|02.07.16 at 8:47 am ET|
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.
|02.05.16 at 10:43 pm ET|
It’s time to start believing in the Celtics.
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 22 points, while Evan Turner filled up the score sheet, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. Bradley, Tyler Zeller, and Jared Sullinger also finished in double figures as the C’s (30-22) maintained their hold on the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The C’s actually trailed by four with six seconds left, but Turner made a layup while being fouled. He missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs, giving the Celtics one last chance to win with 3.7 seconds left. The Celtics inbounded to Thomas, who avoided a double team and fed the ball back to Bradley in the corner. The defensive specialist let it fly as the buzzer sounded, coolly walking along the Celtics bench in complete confidence before the ball even swished to give the Celtics one of their most uplifting victories of the season.
It didn’t appear they’d have a chance after the Cavs jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but despite struggling early in the first half, the Celtics kept the game close. LeBron James scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth, but the Celtics outscored the Cavs, 39-30 in that final frame.
For a complete box score, click here.
STUD OF THE NIGHT Bradley deserves credit for hitting the clutch shot, but the Celtics stayed in the game due to the play of Turner. In the fourth quarter, Turner made a number of plays on both offense and defense, including a block of James. He finished with a game-high +11 in 32 minutes.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: The Cleveland fans, still upset by the Kevin Love incident during last year’s playoffs, are still quite upset with Kelly Olynyk, booing him every time he touched the basketball. Olynyk did not respond well to the extra attention, finishing with two points in 12 minutes.
VINE OF THE NIGHT: The Game Winner Read the rest of this entry »
|02.05.16 at 9:09 am ET|
Appearing on Thursday’s Dale & Holley with Thornton, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge offered some clarity as to his approach toward the upcoming NBA trade deadline.
The most pressing question: Will Ainge be willing to include the Brooklyn Nets’ 2016 first-round pick — which the Celts own — in a potential deal?
“Sure. The Brooklyn pick could be had for the right person,” Ainge noted. “It’s going to be a costly price, as it would be for some of our best players. Look, we’re not looking to trade the Brooklyn pick, but at the same time, I could certainly see some things that we would do for the Brooklyn pick. And they wouldn’t be taking risks.
“We value [the Brooklyn pick]. Even the chance, even a small chance to get a very talented player is worth [keeping the pick] because you have some chance. And you can’t just give up a chance to get a really good player unless [it’s] for another really good player.”
Ainge added, “It would have to be, certainly, a very good player. And also it probably wouldn’t be someone in their 30s. That would have to be a good young player, because again, even if we had a 5 percent or a 10 percent or a 15 percent chance at one of the top picks in the draft, that’s worth keeping.”
Brooklyn has the third-worst record in the NBA at 12-38, with the Sixers (7-42) and Lakers (11-41) the only two teams with fewer wins. The Suns (14-37) and Timberwolves (15-38) are next on the list after the Nets.
Danny Ainge with Dale, Holley and Thornton
|02.03.16 at 10:25 pm ET|
Like Will Ferrell in “Old School,” the Celtics are officially streaking. The C’s won for the seventh time in eight games on Wednesday night, leading from wire-to-wire in a 102-95 victory over the Pistons.
Isaiah Thomas (17 points) led five Celtics in double figures as the Celtics opened a 24-point lead before holding on down the stretch. Guard Marcus Smart sealed it with a corner 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds with the lead down to seven.
The Celtics won with interior defense and efficient offense. They did a stellar job of defending the pick and roll between Pistons All-Star Andre Drummond and Boston College alumnus Reggie Jackson. And they picked the Pistons apart inside, scoring on drives and backdoor cuts, finishing with 54 points in the paint and 18 points on fast breaks.
With the win, the Celtics have won six straight at home and remain tied with the Hawks for third place in the Eastern Conference.
|02.03.16 at 12:10 pm ET|
In a report that will surprise no one, the Celtics are interested in trading David Lee before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. After reports on Monday that Danny Ainge spoke to Lee about his future, today Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck tweeted :
Some trade buzz: BOS intends to move David Lee by Feb. 18 deadline, or buy him out. Lee is out of rotation and wants a role somewhere.
‘ Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) February 3, 2016
Lee will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and has not played in a game since Jan. 10. Despite the lack of playing time, Lee has not been a distraction in the locker room, drawing praise from both Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge for his handling of the situation. The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reports that the Celtics and Lee’s agents are working together to find an amicable solution.
|02.03.16 at 10:14 am ET|
After Paul Pierce led the Celtics to the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, and before he led them to the 2008 title, he wanted out of Boston, and he nearly got his wish.
Speaking to Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast, Pierce explained how he helped nix a deal to the Blazers and pushed for a trade to the Mavericks that would’ve altered Celtics history.
“It was just discouraging,” Pierce told Mannix, courtesy NESN.com. “It was just like I want people to know who Paul Pierce is, what type of player he is, but the only way to do that is to be on the big stage, be in the playoffs with a shot at the championship. It was discouraging playing so well and not reaching the team success that I wanted to reach. Because at the end of the day, that’s how you’re going to be measured on how your team does more than what you do as an individual. When I didn’t see that, the results of that, it created doubts where maybe I could go somewhere else and find that.”
Trader Danny Ainge, who long lusted after point guard Chris Paul, worked on the framework of a deal that would swap the two young stars. But Pierce wanted none of it.
“It was just like, (the Blazers) weren’t going to the playoffs, they had a young team, too, players always getting in trouble, and I was just like, I’m not going to Portland,” Pierce said on the podcast. “I think I made the announcement. I think I did an article in the paper saying I wasn’t going to Portland if I got traded there. I might as well stay in Boston if I go to Portland. I know that was the one trade I knew about that was on the table that they were really close to pulling.”
Pierce had another destination in mind: Dallas, where he would join his fellow member of the draft class of 1998, Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs boasted a committed owner in Mark Cuban, and a young roster that would eventually win a title in 2011. Maybe it would’ve happened sooner with Pierce.
“If you can get me to Dallas, that’s where I wanted to go at the time,’ Pierce said. “I thought Dallas was a player like me away from winning. They were 50-game winners. Dirk was pretty much by himself. I even ran into Dirk and Mark Cuban that summer. It was like, ‘Mark, you’ve got to find a way to get me over there. I want to get over there. I think I could help you all get over the hump.'”
It never happened, and for that, the Celtics should be grateful.
|02.03.16 at 8:59 am ET|
The rumor mill continues to churn out interesting stories regarding the Celtics and their pursuit of a marquee player. The latest has the C’s talking to the Rockets about veteran center Dwight Howard.
Writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: Meanwhile, the Celtics have engaged the Houston Rockets in talks about a possible deal for Dwight Howard, the Daily News has learned. Howard can opt out of his contract this summer, and considering his back and knee issues, it doesn’t make much sense for Boston GM Danny Ainge to use the assets on a player with declining skills and a battered body.
The oft-injured Howard, who was suspended by the league for Tuesday’s game after making contact with an official in Saturday’s loss to the Wizards, is averaging 14.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game this season.
The 30-year-old, who previously played for the Magic and Lakers, is making $22 million. He has a player option for next season.
Howard is an eight-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
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