TIGER, PHELPS, SPAIN, & FREE AGENCY, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY

There will be no Z-Best Sports Network Blog Talk Shows (I-295 Sports Report & Z-Best Raw Sports Talk) due to the Fourth of July holiday.  Tomorrow’s the Fan Vs. Fan Broadcast Network show, Z-BEST RAW SPORTS TALK, is also on vacation this week.

So for the next two days please enjoy these articles with videos about what is happening in sports. Be sure to check back tomorrow as I profile the MLB All-Star teams, plus have any updates on NHL and NBA free agency.

CHASING TAIL, ER UHHH, TIGER ONCE AGAIN!

FACTS: With his win on Sunday on the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club to win the AT&T National, Tiger Woods passed the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus for second in career PGA Tour wins. Woods won for the 74th time as he held off Bo Van Pelton the back nine in temperatures that reached triple digits. With a final-round, 2-under-par 69, Woods beat Van Pelt by two shots and became the first to win three times on the PGA Tour this season. It is the 12th season in which Woods has won at least three times. Woods has won three of his last seven starts, and his 30-month winless drought on Tour after a late-night car accident in November 2009 is becoming a distant memory. Next up for Tiger on the all-time wins list is Sam Snead, who won 82 times during his illustrious career.

And in the oh by the way column, Woods has not lost his touch in terms of getting the fans to watch from home. CBS’ Sunday coverage of the AT&T National drew a 4.6 overnight, up 188% from final-round coverage last year, when Woods didn’t play in the tournament and Nick Watney won it. CBS’ coverage Saturday drew a 2.2 overnight, up 69% from last year.

ALAN’S TAKE: The much-publicized decline of Tiger Woods has been greatly exaggerated. For those of you that say it was not a Major, get over it already. For Woods to do what he did in those temperatures proves he is once again the best competitor in the world on a golf course.  He went 41 straight holes without a bogey and if you do not believe me that even though Tiger is still ranked fourth in the world Woods, despite the win, remained No. 4 in the world golf rankings behind (No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood), believe the man that finished second. He said he knows who No. 1 is.

No offense to any of those other guys, but I think (Woods) is the only guy to win three tournaments on Tour this year, right?” Van Pelt said. “On three different golf courses”. And he was leading the U.S. Open after two days. So I’d say that he’s playing the best golf in the world right now.”

PHELPS STILL THE MARCO AND POLO IN THE POOL!

FACTS: Michael Phelps earned a chance to swim in eight races when the London Olympics begin in a little over three weeks. However, Phelps and his coach have decided that seven is more than enough. Phelps dropped the 200-meter freestyle from his Olympic program Monday, which means he will swim seven events in London and will not try to duplicate his other worldly eight gold medals in eight events in Beijing. The Baltimore native qualified in five individual events for London and is likely to swim all three relays, as he did in Beijing. His remaining individual races are the 200 and 400 individual medleys, as well as the 100 and 200 butterfly events.

What this allows him to do is really focus his energy on the 4-by-100 relay the second night of the meet without having to do two 200 frees before,” long time coach Bob Bowman said. Phelps won eight gold in Beijing and his 14 gold medals total are an Olympic record.

Heading to London, he has 16 medals (14 gold, 2 bronze) and is two behind only Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast who won 18 in the 1950s and 1960s. Phelps has 26 gold medals, six silvers, and one bronze in his World Championship career. In his two losses (silvers) at the WC last year in Shanghai, Phelps top rival, University of Florida great Ryan Lochte beat Phelps setting up the talk that Phelps may be on the downside heading to the Olympic trials this past week in Omaha.

ALAN’S TAKE:  Like Tiger Woods, the talk of Phelps demise is also greatly exaggerated. The Lochte and Phelps rivalry is real, very real and could be the story line of this summer’s games. Their rivalry had been built up as the next big thing in swimming, with Lochte even suggesting that it could be the biggest story in sports.

