– Clippers’ F Blake Griffin won the Sprite Slam Dunk contest, edging out Wizards’ F JaVale McGee after jumping over a car in the final round. The presentation was solid, but he really only jumped over the hood. With a choir and Kenny Smith marking out, he easily got a 50. McGee’s night of dunks was great, while Thunder’ F Serge Ibaka and Raptors’ F DeMar DeRozan were also well done.
– Knicks’ owner James Dolan could execute a trade for Carmelo Anthony as soon as Saturday, according to Frank Isola of the NY Daily News. Isola reports that Dolan has taken over the trade discussions and is ready to overrule Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni, who Isola says are not in favour of the trade. This trade could become official at any time. Dolan met with Melo on Thursday and the teams had a conference call on Friday, and it’d be a shock if Melo wasn’t a Knick before the trading deadline. The Knicks’ offer is simply too good in relation to what the Nuggets’ leverage really is. After Melo’s trade pops, expect trades to pick up quickly around the league.
In addition, Anthony has reportedly told friends that he will not sign an extension if he’s traded to the Nets, who are scheduled to meet with Melo on Saturday night, according to Frank Isola. Apparently, nothing has changed, as Melo remains dead set on not signing with the Nets. This likely means their deal is dead, and puts the Knicks as the sole team in the running for him. The Nets and Nuggets could still complete a deal without Melo’s blessing, but it’s very unlikely considering Melo would simply walk away for free on July 1. It’s also possible that Melo could change his mind if talks with the Knicks break down, but for now, it doesn’t look like the Nets have much of a shot at getting him.
Now, NBATV has reported that the Nuggets are now more inclined to add F Timofey Mozgov and F Landry Fields to their deal with the Knicks, rather than F Danilo Gallinari. It seems the Nuggets prefer the Nets’ standing offer, but Mikhail Prokhorov won’t make the deal without assurances from Melo that he’ll sign an extension. New York’s latest offer seems more than generous, given the Nuggets’ lack of real leverage, yet Denver continues to play hard to get. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Prokhorov released a statement on Saturday that he hasn’t met with Anthony and has no plans to do so. Prokhorov advised his team’s management to “walk away” from the Melo negotiations back in January, and hasn’t changed his mind. You can almost certainly count the Nets out of the running now.
– The Warriors and Nets have reportedly discussed a trade that would send F Dan Gadzuric and F Brandan Wright to New Jersey in exchange for F Troy Murphy and a 2nd-round pick. The deal would be irrelevant to the outcome of the Carmelo Anthony trade talks. The deal isn’t imminent and “would probably occur much closer to [Thursday's trade deadline],” but there’s a good chance that the Warriors would buy out Murphy’s contract before he ever reported. Warriors GM Larry Riley said that any deal for Murphy would go through New Jersey to get rebounding help or draft picks. Murphy spent the first six years of his career in the Bay Area.
– Cavaliers’ F LeBron James, the NBPA’s executive team, and a few big name players met with the owners for a bargaining meeting on Friday, and James reportedly had some pointed words for them. A person paraphrasing LBJ’s message in the meeting said, “This has been a 57% system for years. This has been a system with guaranteed contracts forever. What did you guys expect? What did you think you were getting into?” Until the owners offer details as to why they want such drastic changes, the NBA is could realistically face a lockout. Stay tuned.
– Wizards’ G John Wall was the MVP of the Rookie-Sophomore game on Friday, racking up a record 22 assists to go with 12 points, and former Kentucky Wildcat teammate DeMarcus Cousins also added 33 points with 14 rebounds as the Rookies took down the Sophomores by the score of 148-140. Clippers’ F Blake Griffin took an accidental elbow to the nose, but was fine and scored 14 points. Wolves’ F Wesley Johnson scored 25 points, while Spurs’ F DeJuan Blair scored 28 points with 15 boards. Hornets’ F James Harden scored 30 points as he replaced injured Kings’ G Tyreke Evans (foot).
