– In a recent interview with ESPN Radio, Stephen A. Smith said that F LeBron James is leaning toward signing with the Knicks “and that this factor played a role in Tom Izzo turning down the Cavs’ head coaching job.” “From what my sources tell me, he still hasn’t made a final decision but he’s higher on New York now than he was a month ago. And the reality is that he is leaning more towards New York than he is towards returning to Cleveland. Izzo knew this.” Apparently James’ camp is making “in-depth” queries about Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni. Stay tuned.
– The 76ers official website briefly displayed a page on Friday that said “Sixers draft G Evan Turner.” The page appears to be pre-fabricated for the moment Philly drafts Turner #2 overall, and the fact that it went live was obviously an error. No doubt that Turner goes second, as G John Wall will be taken by the Wizards.
– The Suns have picked up their 2011-12 option for head coach Alvin Gentry. However, half of that year’s $2.2M salary hinges on whether there is a lockout when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in July 2011. Gentry is the league’s second-lowest paid coach and will make less than Terry Porter, whom the Suns fired last year.
– According to his personal trainer, G Allen Iverson is preparing for a comeback next season. AI took a leave of absence in March because of an undisclosed illness to his 4-year-old daughter, Messiah.
– Former F Manute Bol passed away yesterday. He was 47. Bol was Sudan 7’7″ centre, the tallest player in NBA history, spent 10 seasons in the NBA and was dedicated to humanitarian work in Africa. Bol died at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition. Bol recorded more career blocks than points.
– The Indianapolis Star reports that the Pacers will use the #10 overall pick to select F Daniel Orton. The 19-year-old who declared himself ready for the NBA after his freshman year worked out for the team on June 1. The team is setting up a second workout, according to the paper. The 6’10″, 260-pound Oklahoma native averaged 3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for Kentucky.
– T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers have inquired about acquiring a starting pitcher, including Mariners’ LHP Cliff Lee and Astros’ RHP Roy Oswalt. The club has not confirmed their interest in any single player, but acknowledge that they have been active in trade talks. Rangers’ assistant GM Thad Levine said, “We’ve had some preliminary discussions with clubs. But to compel teams to move this far ahead of the [July 31] Trade Deadline, it would take a very attractive package. We’re still in the inventory stage and the information-gathering stage rather than the execution phase.” There are some obvious financial constraints in the way of a potential deal right now, but there’s little doubt that the Rangers have all the pieces necessary to acquire a front-line starting pitcher at the deadline.
– Cardinals’ RHP Ryan Franklin believes that he will retire when his contract expires after the 2011 season. Franklin will be 38 at that point and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I think I owe it to my family. I’ve missed a lot of things that have been going on. I don’t want to miss a lot more.” With the current spate of midseason will-he-or-won’t-he retirement stories, it’s a nice change of pace to see a player who has his plan in place in advance.
– Padres’ OF Kyle Blanks (elbow), who has been on the DL since May 18, will miss another 3-to-4 more weeks after an MRI showed more damage than had previously been thought. The San Diego Union Tribune reports that it will be another two weeks before Blanks even picks up a ball, which makes three weeks seems like an awfully optimistic timetable. While Blanks won’t need to recover his arm strength to the degree that a pitcher in rehab would, he can’t exactly be two-hopping the cut-off man either. Blanks was off to a slow start before he landed on the DL, as he’d produced a line of just .157/.283/.324.
– According to Tracy Ringolsby, Rockies’ SS Troy Tulowitzki (broken left wrist) will miss 6-to-8 weeks. A huge blow to the Rockies’ hopes.
– Phillies’ first base coach Davey Lopes said that 2B Chase Utley (knee) has been dealing with “a little bit of a knee injury.” There have been whispers about an injury for a few weeks now and Lopes finally spoke up to Baseball Prospectus. We’ll probably hear some confirmation or denial from the team in the days to come, but there’s no question that Utley hasn’t looked the same for quite some time. While his .377 OBP is excellent, he is batting just .257 with a .451 SLG%.
