Al Horford

Al Horford

With the NBA trade deadline residing just 10 days away, things are getting interesting, particularly when it comes to the Celtics.

Speaking on CSN New England, Chris Mannix suggested there might be some traction when it comes to the Celtics’ rumored interest in Atlanta forward Al Horford.

“I think Boston, Al Horford is a legitimate possibility for the Celtics,
Mannix said. “I think that is one of the guys across the league that Danny Ainge is the most excited about. He is a four man that would fit right into what Boston is trying to do.

“It would cost a lot of money to re-sign him in the offseason, but I think Boston is willing to play it, because they haven’€™t paid a lot of money for players in recent years.”

Horford, whose contract expires at the end of this season, is averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Mannix surmised that a potential deal wouldn’t get done until closer to the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

With the NBA trade deadline now just over a week away, focus has shifted to a team that appears to be on the verge of blowing it up — the Atlanta Hawks.

Al Horford

Al Horford

With the NBA trade deadline now just over a week away, focus has shifted to a team that appears to be on the verge of blowing it up — the Atlanta Hawks.

With free-agent-to-be Al Horford and sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Atlanta has a couple of pieces that could interest the Celtics, as ESPN insider Chad Ford noted in a recent column, when he proposed a trade of the two to Boston for David Lee, Kelly Olynyk and a pair of first-round picks (neither one coming from Brooklyn).

Ford also proposed a larger three-way deal involving the Kings that would send out Evan Turner and the upcoming Nets pick (which could be No. 1 overall), among other pieces, and bring DeMarcus Cousins back to Boston.

That’s not happening. The Hawks present an intriguing trade partner, however. Horford’s impending free agency automatically depresses his market, and the athletic big man would give the Celtics a dimension they certainly lacked in Tuesday’s 112-111 loss to the Bucks, when Greg Monroe torched them for 29 points, including the go-ahead layup with one second left.

Horford is capable of shooting from 16 feet or scoring on the block, and he’s an excellent team defender. He’d fit right into Brad Stevens‘ system on the opposing end of the floor, which is where the Celtics win games.

Korver would give them something they desperately need as well, a guard/forward who can knock down open 3-pointers. He’s shooting .383 from deep this season, which is actually his lowest mark in a decade, but would still rank second on the Celtics (behind Olynyk’s .415) among players with at least 100 attempts.

Lifetime, Korver shoots 3’s at an absurd .429 clip, including a league-best .492 last year and an NBA-record .536 in 2010. At age 34, he’s the rare player to hit his stride when his career should be winding down. He’s an average defender in a helping scheme, at best, but his shooting could help the Celtics space the floor.

Also, Horford and Korver are both considered winning players, no small consideration when looking for guys who will buy into Stevens’ system.

Might there be a match? We’ll find out in the next eight days.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Brad Stevens (left) and Doc Rivers represent an excellent continuum of Celtics coaches. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)Doc Rivers didn't want to rebuild.



Jason Kidd may have figured out the only way to beat the Celtics — stack the bench. Kidd’€™s decision to bring Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams off the bench paid off, as the Bucks defeated the Celtics 112-111 on Tuesd

Feb 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts after a call in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 112-111. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts after a call in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 112-111. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Kidd may have figured out the only way to beat the Celtics, stack the bench.

Kidd’€™s decision to bring Greg Monroe and Michael Carter Williams off the bench tonight paid off, as the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Boston Celtics 112-11 Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

The Bucks built up a huge lead in the second half, outscoring the Celtics 40-20 in the third quarter. Monroe was simply unstoppable, scoring 12 of his game-high 29 points in the frame.

In the final six minutes, the Celtics made a frantic comeback, cutting the 21-point deficit to three with 59 seconds to play.

After Jae Crowder tied the game at 109-109, ,a Monroe lay-up put the Bucks back up by two with only one second remaining.

With the Bucks in the bonus, Bayless gave Kelly Olynyk the opportunity to tie the game by fouling Olynyk on the ensuing inbound pass. After Olynyk sank both free throws, it looked as if the game was going to overtime.

On the Bucks next play, an over aggressive Bradley fouled Khris Middleton as he caught the pass. Middleton made the first, before intentionally missing the second to seal the one-point victory for the Bucks.