– The Avalanche have acquired D Erik Johnson, F Jay McClement and a conditional 2011 or 2012 1st-round pick from the Blues for F Chris Stewart, F Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional 2011 or 2012 2nd-round pick. The Blues’ 1st-rounder is top-10 protected, meaning if they land a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, the 1st-rounder becomes a 2012 pick. Stewart has 13-17-30 in 36 games this season. Shattenkirk, 22, currently ranks second among all rookie defenceman with 7-19-26. Johnson has 5-14-19 in 55 games this season and immediately becomes Colorado’s top defender. At 22, still has plenty of time to develop into a solid defenceman. McClement, 27, has 6-10-16 in 56 games.
– The Oilers have placed D Sheldon Souray on re-entry waivers. Should he be claimed, the Oilers would pay half of what’s left on Souray’s $4.5M contract this year. He’s also due another $4.5M next season before becoming a UFA. Souray has spent the entire season in the AHL’s Hershey Bears. After requesting a trade this past offseason, Edmonton told the defenceman not to come to training camp. He was then loaned to the Washington Capitals’ minor league affiliate in Hershey.
– According to report, the Leafs have begun to shop F Phil Kessel. GM Brian Burke, however, insists on them being false. Stay tuned.
– Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion) is still suffering from post-concussion symptoms. It’s becoming worrysome that he’s been hurt for the past 7 weeks, and with minimal progress being made, his season remains in jeopardy. Stay tuned.
– The Rangers are looking to acquire an offensive defenceman.
– Predators’ F Jordin Tootoo has been cleared to play again in the NHL. He will continue to follow up with the Substance Abuse Program. It is unclear what the Predators plan to do with Tootoo at this point.
– Rangers’ F Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder) is just 7-10 days away from returning to the lineup.
– Penguins’ F Arron Asham (concussion) has been diagnosed. He’s been sidelined since February 1, and won’t be cleared to workout until his post-concussion symptoms subside.
– Commissioner Gary Bettman told a news conference at Edmonton’s Rexall Place on Saturday that the Oilers are running out of time to keep the team in Alberta, and that he’s already been through one campaign to keep the team in the city and doesn’t want to have to go through a second. Bettman says Rexall Place is no longer adequate for the team’s needs and the Oilers won’t stay in the building. Daryl Katz, who owns the team, is currently in negotiations with the city to build a new downtown arena. The Katz group is committing $200M to the project, and is hoping to secure another $125M from the city as well as $100M from other levels of government. The team’s lease at Rexall ends in 2014.
“This building is obviously outdated, and for this city to continue to attract concerts, family shows conventions, having a new state of the art arena is important. Equally as important is this team. The Edmonton Oilers has to have a new arena. There is not a question about it. They are not going to stay in this building.”
“You’re going to need a new arena, it’s that simple. It’s not a threat by any means. It’s a reality.”
– The Tigers confirmed Saturday that 1B Miguel Cabrera will be assessed by doctors to address his alcohol abuse issues before he reports to the team. GM Dave Dombrowski said there was no timetable for Cabrera’s return, but that he wouldn’t appear in camp “in the next couple of days.” Doctors under MLB’s direction will evaluate and could place him in a program. “I don’t set the program. The regular season is a ways away. Most are 30-day programs.” The Tigers expect to know more by the middle of next week. Cabrera is still being penciled into the Opening Day lineup at the moment, but if he’s unable to play until the end of March, then he might sit out the first week or so of the regular season. His treatment for this is far more important than baseball.
– Astros’ OF Hunter Pence won his arbitration case against the Astros and will earn a $6.9M salary this season. The Astros had won three straight arbitration meetings over the past few seasons. It was his second year of arbitration eligibility, as he earned $3.5M last season as a Super Two player. Pence is coming off a season where he batted .282/.325/.461 with 25 homers and a career-high 91 RBI.
