OFFSEASON

Wakeup Call: They're our boys . . . when they play the Lakers, anyway

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Wakeup Call: They're our boys . . . when they play the Lakers, anyway

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, February 11:

BASEBALL
Not so fast on that King Felix extension . . . and for the worst possible reason. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

As the PED scandal laps at his feet, Ryan Braun has one strong defender: His manager, Ron Roenicke. (AP)

First Dice-K, and now Jason Giambi. If this was 2007, Terry Francona would have quite the team there in Cleveland. (AP)

Armando Galarraga's not too proud to accept a minor-league deal as he tries to work his way back to the majors. (AP)

Looks like old friend Derek Lowe is, though. (Hardball Talk)

The Cubs are confident Carlos Marmol will be cleared of the assault allegations he's facing in the Dominican Republic. (CSN Chicago)

Problems? What problems? Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey don't have any problems. Right, boys? (CSN Bay Area)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Indiana rebounds from its upset loss with an impressive 13-point victory at No. 10 Ohio State. (AP)

Still, it may not be enough to prevent the Hoosiers from losing the No. 1 ranking to Duke . . . despite the Blue Devils' skin-of-their-teeth escape at, of all places, Boston College. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Speaking of Duke, Seth Curry's 18-point performance at BC put him and his brother, Stephen, at the top of the Division I siblings scoring list. And I'll bet you didn't even know there was such a thing, did you? (CSN Bay Area)

Any outside chance Arizona might have had to leap seven spots to the top went up in smoke at the hands of Cal. And at Tucson, no less. (AP)

All this poll talk is well and good, but the landscape for tournament time may have changed with the return of Syracuse's James Southerland. (College Basketball talk)

Pretty good week for Illinois, wouldn't you say? (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The Paterno family goes public with a detailed critique to the Freeh report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal, calling it a "rush to injustice". (AP)

But Dan Wetzel calls it a "a masterful testament to unnecessary declarative statements, the creation of straw men and everything else one gets when lawyers are hired by wealthy clients to prepare a 'thorough' report" that does "little to nothing to suggest that Paterno didn't know" Sandusky was sexually molesting young boys. (Yahoo! Sports)

For his part, Louis Freeh isn't impressed with the Paternos' "self-serving report." (NBC's College Football Talk)

In the end, this bickering over the Paterno legacy is ugly. And sad. (CSN Philly)

If you remember Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, then you probably remember Doug Kenna, the quarterback of those great Army teams of the '40s. He died Jan. 28 at the age of 88. (AP)

Cam Cameron, whose firing as Ravens' offensive coordinator -- coincidentally or not -- seemed to spark Baltimore's run to the Super Bowl, apparently is resurfacing at LSU. (CSN Baltimore)

GOLF
Your weekend winners: Brandt Snedeker at Pebble Beach . . . (AP)

. . . Rocco Mediate in his Champions Tour debut . . . (AP)

. . . Richard Sterne in the Joburg Open . . . (AP)

. . . and 15-year-old Lydia Ko in the New Zealand Women's Open. (AP)

Ko, an amateur who now has won three professional titles in 53 weeks, should create quite the stir when she makes her arrival at next week's LPGA season opener. (golfchannel.com)

HOCKEY
If anyone still doesn't believe in the Blackhawks, consider: They remain undefeated, at 10-0-2, after completing a two-week, 4-0-2 road trip with a 3-0 win over the Predators. (CSN Chicago)

Not at that level, but still hot, are the Devils, who beat the Penguins, 3-1, for their fifth victory in a row. (AP)

I don't know why Mike Babcock thinks getting the game-winning goal with five seconds to play is "ugly," but beauty's in the eye of the beholder, I guess. (AP)

Now that the labor problems are settled, the NHL and NHLPA are talking realignment again. (NHL's Pro Hockey Talk)

The Maple Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski is being called in on the carpet for allegedly biting Max Pacioretty. Have the good citizens of Montreal called 9-1-1 yet? (AP)

ESPN Boston did what? Oh, wait . . . wrong Joey McDonald. (AP)

OLYMPICS
Lindsey Vonn is "resting comfortably" after undergoing surgery to repair torn ACL and MCL and a fractured lateral tibial plateau, all of which she injured in a horrific fall in Austria last week. (NBC's Olympic Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Not often we root for LeBron and the Heat around here, but old habits die hard. (AP)

When the Clippers are healthy -- which, to be fair, they weren't when they were here last week -- they're quite the handful. Just ask the Knicks. (AP)

As are the Spurs, even without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Just ask the Nets. (AP)

Hey, the Magic finally won one! (AP)

