NBA: Dwight Howard agreed to stay in Orlando on a day plenty of other big men were on the move.
Nene, JaVale McGee and Marcus Camby were among the centers who found new homes Thursday before the NBA’s trade deadline.
Denver dealt Nene to Washington, just three months after re-signing him to a five-year, $67 million contract. The Wizards sent JaVale McGee and former Gonzaga University star Ronny Turiaf to Denver and Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers. Washington also picked up forward Brian Cook in the deal.
Turiaf is still on the mend after breaking his left hand on Jan. 1.
The Lakers got younger at point guard, acquiring Ramon Sessions from Cleveland and sending veteran Derek Fisher to Houston. Swingmen Stephen Jackson and Richard Jefferson were swapped in a Spurs-Warriors deal with Golden State also getting a conditional first-round pick from San Antonio. The New Jersey Nets picked up Gerald Wallace from Portland.
Howard had told the Magic before the season he wanted to be traded. He was eligible for free agency this summer, and Orlando risked losing him for nothing. Instead, he agreed to waive the early termination option in his contract, committing to stay with the Magic through the 2012-13 season.
In other transactions, the Indiana Pacers acquired guard Leandro Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a second-round draft pick and cash considerations, and the Philadelphia 76ers got guard/forward Sam Young from the Memphis Grizzlies for the rights to guard Ricky Sanchez.
The Blazers dealt Camby to the Rockets and sent Wallace to the Nets for center Mehmet Okur, forward Shawne Williams and a 2012 protected first-round pick.
Bills make Williams top-paid on defense
NFL: When linebacker-end Mario Williams signed a six-year contract with the Buffalo Bills worth $100 million, $50 million guaranteed, he became the highest-paid defensive player in league history. Williams’ mega-deal followed by one day the $132 million contract the Detroit Lions gave their star receiver, Calvin Johnson. Johnson’s haul is the most for any NFL player at any position.
Other than Peyton Manning, whose search for a new team continues, Williams was the most sought free agent in this year’s class; Johnson already was under contract in Detroit.
The first overall draft pick by Houston in 2006, Williams became a pass-rushing force and all-around standout at end before moving to linebacker in the Texans’ new 3-4 alignment last year. But he played only five games in 2011 before a torn chest muscle sidelined him.
• Guard Ben Grubbs agreed on a five-year, $36 million contract with New Orleans
• Steve Hutchinson, a five-time All Pro offensive lineman, left Minnesota for Tennessee. Hutchinson changed teams as a free agent once before, in 2006 when he left Seattle for the Vikings.
• Kansas City agreed to a three-year, $9 million deal with tight end Kevin Boss, who spent one season with Oakland after four with the New York Giants.
• Defensive end Frostee Rucker left Cincinnati for Cleveland and a five-year, $21 million contract.
Penguins win in Crosby’s return
NHL: Sidney Crosby’s return after three months of inactivity didn’t hurt the chemistry of the Pittsburgh Penguins one bit as they surged closer to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers.
Crosby played for the first time since another bout with concussion symptoms forced him to the sidelines Dec. 5. He got on the score sheet with an assist as the Penguins stretched their winning streak to 10 by beating the host Rangers 5-2.
The Penguins trail the Rangers by four points in the Atlantic Division.
After missing 40 games during his latest stint on the shelf, Crosby played on a third line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy. Cooke scored twice and Kennedy had two assists.
• Panthers increase division lead: Jose Theodore stopped 24 shots and the Florida Panthers scored three second-period goals to beat the Boston Bruins 6-2 at Sunrise, Fla. Florida has won three straight games and increased its lead in the Southeast Division to three points ahead of idle Washington.
Woods says he will compete at Masters
Golf: Tiger Woods plans to return to practice and says he will be at the Masters.
“I’ll be there. Don’t worry about that,” Woods said Thursday on “Good Morning America” to promote a new video game.
Woods withdrew from the final round of the Cadillac Championship at Doral on Sunday with what he described as tightness in the left Achilles tendon. He said the next day that doctors told him it was a mild sprain.
• Harrington opens with a 61: Padraig Harrington shot the lowest official score of his life, a 10-under 61 to set the course record in the PGA’s Transitions Championship at Palm Harbor, Fla., for a three-shot lead.
• Tseng, Park top LPGA leaderboard: Top-ranked Yani Tseng played a seven-hole stretch on the back nine in 7 under and finished with a 7-under 65 for a share of the first-round lead with Hee Young Park in the LPGA Founders Cup at Phoenix.
Wendy Ward of Edwall, Wash., shot a 74.
Vonn wins World Cup super-G season title
Skiing: At Schladming, Austria, Lindsey Vonn won the World Cup super-G season title for her 16th career crystal globe and the fourth in super-G by finishing sixth in the final race in the discipline.
Also at Schladming, Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway won the men’s World Cup super-G title for a third time, while overall leader Beat Feuz of Switzerland crashed and missed an early chance to secure the overall championship.
Penn State leading NCAA wrestling
Miscellany: Defending champion Penn State got two pins each from top seeds David Taylor and Ed Ruth and had a small lead over Minnesota after the first two rounds of the NCAA wrestling tournament in St. Louis.
Cal Poly’s Ryan DesRoches (Riverside HS) advanced to the quarterfinals at 174. Boise State’s Brian Owen (University HS) lost his opener at 133, then won his second match.
• Cal swimmer sets U.S. record: California’s Caitlin Leverenz set an American and NCAA record in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:51.77 to help the defending champion Golden Bears take a first-round lead at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships at Auburn, Ala.