Truth & Rumors: Dec. 28, 2004
Posted: Tuesday December 28, 2004 10:59AM; Updated: Tuesday December 28, 2004 3:43PM
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.
Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy and GM Carroll Dawson said they did not make the latest deal -- sending Jim Jackson and Bostjan Nachbar to New Orleans on Monday for guard David Wesley -- to send that message. But the players were shocked enough to take it that way. Forward Tracy McGrady said, "I think everybody realized that after having two trades go down in the last five days, the only way to prevent guys having in their head (the idea of) 'Who's next?' is for us to go out and win."
Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe talked to the Hornets about Wesley, but New Orleans' asking price was too high.
Vandeweghe denied that he is considering trading forward Nene to Milwaukee for all-star sharpshooter Michael Redd.
The Mavericks could be one of the many teams to enter the sweepstakes if and when Gary Payton hits the market. Despite speculation, the Mavs aren't seriously pursuing Payton or point guards at this juncture. That doesn't mean that can't or won't change by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
Penny Hardaway could be back in an Orlando uniform. Hardaway said Monday he would love to finish his career here. There is one more year remaining on the seven-year $86 million contract, but there also is talk that the Knicks will buy out the final year, making him a free agent this summer.
The Knicks have an available roster spot and with Jamal Crawford and Hardaway sidelined, Isiah Thomas may attempt to sign a guard.
The Magic have made no secret that they are in the market for a third point guard to play behind Steve Francis and Jameer Nelson, preferably a veteran with playoff experience. Some of the point guards that the Magic could have interest in are Tony Delk, Eric Snow and Jacque Vaughn.
If Alonzo Mourning is bought out of his contract by the Raptors and allowed to become a free agent, it likely will happen later rather than sooner. Raptors GM Rob Babcock said he does not expect to initiate talks with Mourning until next week. For now, Mourning has been shifted to Toronto's injured list, bothered by knee, leg, hip and hand ailments.
Jerome Moiso, a 6-10 journeyman forward, will join the Nets today. For now, this is the best Rod Thorn can do. "We need big men," the Nets president said.
The Nets reached out to Karl Malone repeatedly but heard nothing.
Look for the Bobcats to exercise their fourth-season option on Emeka Okafor at the end of this season.
Regarding a report saying the Sixers "desperately" want Antoine Walker from Atlanta, coach Jim O'Brien said, ""I like Antoine Walker. But are we doing anything to get Antoine Walker? Not to my knowledge. There's nothing there. There really isn't. We've had no discussions about that, that I'm aware of."
Vikings owner Red McCombs informed coach Mike Tice he had exercised the 2005 option on his contract -- ending a year of public discussion about Tice's immediate future.
It means financial security for Tice. Job security is another thing.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, a potential Vikings buyer, said he has no objection to the $1 million, one-year contract option that McCombs exercised on Tice.
Los Angeles sports entrepreneur and Arena Football League team owner Casey Wasserman is trying to buy the Vikings from McCombs for relocation to Southern California.
Only one member of the Vikings coaching staff remains unsigned through 2005: offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. His name has surfaced in conjunction with at least two openings. The Patriots must replace offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who was named the coach at Notre Dame, and new Dolphins coach Nick Saban has sent feelers about Linehan through intermediaries.
Saban signed his five-year contract Monday after meeting with Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga. Saban next week will meet with interim coach Jim Bates and the two men will decide whether they can expand their friendship to a working relationship, with Bates returning to his duties as defensive coordinator and perhaps even becoming an associate head coach.
Saban is likely to have GM Rick Spielman work with the team for a while after Saban takes over. Saban will later talk to other top personnel men before making a final decision as to who will work for him as the head of personnel. It will be difficult to hire a top personnel man from another team because most are expected to stay with their team through the draft, unless they are being hired for a GM position. Saban is expected to talk to Atlanta assistant GM Tim Ruskell.
Even though LSU maintains it wants a coach with college experience, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio's name keeps coming up for the Tigers' vacancy, and he keeps avoiding comment.
Ravens coach Brian Billick deflected questions about the job security of offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, saying the team is focused on its slim playoff chances and not offseason decisions.