It seemed somewhat laughable at the time, a pair of swimmers outdueling the likes of Yankees-Red Sox, Auburn-Alabama or Steelers-Ravens. Nevertheless, after four events and a week of head-to-head duels, it’s not that funny anymore. In fact, if there is anything we learned this week, it is that these two great athletes, who are both two 27-years-old, intend to put on one hell of a show later this month in London.

Phelps struggles over those years mirrored the rise of Lochte, who entered the trials as Phelps’ peer, if not his better. However, Phelps still showed he is the man to beat in Omaha. Of the four events in which the two swimmers faced off in this past week, Phelps won three — the 200-meter individual medley, 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly — while Lochte took the 400 IM. However, Phelps’ combined margin of victory was a mere three-tenths of a second. In no race was the margin less than a second, and Lochte’s winning margin of .83 seconds in the 400 IM was the largest. Of the 16- 50-meter splits the two rivals swam in finals, Phelps was faster in eight of them, Lochte in seven, and there was one tie.

What does that mean? These guys are as close as Brian and Stewie (Family Guy comparison) when their hands were stuck together with glue for a few days. While I cannot speak for you, I am looking forward to the hot summer nights at the end of the month when these two take the blocks to compete against each other. The good news is, in practically every race the two are paired, the United States can probably already place two strokes in the medal count column.

The two swimmers will spend the next three weeks fine-tuning everything from their turns to the way they position their hands in the water, and they will do it while training together. NBC swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines laughed. “I don’t think we’ve learned anything,” he said. “Everyone else comes out here and treats this like their Super Bowl. For these two guys, it was like a regular-season game.”

Gaines said it makes sense because that was the level of effort Phelps and Lochte needed to make the team. In fact, Bowman said this week his swimmer was about “80 percent” where he thought he would be in London.  Lochte noted Sunday he was not fully rested for this meet but would be fully tapered for the Games. He also referred to the trials as a training meet, suggesting there is more to come.

What would really be the icing on the cake for Phelps is to be elected as one of the team’s captains for the first time on his career. While Phelps has always been a focused trainer, he has not been such a great teammate.

Phelps was considered unapproachable in the past and some felt he was extremely arrogant. However, several out of the water incidents, including one arrest and a suspension by the USA Swimming have left Phelps a much more humble man. Phelps was arrested following the Athens games for driving under the influence of alcohol, and a suspension for three months by USA Swimming in the wake of the photo that showed the Olympic record-setting champion inhaling from a marijuana pipe following the Beijing games.

According to a recent ESPN article, those close to Phelps might not agree, but several people within USA Swimming noted this week that the biggest star in their sport appears to be maturing. Maybe it is because of the sentimental pull, knowing his next meet will likely be his last. On the other hand, maybe he is gaining perspective on his career — and life. Whatever the reason, the behind-the-scenes word is Phelps took on much more of a leadership role this week, cheering on, encouraging other swimmers, and being more approachable and available. It will be interesting to see if Phelps’ peers elect him one of the team’s captains for the first time.

If Phelps can win seven more Gold medals, he would have 21 for his career, which would be more gold medals than any other Olympians combined medals. Phelps would also have more Gold medals than 103 of the 139 countries that have won a medal in the Summer Olympics. Simply astonishing to think this could become a reality. Phelps would easily become the greatest athlete of any decade in all of sports history with that accomplishment.

How long do we have to wait? According to the London Olympic clock, it is just 24-days, 17-hours, and 43-minutes as of the writing of this article.

THE BEST SPORTING EVENT NOBODY IN THE STATES WATCHED!

FACT: After winning Euro 2012, put a little butter on the Spaniards, they are on a roll. After thoroughly trouncing Italy 4-0 in Sunday’s European Championship Final in Kiev, Ukraine, Spain has now won three consecutive major soccer tournaments.

The title run began in 2008 when Spain ended a 44-year drought beating Germany 1-0 in Euro 2008. They also won the World Cup in 2010 with a 1-0 extra time victory over the Netherlands, who were making their third finals appearance.  Andrés Iniesta’s goal in the 116th minute gave Spain their first world title.

