Celtics/Lakers, Trade Deadline, Branch Wants To Return

There are a number of good topics out there today, as the Celtics are in Los Angeles to take on the Lakers, and will likely have a new member of their team (Nate Robinson). There is also the possibility that Danny Ainge could pull something else off before this afternoon’s 3:00PM trade deadline.

Also, Deion Branch stated his desire to return to the Patriots, which would have to be via trade, as the Seahawks have said they won’t release him. And oh yeah, pitchers and catchers officially report to Fort Meyers today.

Shooting for versatility – For those of you wondering what Nate Robinson can bring to the Celtics and what Danny Ainge is thinking in bringing him here, the best basketball writer in town, Steve Bulpett explains.

What’s deal with Nate Robinson? – Chris Forsberg disagrees with Bulpett, calling this move more of a shake-up than an upgrade.

Doc Rivers lauds Eddie House’s professional approach – Bulpett with a second strong article today as he has Coach Doc Rivers appreciative of all that Eddie House has brought to the team.

Roots tug at Deion Branch – Karen Guregian has Branch talking about how much he still loves coach Belichick (wait, I thought the players hated their coach) and how he would probably be crying at a press conference if he got to come back.

Team’s hands tied on Adalius Thomas – Ian Rapoport explains why the Patriots haven’t parted ways with Thomas just yet.

Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity on WXKS-AM lineup – Jessica Heslam reports that yesterday’s all-staff meeting at Entercom was cancelled, and has a look at the Red Sox spring training plans for various media outlets.

Boof Bonser Has Chance to Be Difference-Maker for Red Sox Out of Bullpen – Tom Caron looks at why a game named Boof could be a big addition to the Red Sox.

Buchholz could have inside track this time – Daniel Barbarisi has Clay Buchholz in a much better position with the Red Sox in 2010.

Lots of managers wished they had Terry Francona’s issues – Mike Fine says that the Red Sox manager might have a myriad of moving parts, but most major league managers would be happy being given what Francona has to work with.

Matsuzaka thrown off schedule by sore upper back – Amalie Benjamin has Daisuke Matsuzaka suffering a back injury while training, which puts him behind the rest of the pitchers a little bit.

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Celtics Hold Off Kings

The Celtics once again held a double-digit lead in last night’s game, only to see the young Sacramento Kings come back to take a brief lead in the fourth quarter. This time though, the Celtics had enough to hold off the Kings, who certainly didn’t help themselves with 2-10 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter.

Reserve strength helps Celtics beat Kings – A. Sherrod Blakely looks at how the bench carried the Celtics to the win last night.

Sources: Celtics to land Knicks’ Nate Robinson – Mark Murphy has the Celtics close to obtaining three-time slam dunk champion Robinson, possibly in exchange for Eddie House.

Flights of fancy boost Williams – Julian Benbow with a thorough Celtics notebook, leading off with Sheldon Williams’ quick trip to Russia over the All Star Break.

New York media: Jonathan Papelbon ‘may be closing for the Yankees sooner than you think’ – Dan Lamothe criticizes a New York Post story that took some of the Red Sox closer’s words to mean he’ll be in pinstripes soon.

United Football League Team Officially Arrives In Connecticut – Paul Doyle looks at Hartford landing a UFL franchise, (The former New York Sentinels) which will be coached by Chris Palmer.

What the Pats should do this offseason – The Patriots should hire Tom E Curran right now, because he just has all the answers.

Mailbag is full with talk of Wilfork, FAs – Mike Reiss answers reader questions in his mailbag.

John Lackey: Passionate pitches – Gordon Edes with a feature on the new Red Sox right hander, and how his intensity on the mound should be embraced by Boston fans.

Lowell braces himself for an uncertain spring – Rob Bradford talks to Mike Lowell about getting ready to play baseball in 2010 – no matter where that might be.

Plenty of ‘pen options – Mike Fine checks the bullpen options for the Red Sox.

