– Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov has reportedly advised the team’s management to “walk away” from a potential trade for Nuggets’ F Carmelo Anthony. This could be the final straw in the deal before it collapses, since Melo refused to even meet with Nets’ brass. Prokhorov said the deal has taken too much time, has gotten too expensive, and has cost the Nets games, adding that it’s his “final decision.” New Jersey would still probably pull the trigger on a deal if the right offer was made, but for now, they might be forced to set their sights on next year’s crop of free agents.
Amidst several reports regarding the Carmelo trade saga, the one that stood out is the report from SI.com that Anthony said GM Masai Ujiri already knows whether or not Anthony will sign an extension with the Nets. Anthony said, “If he wanted to know, he could come and ask me. There’s nothing that’s been said in the paper that we haven’t talked about already, and there’s things that I know and he know that has not gotten out there and that people don’t even know about right now.” This is followed by the direct assertion that Anthony said Ujiri knows his decision. This also follows an AP report that states the only thing holding up the N.J. deal are its terms, and not Melo’s willingness to accept an extension. If Ujiri has known if Melo will sign, it will reveal whether all of the New Jersey reports have been an exercise to get New York to cough up better assets, or if Melo has been on board the whole time.
Finally, Carmelo stated that he still expects to be traded by the February 24 deadline, even though the Nets pulled out of the hunt Wednesday night. With the Nets out, the Nuggets reportedly asked around the league Wednesday night to see what kind of offers are out there. The Knicks will be in the hunt while the Rockets and Mavs may be willing to make a trade without Anthony agreeing to an extension. Anthony’s agents are also reportedly pushing the Bulls to make a deal, although Chicago is wisely refusing to part with F Joakim Noah. This saga is a good bet to go right up to the deadline.
– Cavaliers’ G Mo Williams (hip) received a cortisone shot on Wednesday and will be shut down indefinitely while he rests and rehabs his injuries. He admitted he will be out at least “a couple weeks.” While surgery has not been discussed, Mo has been slowed by a slew of injuries this season, including a broken heart from LeBron going to Miami. The Cavs are simply saying that Williams is out indefinitely, refusing to give a timetable. Since the Cavs are an absolute mess, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they shut him down for a significant amount of time.
– Nets’ F Troy Murphy has requested a trade and has been given a leave of absence until the Nets can move him. He could me moved into another bad situation, or a team stacked at the 4 and 5 positions, and could also be out of shape by not playing all year.
– Blazers’ F Marcus Camby (knee surgery) is expected to be out 4-5 weeks, a source tells the Portland Tribune. Arthroscopic meniscus repairs are not overly serious procedures, but at Camby’s age, plus his injury history, it’s a major concern. He’ll turn 37 in March, and the Blazers are already a fringe playoff team. By the time Camby gets back, there will likely only be 20-someodd games left in the season.
– The Brewers and 1B Prince Fielder have agreed to a 1-year/$15.5M deal through arbitration. It’s likely the last year that the two will be playing together. The deal is the highest-single season contract for an arbitration-eligible player. Fielder hit .261 with 32 homers and 83 RBIs last season, when he made $11.25M. It was the lowest batting average in his big league career.
– Roy Hartsfield, the lue Jays’ manager for their first three seasons, has died. He was 85. Bernhardt Funeral Home in Ellijay confirmed that Hartsfield died Saturday at his daughter’s home in Ball Ground. Hartsfield also played in the majors from 1950-52 for the Boston Braves. A second baseman, he finished with a .273 career batting average and 13 homers. He then coached and managed, mostly in the minors, including 19 years in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He was named the Blue Jays manager when they joined the American League in 1977. Hartsfield was 166-318 in his three years managing Toronto. Jays’ radio analyst Alan Ashby said,
“He was nice man who wanted the Blue Jays to do well right out of the gate. When he would speak to us in meetings, he would use a lot of country-isms in his comments, very quaint stuff that would always make me smile internally.
“He had good coaches around him and he left a lot of the teaching to them. One thing I remember him trying to do immediately was instilling pride in the Blue Jays uniform.”