Monroe, who has given the Celtics struggles in the past, was especially dominant, scoring a game-high 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting. Carter Williams added 16 points, Jarred Bayless had 14, as the Bucks bench outscored the Celtics 62-50.

Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder led the team with 18 points, while four other Celtics scored in double figures.

The loss snaps the (31-22) Celtics four-game win streak, and is only their fourth in their last sixteen games.

The C’€™s return home to play Paul Pierce, Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night at TD Garden. For a complete box score, click here STUD OF THE NIGHT Greg Monroe

Monroe has historically dominated the Celtics. He also scored 29 points against the C’€™s last year as member of the Pistons. Tonight, he dominated in the post, gobbling up every defender Brad Stevens threw at him. When the Celtics attempted to double him, he made the correct passes. He made a huge impact on the glass, finishing with 12 boards, half of which on offense.

DUD OF THE NIGHT Tito Zeller With Amir Johnson in foul trouble, Stevens turned to GodZeller to stop Monroe. Although he had been played well recently, Zeller failed miserably, as the Celtics were a -22 in his 10 minutes on the floor.

VINE OF THE NIGHT Sad Brad

WHINE OF THE NIGHT Interior Defense

Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson have to do a better job defending the post. The duo are supposed to be the team’€™s best interior defenders, but didn’€™t even fight for position. Monroe repeatedly got deep post position. By the time he caught the basketball, he had already won the battle. While the Celtics are keen on playing small, these two will have to play better when the C’€™s match-up against teams with a legitimate center.

STAT OF THE NIGHT Turnovers: Celtics 18, Bucks 14.

The Celtics do not usually lose the turnover battle, but tonight they were extremely sloppy with the basketball, especially in the first half. It’€™s not as if the Bucks were taking the ball from the Celtics, as they only finished with five steals, rather the Celtics made a number of dumb and inaccurate passes. Primary ball handlers Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner both turned it over four times.

@ OF THE NIGHT

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

For only the second time in his career, veteran point guard Rajon Rondo returned to Boston on Sunday to face the Celtics at TD Garden.

It was just over a year ago when the Celtics surprisingly traded Rondo to the Mavericks, and since then, the rebuilding Celtics have blossomed into one of the better teams in the East. In fact, the Celtics are 62-50 since the Rondo trade and have won nine of their last 10 games after beating the Kings, 128-119, on Sunday. With the win, the Celtics (31-22) hold the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

After the game, Rondo talked about the Celtics’ depth and credited coach Brad Stevens for the team’s recent success.

“They play well as a team,” Rondo said. “They may be 13, 14 guys deep. You never know who’s going to get it going for them each night. You look at the box score and someone is leading them in scoring different every night. So they’ve been playing well as a team. Brad has these guys rolling, believing in the system and they’re playing very unselfish.”

Rondo said he still keeps in touch with some of his old teammates, and he wished the team well.

“I sent Avery [Bradley] a text after the big shot he made the other day [against the Cavs],” Rondo said. “My young guys, Kelly [Olynyk], Jared [Sullinger]. A lot of these guys are my rookies. So it’s good to see these guys playing well. I wish them health and happiness and to continue to play and try to take the East.”

Rondo wasn’t the only one who is impressed with Stevens and the Celtics. Kings coach George Karl praised Stevens after the game and said he believes the Celtics can make a run in the East.

“Coach Stevens does a great job of pushing buttons and keeping everyone highly motivated,” Karl said. “They’re a fun team. I watched three films on them. The Cleveland game, because we play Cleveland [on Monday] and I’ll tell you what, they have a chance against Cleveland.”

Rondo, who had 14 points, 15 assists and six steals against the Celtics, is having an excellent season for the Kings and most likely will be signing a generous contract extension this upcoming summer. He leads the league in assists (11.8) while averaging 12 points and 6.2 rebounds.

When Rondo was dealt back in December of 2014, very few could have predicted the Celtics to reach this level of success with such a young core and no perennial All-Star. However, the C’s continue to surprise the league, something that may not have happened if they didn’t part ways with the point guard who helped raise the franchise’s 17th championship banner.

