Checkin Out The Latest Rumor Mill



By Jim Hurley:

Hope you've put out your American flag and said hi to the veterans living in your neighborhood this weekend - and hope you didn't forget there's a whole lot of sports goodies going on with the NBA's Western Conference Finals series between the mighty San Antonio Spurs and the potent Oklahoma City Thunder getting revved up on this night plus all the Major-League Baseball including great showdowns series in St. Louis between the Philadelphia Phillies and the defending champion Cardinals along with that now rock-'em, sock-'em set between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox ... hey those teams may go the full 15 rounds before this holiday weekend is up!

Okay, so let's step back from the on-the-court and on-the-field action for a moment and go full speed ahead into the Jim Sez Rumor Mill as it's been a busy month of May with all sorts of behind-the-scenes talk - we'll dig into the NFL, NBA and MLB with what's really going on in many locales and what just might happen 'round the sporting world:


You get the sense that a whole lot of stuff is gonna change in the here-and-now world of the Oakland Raiders: General manager Reggie McKenzie surely put his imprint on this franchise when he hired former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to be the team's newest head coach back on January 24th and thus relieving Hue Jackson from that position and now McKenzie is trying to bring in some younger talent after the Raiders didn't have a draft pick in the first two rounds.

Remember that this AFC West crew nabbed Utah offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom with its third-round pick (#95 overall) but only added one wide receiver in the draft as Arizona's Justin Criner was tabbed as the club's second choice in Round 5. So, look for McKenzie to work hard in the days ahead at landing a wide out that gives QB Carson Palmer more of a downfield threat and more of a dependable target than this current WR corps.

Keep in mind that WR Darrius Heyward-Bey led the Raiders last year with 64 catches for 975 yards (15.2 ypc) with 4 TDs and Palmer wants a dependable 1,000-plus yard pass-catcher added to the stable - don't be shocked if the Raiders make a move with either New Orleans or Detroit for one of their "extra" wide receivers.

Last year the Raiders registered their second straight 8-8 season - getting over the .500 hump may only come after some game-breaker has been added to this rather ordinary wide receiver corps.


You can go ahead and scratch off the name of Jeff Van Gundy as the next head coach for the Orlando Magic.

Okay, so we say this tongue-in-cheek (of course) after the Magic last week fired head coach Stan Van Gundy along with GM Otis Smith after a tumultuous 2011-12 season that involved more Dwight Howard day-to-day drama than anyone could possibly take.

The ESPN game analyst Van Gundy took to the air waves the other day to criticize - or should we say barbecue - Magic CEO Alex Martins for firing his brother but the best part of the critique was that Jeff Van Gundy said Martins didn't know if a basketball was "blown up or stuffed". Hey, no doubt Martins was wrong not to fire Stan Vany Gundy face-to-face especially when the man was in the building for hours that day but many sports decision-makers don't have a backbone and so just add Martins to the list.

The bigger stories here are twofold: Who coaches the Magic next and will Howard - coming off recent back surgery - still be a part of the franchise's future?

So, we'd rate that as no better than 50-50 these days as the rumor mill continues to say Howard might be part of the new-look Brooklyn Nets next year or he might be inclined to take the big bucks and play for Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks - stay tuned - but initial reaction to the vacant GM and coaching positions in Orlando say don't rule out a Mitch Kupchak (GM) and Phil Jackson (head coach) tag team tandem here but that's only a possibility (we say) if Howard decides to stay put in central Florida.

Another possibility - should Howard exit stage left - is current Boston head coach Doc Rivers could return to his one-time stomping grounds but that's only if the Celtics break up the old gang and Rivers wants to say goodbye to Beantown too.


Can the aforementioned St. Louis Cardinals repeat as world champions this year without 1B Albert Pujols, manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan?

Not if they don't get their bullpen squared away, they can't!

The 2012 Redbirds blew their eighth save opportunity in 16 chances in Friday's 5-3 extra-innings home loss to Hunter Pnce and the Philadelphia Phillies and now there's some late-May talk that the Cards could be losing patience with the likes of Mitchell Boggs (he is now 0-for-2 in save situations this year) and lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski (he's 0-for-3 in save spots) and the rumor mill claims St. Loo has been trying to pry loose a couple of relievers from American League teams with Minnesota's Matt Capps (he's 9-of-9 in save opportunities this season) and Oakland lefty Brian Fuentes (4-of-5 in save tries) high on their wish list but maybe the Cardinals will look to make a really big splash - as some folks in the arch city have suggested - and go after Houston Astros closer Brett Myers who is currently 12-of-13 in save opportunities.

There has been talk that the 'Stros will make Myers their big ticket item to a contender come the July 31st trade deadline - we've heard rumblings that both Boston and San Francisco are interested with both of these teams said to be looking at Myers as a starting pitcher - but don't be surprised if the Cards zoom in some time in June and make a major offer for this hard-throwing closer.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are rock-n-rolling through this year's NBA Playoffs and we will continue to bang out the post-season winners right through the end of June plus get all the 2012 Major-League Baseball Winners too -- so sign up today and get it all as that's plenty of Hoops and Baseball action every day and night! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.

NOTE: Get NBA and MLB News & Notes in tomorrow's special Sunday edition of Jim Sez plus get our NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview in the next column.


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