– The Twins have signed RHP Carl Pavano to a 2-year/$16.5M contract. Pavano, 35, posted a strong 17-11 record last year with a 3.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 32 starts. It’s a good deal if he can repeat last season’s performance.
– Despite agreeing on a 1-year contract Tuesday, Indians’ GM Chris Antonetti said that the club is still trying to work out a multi-year contract with OF Shin-Soo Choo. “We’re still in the midst of discussions. I don’t view it as the negotiations being closed.” The Indians and Choo avoided arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a 1-year/$3.975M contract. The club would love keep him in the fold for the long-term, but Scott Boras isn’t going to give away his client’s free agent years without a fight. Choo is under team control through the 2013 season.
– Ken Rosenthal reports that the Nationals have signed OF Jerry Hairston Jr. to a 1-year/$2M deal with $1M in incentives. Hairston, who turns 35 in May, batted .244/.299/.353 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI with the Padres last season before he went on the DL with a fractured tibia in September. He should be a useful utility player for the Nats.
– The Rockies have signed 3B Joe Crede to a minor league contract. The deal also carries an invitation to spring training. He sat out for all of the 2010 season due to back surgery and played in only 234 games from 2007-2009. He’s only 32, and has good power numbers when healthy.
– Rangers’ F Brandon Dubinsky (stress fracture in left leg) will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks. The injury was discovered after an MRI and a bone scan on Tuesday, but it is unclear when it occurred. The leg had been bothering him for some time now.
– Rangers’ F Ruslan Fedotenko (separated left shoulder) suffered the injury in Thursday’s game against Toronto and will be out of action for 2-4 weeks. Unreal. They’re now playing without the likes of Dubinsky (leg), Ryan Callahan (hand), Erik Christensen (knee), Alex Frolov (knee), Vaclav Prospal (knee surgery) and Derek Boogaard (concussion). Fedotenko sustained the ailment after receiving a hard, open-ice check from Leafs’ D Mike Komisarek in the second period and he did not return to the game.
– Flames’ F Jarome Iginla (personal) will not participate in the NHL All-Star Game and will instead spend the time with his ailing grandmother. “It is always an honor to be a part of the NHL All-Star Game but unfortunately I have to decline this year. I just lost my grandfather in the spring and I have learned that my grandmother is not doing very well. With the way the season goes I don’t get too many opportunities to see her, and as much as I was looking forward to being in North Carolina for the All-Star Game, I just know that my mind will be elsewhere.” This would’ve been his 6th All-Star appearance. Flyers’ F Daniel Briere will take his place. Briere’s only AS appearance was in 1997, where he won MVP, scoring one goal with four assists.
– Senators’ F Jason Spezza (separated shoulder) is reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery, according to coach Cory Clouston. The Sens are hoping that he will be able to return to the lineup after the All-Star break. Spezza hasn’t played since December 26.
– Oilers’ F Ales Hemsky (concussion) suffered the injury during Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Minnesota. Hemsky left the game in the second period, but the Oilers aren’t sure when he sustained the ailment. Coach Tom Renney said, “He’s had a puck in the head, an elbow in the head and a stick on the cheek over the last three or four games. He was a little out of sorts … more than he can play with, obviously.” Hemsky will probably be shutdown until he’s symptom-free.
– The Boston Globe reports that Patriots’ QB Tom Brady (stress fracture in right foot) will have surgery Thursday. He won’t be playing in the Pro Bowl. The operation is said to be similar to that underwent last fall by Red Sox’ 2B Dustin Pedroia for a “fractured navicular bone,” and may involve a screw going into Brady’s foot. He’s still expected to be 100% by training camp. Rest and treatment didn’t heal the fracture, so it’s ultimately good news that Brady is getting surgery out of the way in January.
– The Vikings have hired former Falcons QBs coach Bill Musgrave as OC. He picked Minnesota over Cleveland. A longtime quarterbacks coach, Musgrave was last a coordinator on Jacksonville’s staff in 2003 and 2004, coaching the Jags to a No. 12 ranking in his first season but No. 21 in his second. Musgrave’s offenses have long been run-first, which bodes well for RB Adrian Peterson.
