– Grizzlies’ G O.J. Mayo was headed to Pacers in a last minute deal but the trade was nullified after it was revealed that it was submitted after the deadline, although there is word from the Pacers that the Grizzlies pulled out at the last minute–either way, the deal is dead. The trade would have sent Mayo to the Pacers while the Grizzlies would receive F Josh McRoberts and a 1st-round pick.
– The Blazers have acquired F Gerald Wallace from the Bobcats for F Joel Przybilla, F Dante Cunningham and two 1st-round picks. The Blazers had offered this kind of deal before, but the Bobcats were reluctant–the two two draft picks probably made the deal too good to pass up.
– The Rockets have traded G Aaron Brooks to the Suns for G Goran Dragic and a 1st-round draft pick. The Rockets had been actively shopping Brooks and finally landed him in Phoenix. He’ll struggle to find minutes, as the Suns are crowded at the 1-2.
– The Rockets have traded F Shane Battier and G Ishmael Smith to Memphis for F Hasheem Thabeet, F DeMarre Carroll and a 1st-round pick. Battier will be welcomed back with open arms in Memphis. Thabeet is still not ready to make a huge impact, but given Houston’s lack of a solidified centre, they might use him. The Grizz now have a bit of a logjam at the 2-3 positions.
– The Celtics have acquired F Jeff Green and F Nenad Krstic from the Thunder for F Kendrick Perkins and G Nate Robinson. The deal gives the Thunder the center and the backup point guard they’ve been looking for. Green’s value will likely take a hit unless the Celtics move Garnett to center.
– The Celtics are the frontrunners to land potential free agent F Troy Murphy.
– Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak confirmed Thursday that RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow) will undergo Tommy John surgery. TJS usually requires 12-18 months of rehab, so Wainwright won’t be back on a big league mound until the first half of next season, assuming he’s on schedule. The Cardinals will be able to void their $9M option for 2012 and $12M for 2013, so keep an eye on this situation. The club plans to look at a number of internal options to replace Wainwright in the starting rotation, including Kyle McClellan, Ian Snell, Lance Lynn, Brian Tallet and Miguel Batista, but they could also be in the mix for free agents Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Bonderman. In any event, it’s a collosal loss to the team, and it adds yet another dent against their chances of retaining Albert Pujols.
– At the direction of the Tigers and MLB, Tigers’ 1B Miguel Cabrera will enter professional behavioral counseling. The MLB is calling it a “multi-faceted, professionally administered program” and sent a press release out Thursday stating that any further alcohol-related issues “could involve more serious consequences” for Cabrera. He is expected to begin working out in camp on Friday. He spoke to the media Thursday afternoon in Tigers camp.
– Buster Olney of ESPN.com writes that the “more realistic timetable” for Indians’ OF Grady Sizemore (knee) to return is around April 15. That’s a pretty random date. The Indians have said that Sizemore could begin the season on the DL as a precautionary measure. The 28-year-old ran sprints this week for the first time since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee, but there’s no indication of when he’ll be ready for game action.
– White Sox’ RHP Jake Peavy (shoulder) said Thursday that he is “far ahead” of his own expectations. Peavy threw batting practice Wednesday with ease and had several successful bullpen sessions before that. He is slated to start the White Sox’s fifth exhibition game on March 4 against the Angels. “I’m far ahead of where I thought I would be at this point. But I can’t push it and I’ve got to be cautious.”
– Red Sox’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez (shoulder) took 36 swings off a tee on Thursday after taking the day off Wednesday. Manager Terry Francona said, “He’ll do the same thing again [Friday]. He’s building up volume as he goes. It’ll probably be 2-3 day increments and he did real well, tolerated everything.” A-Gone is making good progress, but Francona said there’s still no timetable for when he will be cleared for live batting practice or playing in spring training games.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com suspects that the Indians and RHP Chad Durbin will reach an agreement soon. The two sides have been talking recently and Heyman believes that a deal could be struck within the next day or two. Durbin, 33, posted a 3.86 ERA and 50/22 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings with the Phillies last season and should do well in a setup role for the Tribe.
