– Magic’ F Dwight Howard met with team officials on Wednesday, reiterating his trade request and stated that he will not sign an extension to stay with the team. RealGM reports that Howard has outlined three scenarios to the Magic: an immediate trade to the Lakers; a January trade to the Nets; or simply letting him walk at season’s end. According to Yahoo! Sports, “Dwight remained unchanged in his desire to be traded and has no intention of signing another contract or extension in Orlando,” an unnamed source said of Howard’s mindset. The Lakers are expected to resume negotiations soon, and Howard remains open to re-signing with them after the conclusion of his current deal. Stay tuned.
– The reported three-team trade between the Suns, Hornets and Wolves has “significant issues” to resolve before it can happen. The three teams involved have all agreed to the structure of the deal, which appears to be the following: F Robin Lopez and F Hakim Warrick to the Hornets; F Wesley Johnson, F Brad Miller’s contract and a lottery-protected 1st-round pick to the Suns; and at least F Jerome Dyson to the Wolves. Suns’ president Lon Babby called the deal “50-50″ to happen. If the deal is rejected, Lopez would accept his qualifying contract offer and remain with the Suns–but if it goes through, he’ll receive a 3-year/$15.3M deal from the Hornets.
Meanwhile, the Wolves and F Andrei Kirilenko are reportedly finalizing a 2-year/$20M contract, with the second year a player option. The signing is contingent on the three-way trade happening. AK-47 is coming off an MVP season in the EuroLeague.
– Lakers’ F Andrew Bynum’s agent spoke with the team on Wednesday about a possible contract extension for his client. Bynum averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season. The Lakers have stated their intention to keep him long-term, but he may have to be moved in order to acquire Dwight Howard. Stay tuned.
– Celtics’ G Avery Bradley (shoulders) is unsure if he’ll be ready for training camp. Bradley had offseason surgery on both shoulders and it was previously speculated that he could miss the beginning of the 2012-13 season. “I don’t know anything. They just want me to get healthy. They don’t really give me time frames.” GM Danny Ainge said “we know there’s a possibility that Avery won’t be able to play the first month of the season.”
– According to F4WOnline, with The Rock announcing on Monday’s RAW that he’ll be wrestling for the WWE Championship at next year’s Royal Rumble, the current working plan is for The Rock to win the WWE Championship at the Rumble (likely from a heel CM Punk) and then go on to defend against John Cena at WrestleMania 29. Despite Rock & Cena’s WrestleMania 28 match being hyped as “Once In a Lifetime,” Cena winning the Royal Rumble could set up a scenario where a rematch would take place. In addition, CM Punk’s surprise heel turn at Monday’s RAW 1,000 was the big “summer storyline” that WWE has been planning for quite some time.
– According to F4WOnline, The Undertaker was said to be very relaxed backstage at RAW 1,000. He is currently scheduled to return to WWE storylines around Survivor Series in November.
– Various news outlets reported Wednesday that sources close to Stone Cold Steve Austin say it’s unlikely that he’ll ever compete in a wrestling match again as a result of multiple injuries. A Twitter user asked the WWE Hall of Famer about the rumour. Austin responded, “If I decide to wrestle/not wrestle you will hear it from ME Not a dirt sheet and damn sure not from bleacher report.”
– As reported earlier this week, Monday’s 1,000th RAW celebration did a 3.86 overall rating with 6.04 million viewers, WWE’s best-ever rating for a 3-hour RAW. The final two hours, RAW’s old timeslot, did a a 4.03 rating and 6.31 million viewers. Here’s a breakdown of the show’s ratings:
The open segment featuring an appearance from Vince McMahon and the DX reunion did 5.58 million viewers, a very strong showing for the typically-weak first hour of 3-hour broadcasts. In another surprising development, the second quarter hour then gained another 27,000 viewers. The six-man with Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho and the Charlie Sheen interview lost 395,000 viewers.
Brodus Clay squashing Jack Swagger and the backstage segment with WWE Legends gained back 326,000 viewers. Daniel Bryan & AJ’s wedding at the top of hour two was the huge ratings winner for the night, gaining 616,000 viewers (3.91 rating). The Rock’s appearance with Punk & Daniel Bryan in the ring gained 575,000 viewers for a 4.28 quarter rating.
The Miz defeating Christian for the Intercontinental championship lost 895,000 viewers, losing the previous segments’ big spike in viewership.
The SummerSlam Challenge segment featuring Triple H, Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon gained 334,000 viewers. Brock Lesnar’s brawl with Triple H gained 90,000 more viewers. Heath Slater’s Legends segment gained 25,000 viewers for a 3.99 quarter rating in a timeslot that usually loses a lot of viewers.
