Truth & Rumors: Dec. 27, 2004
Posted: Monday December 27, 2004 11:43AM; Updated: Monday December 27, 2004 3:54PM
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.
The Chargers have opened talks with coach Marty Schottenheimer on a contract extension that would run through the 2007 season.
This could be a big week off the field for Mike Tice, who is in the last guaranteed season of his contract but has a $1 million team option for 2005 that owner Red McCombs has until Saturday to exercise. If McCombs doesn't, Tice could be gone after his contract expires Jan. 31.
The Jets have to be worried about Chad Pennington. Two years ago, he was being compared to Joe Montana after he was nearly perfect in late-season victories over the Patriots and Packers that got the Jets into the playoffs and then in the playoff victory over Indy. But he had a meltdown against the Raiders in the divisional playoff game. He hasn't been the same since that game. He's had injuries. And he's been ineffective. The Jets are locked into him for years, so he better find a way to end these big-game meltdowns or the Jets are never going to be playing deep into January.
Jets DE John Abraham, who has missed three games with a sprained right knee, may be pressed into duty next week against the Rams.
There are some rumblings that former Cowboys and Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson might be interested in the Browns, but he'd be a long shot. Like Nick Saban in Miami, he'd seek total control of football operations.
Saban will have total control of Dolphins football decisions, which puts GM Rick Spielman in jeopardy of being fired or having his power within the organization greatly reduced.
Saban should keep Jim Bates as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. The only way you let Bates leave is if someone else, in college or pros, offers its top job. If Saban knows Bates as well as everyone says, he ought to know that. The speculation that Bates would somehow sabotage his friend as an assistant because he's holding a grudge about not getting his job is ridiculous.
If the Eagles keep winning, a team is going to offer player personnel VP Tom Heckert a job where he has complete control over decisions, and Heckert will have to listen seriously; he never will have that kind of authority with the Eagles, advising Andy Reid. Not coincidentally, the Eagles redid Heckert's deal just when there were rumblings that the Browns and Dolphins wanted to talk to him about jobs that apparently would not have given him total control. "I'm going to be here for a while,'' Heckert said after agreeing to a contract extension (and an undisclosed raise, which was more important) through 2009.
The unofficial end of the Anthony Thomas era in Chicago came Sunday. He waited to jog onto Ford Field with the linemen and warmed up like a guy who expected to spend the day standing. "They're rebuilding, and I'm not part of that equation," said Thomas, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. "I know that, and there's nothing I can do about it." Eyeing the future, the Bears made the decision to sit Thomas and use Adrian Peterson as the No. 2 running back behind Thomas Jones.
The Patriots and kicker Adam Vinatieri are on track toward getting a long-term contract done after prolonged talks. -- Boston Globe
It's likely Wayne Chrebet will not be in the Jets' plans next season. He'll count far too much on the salary cap for a player who, at best, will be a No. 4 receiver.
Regardless of what happens in the offseason, Domanick Davis believes he has earned the right to enter next season as the Texans' undisputed No. 1 running back.
Even if Vince Carter does stay relatively healthy, the Nets still don't have enough size or toughness in the middle to be serious contenders. Now, if they somehow swing a trade to get Cliff Robinson or P.J. Brown, then maybe they do get back into the playoffs.
Sixers forward Glenn Robinson, who has been on the injured list since the start of the season, had practiced a couple of times last week and had been scheduled to make the teams current road trip. Not anymore. Coach Jim O'Brien said that Robinson had "really re-aggravated his ankle. He came in today before practice and said his ankles were sore and 'I can't do it.' The next time he comes back, hopefully he'll come back a little bit slower and won't aggravate it like he did recently."
DeShawn Stevenson, a starter last season upon coming to Orlando in a trade and earlier this season when Cuttino Mobley was injured, has become the forgotten man on the Magic's roster. He rarely, if ever, plays and he's not happy about it.
There is no indication that the Grizzlies are shopping James Posey despite trade speculation involving one of the league's most improved players. By all accounts, Posey has been a routine deal breaker. Griz president Jerry West labeled Posey and forward Pau Gasol "untouchables" during the offseason. But West insists there will be changes to the roster via a trade or two before the February deadline.
West went to Memphis for the big payday he never got. Now it's time to come home. Given the recent changes in Memphis, West clearly has lost influence amid talk around the NBA that he could leave. And one figures there are more changes to come for the Grizzlies. Perhaps even an ownership change? As one league executive put it: "It's hard to maintain enthusiasm for a losing team when you're an absentee owner." Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley lives outside Chicago. This is his fifth year with Memphis, and it could be a good time to get out. Tax rules limit depreciation after that. And now he has a new arena.
The Spurs have not spoken with Karl Malone or his agent since he met with Lakers officials late last week. Lakers owner Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak have offered Malone a front-office job if he decides to retire. Malone reportedly is weighing his decision while vacationing with his family in Louisiana.
The Heat still is interested in Malone, in part to keep him from the Spurs, a potential opponent in the Finals.
Malone has apparently told the Spurs that he's not interested in joining their team.
The Mavericks could be interested in acquiring the Blazers' Nick Van Exel, who said he's retiring after this season.
The Knicks will keep an eye on what the Hawks do with Antoine Walker, who attracted Isiah Thomas' interest last July. Walker will be a free agent this summer if he doesn't get a contract extension, and reportedly Boston and Philly were close to making offers.
'Toine wants back to Boston and the Celtics would love to regenerate his Green life, but nothing is doing.
Barring an outrageous offer, Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler appear to have won an extra month's reprieve from being traded.
The Cavaliers really are stepping up in their efforts to deal one of their extra swingmen. For the first time, Sasha Pavlovic, whom the Cavaliers acquired in the off-season for a future first-round pick, has come up in some of the rumors.