In 10 knockout-round matches over those three tournaments, Spain has not allowed a single goal. In the entirety of Euro 2012, they allowed just one goal, which came in their very first group-stage match against Italy. In the tournament’s final, also against Italy, they changed their possession-heavy style that drew complaints of being “boring” throughout the tournament back to one with a relentless threat on goal that resulted in a 2-0 lead at halftime. Italy had no answers, and after an injury forced them to play with just 10-men, Spain added two more late goals just to further prove their point and win 4-0.

In addition, Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas became the first international player ever to win 100 matches with his country with that final victory.

This same Spain team lost 2-0 to the United States in the semi-finals of the 2009 Confederations Cup. The Americans ended a 15-match winning streak with that victory, but fell to Brazil 3-2 in the finals.

With the win, Spain has now won 62 consecutive matches in which they score first. Their last loss in which they tallied the first goal was back in Sept 2006.

Fernando Torres, who scored the teams last two goals during the finale on Sunday, became the first player to score in two separate EURO Final matches. For his efforts, and despite starting in just two of Spain’s six matches, Torres won the tournament’s Golden Boot award (MVP).

Spain also became the first team to score four goals in a Euro Final, as well as the first team to win three straight major titles, including back-to-back Euro championships.

ALAN’S TAKE: In case you missed or are not soccer fans, this event was one of the most underrated watches on television all summer long. Of course, that can only be said in the United States, as every other household in the world undoubtedly had this event on the “tele”. The matches were intense, and the fans in the stands were nuts. If you watched one game, then you no doubt came back for another. It makes me really look forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. That is 708 days to kickoff for you diehards out there.

NHL FREE AGENCY, WHERE PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!

FACTS: NHL free agency got underway Sunday afternoon and let’s just say the anticipation of the day far exceeded anything that has happened during the first 72 hours. It was not all boring, of the 58 players that chose day one to sign a new contract, 46 of them decided to play in another city next season.  However, the two players that are considered the prize catches in this year’s market,  Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, have not yet  picked a team to play for next season and beyond.

While the two biggest stars on the NHL free-agent market were still pondering their futures, a future Hall of Famer found a new home in Texas on Tuesday. The Dallas Stars announced that they have signed former Penguins, Capitals, Rangers and Flyers star, Jaromir Jagr to a one-year deal worth $4.55 million on Tuesday. The 40-year old Czech, who played alongside the Great Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh, had 19-goals and 35-assists for the other Pennsylvania team last season.  Jagr, who will be entering his 20th season in the NHL, is a nine time All-Star, and In NHL history, ranks first with 16 overtime goals, second with 114 game-winning goals, eighth with 1,653 career points, 11th with 665 goals and 12th with 988 assists.

Want to feel old sports fans, Jagr was a key member of the Penguins back-to-back Stanley Cup winning teams in 1991and 1992. He won his only league MVP in 1999, and led the NHL in scoring five times. Jagr first did it during the 94-95 season, and last accomplished the feat during the 00-01 campaign, when he led the league with 121-points. He needs just 26 more goals to pass his old-line mate, Mario Lemieux for ninth all time and 28 to pass Steve Yzerman. As for Suter and Parise, they are in wait and see mode, which is causing the next top second tier free agents to also wait. This is also driving the hockey fans in those towns crazy.

According to multiple sources, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit and Minnesota are among the teams that are trying to lure him away from the Eastern Conference Champions. Parise said he has been looking at where he wants to live, where he’ll be happy and what team he wants to play for since hitting the market Sunday. And, he’s looking forward to being done with the process.

“It’s been a stressful couple days,” Parise told the Star Tribune.

Both Parise and Suter are 27 and each has been with only one team during their seven-season careers. Suter has played for the Nashville Predators, who are hoping for a quick answer from him so that they can move onto Plan B if necessary. Suter has reportedly been offered a 13-year, $90 million contract by the Detroit Red Wings. A report in the Detroit Free Press says that Suter was offered $80 million by the Red Wings on Sunday, and the team has since increased its offer to the 27-year-old blueliner.