The Undertaker’s return with Kane gained 293,000 viewers. WWE Champion CM Punk vs. John Cena with The Rock and Big Show appearing gained 389,000 viewers and peaked the show with a 4.43 overrun rating.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Kelly Kelly’s relationship with WWE remains strained. Some people in WWE expected her to return at RAW 1,000 and be back full time, but she did as of the weekend, she had not informed WWE of a time when she was going to come back or any future plans asking for more time off.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, former WWE Diva Kia Stevens (aka Kharma) revealed on Twitter this week that she was recently released by the company. Sources in WWE indicate that she had a reputation for being difficult to work with and was stubborn about different suggestions to modify her character. Another big issue was her weight. She had been training in Florida and did lose weight, but was still not where WWE wanted her to be.
– According to F4WOnline, Dolph Ziggler continues to build his reputation as the best bump taker in WWE. Ziggler is the person who comes up with most of his scary looking bumps, including the spot at Money In The Bank where Tensai threw him into the announcer’s table and he landed upsidedown on one of the chairs.
– According to F4WOnline, despite the ratings success of Monday’s RAW 1,000 show, virtually nobody in WWE is excited about the show expanding to 3 hours on a weekly basis.
– According to F4WOnline, WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race was backstage for RAW 1,000 but not used. There were many more Legends backstage at RAW 1,000 than actually made it on to television.
– After gaining momentum in late-2011 with a United States Championship reign, Zack Ryder’s standing in WWE disintegrated once he became involved with Kane and Eve on television. From January to April, the“Long Island Iced-Z” was crushed by the Big Red Machine and embarrassed in his attempts to chase Eve romantically. Though he managed to gain a measure of revenge on both parties on the “Great American Bash” edition of SmackDown on July 3, his career currently remains in limbo. Speaking to XFINITY® from Comcast, Ryder attributes his diminished role to both Kane and Eve.
“I was on such a roll at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 and the whole Kane and Eve thing killed my momentum. Basically killed my career. So, to turn that around and get revenge on them was something I needed. Hopefully it’ll get the Ryder Revolution back on track.”
With that behind him, Ryder says his current goal is to regain the United States Championship.
“I’d love to get that back. In 2011 I think I proved to people that I’m not a joke, I can be taken seriously in the ring. And hopefully by the end of this year I’ll have a major championship.”
Ryder also has plans to tweak his character in the next few years since he “can’t be the same old guy forever.”
“But that doesn’t mean I’ll have to drop all of the parts of my character to get to the top. I think eventually I’ll evolve. If you’ve followed my career I was a Major Brother, then an Edge Head, now I’m Zack Ryder, I’m sure in three years I’ll be completely different.”
– Once a promising talent in WWE’s midcard scene, Alex Riley’s role in the company has been greatly curtailed since last year. According to PWInsider.com, the Raw Superstar is in the doghouse stemming from a hostile backstage encounter with John Cena. Cena was reportedly poking fun at Riley in front of their wrestler peers, and in response, the Raw talent angrily reacted to Cena’s “rib”—a violation of the unspoken rules of the WWE locker room. Though Riley’s exact actions are not known at this time, his unfavourable reaction to Vince McMahon’s pride and joy was not considered a good move. Kenn Doane, who appeared as Kenny of the Spirit Squad and Kenny Dykstra for WWE from 2006 to 2008, weighed in on the matter after claiming last month that Cena’s backstage politics sabotaged his once promising grappling career. He tweeted,
“Cena acts stupid to riley, riley calls him on it, loses push. This must be a lie! Lmao #ibelieve.”
– Lilian Garcia’s new, extended play (EP) album will be officially released on August 19, the same date as SummerSlam and the SmackDown ring announcer’s birthday. The six track follow-up to her 2007 premiere album, ¡Quiero Vivir, will be primarily English based, with five of the songs being produced by Grammy-Nominated Producer Oh, Hush! and one by Grammy-Award winners George Noriega and Tim Mitchell. Among the tracks will be a remake of Coldplay’s “Fix You.”
“It’s really exciting for me to be back with the WWE Universe. They have always embraced me musically, whether with the honor of singing ‘America the Beautiful’ or integrating the next big step in my music career.”
– WWE Superstars answer your sports questions on the latest episode of WWE Inbox.
– The Flyers have signed RFA F Jakub Voracek to a 4-year/$17M contract. Voracek, 22, scored 18 goals and 49 points in 78 games with the Flyers last season.
– F Fabian Brunnstrom has signed a 3-year contract with the Swedish Elite League’s Frolunda. Brunnstrom told HockeyExpressen.se, ”The NHL will always be the goal. I will always strive to be as good as possible as a player.” He has 19 goals and 41 points in 104 career NHL contests.