– The Dodgers have placed RHP Carlos Monasterios (blister on index finger) on the 15-day DL and have placed SS Rafael Furcal on the bereavement list.
– The Rockies have placed SS Troy Tulowitzki (fractured left wrist) on the 15-day DL.
– The Marlins have placed RHP Clay Hensley (left neck strain) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 12, and transferred C John Baker to the 60-day DL.
– The Phillies have placed LHP Antonio Bastardo (left elbow ulnar neuritis) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 16.
– The Devils have re-acquired F Jason Arnott from the Predators for F Matt Halischuk and a 2nd-round draft pick in the 2011. Arnott scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the Devils in 2000. He had 19 goals and 27 assists in 63 games last season, and waived his no-trade clause in his contract to make the deal happen. After the season, he had given the Predators’ management a list of teams he would approve, with the Devils topping his list. “They kind of explained what the situation was and it just didn’t seem like I was in their (plans) for long term. So I decided I’d rather move my family now and we both kind of came to the agreement that it was time for the young guys to step in and do their thing, and for me to move on. So it was kind of a mutual thing.”
– The Predators have re-acquired D Ryan Parent from the Flyers for D Dan Hamhuis and a conditional pick in the 2011 draft. Parent was Nashville’s first pick in the 2005 draft and was sent to Philadelphia in 2007 in a trade that brought F Peter Forsberg to Nashville. The 23-year-old blueliner played his first full NHL season last year and appeared in 17 playoff games during the Flyers’ run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.
– According to the Ottawa Sun, the Capitals are shopping F Alexander Semin. He has one year left on his mulit-year contract that pays him $6M annually and may be a prime candidate to move on as a free agent after the 2010-11 season. Stay tuned.
– The Daily News reports that the Flyers could be offering F Jeff Carter in exchange for a proven #1 goalie. One rumour that keeps popping up is Carter to Boston for G Tim Thomas. Carter is the sniper that F Marc Savard has been missing on his wing since the trade of F Phil Kessel to Toronto. There would likely be more involved in a Carter for Thomas deal, but it is worth keeping an eye on. The Kings, who are set to add former Flyer head coach John Stevens to their coaching staff, may also be interested in moving a goalie for Carter.
Thomas is still a first-line goalie, but he’s making $5M as a backup to G Tuukka Rask. Boston needs to shed some salary in order to make some other changes to its roster and still be within the cap. Despite his substantial salary, there should be a number of contending teams vying for Thomas’ services. Philadelphia, Washington, San Jose and possibly Tampa will likely be calling Bruin GM Peter Chiarelli about Thomas. Stay tuned.
– Despite rumors that the Panthers are going to completely re-tool and trade both F Nathan Horton and F Stephen Weiss, don’t count on Weiss moving anywhere. Although Horton may be in play, Weiss is signed for three years at a modest $3.1M per season. That’s pretty reasonable for a 27-year-old center who has registered 121 points in his last 158 games and has the capacity to be even better in 2010-11. Plus, Florida coach Peter DeBour who coached Weiss in the OHL, loves him.
– The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Penguins will not bring back F Alex Ponikarovsky. The soon-to-be UFA is seeking a longer-term deal than the Penguiuns seem willing to give. Ponikarovsky was a disappointment last season after being acquired from the Leafs and the Pens do not seem willing to make a substantial investment in him.
– Lightning’ F Vincent Lecavalier is very happy with the hiring of Steve Yzerman as GM and Guy Boucher as head coach. “I’m very, very excited about what is happening with this organization from new ownership, to a guy like Steve Yzerman, who knows where he is going. He’s got a plan, he’s an honest person and comes from an organization of winners over the past 20 years and he will bring that mentality. And for him to bring on somebody like Guy Boucher, somebody who I’ve heard great things about over the past couple of years, I think it’s just going to be a great chemistry with those guys and with the players.”
– The AP reports that the Wild will not be big players in this year’s free agent frenzy.