The newspaper says that Red Wings general manager Ken Holland met with Suter at the defenseman’s home in Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday. The Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild are reportedly also pursuing Suter, in addition to his former team, the Nashville Predators. His agent, Neil Sheehy, said this week that Suter is taking some time to consider his options.

Second-tier free agents such as defenseman Matt Carle and forward Alexander Semin seem to be waiting for Suter and Praise to sign so that they can offer their talents to teams that don’t get a top target. That has not been the case for other top second tier free agents, but then again, Alex Semin hasn’t always been the first to anything in his career, especially a loose puck.

Semin was recently blasted on TSN (The Sports Network) in Canada as free agency began on Sunday. During the network’s free agency coverage on Sunday, two TSN experts destroyed Semin when discussing his prospects as a free agent.

“You either take a guy who’s a complete winner, or take a guy who’s a complete loser,” said former NHL Marc Crawford. “[Semin] falls in that category.” Crawford was asked to compare Semin with the top free agent forward available, New Jersey’s Zach Parise.

“The difference is, one guy has a ton of character, one guy has no character,” Crawford said. “One guy scores 30 goals and doesn’t help his team. One guy scores 25 goals and helps them in every single way. So, yeah, I would sign him. He’ll be banished to a place like Columbus or something like that, and that’s what those guys do. They head to the island of misfit toys.”

The other expert on the panel, Washington Capitals hater, and NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, didn’t pass on Crawford’s lead in to blast Semin’s ass. “This is not a great teammate,” McGuire said. “I’m telling you right now, not a good guy to have around your group unless you’ve got unbelievably strong leadership. He’s the ultimate coach killer, that’s what it is.”

In terms of the big deals that have been handed out thus far, Colorado kept defenseman Erik Johnson thanks to a $15 million, four-year deal and New Jersey retained defenseman Bryce Salvador with a $9.5 million, three-year contract. In other signings Jiri Hudler signed a $16 million, four-year contract with Calgary – getting much more than Detroit offered to keep him – and former Flames forward Olli Jokinen left to play in Winnipeg on a $9 million, two-year contract on Monday.

There were a flurry of signings Sunday – Day 1 of NHL free agency – including forward P.A. Parenteau leaving the New York Islanders for a $16 million, four-year contract with the Avalanche and 40-year-old forward Ray Whitney getting a $9 million, two-year deal from Dallas.

ALAN’S TAKE: There have been plenty of winners and loser through just three days of free agency. The Dallas Stars appear to have the lead as the early favorite to be crowned this season’s paper champion. Last season’s offseason co- winners, the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers didn’t meet expectations of their fans after free agency seemed to fill many holes. The Caps struggled to make the playoffs, finishing seventh in the Eastern conference, and needed 81 games to get there. The Flyers are still missing the necessary goaltending after Mr. Universe; Ilya Bryzgalov collapsed during the playoffs and could stop a beach ball. Dallas has missed the postseason four straight times, and general manager Joe Nieuwendyk is taking major steps to see that it doesn’t happen again. He has signed forward Ray Whitney from the Phoenix Coyotes and defenseman Aaron Rome from the Vancouver Canucks.

Nieuwendyk followed those first-day signings by trading center Steve Ott to Buffalo for slick center Derek Roy. Defenseman Adam Pardy also went to Buffalo in the deal. Dallas moved a tough, all-around forward for a finesse player. Roy fills the Stars need for a top six center, and a change of scenery may allow him to elevate his game again. He recorded 81-points in 07-08. Ott also fills a need for Buffalo in the tough Northeast division. He has averaged a tick shy of 155 penalty minutes during the past five NHL seasons.

