– F LeBron James will end months of speculation on Thursday night when he announces where he will sign as part of an hour-long special, “LeBron James: The Decision, “airing live tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET on TSN (encore at 12 midnight ET on TSN2). Stuart Scott hosts the one-hour special and is joined by NBA analysts Michael Wilbon and Jon Barry. James will announce his decision in a preliminary interview with Jim Gray followed by an extensive interview with Wilbon.
The Deseret News cites an ESPN executive as saying that LeBron James will make his announcement within the first 10 minutes of Thursday’s one-hour show. A bit surprising, as I expected the announcement to be drawn out until the final moments of the show, but it appears that we may find out right off the bat. Depending on what you believe, the Cavs, Heat, Knicks, Nets and Bulls were all potentially still in the hunt as of late Wednesday afternoon.
– The Bulls have signed F Carlos Boozer to a 5-year/$80M deal. It remains to be seen whether this will be the big move that lures F LeBron James to Chicago. Either way, the Bulls just upgraded their frontcourt dramatically. Meanwhile, the Deseret News reports that the Jazz may attempt to get something back for Boozer in a sign-and-trade package with the Bulls.
– The Celtics have re-signed G Ray Allen to a 2-year/$20M deal. The 9-time All-Star averaged 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over 80 contests last regular season. His total was 16.1 points during the team’s playoff run, which ended with a Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. During the championship series, Allen set an NBA Finals record by sinking eight three-point shots in a Game 2 victory.
– Heat beat writer Michael Wallace said on Twitter Wednesday that F Jermaine O’Neal is close to signing with the Celtics. Stay tuned.
– The Warriors are close to sending F Anthony Randolph to the Knicks in a sign-and-trade for F David Lee. This is the same deal that was rumoured to include G Monta Ellis, who is now out of talks. Of course, everything is contingent on F LeBron James. If he announces he’ll play anywhere but New York, the Warriors would possibly send Randolph, either F Ronny Turiaf or F Kelenna Azubuike, and F Vladimir Radmanovic in exchange for Lee. If LeBron signs with the Knicks, the deal will likely be killed. And frankly, we’d love to see Randolph play for Mike D’Antoni and the Knicks.
– The NBA salary cap for next season was set Wednesday at $58.04M, a higher number than projected. The cap goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, ending the league’s moratorium period and allowing free agent contracts to be signed. It’s a slight increase from this season’s $57.7M cap, a surprise for teams considering what they were bracing for last summer. Teams were warned in a memo last July that the economic crisis could send the cap spiraling to somewhere between $50.4-53.6M, some $10M below what teams were once anticipating.
– Days after a report surfaced that F Ilya Kovalchuk was on the verge of signing a 7-year/$60M contract with the Devils, comes a report Wednesday in the LA Times that quotes Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi as saying that his team has “re-engaged” in negotiations. According to the Times, the Kings received a counter-proposal on Wednesday but it is so complex that the team is not expected to respond for at least a day. The Kings publically broke off talks with Kovalchuk on Sunday after reportedly making more than one offer without ever receiving a counter offer.
– G Evgeni Nabokov has signed a 4-year/$24M contract worth $6M annually with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. Nabokov, 34, leaves the NHL after posting one of his best seasons to date. In 2009-10 he went 44-16-10 with a 2.43 GAA and .922 SV% for San Jose.
– The Canucks will retire former captain F Markus Naslund’s jersey as part of the NHL team’s 40th anniversary this season. The team announced at the Canucks’ Summer Summit on Wednesday that Naslund’s No. 19 will be raised on December 11. His number will join those of Canucks legends Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl atop the newly named Rogers Arena. Naslund, a native of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, played 11 seasons with the Canucks. He recorded 346 goals and 756 points with the club. His best season was in 2002-03, when he had 48 goals and 56 assists for 104 points.
– The Predators have signed F Sergei Kostitsyn to a 1-year/$550K deal.
– The Hurricanes have signed D Joe Corvo to a 2-year/$4.5M deal. The offensive D-man will make $2M in 2010-11 and $2.5M in 2011-12. Carolina dealt Corvo to Washington this past season at the trade deadline, but they are happy to have him back. GM Jim Rutherford said, “Joe has been a really good player for us over the last three seasons, and we feel that this solidifies our defense. We appreciate him working with us to get this deal done. He said that he really wanted to stay in Carolina and this commitment confirms that.” Corvo had a disappointing campaign in 2009-10. He struggled through injury and could not produce on the ice when he got the chance. Corvo collected just 18 points in 52 games with the Hurricanes and Capitals, while posting a minus-10 rating.
