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Paul stays in L.A., NBA free agency begins

Paul can sign a contract worth $108 million over five seasons. (Associated Press)
Paul can sign a contract worth $108 million over five seasons. (Associated Press)

Basketball: Chris Paul’s answer was brief, just like his time on the free agent market.

“I’M IN!!!” he wrote Monday on Twitter.

He will be staying with the Clippers, the longtime losers he helped turned into a division champion in just two seasons.

Dwight Howard will need more time to think.

Free agency opened Monday in the NBA with the focus on the pair of Los Angeles All-Stars, though Paul took himself off the market only hours after shopping season started.

Howard can make even more by staying with the Lakers, but that won’t stop him from looking elsewhere.

He met with the Houston Rockets early Monday, the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks also are interested, and the Lakers have said repeatedly they want to keep him.

• Larkin wants Howard in Dallas: Shane Larkin wants to lead the public relations campaign to bring free agent center Dwight Howard to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Miami point guard said he hasn’t quite figured out the sales pitch. He just knows this: He’d love to run the pick and roll with one of his favorite players growing up in Orlando as the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin.

• Knicks, Raptors agree to Bargnani deal: The Knicks will give Andrea Bargnani a chance to rediscover his game in New York.

The Atlantic Division champions and Toronto Raptors have agreed on a deal involving the former No. 1 overall pick.

Toronto will receive Knicks reserves Steve Novak, Marcus Camby and Quentin Richardson, who will be signed-and-traded. The Knicks are also sending the Raptors a 2016 first-round pick and two second-round picks.

• Bulls agree to deal with Dunleavy: The Bulls struck quickly in free agency Monday, securing a verbal agreement from Mike Dunleavy Jr. on a two-year, roughly $6 million deal on the first full day of recruitment.

Dunleavy, who spent the last two seasons with the Bucks, has averaged 11.9 points over 11 seasons with three teams.

PGA Tour supports anchored putting ban

Golf: The PGA Tour said it would follow a new rule that bans the anchored putting stroke used by four of the last six major champions, asking instead for a temporary reprieve for those who play the game for fun.

The announcement after a PGA Tour board meeting is the final piece of confirmation from a major golf organization for Rule 14-1b, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2016 when the next “Rules of Golf” is published. The rule makes it illegal for players to attach the end of the club to their body would making a stroke.

NHL close to sending players to Olympics

Hockey: While a deal hasn’t been reached yet between the NHL, the union and the International Ice Hockey Federation, to send the league’s players to Sochi, a long meeting pushed the sides much closer to an agreement.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, union leader Donald Fehr and IIHF President Rene Fasel met for more than five hours to work on a deal that would allow NHL players to compete at the 2014 games in Russia.

• Coyotes awaiting vote on arena lease deal: The future of the Phoenix Coyotes will likely be decided tonight by the Glendale (Ariz.) City Council, which will vote on an arena lease agreement with the prospective owners of the professional hockey team.

If the seven-member council approves the 15-year, $225 million deal for Arena, then the Coyotes will remain in Arizona.

But if the council votes against the lease - and the two sides are still at odds - then the Coyotes could be headed to Seattle.

Miscellany: Darren Daulton’s surgeon says the former Philadelphia Phillies All-Star catcher has successfully had two brain tumors removed.

Dr. Kevin Judy says the 51-year-old Daulton is recovering at Thomas Jefferson Hospital following a seven-hour operation and is expected to be released later this week. Judy says Daulton is doing fine physically and doctors will be monitoring his cognitive skills and speech function.

Daulton played 14 1/2 of his 15 major league seasons in Philadelphia and was a key part of the Phillies’ N.L. championship team in 1993.

• Man returns for NFL murder case: A man arrested in Florida has agreed to return to Massachusetts to face a charge in the murder case against former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Ernest Wallace faces a charge of accessory after the fact in Odin Lloyd’s slaying.

• Giants, Cruz near long-term deal: It appears Victor Cruz’s touchdown salsa dance likely will remain a fixture at Giants games. Citing team and league sources, ESPN reported that the Giants and Cruz are expected to have a long-term contract completed before the start of training camp July 26.

The report said the framework of a deal is in place, but some details, including contract language, must be worked out. No obstacles are expected.