– The owners of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers say they continue to look for minority partners and have no plans to sell or move either team. There have been persistent reports that the Atlanta Spirit ownership group is strapped financially and may be looking to sell one or both teams. The latest report was in Friday’s New York Post. The group also owns the operating rights to Philips Arena. Atlanta Spirit principals Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon released a statement saying they have hired a firm to help in the search for minority investors but remain committed to both teams, the arena and the city of Atlanta. Their statement says “we have no plans to move either team.”
– D Rob Blake has officially retired from the NHL. Blake will be remembered as one of the greatest offensive defenceman of his generation. He scored 240 goals and 777 points in 1,270 games with the Kings, Avalanche and Sharks. He won the Norris Trophy in 1998 and the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001.
– According to PFT, RFA LT Jammal Brown will not require a contract extension as a condition of Saturday’s trade to the Redskins. Brown did his RFA tender of $3.619M as part of the trade, and extension talks may begin down the line. The Saints’ compensation hinges on the QB Donovan McNabb trade. If McNabb makes the Pro Bowl, or the Redskins win nine games or make the playoffs, the Eagles receive a 3rd-round pick and the Saints get a fourth. If none of those happen, the Eagles will get the fourth-round pick and the Saints get the third-rounder. New Orleans will also send a conditional late-round pick back to the Washington while the Redskins owe the Saints a 2012 6th-rounder if Brown makes the Pro Bowl plays 90 percent of the snaps in 2010.
– The Raiders have re-signed “exclusive rights” franchise player DE Richard Seymour to a one-year/$12.398M contract. Seymour skipped out on OTAs in an attempt to get the Raiders to pay him even more money than he’s worth. Coming off a subpar season with 47 tackles, 4 sacks, and a forced fumble, Seymour isn’t worth anywhere near $12M — much less the 2011 1st-round pick that Al Davis surrendered to get him last year.
– PFT reports that Chiefs’ unsigned RFA S Jarrad Page has requested a trade. Page let PFT know of the trade demand via a press release that noted, “Entering the 2009 season, Jarrad Page had more interceptions than any other safety selected in the 2006 draft class.” Page is coming off a poor season, but has shown playmaking ability, is cheap, and is only 25 years old. The Chiefs should be able to get a late-round pick for him.
– Titans’ RB Chris Johnson told ESPN’s Michael Smith in a recent E:60 interview that he is asking the Titans for $30-40M guaranteed. Johnson hinted earlier in the offseason that he wanted to be the highest paid offensive player in the game – he wasn’t kidding. Johnson probably won’t old out of training camp beyond August 10 because of the monetary penalties he’d incur.
– The Seahawks have released WR Reggie Williams. He lasted just two months on the roster. He as out-practiced by fellow former top-ten bust Mike Williams. Williams’ NFL career might be finished.
– The have Ravens signed S Ken Hamlin to a one-year contract. The team still has some concern than S Ed Reed (hip surgery) won’t be back up to full speed for the early part of the season. Hamlin has lost his playmaking ability the last two seasons, so he was never going to land more than a one-year “prove it” deal as an insurance policy.
– Though Triple H’s current absence from television is in due part to filming the upcoming WWE Films project The Chaperone, the word is that he is more hurt than first thought. The extent to which the injuries will delay his planned return to the squared circle are unclear, but sources indicate a rumored SummerSlam feud between him and Edge has been scrapped. Meanwhile, Edge is expected to miss some house shows during the month of August as he films WWE’s action-oriented comedy Chasing the Hawk.
– Eric Bischoff opened Thursdays TNA iMPACT broadcast and announced that due to personal reasons, Scott Hall was no longer with the company and The Band were stripped of the TNA Tag Team Titles. A tournament is being held to determine who will face The Motor City Machineguns for the vacant belts at Victory Road. TNA President Dixie Carter wrote the following on her Twitter about Hall’s release:
“Scott Hall and I talked and together decided he needed time to focus on some personal issues. I am proud of the action he is taking.”
Marc Valeri – firstname.lastname@example.org
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