Truth & Rumors: Dec. 14, 2004
Posted: Tuesday December 14, 2004 12:00PM; Updated: Tuesday December 14, 2004 6:26PM
Baseball's Hot Stove is heating up with a flurry of rumors and gossip. To keep you up-to-date, we've created a special edition of Hot Stove Truth & Rumors.
LSU coach Nick Saban has emerged as a prime candidate for the Dolphins' vacant head-coaching position and the NFL Network reported Monday night that he is expected to interview this week.
Contrary to the NFL Network report, although their list of coaching candidates eventually might include Nick Saban, the Dolphins have not requested permission from LSU to interview the school's coach. The Dolphins are interested in speaking with former Giants coach Jim Fassel and current Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
Interim coach Jim Bates said he and owner H. Wayne Huizenga talk each week, but said they hadn't talked about Bates being the Dolphins' permanent coach.
Second-year coach Dennis Erickson's departure from the 49ers appears increasingly inevitable.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Erickson was prepared to leave his NFL post on Monday and take over Ole Miss vacancy left by the Dec. 1 firing of David Cutcliffe. But Erickson -- who has three years and $7.5 million remaining on his contract -- announced he was staying with the 49ers.
The whisper is that Saints coach Jim Haslett might not be going anywhere, regardless of whether his team finishes out of the money and misses the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year; if he can keep his team from falling apart at the seams; if he's willing to make changes on his staff; if a couple of more scenarios align and owner Tom Benson is satisfied with the alignment.
In the final year of his contract, Mike Tice has been concerned about whether owner Red McCombs would pick up his $1 million option for 2005. McCombs said he would wait until after the season before deciding Tice's future. But McCombs gave Tice enough of a vote of confidence to suggest he might retain him. Asked to characterize his support for Tice, McCombs said: "As strong as it can be. I don't know if it can be any stronger."
His team has slumped to 4-9, coming off a second loss this season to the otherwise winless 49ers. The offseason looms, only three games away. So it shouldn't have been a surprise when Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green admitted Monday he "absolutely" was worried about losing his players the rest of the way. Two players confirmed that Green already has had some of his command over the locker room erode after some of his decisions have not panned out, especially after he made the dramatic switches at quarterback (from Josh McCown to Shaun King to John Navarre) that produced four straight losses.
Joey Harrington's status as the Lions' starting quarterback for this season -- and the future -- is up in the air because of a series of subpar performances.
Lions backup QB Mike McMahon will be a free agent in 2005. McMahon disputed reports that have circulated since training camp that he rejected the Lions' offer of a two-year contract. He was a restricted free agent this year and signed the one-year tender that pays him $1.4 million. "In the off-season, there was talk of me turning down a two-year deal, which was never offered to me," McMahon said. "That was not my decision. That was the Lions' decision, not making the offer.
Running back Anthony Thomas has no plans to return to the Bears after his contract runs out in three games.
Training camp will not be like summer camp anymore for Paul Edinger. If the kicker is with the Bears next summer, he will have legitimate competition now that he is tied for the league lead with eight missed field goals.
To take injured fullback Justin Griffith's place on the roster, the Falcons are considering signing fullback Fred McCrary. Former Broncos running back Olandis Gary will visit the Falcons today.
Does Giants GM Ernie Accorsi have second thoughts about acquiring quarterback Eli Manning in April on the first day of the draft rather than Ben Roethlisberger? "Nope," Accorsi answered firmly. "Eli was the highest-rated player on our board then and he would be now. When you've been around for 35 years you know you don't evaluate a quarterback after four games."
The Pistons on Wednesday will acquire third-year point guard Frank Williams from Chicago. They are expected to give up Smush Parker and a future second-round draft pick.
Jamal Crawford is no Vince Carter. And that's why, when Crawford's contract becomes eligible to be traded tomorrow, Knicks President Isiah Thomas should think hard about building a package around the Knicks combo guard.
There are rumors that if Karl Malone came back to play another year, he would wind up in Miami or San Antonio.
The agent for unsigned forward Karl Malone contacted the Spurs over the weekend hoping to arrange a conversation between Malone and Gregg Popovich, the Spurs' coach and executive vice-president. Presumably, that conversation will be about Malone signing to play for the Spurs this season.