Also check out Chris Warner’s Q&A with Boston College Linebacker Mike McLaughlin on Patriots Daily as the former Eagle preps for the NFL draft. Good stuff about being a “Mike” linebacker, and from a guy who grew up a Patriots fan.

Today is the day Entercom boss David Field meets with their Boston employees, as reported by Jessica Heslam last week. While Heslam’s story speculated that staff cuts might be coming, Glenn Ordway scoffed at that idea on his show yesterday.

Celtics Go Back To The Grind

The long All Star Weekend is past, and the Celtics look to get back to work as they kick off the unofficial second half of the season with their traditional February West coast swing. With the trade deadline coming up on Thursday, talk continues that the Celtics are trying to make a move to position themselves for making a run at another championship.

What to look for as NBA trade week unfolds – Paul Flannery with a look at the possibilities for this week.

Cavaliers trade rumors increase pressure on Celtics to deal – Robert Lee with a look at whether rumors that the Cavaliers are close to acquiring Amar’e Stoudemire impacts the Celtics thinking in trades.

Celtics point and shoot – Mark Murphy says that the news of the impending Cavs deal does not alter the Celtics thinking.

Celtics better have better half – Gary Washburn has the Celtics focused on an improved second half to the season, no matter what their roster looks like at the end of the week.

Top 10 Red Sox Players With Most at Stake in Spring Training – Michael Hurley runs down a number of players with something to prove over the next couple of months.

Boston’s trek to playoff baseball starts this week – Joe McDonald with a position-by-position look at how the Red Sox should perform in 2010.

Patriots Must Relearn to Perfect Art of Play-Calling – Jeff Howe looks at how Bill O’Brien and the Patriots offensive coaches need to improve on their play calling for 2010.

Questions linger for Brandon Tate – Mike Reiss with a look at the second year receiver, who could be a diamond in the rough for the Patriots.

A good draft for Pats to get defensive – Christopher Price talks to a couple of NFL draft analysts about what the Patriots might be able to get in the upcoming draft.

Thomas happy to be wearing USA sweater – Mick Colageo has Bruins goalie Tim Thomas just happy to be along for the ride with Team USA.

Adam Kilgore Heading Down To D.C.

We’ll lead off this morning with the news that Boston Globe Patriots beat writer Adam Kilgore will be leaving the paper to go down to Washington D.C. and take over the Nationals beat for the Washington Post.

The move is said to be a personal one, rather than a professional one, as Kilgore is taking a job with his former paper, and in a place where he has some personal ties which make the move a good fit for him.

This is a blow for the Globe, as Kilgore has always been a rock steady performer, taking intelligent, reasoned stands, and staying away from the muck-racking which is more and more prevalent in his profession these days.

Now, on to the top links for today:

Wizards, Celts in swap talks – Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the two teams talking about a potential blockbuster trade.

NBC’s universal coverage will be hard to miss – Chad Finn will be among the Globe staff in Vancouver for the Olympics, and he previews the TV coverage in his media column today.

Busy time for Celtics call-in show – Bill Doyle talks to WEEI Celtics postgame host John Ryder about the current struggles of the team, and talks about his career in sports radio.

Red Sox have trucked a long way – Jon Couture notes that as absurd as “truck day” has gotten, it’s a good time to reflect just how far the Red Sox have come.

Mirror, mirror on the wall . . .  – Rich Levine with a detailed look at the Celtics problems, and how to fix them.

Some Celtics trade rumors don’t add up, but an Iguodala deal would make sense – Robert Lee looks through the various trade rumors and advocates a trade for the 76ers André Iguodala.

Hot Peppers talk needs cooling down – Tom E Curran says Patriots fans shouldn’t be getting hot and bothered over Julius Peppers.

After decades in the minors, Johnson looks forward to major role – Joe McDonald has former PawSox manager Ron Johnson looking forward to his first season on the Red Sox major league staff.

Bruins slip Lightning comeback – Stephen Harris reports on the Bruins 5-4 victory in Tampa over the Lightning.