Trade winds: The Nets are going hard after the Hawks' Josh Smith . . . (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

. . . and the Suns want the Knicks' Iman Shumpert. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Not without deer antler spray -- or something -- he couldn't. (Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Super Bowl champion traditionally hosts the next season's opener on the Thursday after Labor Day, but the Ravens are going to need some cooperation from the Orioles for that to happen this year. (CSN Baltimore)

Ray Lewis' departure means the Ravens need a new leader. Terrell Suggs graciously says he'll share the job with Joe Flacco. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Even though University of Kansas coach Mark Mangino doesn't usually defend his former cornerback, Aqib Talib, he takes issue with the notion that Talib doesn't work hard. (Pro Football Talk)

Hey, Dolphins. Reggie Bush wants to know: Where's the love? (Pro Football Talk)

Rob Ryan and the Saints make official the worst-kept secret in the NFL. (AP)

The growing national sentiment for gun-law reforms got five big-name supporters in Emmett Smith, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk. (AP)

TENNIS
Normally you wouldn't call losing in both the singles and doubles finals "very positive," but just being back on the court was the big victory for Rafael Nadal. (AP)

And now that he's back in the spotlight, he took the opportunity to rail against those, in any sport, who use performance-enhancing drugs. (AP)

U.S. coach Mary Joe Fernandez says she's "really proud" of her team despite its first-round ouster from the Fed Cup. (AP)

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

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Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

All the free-agent focus on the Celtics has been on players -- Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard -- who they might bring in. But they have players they might lose, too.

One, of course, is Evan Turner, who's an unrestricted free agent, free to sign to anyone after July 1. But they also have two others, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, who could have joined Turner on the completely open market if they didn't tender them qualifying offers.

Yesterday, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, they did just that:

Zeller and Sullinger are still free to solicit offers. But, because they made the qualifying offers, the Celtics have the right to match any deal the two might receive and keep them in Boston.

OFFSEASON

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

BOSTON -- In some circles the pursuit of Dwight Howard by the Boston Celtics is just as perplexing as Boston being one of the six teams getting an audience with Kevin Durant and, with that, a shot at the Durant sweepstakes this summer. 
 
Both serve as examples of how the Celts are no longer at the back of the line when it comes to being a potential destination for the best free agents. 
 
Of course it’s about sealing the deal, and getting the best free agents on the market under contract, and all that good stuff.
 
But before that can happen, Boston has to be seen as a place to even be seriously considered by free agents. That's exactly what we’re starting to see happen right now.
 
It’s easy to point to the Celtics having a ton of salary cap space, which in itself makes them a possible landing spot for players who we all know will be hauling in max to near-max salaries this offseason.
 
But there’s just one problem with that line of thought. More than half the league enters free agency with enough money to sign one max player.

The fact that Boston is on the short list for the summer’s top free agent (Durant) and have already secured a sit-down with one of the top centers (Howard) says a lot in terms of how far Boston has come in the eyes of players. 
 
And several factors point towards the Celtics getting an audience with other top-shelf free agents this summer if they fail to secure one or two of their top choices.
 
But let’s not kid ourselves. How others view this franchise is the reality of what the Celtics have to deal with when it comes to adding elite, upper-echelon talent like Durant. 
 
The fact that Durant is willing to include Boston in his short-list of teams is a bit of a head-scratcher when you see that the Celtics are the farthest away from the group in terms of competing for an NBA title (although an argument can be made that they are neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat along those lines). Durant has said in the past that would be something he would be looking for in whatever team he signed with.
 
The biggest selling point the Celtics have to offer Durant or any other free agent (besides money) is that they are a franchise on the rise, they have stability on the floor with Brad Stevens as the head coach, and they have stability in the front office with Danny Ainge. Both Stevens and Ainge signed long-term extensions earlier this month. 
 
And one of the perks that players who come to Boston quickly discover is the fan base, which is about as rabid a group as you'll find in the NBA.
 
There’s no mistaking they wear their emotions on their sleeves, whether it’s cheering the team on following a season-ending playoff loss, or booing the owner after the team makes a draft pick they don’t particularly care for. 
 
They bleed green!
 
Add all those things up and it’s clear that Boston has the kind of environment, the kind of culture, where a star can come and thrive. 
 
The Celtics and their fans have known this for a while.
 
Now it seems some of the game’s best players are starting to catch on, as well.

OFFSEASON

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Mike Felger, Dan Shaughnessy and Glenn Ordway wonder why the Celtics are even getting a meeting with Kevin Durant when free agency begins. Does it mean they have a legitimate chance of signing him?