– NHL owners sent out an “expanded” proposal to the NHLPA on Wednesday, covering some of the lesser issues in the negotiation. While the two sides remain far from a deal, the players and owners are expected to finish off the week of negotiations by hammering out some of the smaller issues in the new CBA. These include: “grievances, training camp procedures, medical care, methods of communication, roster moves and injuries.” Commissioner Gary Bettman called these topics the “nuts and bolts proposals.” The NHLPA expects the full counterproposal will be presented relatively soon.
– Predators’ D Shea Weber insists that he’s committed to staying in Nashville. His agent, Jarrett Bousquet suggested that his client didn’t want to go through another rebuilding process. Weber responded, “I guess that was (agent Jarrett Bousquet’s) feelings. Like I said, I was never a part of any of that. I didn’t make any statements publicly. I love the city of Nashville. I love the fans and my teammates. It’s a very positive thing that the ownership has stepped up and shown they’re going to be a team that’s going to spend to the cap and bring guys in and be a successful team.”
– New Rangers’ F Rick Nash expressed excitement about playing with his new team.
“I don’t think it’s all digested just yet. It’s been a bit crazy. I’m excited. I’m excited to meet all the staff here, all the people and some of the players. Just kind of look forward to training camp.”
“Vinny just texted me an hour ago and I talked to him before that when we were in Columbus, training together. He loved it here. He said it was one of the best parts of his career playing here and he loves (Tortorella). My understanding is that he is very demanding and a tough guy to play for. He preaches hard work and that’s what you expect from a coach. That’s what you want.”
“The main thing was looking at the (Rangers), looking at what they did over the last couple of years, something that I loved to be a part of and to help them out,” Nash said. “Hockey is truly a passion here, where they expect a championship-calibre team. They’ve done everything they can as an organization to put that together.”
– The Canucks and F Dale Weise avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a 1-year contract. Weise, 23, registered four goals, eight points and 81 penalty minutes in 68 games with the Canucks during the 2011-12 season.
– The Senators have re-signed F Stephane Da Costa to a 1-year/2-way contract. Da Costa, 23, began the 2011-12 season with the Senators recording three goals, five points and eight penalty minutes over 22 contests before being assigned to the Binghamton Senators on November 27.
– The Stars have signed D Jordie Benn to a 1-year contract. The 24-year-old Benn, the older brother of Stars’ F Jamie Benn, had two assists in three games for Dallas last season.
– According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, at least one team has expressed interest in Cubs’ OF Alfonso Soriano. Soriano, 36, has a .918 OPS and 19 home runs in 70 games since May 1. They’ll likely need to eat almost all of his $42M remaining salary.
– ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the Phillies are trying to trade OF Shane Victorino for bullpen help. Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Wednesday afternoon that the Reds turned down an offer of Victorino for RHP Logan Ondrusek. The Dodgers are known to have some interest in Victorino.
– According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, rival executives believe the Phillies will begin considering trade offers for LHP Cliff Lee. Lee has 3-years/$87.5M left on his contract, and are trying to clear some payroll for next season. The 33-year-old has a 2.52 career ERA in postseason play.
– Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin confirmed Thursday that he’s looking to trade RHP Zack Greinke. The Brewers tried to work out an extension with the impeding free agent, but talks didn’t get very far. He told Milwaukee’s WTMJ, ”We’re taking phone calls. We’ve been working here. I’m in the office in the ‘war room’ already.” Greinke has a 3.44 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 122/28 K/BB ratio in 123 innings this season.
– Blue Jays’ C J.P. Arencibia (fractured right hand) will miss the next 6 weeks. The injury occurred when Arencibia took a foul tip off the hand. He was batting .321/.345/.736 with six home runs in July.
– According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Padres are preparing a 1-year extension for RHP Huston Street with an option for 2014. Street has expressed interest in re-signing with San Diego.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Reds have “kicked the tires” on Twins’ OF Denard Span but “have yet to enter formal discussions with the Twins.” The Reds are looking for a leadoff man, but Rosenthal suggets Phillies’ OFs Shane Victorino or Juan Pierre are more realistic options. Span’s deal runs through 2015 if his option is picked up.
– Rays’ 3B Evan Longoria (hamstring) will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham. He’ll be limited to DH duties at first, and is likely to spend a full week down on the farm. Longoria has been out since May 1 with a partially torn hamstring.
– Rangers’ RHP Colby Lewis (right elbow) will have season-ending surgery Friday morning. Lewis finishes with a 3.43 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 93/14 K/BB ratio in 105 innings this year.
– Rockies’ 3B Chris Nelson (heart) was cleared to begin working out on Wednesday evening by a cardiologist. Nelson, 26, will do light cardio work for about five days before progressing to baseball-related activities. He had to undergo an emergency procedure in mid-July to shock his heartbeat back into rhythm and has been on the DL since.