– An MRI on Twins’ LHP Francisco Liriano (shoulder) showed no structural damage. Liriano was scratched from his Friday bullpen session due to tightness in the shoulder. Though it wasn’t believed to be serious, the fact that he needed an MRI means that it wasn’t regular spring training soreness. He will be re-examined Sunday and start playing catch within the next three days if all goes well.
– Giants’ 3B Pablo Sandoval officially lost 38 pounds over the offseason while reducing his body fat percentage from 30 to 19. He still weighs 240 pounds, which is a lot for someone standing at 5’11″. Ethan Banning, who coordinated his offseason conditioning regimen, said, “That’s not Mr. Universe, but it’s a long way from where he was.” His better conditioning and focus should lead to improved on-field results.
– Adam Caplan of Fox Sports says the “chances of the Colts re-signing RB Joseph Addai are probably much less than 50-50.” Caplan says that 1st-round pick RB Donald Brown will be the new starting tailback. Brown, however, has yet to prove he can stay healthy or go for over 4.0 YPC, and Indy will certainly look to pair him with a veteran back next season.
– Bengals’ LT Andrew Whitworth believes QB Carson Palmer is still “serious” about his request to be traded. Whitworth says his quarterback “wouldn’t speak out unless it was something he was serious about.” To date, the Bengals have given no indication that they will honor Palmer’s demand. He has threatened to retire if he’s not dealt, but Cincy intends to call his bluff.
– Austin Aries, the only two-time ROH World Champion, hinted yesterday on Twitter that his wrestling career may be coming to an end following a recent setback. Aries, at 32 years of age and 5’9″, was among the most notable wrestlers bypassed for Tough Enough.
“Apparently not big, young, or tough enough. While it’s been amazing, the AA chapter of my life may be coming to an end very soon.”
–Isis the Amazon, who participated in a tryout match for TNA Wrestling earlier this week, posted numerous messages on her Twitter account yesterday dismissing the report that she upset those in the locker room with her conduct backstage. According to the PWT, the organization’s female performers collectively made it clear at this week’s television tapings that they would not work with her if she is signed, citing her poor attitude.
“Heat comes & goes. Even if I had it, why would I care? All that matters is that I give what I do 110% & have a positive attitude,” she wrote in response to a message that she has “heat” amongst the locker room.
“I don’t ever pay attention to dirt sheets. They’re there b/c average people live average, boring lives & need a target like me for amusement & a cheap laugh. I’m not putting it over & I’m don’t talking about them, IE giving them credit. F*** ‘em.”
Lisa Marie Varon (aka Tara) spoke out in defense of Isis, saying she didn’t upset the locker room, and that she’s a total sweetheart. Isis also commented on her wrestling ability drawing unflattering comparisons to The Great Khali. She said that Tommy Dreamer, who also works as a producer, told her she has a lot of potential.
“People can say what they want. When a guy like Tommy Dreamer who had worked closely with the Great Khali comes up to you & tells you that you have mass amounts of potential, I’d focus on that as motivation over some stupid dirt sheet talking s***,” she said. “My name is still coming out their mouths for a f****** reason- NEVER forget that. So long as I’m doing what I need to be doing, everyone else trying to bring me down can “suck it”.
Company sources indicate Isis garnered major heat amongst the locker room due how she carried herself at the events, as if she is already a “big star” in the wrestling industry. One TNA employee said,
“I’ve never seen a guy or a girl rub the locker room this much the wrong way.”
Meanwhile, Matt Hardy similarly dismissed a report indicating that he upset his peers by taking credit for the recent TNA Impact ratings surge coinciding with his arrival to the organization.
“GIVE ME THE HEAT! Backstage Heat On Matt Hardy Over Twitter Comments.”
He then changed his tune on the subject, writing today that only “inaccurate scumsheets” say he’s arrogant with his boastful remarks on Twitter, not his fellow wrestlers.