Get to know the new look Red Sox – John Tomase has a position-by-position look at what the Red Sox should look like come opening day.

…and for the NASCAR folk – Wounded knee won’t bury Hamlin – Michael Vega has Denny Hamlin getting ready to race in the Daytona 500 with a torn ACL.

I also wanted to comment on a Boston.com Patriots blog entry this morning. Albert Breer happened to write this one, and while this is going to sound like I’m picking on Breer, he’s not the only one to spout this point of view. In talking about the franchise tag, and whether the Patriots will use it on Vince Wilwork – actually the post is titled Why is Wilfork not tagged yet? – Breer says the following in conclusion:

Remember, what players get upset about isn’t simply being tagged — It’s the violation of the spirit of the tag. The idea of the rule, in the first place, was to keep valuable players (namely, quarterbacks) from arbitrarily switching teams. But it’s become a way of holding players hostage for a year or two, and delaying their big paydays. It’s important, if this negotiation gets to the point where Wilfork must be tagged, a day that’s still likely to come, he doesn’t feel like that’s what’s happening.

C’mon. a violation of the spirit of the tag? Can you tell me the difference between the two scenarios? You’re either “keeping a valuable player” or holding them hostage (unfortunate choice of words, by the way.)

I’ve heard the “spirit of the tag” elsewhere. Do these people forget that this was a negotiated point in the CBA that the players agreed to? So did they agree to it, but never expect the owners to actually use it?

Looking at the other side, was free agency never supposed to be about players arbitrarily swtiching teams? Have they violated the spirit of free agency?

I’m always bemused when the media applauds players for treating things like a business, (Tony Massarotti has been adamant lately that if he was Tom Brady, he’d have no loyalty to the Patriots since he’s not from here, and this isn’t a good place to play and that he should go chase the money elsewhere.) but when a team makes a move within the rules to protect and hold onto a business asset, they’re holding them hostage – at millions and millions of dollars per year.

If the use of the tag really has turned out to be different from its original intention, it will be interesting to see if it is tweaked to be more specific as to its use. Is it changed to only include quarterbacks? Or specific positions (not kickers)?

Week Log: One Flame Extinguished, Another One Lit

Today feels a little like sitting in the middle of a busy intersection. We’ve got a Super Bowl just concluded, both the B’s and C’s on the eve of a winter interlude, and the engines turning over to start a new baseball season. And, of course, the Olympics are torching up tomorrow, which is where we’ll start this morning.
Olympics

The XXI Olympic Winter Games kick off in Vancouver with torch-lighting ceremonies tomorrow night and, as Dan Wetzel reports, there are no snow sightings. Too bad Washington, D.C. didn’t bid on these Winter Games. Boston.com’s Olympics Blog thinks that if airport logistics are any indication, Vancouver will have its snow problems under control in no time.

On the slopes, Bode Miller’s Blog has him grateful for a spread-out schedule that will help him get through all five Alpine events on a bruised ankle. ESPN’s Winter Olympics Blog has Miller comfortable behind the mic working his anti-media shtick. In the rink, Boston Sports Then And Now has Tim Thomas’ play vindicating Team USA Coach Ron Wilson for naming Sabres goalie Ryan Miller his starter. Amid a flurry of team previews, Olympic Hockey Blog takes some time to check out all three Team USA goalie masks.

Enough about the men. Sports Illustrated takes an intimate look – let’s make that lots of looks – at the other half of the U.S. Olympic Team. One Sport Voice says Lindsey Vonn’s recent cover shoot is indicative of Sports Illustrated’s knack for sexualizing woman athletes. Fourth-Place Medal says Vonn is more than a pretty face, as any reader of Sports Illustrated can attest.

Super Bowl

The New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl on Sunday in what is being billed as the most-watched TV event in history, but NBC Sports’ Out of Bounds finds such a claim insulting to M*A*S*H diehards. The Super Bowl was Boston Sports‘ epiphany that the decade of feel-good stories surrounding Boston teams has officially ended.