– Athletics’ RHP Rich Harden (lat) is no longer feeling pain and is hoping to resume throwing soon. “It’s coming along. I want to get out there, but it’s on the trainers. I’m 100 percent pain-free.” The A’s wanted to shut him down for 2 weeks, but it sure sounds like he might get clearance to continue his throwing program this weekend. He’s trying to win the final spot in the A’s rotation.
– According to Dionisio Soldevila of the Associated Press, Orioles’ RHP Alfredo Simon’s appeal was rejected by a judge in the Dominican Republic. Simon could have be freed earlier this week, but that won’t be happening anytime soon. Simon was again denied bail and remains in police custody as the primary suspect in the New Year’s Eve shooting death of Michel Esteban Castillo Almonte. The Orioles placed him on the restricted list last week.
– Brewers’ C Jonathan Lucroy (fractured left pinkie finger) underwent successful surgery Thursday and is expected to miss 4 weeks. Doctors inserted a pin into Lucroy’s pinkie to stabilize it and allow for a quick healing process. The injury happened on his throwing hand, so the hope is that he will be able to resume catching bullpen sessions within the next few days. He’s questionable for Opening Day.
– The Senators have traded F Alexei Kovalev to the Penguins for a conditional 7th-round draft pick. If the Penguins win their opening round playoff series and Kovalev plays in at least 50% of the games, then the selection becomes a 6th-rounder. Kovalev has been a disappointment this season for the Sens, posting just 14 goals and 27 points in 54 games. Pittsburgh was expected to be active on the trade front, as their need for a sniper became glaring when the team became riddled with injuries. Kovalev is scheduled to be a UFA on July 1.
– The Lightning have dealt G Dan Ellis to the Ducks for G Curtis McElhinney. The Ducks’ current goaltending situation is a mess. Ellis lost his spot when the Bolts got Dwayne Roloson earlier this season and now he will get a chance to become the Ducks top netminder with Ray Emery his only competition while Jonas Hiller is out. Ellis is 13-7-6 this season with poor peripherals as his GAA is 2.93 and a .889 SV%.
– Penguins’ D Brooks Orpik (broken finger) blocked a shot with his hand against the Sharks and will miss 4 weeks. Losing Orpik’s toughness and shutdown presence will hurt the team.
– The Senators have claimed F Marek Svatos off waivers from the Predators. Svatos began the 2010-11 season with Avangard Omsk of the KHL, recording eight points (three goals, five assists) and 14 penalty minutes in 19 games. He returned to the NHL when he was claimed by Nashville from the Blues on December 29. In nine games with the Predators this season, he registered three points (one goal, two assists) and two penalty minutes.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, there are a few WrestleMania 27 (5 weeks away) updates:
Money In The Bank: There’s still no decisive word on whether WWE will be holding a Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania. While the company’s new Money In The Bank PPV that was introduced last year seems to be a reason not to hold the match at WrestleMania, the match is still seen as an effective way of including lots of mid-cart talent (guys like Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, Drew McIntyre and Christian) on the WrestleMania card. If WWE does not have Money in the Bank at WrestleMania, expect to see another multi-man match (such as a 10-man tag match) on the card.
WM27 Ticket Sales: WWE has already sold over 50,000 tickets for the Georgia Dome and company officials are confident they’ll sell the remainder of seats in time for the show.
Undertaker & Triple H: Triple H and The Undertaker have been given creative freedom with their WrestleMania program, with WWE’s writing team having very little input. Original plans called for the Undertaker to face Wade Barrett and Triple H to wrestle Sheamus, but Triple H and the Undertaker decided that a “dream match” between the two of them would be most marketable scenario.
HBK’s Involement: Shawn Michaels is still expected to be introduced into the Undertaker vs. Triple H storyline, possibly as a referee or ringside enforcer. The idea behind HBK’s involvement would be that Triple H is going to try to end Undertaker’s stream as payback for ending his best friend’s career.
Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler: Vince McMahon is loving this current storyline and has been feeding Michael Cole much of his on-air insults towards Lawler. It’s said that Vince is using Jerry Lawler’s feud with comedian Andy Kaufman and his inspiration for this angle.
