– The Sun-Sentinel reports that the conditional draft pick headed to Miami in the O’Neal/Moon for Marion/Banks deal is a 2010 pick lottery protected through 2014. The future first-round draft pick the Heat receive will come sometime between 2010 and 2015. It’s lottery-protected, meaning the first time the Raptors make the playoffs after this season, their first-rounder goes to Miami. If Miami does not get that first-round pick in 2010, it will get an additional second-round pick that year.The deal has been approved by the league, and is pending the players passing their physicals.
Great move (so far) by GM Bryan Colangelo. This move gives the Raptors much-needed cap flexibility to try and re-sign F Chris Bosh, and gives them room to make trades in the offseason – something Colangelo is likely to take advantage of. It also allows F Andrea Bargnani to move back to centre from small forward.
Although the Raptors lose toughness and grit – something they lacked to begin with – a starting lineup featuring Marion at the three and Bargnani at the five is better than one with O’Neal at centre and Bargnani at small forward. The Raptors bench of Kapono, Graham and Ukic is OK at the one-two-three, but they lost depth up front. Marion can play some power forward, but he struggled in that position in Miami. It’s very possible that that could change in Toronto.
Toronto shed’s O’Neal’s massive contract, but pick up an overpaid G Marcus Banks. All in all, it might give them enough to make a serious bid for someone for the 2010 free agency period.
The Heat needed a big man, and knowing that they couldn’t compete in the East without one, and knowing that Marion wasn’t going to re-sign in the offseason, the deal had to be made.
– The Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed that Bulls GM John Paxson will resign, but it might not happen until after the season. Doug Collins is rumoured to be the replacement coach, GM or both. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has tried to convince Paxson to stay, but no dice.
– The Maple Leafs have placed F Ryan Hollweg on waivers.
– The Penguins are rumoured to be looking into Bolts’ F Martin St. Louis. Don’t look into this one.
– The Penguins are believed to have offered a deal to the Blackhawks for F Martin Havlat. Chicago won’t do it, since they’re trying to lock up Havlat long-term.
– The Bruins are looking into Ducks’ D Chris Pronger. It’ll be tough for Boston to try anything, since they’re up against the cap.
– The Oilers continue to choose between options in trying to acquire Panthers’ D Jay Bouwmeester. Rumour has it that F Ales Hemsky could be apart of a deal.
– The Falcons are shopping suspended QB Michael Vick. Vick’s contract runs through 2013, with a base salary of $9M and a bonus of $6.43M in 2009 alone. The rest of the contract is worth $45.11M. No one will bite.
– The Giants have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on RB Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs is free to negotiate with other teams, but if he signs elsewhere, that team will have to forfeit two first-round draft choices. Basically, he’s staying in NYC. Both sides remain optimistic about agreeing to a long-term deal. If not, Jacobs will play out the season on the $6.62M franchise tender.
– The Bears have released WR Marty Booker.
– Brewers’ SS Bill Hall is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a partial tear of his left calf muscle sustained while working out Thursday.
– The Star-Tribune says indications are that the Twins are willing to craft a deal that would get free agent 3B Joe Crede to $7-8M with incentives. Crede wants $7M guaranteed, but that’s not going to happen.
– Cardinals’ 2B Skip Schumacher is pencilled in as the starting second baseman.
– The Blue Jackets are reportedly interested in Bolts’ F Vaclav Prospal. Tampa Bay traded Prospal to Philadelphia last season, but they re-acquired his negotiating rights in the off-season and signed him to a multi-year deal.
– Devils’ G Martin Brodeur is expected to participate in the Devils’ full practice on Saturday. Brodeur said he would have taken part in a full practice on Thursday if the Devils’ had one. He went to see the surgeon who reattached his torn distal biceps tendon on Wednesday and was told that he wouldn’t require additional examinations. He is reportedly targeting February 26th for his return date.
– Stone Cold Steve Austin is booked to appear at the February 23 RAW in Nashville, as well as the March 16 RAW.
– Mr. Kennedy’s return date is February 22 at a SD! house show.
– Matt Hardy has updated his WWE Universe Blog with some interesting comments about Christian’s return to WWE.
“Speaking of Christian, we have a very long and storied hisotry together. Christian was a recipient of my star-making abilities back in the first ever tag team ladder match. Christian was also smart not to stick his nose into my business with Jeff. I could see how he would be tempted to upon resigning with the WWE, but fortunately he was smarter than that. It’s also funny how alot (sic) of the “internet journalist” and “internet fans” thought Christian might be somehow associated with me and my master plan. Nope. Never has been. There’s never been any changes in my plans, there’s never been a “B” plan, and Christian hasn’t ever been factored in at any time.”
Despite Hardy’s stuff, several reliable sources have confirmed that there were plans to reveal Christian as Jeff Hardy’s mystery attacker. WWE creative was told to change direction on Christian’s return when news of his possible involvement in the Jeff Hardy attacker storyline leaked online, and fans began chanting for Christian during Jeff Hardy matches and segments at live events.
– Robert Roode, Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley’s TNA contracts are expiring soon. WWE is interested in Roode, but TNA is still trying to re-sign him. It seems unlikely that they will, since Roode started the “Hottest Free Agent” gimmick. Shelley and Sabin – better known as the MotorCity Machine Guns – have gone back and forth about wanting to stay in TNA. Both softened their stance on leaving since they received pushes, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
– Midway Games, the publisher of TNA iMPACT!, has filed for bankruptcy. That’s what being associated to TNA does to you. I tried to warn them…