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Shohei Ohtani watch is on. Not Ohtani’s home runs or strikeouts or any of his magnificent numbers from the field. Nothing like that. It’s all about how much his next contract will be worth. Ohtani is among a group of players going into their final season before they are eligible for free agency. There is still time for signatures and press conferences before opening day, but history shows a new contract becomes less likely once the real games begin. The list of impending free agents also includes Aaron Nola, Matt Chapman, Teoscar Hernández, Ian Happ and Julio Urías.

Several prospects from the NBA Academy in Africa are playing in the new season of the Basketball Africa League. The league was created by the NBA in partnership with FIBA to help grow the sport in Africa and is now in its third season. It’s a Champions League-style competition for African club teams. They added a twist last season with each of the 12 teams being assigned an academy prospect. The “BAL Elevate” program is also in place this campaign. The young players have to earn minutes on rosters full of veterans. It’s another opportunity for the prospects prove themselves.

To use, or not to use, Bard? That is the Shakespearean question an Associated Press reporter sought to answer while testing out the artificially intelligent chatbot that Google has started to roll out. It's the company's attempt to catch up with the trendy ChatGPT tool that Microsoft has been melding into its Bing search engine and other software. During several hours of interaction, the AP learned Bard is quite forthcoming about its unreliability and other shortcomings, including its potential for mischief in next year’s U.S. presidential election. Even as it occasionally warned of the problems it could unleash, Bard repeatedly emphasized its belief that it will blossom into a force for good.


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