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NHLPA challenging Kovalchuck decision

07.26.10 at 4:21 pm ET
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The National Hockey League Player’s Association is challenging the league’s rejection of the 17-year, $102 million contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils, according to the Associated Press.

Last week, the league rejected the longest deal in NHL history, saying it violated the salary cap.

The union debated the NHPLA’s filed grievance Monday, saying Kovalchuk and the union are entitled to a quick resolution under the collective bargaining agreement.

The NHL said they received a copy of the NHLPA’s grievance and deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement, “Although there is no defined timetable at this point, we intend to work with the Players’ Association to ensure an expeditious resolution of this dispute. The league looks forward to the opportunity to establish its position before the arbitrator.”

Kovalchuk’s deal would have run through the 2026-27 season, at which time he would be 44 years old, earning him $550,000 in each of the last five seasons of the contract — a likely reason for its denial. Kovalchuk would earn  $98.5 million in the first 11 years of the contract.

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Hornets’ Demps confident Paul will stay

07.26.10 at 4:20 pm ET
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Hornets general manager Dell Demps said Chris Paul did not ask for a trade during his meeting with New Orleans executives Monday, according to SportsIllustrated.com.

Following the meeting with new Hornets coach Monty Williams and team president Hugh Weber, Demps said he is confident Paul will stay in New Orleans next season.

In a statement Monday, Paul said he likes what he heard about the “direction they want to take the team” in the meeting and hopes to continue playing for the Hornets in the future.

Paul has two years remaining on his Hornets contract before he can opt out and become a free agent.

Paul tweeted Monday, “The meeting went well.  It was great to get an opportunity to sit down with Coach Williams, President Weber and our new General Manager Dell Demps. I expressed my desire to win and I like what they said about the direction that they want to take the team.  I have been a Hornet my entire career and I hope to represent the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana for many years to come.”

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Lee not moving?

07.26.10 at 3:10 pm ET
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According to Jason Stark of ESPN, Cubs first basemen Derrek Lee might not be dealt at the deadline for reasons other than the money he has due to him and his poor numbers. A source told Stark that it is “highly doubtful” that the slugger would waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a trade out of Chicago.

Lee is a free agent after the season but has $4.95 million due to him for the rest of the year. The 34-year old is hitting just .251 with 11 homers and 44 runs batted in. Last season, he hit .306 with 35 dingers and 111 RBI.

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Canucks re-sign Raymond, avoid arbitration

07.26.10 at 2:37 pm ET
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The Canucks have avoided arbitration with Mason Raymond by signing him to a two-year, $5.1 million deal.

The 24-year-old forward, picked 51st overall in the second round of the 2005 draft by Vancouver, had a career high 53 points (25 goals) last season, when he earned $760,000. He was on his way to an arbitration hearing in Toronto on Monday when the contract was settled.

The Canucks Booster Club awarded Raymond the 2010 Fred J. Hume Award as the team’s unsung hero. The 6-foot, 185-pound forward also played in three games and recorded one assist for Team Canada at the 2010 World Hockey Championships.

The Canucks are more than $2.6 million over the NHL’s $59.4 million salary cap with Raymond’s deal.

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Rays interested in Qualls?

07.26.10 at 2:04 pm ET
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Jon Morosi of Fox Sports has tweeted that the Rays are interested in Diamondbacks reliever Chad Qualls, according to source. Morosi notes that the team would consider trading for the right-hander “if he shows even a little consistency.”

The problem with that scenario is that Qualls has shown very little consistency this season. A year removed from a 24-save campaign with a 3.63 earned run average, Qualls is in the midst of a dreadful season. After not posting an ERA over 3.76 in his first six seasons, the 31-year-old has an 8.49 ERA and has blown one out of every four save opportunities (12 saves, 4 blown saves). He also has a 2.11 WHIP.

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Source: Jays seek elite prospect for Downs

07.26.10 at 11:58 am ET
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According to a major league source, the Blue Jays have been aiming high in the sort of prospect return that they’ve sought in exchange for left-handed reliever Scott Downs, in whom a number of clubs are believed to be interested. The source said that Toronto has been asking for one of the top two or three prospects in the farm systems of interested clubs.