The Stars were in contention until the last week of the season before being beaten out for the No. 8 spot by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

The Montreal Canadiens are officially in rebuilding mode and new GM Marc Bergevin put his hard hat on and began work immediately on Sunday. The Habs, who have not won a Stanley Cup since 1993, and are still a long away from doing so, have started the process by acquiring strong veteran talent that will benefit the team on and off the ice.

Bergevin has brought in free agents like Brandon Prust from the New York Rangers, Francis Bouillon from Nashville and Colby Armstrong from Toronto. Prust was not a great point contributor with the regular season Eastern Conference champion New York rangers last season but he brings energy and a feisty nature. According to the Montreal Gazette, Prust led the NHL with 20 fights last season.

The same holds for Bouillon and Armstrong. Bouillon is a solid defensive defenseman, and he is not going to allow the Canadiens to get pushed around. The Canadiens also re-signed All-Star goalie Carey Price to a six-year, $39 million contract. Looks like we can look forward to an Ott vs. Prust bout at least once or twice next season as the Habs and Sabres meet six times.

Other winners include the Colorado avalanche, who signed forward P.A. Parenteau away from the Islanders to help their struggling offense. The Edmonton Oilers, who won the NHL draft lottery for a third straight year and chose the highly touted Nail Yakupov,  has bolstered the defense, which some thought they should have done with the first pick in the draft.

Edmonton signed young free-agent defenseman Justin Schultz, a talented blue liner from the University of Wisconsin. Schultz was a free agent because the Anaheim Ducks drafted him in 2008 and he never signed a contract with the Ducks. As a result, Schultz became a much sought-after free agent, and he signed with the Oilers.

Of course, the Detroit Red Wings always win at everything and this year is no different. You can bank on the fact that they will land one of the two big names on them market or one of the top notch second tier free agents , but for now, the Wings stole, Jordin Tootoo from rival Nashville. Tootoo is coming off the best season of his career in which he registered 6-24-30 with 92 PIM in 77 games.

They also replaced Jiri Hudler, who signed with Calgary for four seasons, with Mikael Samuelsson who previously played for Detroit from 2005-06 to ’08-09. Hudler is coming off a career-high 25 goals and reached the 50-point plateau for the second time this season. His secondary production will be filled by Samuelsson who reached 40 points in three of his four seasons with the Wings.

Our old friend from Washington, Capitals former GM David Poile and his current team, the Nashville Predators have to be at the top of the list as losers through just three days. Poile has yet to re-sign Suter and as just mentioned, lost Tootoo. This on the heels of the much-maligned winger Alexander Radulov going back to Russia after a very disappointing playoffs. One that included a suspension for not making curfew. If Suter does sign elsewhere, the buzzards could start to circle the music city in hopes that Poile will deal defenseman Shea Weber. Poile may need to hit one those storied country bars on Honkey Tonk row for a stiff drink by the time this summer ends.

The feel good story that has been the Phoenix Coyotes is starting to turn sour in the dessert. The uncertain future around the Coyotes is having a negative impact on the team’s free agency.

As previously mentioned, winger Ray Whitney took off for Dallas, and Shane Doan is next on the list and could leave at any time. There is a chance that Doan could remain with the Coyotes, and he may wait until July 9 or beyond to make his decision. Doan wants to see what happens with Greg Jamison’s ownership bid, and July 9 is the likely decision day on that issue. However, the Arizona Republic reports that the issue could take longer.

One of the biggest losers so far also has to be the New York rangers. Unless Glen Sather has something cooking with Columbus, or something else brewing, then day one was quite frustrating for Ranger fans. Fan-favorite Brandon Prust bolted to the Montreal Canadiens for a sizable raise, John Mitchell signed with Colorado and John Scott went to the Buffalo Sabres.

They were bottom six players who brought physicality, character and toughness, Tortorella like players, so Sather tried to replace them, but fail miserably. The Blueshirts inked Michael Haley, formerly of the New York Islanders, to a two-year deal and Aaron Asham completed his tour of duty in the Atlantic Division by signing with the Rangers. Both are goons, with an occasional shot, but neither address the team’s need of scoring. The Rangers are still the favorites to land Rick Nash, but as I said at the start of this segment, all eyes are on Zach Parise, and Mr. Ryan Suter. The free-agency period is not won or lost in a day, but the first day was not Sather’s best as a GM.