– The Leafs have signed D Brett Lebda to a 2-year/$2.9M deal worth $1.45M annually. Lebda had one goal and seven assists in 63 games with Detroit last season.
– The Sabres have signed G Patrick Lalime, 36, to a 1-year deal. Lalime was 4-8-2 for the Sabres last season with a 2.81 GAA and .905 SV%. On March 27, Lalime became the 66th goaltender in NHL history to record 200 career wins when he backstopped Buffalo to a 7-1 win over Tampa Bay at HSBC Arena.
– The Sabres have signed F Rob Niedermayer to a 1-year/$1.15M deal. Last year he had 22 points in 71 games with the Devils.
– The Capitals have re-signed D Jeff Schultz to a 4-year/$11M deal. The 24-year-old led the NHL last season with a plus-50 rating and had a team-high 129 blocked shots. He had three goals and career highs of 20 assists and 23 points in 73 games.
– The Avalanche have re-signed RFA D Brandon Yip to a 2-year deal. Yip was recalled by the Avs on Dec. 18 and finished with 11 goals and 19 points in 32 games. He was second on the team with two goals and two assists in six playoff games.
– The Red Wings have re-signed F Patrick Eaves to a 1-year deal. Eaves had 12 goals and 22 assists in 65 games for the Red Wings last season, his first with the franchise.
– The Penguins have signed D Andrew Hutchinson to a 2-way contract that will pay him $500K if he plays in the NHL next season. The 30-year-old Hutchinson has 135 games of NHL experience with Dallas, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Nashville, getting 12 goals and 26 assists.
– The Thrashers have re-signed F Eric Boulton. The 33-year-old had eight points and a team-leading 113 penalty minutes in 62 games last season.
– The Sabres have re-signed F Mike Weber to a 1-year deal.
– The Avs have signed F David Liffiton. Liffiton, 25, was Colorado’s first selection (second round, 63rd overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft, but was traded to the Rangers in March 2004. He spent the 2009-10 season with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, where he collected 20 points (5G,15A) and 118 penalty minutes in 72 games.
– The Sens have signed F Corey Locke to a 2-year/2-way contract. Locke played the majority of last season with New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack. In 76 games, he scored 31 goals and 54 assists, but was held pointless in three appearances with the Rangers. Locke, 26, was a star during his junior career with the Ottawa 67′s. In three seasons there between 2001-04, Locke scored 132 goals and 312 points.
– The Sharks have signed free agent D Jay Leach to a 1-year/2-way contract. It will pay Leach $500K when he is in the NHL. Leach joined the Sharks last December after being waived by Montreal. He appeared in 35 games with San Jose and the Canadiens.
– Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Reds and Mariners have exchanged names “in preliminary fashion” toward an LHP Cliff Lee deal. That’s a pretty big step. The Reds are hoping to shore up their starting rotation in an effort to maintain their surprising lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central. The Mariners, meanwhile, are thought to like Reds corner infield prospects Juan Francisco and Yonder Alonso. Lee has posted a 2.34 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and an 89/6 K/BB ratio in 13 starts this season.
– Tyler Morris, the fan who fell from the upper deck trying to catch a ball during Tuesday’s game between the Indians and Rangers, remains in the hospital with a fractured skull and broken ankle. Morris, an off-duty firefighter, was reaching for a foul ball hit by OF Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the 5th inning when he fell nearly 30 feet from the upper deck and landed on several other fans seated below.
– The Pirates have acquired RHP Sean Gallagher from the Padres for cash considerations. Gallagher has spent four seasons in the majors and in the 2010 campaign he has appeared in 15 games and has an earned run average of 5.40. He has also pitched for the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics and over 60 appearances, including 23 starts, he is 8-9 with a 5.57 ERA.
– The Rockies have placed 1B Todd Helton (sore back) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 5.