In the case of the Red Sox, that would be consistent with a suggestion by Peter Gammons on WEEI earlier this month that the Jays asked for shortstop Jose Iglesias in exchange for Downs.

With Hideki Okajima (3-3, 5.81) enmeshed in his worst year as a Red Sox, Boston’s need for a middle reliever (especially a left-handed one) is apparent. The 34-year-old Downs (4-5, 2.41) — whose 2.29 ERA since the start of the 2007 season is the third best among southpaws with at least 100 innings pitched over that span, trailing only Arthur Rhodes (2.10) and Billy Wagner (2.24) — represents an obvious solution to that need.

The Jays can aim high on Downs in part because he likely will be a Type A free agent following this season, meaning that he could net two draft picks should he reject an arbitration offer and sign elsewhere in free agency, just as was the case with the Sox and Wagner a year ago. Even so, to date, the Sox and other clubs have balked at parting with a top prospect for a middle reliever, leading the source to conclude that any deal involving Downs seems unlikely “until just before the deadline if at all.”

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said last month that the Sox would be cautious about using top prospects to deal for relief help, given the performance uncertainty surrounding such acquisitions in the middle of the pennant race.

“You add a really good reliever, it always makes our team better,” Epstein said. “That said, you trade for two or three months of a reliever, doesn’t matter if it’s a good one or a great one, you still don’t know what you’re going to get. So you don’t necessarily always want to give up good prospects to get that type of guy, because you’re not sure what you’re going to get in a small sample size from a reliever.”

For a complete look at midyear trades for relief help made by the Red Sox under Epstein, click here.

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Oswalt to Cardinals not imminent

07.26.10 at 11:26 am ET
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After Dan Haren was taken off the trade market by the Angels on Sunday, the ripple effect may prevent the Cardinals from bolstering the rotation at the trade deadline writes Joe Strauss of STLtoday.

St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak described any move as “certainly not imminent at this time,” and hinted that acquiring Roy Oswalt from the Astros may be too pricey.

With Haren out of the picture and Oswalt looking unlikely, the Cardinals could explore secondary options such as the Indians’ Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona, the Cubs’ Ted Lilly, the Orioles’ Jeremy Guthrie and the Athletics’ Ben Sheets, who may be out for the remainder of the season with an elbow injury.

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Upton unlikely to be moved

07.26.10 at 11:09 am ET
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Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports writes that according to major league sources, the Rays will not look to move center fielder B.J. Upton, despite the amount of interest he’s drawn.

Though the 25-year-old is hitting only .228, Tampa Bay doesn’t feel top prospect Desmond Jennings is ready to fill in and that the defensive decline from Upton to Ben Zobrist/Sean Rodriguez is too steep. Upton has, however, been a threat on the basepaths, stealing 26 bases in 32 attempts.

The Rays also have received interest on Rodriguez, right-hander Wade Davis and infielder Reid Brignac. Instead of trading prospects away, though, Tampa Bay is looking to content and add pieces, such as the Phillies’ Jayson Werth.

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Marbury refutes claim that he rejected Heat

07.26.10 at 9:24 am ET
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After hearing of a report that he turned down a chance to play with the Heat this upcoming season, Stephon Marbury is rejecting the notion, telling the New York Post that it’s “total nonsense.”

The former Celtics guard told the paper that he was contacted by Miami in early July before LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to sign. He’s still waiting to hear back from Heat president Pat Riley, who is trying to round out the Miami roster with veterans.

Right now, Kansas product Mario Chalmers is listed as the starting point guard on the Heat depth chart. Marbury could compete with Chalmers for time or play a role off the bench. If he doesn’t sign with Miami or return to the NBA, Marbury likely would spend another season with Shanxi Zhongyu in the Chinese Basketball Association.

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Report: Hornets not listening to offers for Paul

07.26.10 at 8:02 am ET
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According to an ESPN report, the Hornets are telling other NBA teams that they are not trading Chris Paul, despite his public discontent and expectations that Paul will ask to be dealt during a meeting Monday with team executives.

Incoming general manager Dell Demps and new coach Monty Williams reportedly will urge Paul to give them a chance to build a winner when they meet in person.

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