At the time this was article is being written, according to Cap Geek.com there have been 138 players signed, totaling $877,765,000 worth of contracts. This is an average cap hit of $2,138,285. At least the owners will not have to pay out these big new deals if they decide to lock out the players once the current CBA expires on Sept-15. If that happens, then the NHL may need to restructure the entire financial formula of the league. Fans will not return if the league does not start on time. Many are still not watching or attending after the entire 2004 season was lost to a labor dispute.

Early 1900’s journalist Abigail Van Buren once said, “If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d all be millionaires”. The NHL and most of their players were eventually able to do just that after they returned from missing an entire season in 2004. Superstars such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin helped return the league to its rightful spot behind the NBA and back ahead of NASCAR as the No.4 major sport. However, they will not be that fortunate if these negotiations cause even a one-week delay in the season this time.

NBA FREE AGENCY, GET TING IT DONE QUICKLY, AND IS BRETT FAVRE AND DWIGHT HOWARD RELATED

FACTS: Unlike the NHL, the first 72 hours of NBA free agency have been such a whirlwind that the Lakers’ Metta World Peace is suddenly sounding like the voice of reason. OK, and not really folks, but there is a lot to talk about here.

There has been plenty of signings and trades, though it’s important to note that (almost) nothing becomes official until the league-imposed moratorium on free-agent signings is lifted on July 11.

As he did at the NBA trade deadline, Dwight Howard wants out of Orlando, AGAIN! This time, the Magic are going to oblige their ailing center, who is recovering from back surgery. first things first, and there has to be prep deal so that Howard can fit into the salary cap where ever he ends up, so its off to Brooklyn, NY with the Nets, or Atlanta with the Hawks. See, even I can’t keep up , but  Quire Ramirez of airalamo.com laid it all out pretty nicely this way for the fans of the NBA.

Atlanta traded Joe Johnson to Brooklyn for Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams and 2013 lottery-protected pick via Houston

Danny Ferry orchestrated a nice haul — as nice as return could possibly look with the words Johan Petro, that is — for one of the worst contracts in basketball. Joe Johnson is due $89.4 million over the next four years (AAV: $22.4 million). The fact that Atlanta found themselves a willing trade partner for Johnson was especially fortuitous.

Not only was Brooklyn willing to hamstring their future for an effective, yet extremely overpaid, scorer but they had oodles of cap space and, most importantly, desperation. Brooklyn is desperate for success and their recent agreement with Gerald Wallace and deal for Johnson certainly affirms this.

So how did Atlanta win this despite giving up a talented player in exchange what will likely amount to little on-court production? NBA analysts throw around this term quite often — flexibility. The reprieve that of trading Johnson ostensibly represents a temporary reset button on the entire operation. The prior regime never pushed that reset button, opting to create mediocre teams instead. Ferry finally pushed that reset button. Atlanta’s newfound flexibility — here is that term again — is invaluable.

Seriously. Get this: Atlanta traded away $105 million in long-term salary for $23.5 million. When you factor in Farmar’s potential buy-out, saving $2.75 million, the Hawks will be capable of bringing in Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Thanks Johan Petro.

My take is that the Nets get Johnson, in what they hope was a precursor to creating their own Big Three of Deron Williams, Johnson and Howard.  Speaking of Deron Williams, who was the most sought after free agent this offseason, he re-signed with Brooklyn.

Tuesday night, Williams tweeted, “Made a very difficult decision today …,” and he added a link to a photo of the Nets’ logo.

Williams’ decision to stay with the Nets was confirmed by multiple media outlets, and his contract will be a five-year deal worth between $98 million and $100 million. Williams, 28, picked the Nets over the Dallas Mavericks, who could offer no more than a four-year, $75 million deal because of limitations in the collective bargaining agreement.