– Jaguars’ RB Maurice Jones-Drew will not report to training camp Thursday, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Owner Shad Khan is on record stating that he has no intention of re-working the final two years of the 5-year/$31M contract MJD signed back in 2009. Stay tuned.
– Jets’ CB Darrelle Revis reported to Jets camp on time Thursday. He’ll play out this season on his $4.5M base salary and then push for a new deal before next season.
– The Patriots have released RB Joseph Addai, 29. New England will move forward with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Danny Woodhead at halfback.
– Lions’ RB Jahvid Best (concussions) has still not been cleared for contact. Per head coach Jim Schwartz, “there is still a hurdle to go” before Best gets the OK from trainers. Best’s last concussion was sustained nine months ago.
– A league source tells Profootballtalk.com that Jets’ T Jeff Otah (knee, back) will be sent back to the Panthers if he doesn’t pass his physical within a week. Otah was placed on active/PUP Wednesday after failing his initial physical. Per PFT’s Darin Gantt, the Jets/Panthers trade was contingent on Otah passing a physical “in the next seven days, or else he goes back to Carolina.” The Jets would then get back their conditional 7th-round pick.
– The Seahawks have signed C Max Unger to a multi-year extension. Unger, 26, was a 2nd-round pick in 2009. He started 15 games in 2011, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 17 overall center.
– Cardinals’ QB Kevin Kolb took the first quarterback rep of Cardinals training camp Wednesday. The Arizona Republic’s Kent Somers expects Kolb and QB John Skelton to “switch daily” as they battle it out for the starting job in camp. Kolb remains the favourite for Week 1.
– Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin held a press conference Wednesday and addressed unsigned RFA WR Mike Wallace’s holdout. “We’ve been in negotiations with him. He’s not here today. It’s unfortunate for him. One thing that experience has taught me is that this is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than Mike, it’s bigger than me, so I mean that when I say it’s unfortunate for him that he’s not here.” The Steelers have cut off contract talks with Wallace until he caves and signs his 1-year restricted tender.
– Steelers’ RB Rashard Mendenhall (ACL surgery) opened Steelers camp on active/PUP. Mendenhall tore his right ACL on January 1, and both coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert have talked about leaving him on reserve/PUP, which would cost Mendenhall the first six regular season games.
– The Packers have released SS Charlie Peprah. Peprah received a $50K workout bonus in the spring and was due only $1M in base salary. Peprah missed all of OTA season with knee injuries. A 14-game starter in 2011, Peprah intercepted five passes and recorded 94 tackles.
– To add more confusion to Velvet Sky’s contractual status with TNA Wrestling, the popular female grappler’s profile was removed from the company website’s roster index Wednesday and promptly placed back after word spread online. Since TNA rarely acknowledges talent departures, a profile removal from the roster page of ImpactWrestling.com generally indicates a parting of ways. On the other hand, Ric Flair remains listed as a member of the active roster after TNA terminated his contract on May 11, 2012, according to court documents filed in their lawsuit against WWE for interference with existing contracts. The page edit comes on the heels of multiple online outlets reporting earlier this week that she was on her way out of the company due to a contract dispute. Sky, who has been with TNA since the inception of the Knockouts division in October 2007, last appeared for the organization at a BaseBrawl event in Memphis, Tennessee on July 14. She is presently booked for a Legends of the Ring convention in Monroe, New Jersey the same weekend that TNA holds its annual Bound for Glory festivities. She has tweeted recently about holding a “Beautiful People” reunion tour outside of TNA auspices with Angelina Love, who recently left the company.
– Matt Morgan continues to suggest via Twitter that he will not return to TNA Wrestling after reportedly fulfilling his contractual obligations with the organization last month. When asked when he will return to Impact Wrestling, he replied, “I’d say somewhere in between NEVER and EVER.” He then responded “sooner vs. later” in regards to appearing on any television show again. In response to a potential return to WWE, he once again wrote, “Tick-Tock…..”
– Glamour model-turned-breakout-wrestling star Reby Sky was asked on Twitter whether she would be interested in joining WWE at this time and responded, “I’m truly happy where I’m at right now #LivingTheDream.”
Prior to becoming a professional wrestler, Sky was forced to reject an opportunity offer from WWE due to her contract with Lucha Libre USA as their MTV2 program hostess. Sky also responded to people criticizing her in-ring ability after a year-plus of training:
“Love how people try to insult me with “You have nothing on [insert female wrestler here]“. I’m not trying to have anything “on” anyone. I’m trying to be the best that I can be. Emphasis on “I”. Trying to compare me to people who have been in the business for 200 yrs is ridiculous. Keep your sh*t in perspective. I’m busting my as$ and – to be honest – very content with where I’m at in my training.”