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Key questions regarding Rangers’ Artemi Panarin situation

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There are more than a handful of unresolved questions relating to the Artemi Panarin affair. The Post will attempt to answer at least some of them.

Q: Were there any developments out of Russia on Tuesday?

A: Other than Andrei Nazarov making the rounds with the media while repeating the allegations he first made Sunday, albeit while offering confused timelines, that would be a no. (“He is everywhere, saying, ‘This fact, this fact, that fact,’ ” a source from Russia told The Post). Not a single corroborating witness has come forward to support the former KHL coach’s wholly unsupported claim that Panarin, at age 20, beat up an 18-year-old woman in a hotel bar in Riga, Latvia, following a Dec. 11, 2011, KHL game. Back on North American soil, our best knowledge is that the NHL has not opened an independent investigation of the charges and has no intention of doing so absent credible evidence that the incident took place.

Q: How long of a leave of absence will Panarin require?

A: There is no timeline attached to Panarin’s leave. A well-placed source refuted a report that No. 10 had asked for — and had been granted — two weeks. The Rangers are hopeful Panarin will return sooner rather than later but are not going to apply pressure on him. The winger is remaining at his home in Connecticut during this hiatus.

Artemi Panarin
Artemi Panarin
AP

Q: Does Panarin remain on the active roster?

A: For the time being, at least, yes. It is possible, though, that the Rangers might request permission to move Panarin to non-roster status if they need the spot under the 23-player max. As per Section 16.12 of the collective bargaining agreement, “Upon approval of the Commissioner, a Player who is unavailable to play due to reasons other than injury, illness or disability [e.g., birth of a child, attending a funeral] will be designated a Non-Roster Player…”

Q: Would that have any effect on the cap?

A: No. Panarin’s $11,641,857 cap hit will remain on the ledger throughout his absence whether he is a roster or non-roster player.

Q: Is Panarin being paid throughout this leave?

A: Yes.

Q: Is there further information regarding Nazarov’s motivation for making these charges?

A: According to one North American informant who has had close ties to the KHL, Panarin and Nazarov did not have a good relationship when the winger played for his then-coach at Vityaz. A second source believes that Nazarov, out of work in the KHL, is looking to please well-connected political supporters of Vladimir Putin with the hopes of being rewarded with a job by those KHL executives with connections to the government by his attempted takedown of Panarin.

Q: How is the story being received in Russia?

A: “It is the talk of Russia right now,” one source reported. “The responses are basically determined by politics. If people support Putin, they believe it. If they support [opposition leader] Alexei Navalny, they believe it is payback to Panarin.”

Q: So have Nazarov’s allegations had the desired effect?

A: Panarin is off the ice for now.

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Bulls’ Zach LaVine called cops on ‘obsessed’ fan at his home

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Zach LaVine had an unwanted visitor.

The Chicago Bulls star had to call the police after an “allegedly obsessed” woman showed up to his Chicago home and refused to leave on Thursday night, according to TMZ. 

The woman reportedly traveled from out of state, demanding to speak with the first-time All-Star, who was home at the time.

Police took her a local hospital for mental evaluation, and she has not been formally arrested or charged with a crime.

LaVine, 25, wrapped up first-half action with the Bulls on Wednesday and was drafted to Kevin Durant’s All-Star side for Sunday’s festivities in Atlanta.

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Blake Griffin a free agent after Pistons buyout

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Blake Griffin will be free to sign with the Nets or another interested NBA team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The six-time All-Star forward “has interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams,” ESPN reported.

The Nets, Lakers, Heat, Warriors and Clippers – his former team — are among those that have expressed interest, according to the New York Times. ESPN.com added that the Blazers are interested

The 31-year-old Griffin hasn’t played since Feb. 12 while the Pistons attempted to trade him before the March 25 deadline, but they found no takers due to the remainder of his $36.6 million salary for this season and the $39 million he’s owed for 2021-22.

Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
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Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season. He was dealt by the Clippers to Detroit in 2018, during the first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million.



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Broncos send a pretty strong warning to Drew Lock

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Drew Lock is no lock to remain the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

General manager George Paton and coach Vic Fangio both said Thursday that the team expects to bring in competition for Lock, possibly with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.

“Obviously we’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard,” Fangio said, according to the team’s website.

“Until we get or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback, like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or certain teams around the league … are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve.”

Lock made 13 starts in 2020 and tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead with 15 interceptions. He finished 32nd in the league among qualifying quarterbacks with a 75.4 passer rating, ahead of only Dwayne Haskins, Wentz and Sam Darnold.

Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
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“Very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on,” Paton said Thursday. “But I’ve spoken with Drew, I see him every day. He’s here early. He’s working. He really wants to be great. And we’re always going to try to bring in competition at every position, and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew’s on.”

Lock, the Broncos’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Missouri, had started five games as a rookie, winning four of them. Denver went 4-9 with him as the starter last season.

“I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve,” Fangio said. “Drew’s had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own, coming over here and getting workouts, and I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself, watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. And he’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March.”

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