The Rap Sheet is struck by the Saints’ embrace of victory. Former Patriots FB Heath Evans concludes his stint with It Is What It Is by regaling New Englanders of what it’s like to win a Super Bowl. Michael Hurley views the Saints’ gutsy risk-taking as a further encouragement for Bill Belichick next season. We’re Just Saying finds it poetic justice that the team that put it on the line all season took all the chances in this one, while the one that opted for imperfection during the regular season found it in the Super Bowl as well.

If any team has fallen out of the public’s favor faster than the Patriots, it is the Indianapolis Colts. The fall started with Week 16’s SubsGate, followed by SubsGate II the next week. On Sunday, the Colts were lambasted for questionable play-calling and being out game-planned. Now the great Peyton Manning is under fire for poor sportsmanship. And don’t forget Reggie Wayne, says Pro Football Talk. How Belichickian of them, you might think, but Shutdown Corner says no, Peyton’s indiscretion merely shows how badly he wanted to win. Because Belichick didn’t care about winning, right? Extra Points says Manning handled himself like a pro after the incident. Boston Blood Sox has Manning exposing himself as a fraud in both Greatest QB Ever and Classy Individual categories. Boston Dirt Dogs lays to rest all talk of Manning being better than Tom Brady. Mass Hysteria loves piling on the Colts; even ex-Colts can’t escape their wrath.

Inside Track brings us a behind-the-scenes look at last Sunday’s battle of two titans, as Oprah gets Leno and Letterman in the same room. In what might be a BSMW first, we give you Christian Science Monitor‘s five worst Super Bowl commercials and no, Tim Tebow & Mom are not among them. MediaBiz has the Tebows’ spot getting the least viewers and tells you which one got the most.

Would you throw Megan Fox out of the tub for having clubbed thumbs? Well, Daily Mail has Motorola not wanting to chance it as they bring us a tale of thumb doubles. Google’s Parisian Love ad told Sports Central a sweet story that leaves them wanting for more, while Boston Sports Blog gives them more with a couple of their own versions. Be sure to clear your search history after this one!

B’s / C’s

Have there ever been two groups in more need of a vacation than B’s and C’s fans? The respective seasons of discontent come to a putter-out after tonight’s Bruins game in Tampa, then it’s off to the shop for some tweaking as trade deadlines approach in both the NHL and NBA and the B’s and C’s sit in the waiting area for the Olympics / All-Star breaks to end.

The B’s have put together their first consecutive wins since December after beating both the Canadiens and Sabres. Something funny even happened for The Big Bad Bruins on Tuesday’s way to another shootout loss after blowing a 2-0 lead: the B’s won! The Hub Of Hockey says this is a different team with a contributing Marc Savard on the ice. As the trade deadline looms, Something’s Bruin is shopping Tim Thomas around.

Going the other way, the C’s have dropped two in a row after a modest three-game win streak. Courtside View credits Rajon Rondo for facing the music in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to the Orlando Magic when his veteran teammates were hard to find. The only thing more eye-gougingly uglier last night than the Hornets’ uniforms to North Station Sports was the Celtics’ performance in New Orleans. I happened to flip this one on right at Tony Lee‘s turning point, as the lights went out on a 12-point lead and my TV went off shortly thereafter. Green Street has the funk now turning 23 games old with no signs of letting up.

Red Sox

By this time tomorrow morning, the 18-wheeler carrying the Sox’ equipment to Florida will be just turning onto Brookline Avenue and spring will be born again. Toeing The Rubber answers the age-old question of how stupid you’d have to be to stand in the cold and watch a truck drive away. The Mighty Quinn Media Machine sees irony in this 1,480-mile truck ride being sponsored by an airline.

Extra Bases already places 50 players at the minor league complex in Fort Myers, and all 50 are in the best shape of their lives. Can the World Series trophy be far behind? Fire Brand Of The American League takes a few pre-spring training moments to reflect on the highs and lows involved in being Red Sox fans.