Ben Roethlisberger has bruised ribs, and it is extremely doubtful he will play for the Steelers on Sunday at Buffalo.
Vinny Testaverde in a 2005 Cowboys uniform is the best thing that could happen to whatever young quarterback catches this team's fancy and actually sticks around longer than a nanosecond. Whether it's Drew Henson or Tony Romo or someone we haven't seen yet, Testaverde -- as a quasi-coach -- would be the key ingredient to the Cowboys choosing their quarterback of the future. Of course, Testaverde must choose to play a 19th NFL season for this to work.
The more coach Lovie Smith talks about quarterback Chad Hutchinson, the more it sounds like the Bears' No. 2 quarterback for the 2005 season already is on the roster.
While Smith said Marc Colombo can do enough in a two-game tryout at left tackle to make Smith comfortable for next season, it's unlikely the Bears will go through free agency and the draft without addressing the position.
Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter has been telling teammates that he intends to sign with the Bucs this off-season.
Defensive tackle Marcus Bell will become a free agent after the season. He is one of several players with whom Lions management is negotiating.
Contract negotiations are heating up with Jets veteran nose tackle Jason Ferguson and a deal could be reached in the coming days.
Left tackle Chris Samuels said yesterday that the Redskins are in discussions with his agent about a contract extension.
Asked yesterday if Giants management is fully committed to Tom Coughlin, team vice president John Mara said, "Yes and I don't know how much more clear we can make that."
Michael Vick will be back in the Falcons lineup Sunday.
Jeff Garcia is wrapped up for three more seasons but is set to make about $4.5 million next season. If the Browns hire a West Coast-style coach such as Mike Holmgren, Garcia could have a chance to return as the starter.
How much rest will the Patriots' Richard Seymour and Ty Law need once the season begins anew in the playoffs? The situation with Seymour's knee has yet to clarify itself, although it's a safe bet that he didn't suffer a devastating injury like an ACL tear Sunday against the Jets because he didn't leave the bench area during the game and walked under his own power afterwards. Law is progressing from his broken left foot, although not quickly and not enough to get him into game action.
It's not a slam dunk that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will cancel the season at the Jan. 14 meeting. It behooves the league to give the appearance it's still negotiating and wants to work toward a resolution if the league intends to go to the National Labor Relations Board and declare an impasse in negotiations. But the league doesn't want to start the season in February. It would prefer to get the season underway in January.
Junior phenom Sidney Crosby has clarified his stance on the option of joining the NHL next year should the league not have a new collective bargaining agreement. "If there is an NHL with replacement players, I think for me to be involved and to say that I would play in the league is not true," Crosby said. "If the NHL is the real NHL with the best players in the world, for sure I want to play in it, but if it's a league of replacement players, it's not the real NHL. And with all the things going on right now with players and owners, it's not right and I don't think I'd be playing in a league like that."
Fewer people asked in 2004 whether MLS could make it. The question now is: What kind of league will it be? Freddy Adu brought international attention to the league when he made his professional debut April 3. Adu turned 15 on June 2, and had an up-and-down season for his D.C. United club. But will the league remain a competent developer and exporter of American players, or will it alter the single-entity system and, realizing that good players make good games, begin to import some stars?
David Beckham admitted he has failed to live up to expectations over the last year, but is convinced that both he and Real Madrid will bounce back and return to top form in 2005. He also admitted he had been hurt by the criticism of his play, but insisted that he had improved since joining Real 18 months ago. "I think I am a better player than a few years ago, but there are people who are out to criticize me and if I make the tiniest mistake, they get at me," he said. "The problem is that whatever I do seems to be news. If I cut my hair, if I buy a new watch, if I score a goal, if I don't play then people make a story out of it. If the coach leaves me on the bench for one match then they say I'm not good enough to play for Real Madrid."
Kevin Healey, GM of the Baltimore Blast, vowed to apologize personally to Philadelphia KiXX forward Shawn Boney who said two Blast fans directed racial insults at him during a Major Indoor Soccer League game on Sunday. Boney, a native of Trinidad, said he was racially insulted by two women behind the goal during the fourth period. Healey promised to try to find the fans involved.
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