– The Eagles have named Jim Washburn as their new DL coach and signed him to a 3-year contract. Washburn is an ideal fit for the Eagles. His history is with a 4-3 scheme similar to Philadelphia’s, and Washburn is great at using rotations to maximize strengths.
– According to Ravens’ LBs coach Dean Pees, MLB Ray Lewis missed just five snaps during the 2010 regular season. He played 1,111 downs. Lewis finished with 139 tackles — his most since 2004 — as well as two forced fumbles, two interceptions (one pick-six), and two sacks. Still, Lewis turns 36 this May, so the Ravens will need to find a way to reduce the future Hall of Famer’s snaps going forward.
– The Panthers have hired Sean McDermott as DC. McDermott, 36, will keep Carolina’s 4-3 defense and move away from their old Cover 2 scheme. A highly aggressive coordinator, McDermott may not be able to do nearly as much blitzing as he did in Philly right off the bat. The downgrade in front-seven talent will be significant.
– According to the WO, Triple H (torn biceps) is due back at anytime now. WWE Creative thinks that he’ll be happy with not being in the title picture. He’s currently focusing on behind the scenes stuff.
– Christian (shoulder) is reportedly touch and go as to whether or not he’ll be ready for WM27. His chances of returning at the Royal Rumble are next to none.
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross made a surprise appearance at this week’s SmackDown tapings from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ross did an in-ring segment with fellow Oklahoma native Jack Swagger during the tapings and refereed the dark match main event that took place afterwords. According to Ross, his appearance will not be televised. Ross wrote the following on Twitter @JRsBBQ regarding the experience:
“Just lv’ing Tulsa where I refereed the non tv main event, Rey/Kofi vs Kane/Del Rio. Made it full circle as I reffed my 1st bout n Tulsa n 74
“My backstage interview w/ Swagger was 4 live audience only & won’t air on SDown. Had a fun day. Didn’t know I was going until early this am.”
– Former Price is Right host Bob Barker will be at WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta, according to SportsTalkNetwork.com. Barker is said to be a long time wrestling fan and won the Slammy Award in December for Best RAW Host.
– With no competition from football, Monday’s Raw scored a 3.27 cable rating, the program’s best mark since December 20, 2010 (also a 3.27). The rating is up from last week’s 3.05 number. The show drew hours of 3.17 and 3.19. Overall viewership was approximately 5 million, up from 4.6 million.
– The Big Show and Ezekiel Jackson will have a feud in the immediate future.
– As reported earlier this week, former UFC fighter Kimbo Slice (real name Kevin Ferguson) will be making his pro wrestling debut in Japan next month for Antonio Inoki’s IGF promotion. Kimbo, who became famous videos of his Miami bare-nuckle boxing videos went viral, will face IGF champion Shinichi Suzukawa in his first match. According to a source within WWE, the company is interested in bringing in Kimbo Slice to work WrestleMania 27. With an appearance by Brock Lesnar virtually a dead issue at this point, people within WWE think Kimbo has enough mainstream popularity to draw attention to the company’s showcase event.
– William Regal will likely be the head trainer for the new Tough Enough.
– The New York Times published an article this week looking at former WWE CEO Linda McMahon’s political future and whether she will run for United States Senate again in 2012. Based on public comments she’s made in recent months, speculation from political pundits and the tremendous amount of personal wealth she still has (despite spending upwards of $50 million of her own money in her unsuccessful 2010 campaign), the New York Times thinks there’s still a strong chance of her giving it another shot. You can read the NYT piece at this link.
Earlier this week, Connecticut Senator Joseph Leiberman announced that he is retiring and will not be seeking another term in 2012. Linda McMahon posted the following statement on her official Facebook Page regarding Leiberman’s retirement and whether she will make another run for that job:
“Senator Lieberman announced today that he will not seek re-election. I believe he deserves our respect and appreciation for bringing a strong, independent and principled voice to Washington. Many people have asked me what my plans are. While running for the U.S. Senate in 2012 remains an option for me, I will spend …the next few months focusing on how I can best serve the people of Connecticut.”