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus: WWE officials are building towards a feud between Sheamus and United States Champion Daniel Bryan. They are expected to have a match for the title at WrestleMania 27.
Announcing Team: With WWE announcers Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole involved in a heated feud that will likely culminate at WrestleMania, it seems unlikely that the two of them will work side by side calling the show. There’s been talk that Jim Ross will be brought in to call the show, which would certainly give the show a “big time” feel.
– Monday’s episode of WWE RAW drew a 3.9 cable rating with 5,860,000 viewers – making it the highest rated RAW in a year and a half. The first hour drew a 3.85 (5.89 million viewers) and the second hour did a 3.85 (5.82 million viewers). This was the highest rated RAW since the September 7th, 2009 episode. In terms of viewers, this week’s show has the most average viewers since the post-SummerSlam RAW on August 24th, 2009. Monday’s RAW was the top ranked show of all cable TV for the night in total viewers and in male demographics. Overall, it looks like The Rock’s return the week before, the fallout of Elimination Chamber and the big reveal of 2/21/11 were enough to spike viewership interest.
– According to the PWI, there’s no word yet on when The Rock will make his next WWE television appearance, but company officials want to keep his presence special and do not want to overexpose him. That said, he will be on RAW at least one more time before WrestleMania to further his feud with John Cena and The Miz and give a final boost to the WrestleMania build.
– During an interview with Fighting Spirit Magazine, WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler said that his longtime friend Jim Ross will indeed return to WWE television in the near future.
“JR and I had some tremendous chemistry. But I don’t think you’ve seen the last of that. I think JR will be back on the air in some capacity. He’s too good not to utilise.
“A lot of people don’t realise what the situation is with him. He had a couple — I guess three now — real serious bouts of Bell’s Palsy, which is very similar in effects to a stroke. They don’t really know, but they think the attacks are brought on by stress. Nobody takes their job more seriously than good old JR.”
“The reason Vince has kept him off TV all this time is because he’s concerned with his health. He’s worried that if he puts him back out there regularly, he’ll have another Bell’s Palsy attack.”
Lawler also spoke about never wrestling at WrestleMania despite 17 years with the company – and why he may finally get his chance to wrestle on the biggest stage of them all.
“I’ve been with WWE for 17 years and that’s something I’ve never achieved. I remember in 2007, when Vince came to me and said they were going to induct me into the Hall of Fame, I said that I didn’t want to. He said: ‘What do you mean, you don’t want to?’ I replied: ‘Most people feel like your career is over when you go into the Hall of Fame, like in baseball or football or something. Also, I’ve never done that much here, Vince. I’ve never won a title, I’ve never even wrestled on a WrestleMania.’ He said: ‘What? You’ve never wrestled on a Wrestlemania in all the years you’ve been here? That’s a tragedy. We’ve got to fix that next year. “That was his mindset then, but things get put on the backburner. First 2008 came and I didn’t get a match, then 2009 came and I didn’t get a match, then 2010.
“But I must say that there’s never really been a point in time in those years when I’ve been involved as much as I have been as of late. So if there ever was a time for it to happen, I think this would be the most advantageous. And would I love to have a WrestleMania match? Oh boy, yes. Other than getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, that would maybe be the highlight of my career to finally get to perform there.”
– As Triple H continues to assume more duties behind the scenes in WWE, one area he’s been focusing on lately is recruiting new talent. Many people are interested to see what type of wrestlers Triple H sees as having future potential and whether his vision of what a superstar should be differs from Vince McMahon’s. Triple H is in favor of slowly developing talents and not calling them up to the main roster until they are fully ready.
– The Undertaker made his return to WWE on Monday’s RAW and will be working a WrestleMania program with Triple H, but the he will not be working a full-time schedule in the coming months. Shortly after WrestleMania 27, WWE will be headed back overseas for another European tour and the Dead Man is not currently scheduled to appear, despite being one of WWE’s top draws.