The Nets are making a lot of moves, re-signing forward Gerald Wallace and trading for Joe Johnson, and they reportedly are trying to work out a deal that would bring Orlando center Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. If they cannot obtain Howard, the Nets will probably try to re-sign free agent center Brook Lopez and free-agent forward Kris Humphries. Williams has said he’s enjoyed living in New York with his family and liked the marketing opportunities available there.

Williams was traded from the Utah Jazz to the Nets on Feb. 23, 2011. He averaged 15.0 points and 12.8 assists in 12 games with the Nets in 2010-2011, then averaged 21.0 points and 8.7 assists in 55 games for the Nets this past season. He’s been an All-Star each of the past three seasons.

In the complete opposite direction of the Parise and Suter situation, the NBA’s second best free agent, who happens to be a restricted one, signed an offer sheet to play with the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night.

The following segment is courtesy of Hoops World.

New Orleans Hornets free agent guard Eric Gordon has agreed to sign a maximum 4-year, $58 million offer sheet with Phoenix, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard.  Gordon, who averaged 20.6 ppg in only nine games for the Hornets last year, is one of the more highly coveted free agents in this class because of his elite scoring ability, but because he’s a restricted free agent New Orleans can and probably will match the offer.

Gordon met with Phoenix on Tuesday and had a fruitful enough meeting to walk out with an offer.  Since the team is most likely losing Steve Nash this summer, they are looking for a new star to build around, and Gordon certainly would qualify as that.

“After visiting the Suns, the impression the organization made on me was incredible,” Gordon told Broussard. “Mr. (Robert) Sarver, Lon Babby, Lance Blanks, the Front Office Staff and Coach (Alvin) Gentry run a first-class organization, and I strongly feel they are the right franchise for me. Phoenix is just where my heart is now.”

Wherever Gordon’s heart may be, hit talents may be in New Orleans for the next four years if the Hornets match this offer as expected.  They’ve got plenty of cap space, a couple of promising rookies in Austin Rivers and Anthony Davis, and a brand new owner looking to help turn the franchise around after a pretty dismal year one of the post-Chris-Paul Era.  It would truly come as a shock if they simply let the best asset from the Paul trade walk away for nothing.

With Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade gracefully aging into the twilights of their careers, Gordon is on an upward swing that could end up with him being one of the top two or three shooting guards in the league.  The only question will be whether he can stay healthy; Gordon has missed 103 games over the course of the last three seasons.

Despite all that, he’s still worth the money, which is probably why Phoenix offered it to him.  New Orleans probably had a good idea Gordon would get a max offer and will have been planning for that for months now.

Gordon will sign the offer sheet on July 11, at which point the Hornets will have three days to match it.

In other news, The Los Angeles Lakers are making a “hard push” to acquire Steve Nash, according to David Aldridge. The Lakers join the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks as teams that are pursuing Nash.

Much like the Knicks, the Lakers would have to put together a sign-and-trade to land the star point guard. The Lakers still have the $8.9 million traded-player exception that they acquired when they dealt Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks.

According to multiple reports, the Houston Rockets have withdrawn the qualifying offer that would have made Courtney Lee a restricted free agent. Lee is now free to sign anywhere he chooses, so expect renewed interest from some of his former suitors: Chicago, Indiana, Minnesota, among them.

Finally, the Dwight Howard saga has come down to an inevitable messy divorce with the Magic. The Magic have informed teams that they will listen to trade offers for Howard, Yahoo! Sports is reporting.

According the Orlando Sentinel, Magic CEO Alex Martins has said the team will not go into the 2012-13 season with Howard’s situation unresolved. Many members of the Magic organization have believed for weeks that Howard wanted out.

Howard and new general manager Rob Hennigan met face-to-face Friday in Southern California — with Howard reportedly telling Hennigan that he wants a trade — it appears that Magic officials are ready to seek the best offers for the six-time All-Star.