– According to the WO, Jeff Hardy is expected to plead guilty to one or more drug charges tomorrow in what is believed to be a plea bargain case where other charges will be dropped and he will get a reduced sentence. Hardy agreed in November to plead guilty on certain charges. Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger had stated that the case would be finished in court tomorrow. Hardy faces charges of trafficking in opium, two counts of possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance, maintaining a dwelling to keep a controlled substance, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Krueger had stated Hardy would be pleading guilty to one or more charges. She would not comment on whether the plea would enable him to avoid jail time. TNA took its world title off Hardy at the Genesis PPV on 1/9, a show he was originally not booked to wrestle on. The rematch for the title will be taped on 1/31 in Orlando and air on 2/3.
– According to the WO, last Thursday on TNA iMPACT!, Amazing Red’s “little” brother (officially known as “Crimson”) put Abyss in a chokehold backstage and delivered a cryptic message to him: “They are coming.” “They” will mark the return of the Main Event Mafia and will consist of Kurt Angle and Scott Steiner, and possibly Sting, Kevin Nash and Booker T. “They” would initially feud with Immortal and Fortune. The angle begins on the February 3 iMPACT!.
Steiner returned to TNA at last Wednesday’s iMPACT! taping and participated in a cliff hanger ending. He donned a suit reminiscent of his time in the Main Event Mafia. Angle is penciled in for the group, and many within the organization expect Sting to be too. Many in TNA presume that Nash is on board for the group. However, he adamantly said last week on Twitter that he is not because he is retired. Internally, many believe Nash is kayfabing his absence from TNA, but those close to him indicate he’s legitimately retired.
Booker T’s status remains unknown at this point, other than he wasn’t believed to have signed as of last week. Some were pleased with his departure from the organization in October 2009 as there were complaints about his performance, attitude, refusal to put over Matt Morgan in a match, and his own admission that he was using the company as a way to audition for acting roles.
Bobby Lashley has been mentioned by those in TNA as a possible member of the group. However, those affiliated with the mixed martial artist don’t believe he’s returning to the wrestling organization. Lashley is currently a free agent as his contract with Strikeforce expired following his loss to Chad Griggs in August. The only thing of note he has done since then is work a wrestling match for the Japanese promotion Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) in September. He is not tentatively not scheduled for any upcoming shows.
– According to SLAM! Wrestling, “Kevin Nash is expected to return to (TNA Wrestling).” He is still listed on TNAWrestling.com’s roster section after his contract with the organization expired in October.
– Creative plans are in place for Matt Hardy to perform as the “cold blooded” alter-ego he introduced a few months ago on Twitter. He will be referred to as “Cold Blood” Matt Hardy. He said this week on Twitter that the persona is returning soon. The organization recently applied a wrestling-related trademark to the term “Cold Blood.”
– Sarita has signed a 2-year contract extension with TNA Wrestling. The Canadian women’s wrestler has been featured more prominently on TNA Wrestling programming in recent months, scoring victories over many of her peers in the Knockouts Division including Angelina Love, Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky. She recently, albeit unofficially, aligned herself with TNA Women’s Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne and Tara while becoming embroiled in a heated feud with Velvet Sky.
Sarita, who’s real name is Sarah Stock, initially signed a contract with TNA Wrestling in 2009 and vignettes hyping her debut began airing in June of that year. Success came early as alongside Taylor Wilde, the duo became the inaugural Knockout Tag Team Champions in September. The tandem dropped the belts on the January 4, 2010 edition of iMPACT! and were scarcely featured in the ensuing months. Sarita turned heel on Wilde in June and subsequently received a push of sorts on Xplosion. She resurfaced on iMPACT! in October and has since accumulated a number of wins. Sarita also competes for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) in Mexico, under the ring name Dark Angel.