– WWE was said to be unhappy with the first batch of Tough Enough contestants that were chosen by Shed Media and the USA Network. Specifically, WWE reportedly did not like how so many well-known independent wrestlers were selected. The people who were in charge of casting were replaced by a guy who has previously worked closely with WWE producer Kevin Dunn.
– Chris Jericho announced today in Los Angeles that he will be the host of the Revolver Golden God Awards, airing on VH1 Classics on April 20th. Jericho’s band Fozzy will be performing that night and WWE Champion The Miz has been nominated for the “Most Metal Athlete” award.
– IGN.com has revealed the remaining characters who will be a part of the upcoming WWE All Stars video game. Here’s the complete roster:
Legends: Jimmy Snuka, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Shawn Michaels, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Ultimate Warrior, Mr. Perfect, Andre the Giant, Bret Hart, Eddie Guerrero, Hulk Hogan, Jake The Snake, Macho Man, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter.
Superstars: Big Show, CM Punk, Drew McIntyre, John Cena, John Morrison, Sheamus, The Miz, The Undertaker, Edge, Jack Swagger, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Triple H.
Downloadable Characters: Big Bossman, Chris Jericho, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Michael Hayes, Mark Henry, R-Truth, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes, Cody Rhodes, Hawk, Animal
Non-Playable Talent: Howard Finkel, Paul Bearer
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
– WWE held a press conference in Mexico City, Mexico on Thursday to announce that lucha libre superstar Mistico (real name Sin Cara) has signed with the company. The WWE website already features a bio on Mistico and several pictures from him wrestling in Mexico.
– During an interview with Peter Rosenberg, Hulk Hogan criticized WWE’s handling of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s return to WWE last week on Raw.
“They’ve spent so much time building John Cena up. There’s a way to really build somebody up, but all of a sudden within three or four seconds, he had the whole arena screaming that Cena sucks.”
“Sometimes I don’t understand the philosophy. John Cena is going to be there all the time. Even though The Rock said he’s back, he’s only back for one day. He’s not going to be there wrestling every single day like John Cena is, really holding it down and really keeping it real. All that stuff is scripted. They had Stephanie McMahon and the writers telling The Rock exactly what to say. I just didn’t understand why they would want to destroy Cena so quickly.”
– FOXSports.com is reporting that Jets’ LB Bart Scott, who got national attention during the NFL playoffs for cutting a pro wrestling style promo after a game, has signed a deal with TNA to appear at an Impact taping from Fayetteville, North Carolina.
– Angelina Pivarnivck, a former cast member of Jersey Shore, has signed a 2-appearance contract with TNA.
– Former WWE & TNA wrestler Bobby Lashley spoke with ProMMANow.com this week. The highlights:
PRO MMA NOW: You along with guys like Brock Lesnar and Batista have made the jump to MMA from professional wresting. Do you ever talk to those guys any?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I haven’t talked to Brock. You know I’ve never really talked to Brock. When I went to WWE he was already out so our paths have never crossed so I’ve never even met him or even talked to him. Then as far as Dave Batista, we were pretty good friends when we were in the WWE but when we came out of the WWE, when he went into his fight deal, I think that his target was kind of set on that big fight and that big fight was supposed to be against me. So I think our relationship kind of went two different directions and I think the reason why he was wanting to do that was because he was wanting to use me as his big match and I think that’s what Strikeforce is really hoping for if they have that match with me against Dave. I haven’t really talked to him since I’ve been out of the WWE or since he’s been out of the WWE.
PRO MMA NOW: You’ve said in the past that while a fight between you and Batista might be a good fight for the fans, it wasn’t really a good fight for your career. Do you still feel that way, and are you open to a fight with him at some point in the future?
BOBBY LASHLEY: I’m open to a fight with almost anyone and Dave has been training. I’ve heard that he’s been training pretty hard and if that fight were presented I would definitely take it. Of course it is a fight for a lot of wrestling fans because a lot of wrestling fans out there want to see that fight. There are millions upon millions of wrestling fans, but I’m not going to decline that fight. If that fight were ever brought to me I would definitely sign in a second and fight him. That’s the way the fight business is. You have to fight so whoever is brought to you that is who you are going to be fighting.
