-0)

Colorado Avalanche 5 - Minnesota Wild 4 OT (Avalanche lead series 1-0)

San Jose Sharks 6 - Los Angeles Kings 3 (Sharks lead series 1-0)

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies 1 (7-8) - Atlanta Braves 0 (10-5) 

Minnesota Twins 7 (7-7) - Toronto Blue Jays 0 (8-7) 

Minnesota Twins 9 (8-7) - Toronto Blue Jays 5 (8-8)

Detroit Tigers 7 (7-5) - Cleveland Indians 5 (7-8)

Los Angeles Dodgers 2 (10-6) - San Francisco Giants 1 (10-6)

Colorado Rockies 3 (8-9) - San Diego Padres 1 (7-9)

Texas Rangers 8 (9-7) - Seattle Mariners 6 (7-8)

New York Yankees 10 (10-6) - Tampa Bay Rays 2 (7-9)

St. Louis Cardinals 8 (10-6) - Washington Nationals 0 (9-7)

Pittsburgh Pirates 11 (8-8) - Milwaukee Brewers 2 (11-5)

Boston Red Sox 3 (7-9) - Chicago White Sox 1 (8-8)

Kansas City Royals 5 (7-7) - Houston Astros 1 (5-11)

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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