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Sports in brief: Kansas City releases Johnson

Kansas City is parting ways with running back Larry Johnson.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Kansas City is parting ways with running back Larry Johnson. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Football: Given good blocking and a fresh start, Larry Johnson might still be the power-running Pro Bowler who had back-to-back 1,700-yard seasons for Kansas City.

Are you listening, Seattle? What do you think, Indianapolis? Chicago? Houston?

Or he might be a declining malcontent who’ll only cost money and cause trouble.

To that, every coach and general manager in the NFL is listening. The Chiefs released Johnson on Monday, the day he was due back from his second suspension in the past 12 months.

Any team with a faltering running game is bound to be tempted by Johnson, despite his baggage and his age (he turns 30 on Nov. 19).

The Seahawks have the league’s 30th-ranked rushing offense. Starter Julius Jones has sputtered. And last week, Seattle released ineffective backup Edgerrin James, the NFL’s active rushing leader.

Yet coach Jim Mora doesn’t sound interested in Johnson.

When asked if he was interested in adding a veteran running back, Mora said “No. … Right now, we’ll just stick with what we’ve got.”

Police search for Zambrano’s mom

Baseball: Assailants who kidnapped the mother of former major league pitcher Victor Zambrano in Venezuela only decided to take her after they found little of value during a burglary in Caracas, Venezuela, police said.

The kidnappers have yet to contact the 56-year-old woman’s relatives to ask for ransom.

Boston picks Martinez over Varitek: The Red Sox exercised their $7.7 million option on catcher Victor Martinez and declined options on catcher Jason Varitek and shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

Boston also agreed to a $5 million, two-year contract with 43-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, replacing a perpetual $4 million annual club option.

•Rays exercise option on Crawford: The Tampa Bay Rays have exercised their $10 million option on All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford.

•Matsui, Damon become free agents: World Series MVP Hideki Matsui became a free agent along with New York Yankees teammates Johnny Damon, Eric Hinske, Jose Molina and Xavier Nady.

Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz also filed, as did teammates Matt Stairs, Chan Ho Park and Paul Bako. Feliz’s $5.5 million option was declined by Philadelphia on Sunday.

Richardson, Nash lead Suns over 76ers

Basketball: Jason Richardson scored 29 points, Steve Nash added 21 points and tied his season high with 20 assists and the visiting Phoenix Suns beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-115.

Jared Dudley contributed 18, Amare Stoudemire added 17, Grant Hill had 11 and Channing Frye 10 for the high-flying Suns, who entered the game averaging a league-high 109.7 points per game.

Toews helps Blackhawks to win

Hockey: Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer scored power-play goals in a 3:31 span early in the third period, leading the Blackhawks to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Chicago.

Toews had been out with a concussion since Vancouver’s Willie Mitchell leveled him on Oct. 21. The Blackhawks lost three of six games without their captain.

•Ducks make room for Giguere: The Anaheim Ducks have reassigned goalie Justin Pogge to the minors, clearing the way for Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s return. Giguere hasn’t played since Oct. 24 while resting a groin injury.

Tar Heels spoil Thomas’ debut

College Basketball: Deon Thompson scored 20 points to help No. 6 North Carolina spoil Isiah Thomas’ college coaching debut and beat Florida International 88-72 in the 2K Sports Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C.

North Carolina shot 56 percent and led by double digits much of the way to kick off its centennial season against Thomas, the Hall of Fame player and former NBA coach who took over the long-struggling program in April.

•Boeheim gets 800th win: Jim Boeheim became the eighth Division I coach to reach 800 career wins with the milestone coming over Albany, 75-43 in the 2K Sports Classic in Syracuse, N.Y.

The 65-year-old Boeheim got his first victory, 75-48 over Harvard, on Nov. 26, 1976.