Latrell Sprewell is not getting that contract extension he's been looking for anytime soon. Minnesota owner Glen Taylor is still miffed that Sprewell didn't attend some corporate sponsorship luncheons before the season.
Will it become a management family affair in Chicago? There's talk in Cleveland that prospective new owner Dan Gilbert, a Detroit native, may want to model the team after the Pistons with someone like Bill Laimbeer in charge. GM Jim Paxson has three years left on his contract but could be out if the Cavs (15-11) decline after the risky additions of Jeff McInnis and Drew Gooden. The Paxson brothers are close and Bulls GM John Paxson could add his brother if Jim is forced out.
The Nets are said to be interested in trading for Toronto power forward Donyell Marshall, who is a free agent at the end of the this season.
Jalen Rose admitted that he spent a lot of time during the Christmas holidays wondering about his place with the team, and whether he wants to remain in Toronto as a non-starter.
Do you get the feeling watching Pistons coach Larry Brown that he's about to become ex-Pistons coach Larry Brown?
Even if casual sports fans barely notice the absence of hockey and its labor dispute, other leagues and people in the vast business of sports are paying close attention. Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp Limited, a sports consulting firm based in Chicago, said of commissioner Gary Bettman: "His entire tenure as commissioner of the NHL will be judged on the next phase of the NHL. The negotiations and collective bargaining agreement are just one component. You have to raise hockey higher in the minds of American sports fans."
Bettman will not cancel the season on Jan. 14 when the owners meet. Neither will he establish a drop-dead date. That does not work to the NHL's advantage. The minute the NHL announces cancellation, its 30 teams will be obligated to return all the remaining 2004-05 season-ticket money on which they collect interest. As well, canceling the season at such a relatively early date is not likely to play well with the NLRB when the league petitions for impasse and the right to unilaterally implement a new agreement; remember, the league has still not presented a full proposal that it could legally implement as a substitute CBA. Finally, the league will not cancel, because once it does, it liberates the PA to schedule competitive events of its own in North America, something the players can't do now for fear of being hit with an unfair bargaining charge from the league.
Bruins captain Joe Thornton was less than thrilled upon reading comments by team owner Jeremy Jacobs that one of the reasons for the sport's malaise is that the top players don't give 100 percent every game. "I was offended," said Thornton. "Personally, I think we're the best-[conditioned] athletes in the world. I was thinking, `Wow, I can't believe he's saying that.' He's obviously not coming to the FleetCenter enough. I pride myself on working hard every game. You see [top] players getting hacked and whacked and having to play through that. You work hard for 82 games and it's the toughest grind in pro sports. That takes a lot out of you. It's the quickest and the best game in the world and it's a shame the owners won't let us play. They're trying to break the union and it's not going to happen."
Avalanche star Joe Sakic didn't take kindly to Jacobs's comments, either. "Here in Denver, we want to thank Jeremy Jacobs for the way he runs his business," said Sakic. "Otherwise, we wouldn't have gotten Ray Bourque and won a Stanley Cup. Other than that, I don't pay much attention to what he has to say."
Retired NHLer Adam Oates has different view of the union's position. "We have to admit there is no TV deal, so there should be a cap, but the league should be flexible in agreeing that certain markets do better than others and there should be a luxury tax in those markets," he said. "I don't have a problem with a salary cap. We've got six or eight teams making money because they've got a great fan base and a great ownership situation. So, have a luxury tax on them and give that money to the other teams."
Flyers center Keith Primeau inadvertently set a salary cap for the team for the next collective-bargaining agreement -- in whatever year that might be -- when he signed his four-year, $17 million accord over the summer. The Flyers' long-range plans are to shed John LeClair's $9 million salary, Tony Amonte's $5.8 million, and perhaps even Jeremy Roenick's $7.5 million. If the season began in a month or so, at least two of those players wouldn't be here. And within a year, Primeau's $4.5 million salary would become the bar, so to speak, for the Flyers. In the union's eyes, Primeau signed for less than market value.
Canadian junior phenom Sidney Crosby is contemplating playing in the NHL next season, even if the league and players association can't reach an agreement and replacement players are used. "I don't know, it's tough," Crosby said. "I haven't really given it a lot of thought but my dream is to play in the NHL. I think if I do have the opportunity, I would probably go. I mean you grow up dreaming to play. Obviously I can understand the other side of it too, I understand it's a business and I know that there are things going on, that maybe myself and other people don't know, that do influence a lot of guys' opinions. It's hard for me to say right now. I just want to get there. It's my dream." The 17-year old recorded is regarded as the top prospect in hockey and the consensus first overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, should it occur.
On Saturday, the January transfer window opens and the ever-widening gulf between football's haves and have-nots will be there for all to see. Like vultures circling the clubs of the lower leagues, the Premiership's money men are ready to pick the bones clean. Any fool can see that Newcastle need a stronger defense -- hence the speculation that links them with the likes of Nottingham Forest's Michael Dawson. The fee, perhaps £5 million, is peanuts for Newcastle. But for a cash-strapped club such as Forest, it can be the difference between survival and going out of business, and the story will be the same elsewhere as the top clubs reinforce their squads.
David Beckham's representatives will hold talks with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez after the Christmas break to seek assurances over his Madrid future. The England captain was upset last Wednesday after being replaced at halftime during the 1-0 home defeat against Seville.
The list of the highest paid players in the English Premier League is headed by a pair of Arsenal stars, Patrick Vieira and Sol Campbell, and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who has established himself as the most improved player in the country. They all make £99,000 ($190,549.72) per week. Manchester United captain Roy Keane pulls in £84k ($161,695.22) and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry rounds out the top five at £80k ($153,973.49).
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