If the Celtics decided to stick with Rondo, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge most likely would have given the point guard a hefty extension this past summer or let him walk — leaving Ainge and the Celtics with nothing in return. Instead, the Celtics still have Jae Crowder — the only player left from the Rondo deal, who has become one of the Celtics’ most valuable assets — as well as the Mavericks’ 2016 first-round pick.

It’s safe to say (if there’s any doubt) that the deal was a success. The Celtics have flexible cap space and a roster full of young talent that is fighting to stay in the top half of the Eastern Conference.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon
Feb 7, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (left) and Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) battle for a loose ball during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics center Jared Sullinger (left) and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins battle for a loose ball during the first half at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics defeated the Kings, 128-119, on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Avery Bradley opened the game hitting four of his first five shots, scoring 12 of his 25 points in the first quarter. Jared Sullinger tied his season-high with 21 points, while Isaiah Thomas added 22.

Playing in Boston for the first time as a member of the Kings, Rajon Rondo finished with 14 points, 15 assists and five rebounds.

Demarcus Cousins vacillated between looking incredibly disinterested to being the more talented player on the floor. He scored a game-high 31 points, while also pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out six assists.

The Celtics scored a season-high 46 points in the first quarter. It was the first time the Celtics scored 46 points in a quarter since 1996 and the largest first quarter total for any team in the NBA this season.

After building up a healthy 21-point lead in the third quarter, the Celtics got complacent with the basketball, committing a number of turnovers that allowed the Kings to slowly crawl their way back into the game.

Late in the fourth quarter the Kings cut the deficit to 115-109, before the Celtics were eventually able to pull away behind the strong play of Isaiah Thomas, who scored sevens points down the stretch.

With the win, the (31-22) Celtics are one game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for the third place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics will travel to Milwaukee to play the Bucks on Tuesday.

For a complete box score, click here.  

STUD OF THE NIGHT Avery Bradley

After hitting the game winning shot against the Cavs on Friday night, Bradley continued his hot shooting from beyond the arc. The Celtics shooting guard was six-of-seven from the three point line.  

DUD OF THE NIGHT George Karl

The Kings at no point resembled a team trying to win a basketball game, letting the Celtics take open after open shot. The performance was so lackluster, that the majority of Twitter was calling for Karl to be fired at halftime.  

VINE OF THE NIGHT ET, so hot right now, ET.  WHINE OF THE NIGHT Boogie didn’t get tossed. Cousins picked up a technical foul early in the first quarter, and it seemed like we were due to an ejection. Unfortunately, Boogie was able to keep his emotions in check and play the rest of the game.

STAT OF THE NIGHT Celtics Turnovers

The Celtics let the Kings creep back into the game by being extremely sloppy with the basketball. The team committed 24 turnovers, the most in a game this season. Every player who stepped on the floor for the Celtics committed a turnover, as Turner and Zeller each committed four.

@ OF THE NIGHT   

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

“Who the [expletive] is gonna stop this basketball player?” three-time Super Bowl champion and current Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel shouted.

As I was preparing to call a Penn State basketball game earlier this year for ESPN, I came across the bio of a former Penn State basketball player that caught my eye. Ross Travis, who stands 6-foot-7, 235 pounds, was the starting forward for Penn State the previous season, averaging five points and six boards per game. After not touching a football since the ninth grade, Travis found himself on the same playing field with Vrabel.

After playing four years of basketball as a forward in the Big Ten, Travis declared for the NFL draft after many curious observers, including myself, saw Travis move on the court and were in awe of his physical size and agility. Travis, like many other power forwards of past and present in Big Ten, was very big and athletic and had the body type to take the constant pounding below the basket.

Draymond Green, now with the Golden State Warriors who played for Michigan State, also stands 6-foot-7, 230 pounds (almost identical measurements as Travis) is equally as athletic and physical. Although Travis was undrafted by NFL, Former Penn State coach and current Houston Texans head man Bill O’Brien gave him a shot to show that he was more than just a basketball player during summer workouts.

I have always been fascinated how a star NBA player and elite athlete like LeBron James would perform in the NFL (with the proper coaching and training) as a tight end or receiver. I am sure NFL defenders will say, “There is no way a basketball player turned NFL receiver is scoring on me without getting lit up.”