PRO MMA NOW: Do you ever see yourself at any point going back to professional wrestling?
BOBBY LASHLEY: Man, I love professional wrestling. Some people get out of professional wrestling and they’re real bitter for several different reasons. I don’t know, maybe it’s the travel, maybe it’s the people that you encounter when you are in the wrestling business, but for me I loved wrestling when I was in there. It was very time consuming and it was hard at the time when you were just thrust into an organization and there are a lot of really shady people in wrestling. I mean I dealt with them on a daily basis. But that’s not going to stop the fact that I love the sport. If I had an opportunity to go back to wrestling I would definitely consider it. I still do some wrestling. I go to Japan every couple months and I work with an organization out there with Inoki’s organization IGF (Inoki Genome Federation). So I still get that taste of wrestling going out there and working out with those guys. At the same time, there are usually a handful of fighters there. Like last time Josh Barnett was there so I was able to work out a little bit there and do some MMA training and then have the show. I’m completely open to professional wrestling anytime.
– The New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Mike Triplett does not expect the Saints to release RB Reggie Bush before the end of the league year on March 4. “From all indications, they’ll wait and work on possible extension or restructure.” Bush knows the Saints won’t pay his $11.8M base salary, and both sides appear willing to meet halfway.
– ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports free agent TE Jeremy Shockey “took and passed” a physical for the Dolphins Thursday. The Titans may not be interested, but both sides are tangoing in Miami despite GM Jeff Ireland’s statements to the contrary earlier in the day. The match doesn’t make much sense, but his resume may be enough to get Shockey into a Dolphins uniform for 2011.
– The Panthers have signed franchise player C Ryan Kalil to a 1-year contract. Kalil was happy to be tagged, and he reportedly signed the paperwork on Wednesday. Per NFL Network’s Albert Breer, the Players Association insists that it hasn’t given up fighting the franchise tag designation. Four-year players such as Kalil wouldn’t earn more than $4M as restricted free agents, so they’re doing well to sign franchise tenders for roughly $10M.
– The Dolphins have applied the franchise tag to NT Paul Soliai. Soliai is the perfect candidate for a 1-year franchise tag after a breakout season. He may be overpaid at $12.381M under the tag, but the Dolphins were against the wall– Soliai would cash in as a 3-4 run-blocker if he tested the market. Soliai was the anchor on a shutdown run defense that was second only to the Steelers over the final two months of the season.
– The Raiders applied the franchise tag to SLB Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley and his agent claimed the Raiders’ $3.5M “buy-back” was against the 30% rule, but the NFL management council and NFLPA okay-ed it. Rather than letting their leading sacker hit the open market, so they’ve shelled out $10.191M. Wimbley graded out as Pro Football Focus’ top 4-3 outside linebacker, so the Raiders were smart to do what it takes to hang on to him.
– Colts’ president Bill Polian expressed confidence Thursday that WR Austin Collie (concussions) will continue his playing career. “I don’t know if you can say that until he gets on the field and actually plays. (But) all the signs are positive.” Collie suffered at least three concussions in 2010, landing on I.R. in December. He’s a highly effective player when healthy, but another concussion could end his career.
– Raiders’ LB Stanford Routt’s 3-year deal is worth $31.5M, including $20M over the first two years. They ridiculously overbid with only themselves as potential suitors.
– Broncos’ coach John Fox told reporters at the Combine Thursday that QB Kyle Orton is his starting quarterback “right now.” Fox did say he won’t establish a starter “until later,” and that he’s “interested to see how (Tim Tebow) looks.” Said Fox of Orton, “As far as I’m concerned, he’s under contract and he’s the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.” Fox also downplayed trade possibilities. Orton is due to make $7.4M for 2011.
– Dolphins’ GM Jeff Ireland referred to QB Chad Henne as his “starter” during Thursday’s Combine press conferences. Henne is the clear-cut favourite to enter the 2011 season atop the Dolphins’ QB depth chart. The Fins won’t have a shot at one of the elite quarterbacks at No. 15 overall, so barring an unlikely trade up, they’ll have to wait for the 3rd-round to select a developmental backup.