Dallas, Minnesota, Portland, Denver and even Memphis and Golden State have expressed interest in Jason Kidd. The only really intriguing deal so far would be a three-way trade involving Minnesota and Portland that would result in the Nets getting Sebastian Telfair, who would be their young point guard of the future, and some expiring contracts. The Nets likely are much better off to wait until this summer, when there may be even more interest in Kidd.
Nets owner Bruce Ratner does not want to trade Kidd.
The Jazz will make a run at signing Cuttino "Cat" Mobley this offseason. The Nuggets could also be shopping for Cat. The Nets, Timberwolves, the 76ers and Cat's old team, the Rockets, might be interested as well. And Celtics Coach Doc Rivers always has been a Cat fan. Maybe it would make sense for GM John Weisbrod to try to get a deal done soon with Mobley -- whose asking price could be $8-10 million a year -- but says he'll wait until the summer.
Frustrated by a disappearance of playing time, Magic guard DeShawn Stevenson said he wants the club to trade him as soon as possible.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not the last season for Mavericks coach Don Nelson. "I've still got a year left on my contract, and I intend to be back next year to coach,'' Nelson said.
The outlook for this season has never been more bleak. A confidential eight-page memorandum sent by the NHL to all 30 member clubs outlined the league's reaction to the NHL Players' Association proposal of last week and clearly stated the NHL's intention to reject the proposal and counter with one of its own. The memo reiterated NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's intention to provide a counter-proposal to the NHLPA at a 1 p.m. meeting on Tuesday in Toronto. The counter-proposal is likely to contain "cost certainty" or a linkage between salaries and revenues, which the NHLPA sees as a "salary cap" and a non-starter for negotiations.
Don't be surprised if union boss Bob Goodenow and the executive committee -- including president Trevor Linden and Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson -- walk out of the room as soon as the offer is tabled. "My guess is the league will be back with a hard cap, but I hope I'm wrong," said agent Steve Bartlett of Sports Consulting Group. "I would hope they would recognize the concessions the players have made. If they (include a cap), there's a good chance the players will be so offended they'll just walk away from the table. I would be flabbergasted if the owners did that because of the amount of work that went into that proposal. I believe that (offer) can help lead to an agreement."
In a conversation about the lockout, the Rangers Bobby Holik said, "Lying comes very easy to these people. The owners and league lie all the time to further their agenda. What that is, it appears pretty obvious to me at this point, is to break the union and start all over again with entirely new players."
Exhibit 9 of last week's NHLPA proposal features a revenue-sharing system through which it is possible to rank clubs in order of reported revenue. The Rangers, by the way, are sixth, behind Toronto, Dallas, Colorado, Detroit and Philadelphia. Interestingly, Nashville (30), Phoenix (29), Atlanta (28) and Carolina (22) rank as four of the lowest nine revenue-producing clubs. Two -- Nashville and Atlanta -- are recent expansion additions under Bettman's regime. The two others -- Phoenix and Carolina -- are markets to which Bettman and the board approved moves in the last decade.
Milan's Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko was yesterday named the European Footballer of the Year, dedicating the award to the people of Ukraine. In a poll of football journalists from 52 countries, Shevchenko received 175 votes to win the Ballon d'Or. Portugal's Deco and the Brazilian forward Ronaldinho, who play for Barcelona, came second and third with 139 and 133 votes respectively. Arsenal's Thierry Henry came in fourth. Henry got 80 votes.
A charity match at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu stadium will go on as planned tonight, two days after a bomb threat forced the stadium to be evacuated during a Spanish league match. The benefit game, which was organized by the United National Development Program, is billed as the Match Against Poverty: Ronaldo and Friends Against Zidane and Friends. Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane play for Real Madrid.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech insists referee Graham Poll must be suffering "an uneasy conscience" after allowing a quickly taken Thierry Henry's free-kick goal on Sunday. Cech even joked that perhaps Poll was an Arsenal supporter as he questioned how the decision had been allowed to stand.
Cech is facing an FA fine and ban after calling Poll a cheat following Sunday's 2-2 draw between the teams.
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