Utility Lou for one is sick of the cold and finds warmth in the future at shortstop with Jose Iglesias. Until then, we have Marco Scutaro, whom The Bottom Line sees as the next . . . Julio Lugo. A Very Simple Game wonders what the Sox will get among the lot of non-roster spring training invitees this year. Red Sox Monster sees this group as the last frontier of drama, given the talent already assembling in Florida. Fearing an invite extended in Nomar Garciaparra’s direction, Fenway Pastoral says thanks but no thanks.

I, too, will be among the diehards seeing off the truck tomorrow morning so you won’t have to. Look for my fan reactions tomorrow on Boston Dirt Dogs and we’ll see you back here next week. I can almost smell the diesel!

Yet Another Celtics Meltdown

For the tenth time since Christmas day, the Celtics blew a double digit lead, and lost to the New Orleans Hornets 93-85 in a game that was just painful to watch in the second half. This team is in serious need of a jolt.

Bad habits bug Celtics – Frank Dell’Apa has the depressing game story from New Orleans.

Welcome back to the Twilight Zone – Paul Flannery with a look at what’s ailing this team in the third quarter, and why we shouldn’t expect a P.J. Brown type to just be sitting out there on the scrap heap.

Are C’s forcing Danny Ainge’s hand? Chris Forsberg wonders if the Celtics are putting the pressure on their boss to make a move by their uninspired play.

Rolodex of the Mind … beginning with Rondo – Lenny Megliola lets loose with a stream of consciousness.

Boston radio station cuts feared – Jessica Heslam reports that Entercom could be making more staff cuts to WEEI and WRKO.

Turning point near for Vince Wilfork – Mike Reiss says that we’ve reached a key checkpoint of the Patriots offseason, as they can now officially put the franchise tag on Vince Wilfork if they like.

Coordinating the staff – Albert Breer expands on some thoughts by Jason Cole on the Patriots coaching situation.

Kevin Youkilis right at home in Hub – Steve Buckley with a feature on the Red Sox slugger, who now seems like a lifelong native of Boston.

Without Jason Bay, Red Sox May Have to Address Lack of Offense – Tom Caron looks at the offseason changes in the Red Sox lineup.

Buzz back in Bruins – Stephen Harris says that a couple of wins has done wonders for the Bruins confidence.

Check back a little later for Bob Ekstrom’s week log…

Bruins Win Two In A Row? Really?

The Bruins have been awful for a long stretch this season, but they haven’t packed it in just yet. Last night they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in the sudden death shootout for their second win in a row.

Bruins shoot down Sabres, 3-2 – Joe Haggerty has the game story and talking points on this one.

Rask, Paille lead B’s to second straight win – Dan Rowinski on WEEI.com also looks at the victory.

An Ortiz revival and a Lester slump? What the numbers guys say about the 2010 Red Sox – Daniel Barbarisi takes a look at the 2010 Red Sox from the pages of a few books of statistical projection.

Plenty of questions as Red Sox head to spring training – It’s that time again – the annual “Questions heading into the start of spring training/training camp” articles are starting to pour in. Today, Michael Silverman has nine questions about the 2010 Sox.

Jon Lester at top of Red Sox rotation – Silverman gets two links this morning, as he also has a piece on the Red Sox 26-year-old lefty ace.

Rob Leary an organization man – Gordon Edes looks at the new man in charge of the Red Sox spring training schedule.

Rajon Rondo on His Way to Becoming Celtics’ Centerpiece – Liam Martin says that the Celtics point guard is their MVP this season, no doubt about it.

Doc Rivers: Enough talking – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics coach urging his team to back up their words.

Road trip will reveal much about Celtics – Jim Fenton says that the Celtics are in need of a jump start, and the upcoming West coast swing could provide that.

Bill in full charge – Mark Farinella believes that Bill Belichick’s decision not to name any coordinators is solely for the purpose of stiffing the media.