Belichick: Always a few phone calls before trade deadline


Belichick: Always a few phone calls before trade deadline

FOXBORO -- Traditionally, on the day of the NFL trade deadline, there is not a flurry of activity around the league. Those hoping to see blockbuster deals can't hold their breath; even trades for bit players seem rare.

The deadline is today at 4 p.m. after being moved back two days by the NFL in order to allow teams to recover from the effects of Sandy, the storm that ravaged the East Coast earlier this week. Though the deadline often comes and goes without much in the way of news, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said today that there is some work being done behind the scenes.

"I think there are always a few conversations, a few phone calls," he said. "I think that's normal."

For multiple reasons, though, trades between NFL teams rarely occur, especially relative to other professional sports.

NFL systems can be difficult for players to pick up without a full training camp. (Remember the struggles Chad Ochocinco had when he joined the Patriots after last year's lockout?) Getting a grip on a new team's playbook eight weeks into the season only makes that transition tougher. Teams often add free agents at different points during the season and hope that they can grasp new schemes, but those kinds of acquisitions do not require giving away compensation to another team in exchange.

Belichick said he thinks compensation is often the sticking point in trades and perhaps the reason why there aren't more deals that get done near the deadline.

"Evidently," he said, "two teams can't agree on either the compensation of the trade, or there's not a motivation to do it."

The Patriots have made trades before the deadline in the past. They dealt Randy Moss and a seventh-round draft pick to the Vikings in exchange for a third-round pick in October of 2010. That same season, they acquired Deion Branch from the Seahawks for a fourth-rounder.

Those kinds of deals for big-name players are very rare, as is any trade, it seems. But that doesn't mean the Patriots aren't working the phones today in the hours leading up the deadline, keeping their ears open for a chance to make themselves better.

Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls


Stevens, Celtics expect to use similar rotation vs. Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ bench was unable to close out Wednesday’s 122-117 win over Brooklyn, but don’t look for head coach Brad Stevens to make any significant changes tonight.

“I felt pretty good about those rotations last night,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’sgame against Chicago. “For forty minutes, we rotated well.”

After a relatively close first quarter, it was Boston’s second unit that gave Boston its first double-digit lead of the night and led by as many as 13 points.

But it wasn’t their scoring that jumped out to Stevens.

“The second unit came in and provided probably our best defensive sequence of the game, start of the second quarter and played really well until the end,” Stevens said.

Stevens played a total of 10 players against the Nets – all playing in the first half - and will likely have a similar number of Celtics on the floor tonight against the Bulls.

It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do rotation-wise when Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Kelly Olynk (right shoulder) are back on the active roster.

Smart recently confirmed an earlier report that the left ankle injury he suffered in the Celtics’ final preseason game against the New York Knicks, would keep him out for a couple of weeks.

In addition to missing the season opener against Brooklyn, Smart is likely to miss another three games.

Olynyk, who had offseason surgery in May, has been cleared for contact but is not expected to be back on the floor until the middle of next month.

“Until our other guys get back,” Stevens said. “There will be similar rotations.”

ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats


ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats

In an expansive profile on The, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says he and his wife were subjected to death threats because of Mortensen’s Deflategate coverage.

After the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game victory in January 2015, Mortensen tweeted information he said he received from a source that has long since been proven incorrect. The info - that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs in the game were underinflated by 2 pounds - remained uncorrected on Twitter and in an story for more than six months.  

The controversy over Mortensen’s reporting drew the ire of Patriots fans, many of whom blamed the tweet and his story for fanning the flames of what eventually led to a four-game suspension for Tom Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots. 

Mortensen, who has subsequently undergone treatment for cancer, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis that the threats led him to tell his wife Micki that he didn’t want her traveling with him from their home in Arkansas to Bristol, Connecticut when he did studio work for ESPN. 

“What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,” Mortensen said. “Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.”

More from the Ringer story:

“My job is to protect her,” he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.

Mortensen said after his initial tweet, a second source, with whom he had a better relationship, told him to used a broader description of the footballs, i.e. call them “significantly underinflated.”  Mortensen now acknowledges that information should have given him pause.

“That should have raised the journalist in me to a higher level,” he told the Ringer. “I’ve got to ask some more questions here. What are we talking about, 2 pounds under? But, no, I got to get on TV.”