I still remember my first time seeing a young Shaquille O’Neal in person while traveling to Los Angeles as a member of the Miami Heat and being in awe at how small he made our center, 7-footer Alonzo Mourning, look, and how easy he moved up and down the court with such a huge frame. At the time I was thinking, “Good luck trying to keep him out of the paint.”

Now, after hearing Ross Travis’ story, and those of others like Julius Peppers (who excelled at North Carolina in football while also playing basketball), I cannot help but imagine how a young O’Neal would be on the defensive line as a pass rusher at 7-foot-1, 300 pounds with some coaching. At a minimum I think he deflects one pass per game and perhaps with some coaching and technique (think Michael Oher) he becomes downright scary for opposing quarterbacks.

Now, before you get the idea that I am suggesting all college power forwards or freak athletes who excel at college hoops (like Big Baby Davis or Blake Griffin) should show up at an NFL combine when their hoop dreams don’t come true, I will stop you right there. I am talking about those rare cases of exceptional athletes, freaks of nature with a mix of muscular size, agility and footwork that make everyone wonder, “What if?”

I recently read a tweet that stated less than 2 percent of college football and basketball players turn pro, and the odds to stay in the pros over just signing a pro contract (I fit in that category of signing a pro contract and lasting one year) are even lower. So the odds are stacked against all college athletes coming out of school with hopes of playing for a check no matter what sport you choose or how good you are in college.

But still I am intrigued by the likes of Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (one season of football, four of basketball at Miami), or former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (two seasons of hoop at Syracuse). Most people don’t remember Terrell Owens played basketball at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and in the USBL.

Speaking of the USBL I go back to my days of playing in the USBL in the mid-’90s in Atlantic City after coming back from overseas during the summer while trying to catch on with a NBA team. The league was filled with nontraditional college basketball lifers.

Recently I called a Nevada game and coach Eric Musselman (a former USBL coach who went on to become a head coach in the NBA with the Kings and Warriors) and I reminisced about USBL rosters. I had R. Kelly (yes, the hit music maker) on my team with the Atlantic City Seagulls. Trying to boost attendance, the league had a rule that permitted a roster spot for a celebrity that didn’t count against the team’s 12-man limit. The Jacksonville Barracudas had boxer Roy Jones Jr. My coach, Kevin Mackey, said when going over the scouting report, “That guy is quick with his hands, so don’t get too close.” The Philadelphia Power had Arizona Cardinals defensive end Simeon Rice.

Most of us in the USBL at the time had dedicated four years to playing college ball, went overseas to tighten up our game and were thinking like Vrabel: No way I am letting R. Kelly (although we all brought his music), Roy Jones (although we all paid to watch him fight) or any other non-traditional, full-time basketball player — including football guys — score on us or stop us from scoring. None of us wanted to hear a coach yelling, “Who the [expletive] is gonna stop this football player” — or rapper or boxer?

I asked Tom McManus, who was a classmate of mine at Boston College in the early ’90s and went on to play five seasons in the NFL, what he thought of the chances of a basketball player making the transition.

“I think athletically absolutely it’s possible,” McManus said. “They have great ability to make quick change-of-direction moves on offense and defense.”

As we got deeper into the conversation he talked about the one thing they would have to adjust to: getting hit. That is my initial thought. LeBron, at 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, would without a doubt be the best athlete on the field in Sunday’s Super Bowl, including over one of the best athletes in NFL at any position in Cam Newton. But would LeBron be able to take a bone-crunching hit like Julian Edelman does and pop back up? That would be, in my opinion and the opinion of other former NFL players I spoke with, the million dollar question.

Travis, the former Penn state basketball player, re-signed with the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad after being let go earlier in the year. The story is still incomplete as to whether he will become a Sunday regular. But certainly his story is intriguing.

I am sure many other college or pro basketball fans have wondered the same as I now find myself doing. Which current college or pro basketball player do you think could make the transition to the NFL with some coaching and training? My NBA pick is Blake Griffin, and I would have loved to see Shaq rushing the passer anywhere on the defensive line.

Malcolm Huckaby is an ESPN college basketball analyst.

Twitter: @malcolm_huckaby

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Blog Author: 
Malcolm Huckaby

It’s time to start believing in the Celtics.