– The White Sox have placed RHP Jake Peavy (detached right shoulder muscle) on the 15-day DL. It sounds like the worst case scenario for Peavy, who left his start Tuesday against the Angels after suffering the injury in the second inning. The White Sox have yet to comment, but he could be out for over two months if there is indeed a detached muscle in his back. Peavy has a 7-6 record, a 4.63 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and 93 strikeouts through 107 innings this season.
– The Cardinals have placed RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder sprain) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 4.
– The Dodgers have placed RHP Ronald Belisario on the restricted list.
– The A’s have transferred DH Eric Chavez and OF Travis Buck to the 60-day DL and have placed OF Conor Jackson (strained right hamstring) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 1.
– The Cubs have placed RHP Brian Schlitter (right shoulder impingement) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 3.
– The Orioles have placed RHP Kevin Millwood (strained right forearm) on the 15-day DL.
– The Brewers have placed RHP Yovani Gallardo (right oblique strain) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 5.
– The Reds have placed RHP Aaron Harang (lower back spasms) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 1.
– The Red Sox have placed RHP Clay Buchholz (strained left hamstring) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 27.
– The Mets have placed 1B Fernando Tatis (right shoulder AC joint sprain) on the 15-day DL.
– The Astros have placed 1B Geoff Blum (loose bodies in right elbow) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 2.
– The Indians have placed OF Shin-Soo Choo (sprained right thumb) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 3.
– The Cardinals have placed OF Ryan Ludwick (left calf strain) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 26.
– The Padres have placed OF Will Venable (lower back strain) on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 2.
– Current plans call for SummerSlam to be built around the in-ring returns of Triple H and The Undertaker. Triple H would face Sheamus in a grudge match while Undertaker would face the perpetrator of placing him “in a vegetative state.”
Additionally, a six-person tag match pitting The Hart Dynasty against The Usos.
– Monday’s episode of Raw scored a 3.35 cable rating with 4.78 million viewers. The overall rating was up from last week’s 3.28 number. The first hour drew a 3.21 rating and the second hour grew to a 3.49.
– R-Truth (groin) is set to undergo surgery or extensive rehab and is expected to miss an extended amount of time.
– Below is the updated card for WWE’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view following Tuesday’s SmackDown taping in Atlanta, Georgia. At the event, both Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler earned spots in the SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match while a Women’s Championship Match between Layla and Kelly Kelly was announced. Here is the updated card:
Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship
Sheamus (c) vs. John Cena
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Jack Swagger
Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Randy Orton vs. John Morrison vs. Evan Bourne vs. The Miz vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Chris Jericho vs. Edge vs. Raw star TBA
(Winner earns right to challenge the WWE Champion at any time, at any place, for up to one year)
SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Big Show vs. Christian vs. Matt Hardy vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Kane vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler
(Winner earns right to challenge World Heavyweight Champion at any time, at any place, for up to one year)
Unified Tag Team Championship Match
The Hart Dynasty (c) vs. Jimmy and Jey Uso
WWE Women’s Championship Match
Layla (c) vs. Kelly Kelly
– CB Ed Reed has begun pushing the Ravens for a new contract. “I’m not making it a big deal. [But] I think it needs to be taken care of.” Reed has three years remaining on a six-year deal, and he lacks leverage with his retirement talk and the rising chance that he’ll miss a good chunk of the regular season following hip surgery. He “realistically” believes his return won’t come until “October, November and December.”
– The Eagles are reportedly interested in QB Troy Smith is a fallback option if they’re forced to release QB Michael Vick this summer. The Eagles still don’t seem likely to dump Vick, but they’re covering their bases in case further details emerge in the Quanis Phillips shooting investigation. If the Smith report is true, the team appears to have moved on from free agent QB Jeff Garcia as a possible alternative to Vick.
– The Jets have signed OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson to a 6-year/$60M deal with $34.8M guaranteed. It’s expected to be officially announced on Thursday. Ferguson was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Virginia and has started every game for New York in each of his four NFL seasons.
– Former WWE star Jimmy Wang Yang cryptically noted on his Twitter account yesterday that he has signed a contract with an organization that he has wrestled for in the past.
“Signed a contract for my next big wrestling adventure. Give you guys a clue, I have wrestled (sic) for them in the past.”
It’s said that Yang signed with TNA Wrestling. He previously worked for the organization during its primitive stages in 2002.
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