According to ESPN, the  Nets are offering the Magic Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and their’ first-round draft picks in 2013, 2015 and 2017 for Howard — the most dominant big man in the league. Mike Bianchi of the Sentinel wrote that this would be like trading in an ’87 Yugo and getting a brand new Lexis in return. Maybe, maybe not, but one thing is for sure, the Magic will never move forward with Howard flip flopping like this, and the last time I checked, Yugo’s, or ay old car for that matter that still runs, if properly maintained will move forward and eventually you will arrive at your destination. There will always be a sucker in the NBA that takes any kind of a trade in.

The Magic must start to rebuild and it begins with a Howard trade to the NETS. If they can send him to Houston or LA in the Western Conference and get a similar deal, then it should be already done.

For a list of available NBA Free agents click here and to keep up with the big signings, stay with Z-Best Sports Talk.

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About Alan Zlotorzynski

I am a 42-year-old amateur sports talk show host, and sports writer. I am from Baltimore, MD, and my first love is all things "Balwmer". The Ravens, Orioles, Terps, and Washington Capitals are the teams I love. Living in Melbourne Florida now, I follow the Florida Gators, and casually watch the other two Florida NHL teams. I love sports history, especially the NFL and NHL from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I miss the Baltimore Colts, and the Baltimore Orioles. I hate everything Pittsburgh sports and will always cheer for whoever is playing the “Stillers”, Penguins, and Pirates. However, I do have much respect for the way those teams (except for the Pirates, they suck as bas the O’s) compete. I love the underdog, and 2-to-1 pitching duels. 10-7 mistake free defensive football games are great to watch and I like old time hockey. I believe Europeans are ruining the NHL. And Peter Angelos is a dick. I don't like the NBA, but I will watch the playoffs. I love college basketball. And believe March Madness is the best sports championship of the year followed by the Super Bowl. Nothing and I mean nothing beats a Game No.7 of any NHL playoff series. My favorite all time athletes are Johnny Unitas, Ray Lewis, Cal Ripken Jr., Wayne Gretzky, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. ( Junior sucks). For those of you that still call No.52 a murderer, you’re an asshole. Speaking of No.52, I don’t like Mike Green of the Washington Capitals because I don’t like crybaby sissies, who get hurt all of the time. I don’t like people who chronically complain about shit and do nothing to fix it. I love sports movies, and feel the top three all-time are *61, Field of Dreams, and Slap Shot. I love my hometown teams, but am also a realist. While I hate Duke Basketball, I feel Coach"K" is the greatest coach in any sport of my generation. Bill Belichick is a distant second. I don't like the Indianapolis Colts, but love Peyton Manning; I cannot stand the New York Yankees, but love Derek Jeter. I love my beautiful wife very much, whom I will be married to for three years this June. Gina is the greatest woman God has ever placed on this earth, and I now know she was my high school sweetheart all along. Without her my life would be shit. With her, I’m on top of the world. I have four great kids, and my oldest will always be Daddy’s Little Girl. Lauren I love you, and I will always be there for you. Izzi, Sarah, and Marco---Daddy Mr. Alan will never let you down either. I’d like to thank my father for his undying support, he is the greatest. I’m blessed to have a great step mother. Thanks Ome for being so good to me and my family. I want to tell my brother Brian, and sister Treena that I love them very much, and their families. Mom would be so proud. Speaking of mom, I miss her very much and know that she is watching from above. She is a big reason I’ve made it this far in life, and while I haven’t hit the big time yet, I know I will because of how she raised me. By the way, when I do make it, all of you are coming along for the ride. Thanks for your support, and if there is something you would like to read or hear just drop me a line at zbestsports1@gmail.com. Please be sure to log in and listen on Blog talk radio on MONDAY-WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY @ 6:30 to hear Z-Best R-rated Sports Talk.
This entry was posted in Dwight Howard, EURO 2012, London olympics, NBA, NFL, Orlando Magic, UEFA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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