Is Danny Amendola visiting the Patriots?

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Is Danny Amendola visiting the Patriots?

There's a ton of smoke regarding Danny Amendola and the Patriots. Is there fire? Since free agency began on Tuesday, there have been consistent but unconfirmed rumors that the Rams restricted free agent wideout would be visiting New England. It's a possibility I broached before free agency opened, reasoning that Amendola's situation now is identical to the one Wes Welker was in back in 2007 before the Patriots ultimately traded for Welker. The first murmur of Patriots interest came Tuesday night from PFT poobah Mike Florio who said he'd heard a rumor Amendola was visiting. Amendola's agent, Erik Burkhardt, has steadfastly said that he "can't help."This morning,Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub tweeted(@ScottZolak) that "Danny Amendola was at The Place last night...hmmm"Burkhardt, in turn,would not confirm or deny Amendola's presence in Boston. Meanwhile, in came another tweet from a follower that Amendola's aunt died and his father lives in Scituate. The Patriots are extremely cloak and dagger to begin with, but, in the case of Amendola, one could see why they'd be even more secretive. Hosting Welker's obvious replacement on a free agent visit will make things sticky with an invaluable player. The Patriots put the franchise tag on Welker and are committed to pay him 9.5 million. They have until July 15 to work out an extension or Welker will play 2012 under the franchise tag. The Patriots want Welker to stay and reportedly offered him a fully guaranteed two-year deal worth 16 million last fall. Welker's camp wants a longer term and -- with the money flung at free agent wideouts over the past 40 hours -- probably wants more than 8 million per year. And the case could easily be made that he deserves both. If there's no extension, the Patriots will be in the position next offseason of franchising Welker for even more money (likely around 11 million). Again, 20 million for two years of ridiculous production without the payout of a huge bonus isn't totally absurd. But it's not going to be the first option for either side. So now, if the Amendola rumors and purported sighting are accurate,the Patriots are looking at options. Amendola missed 2011 with a dislocated elbow suffered in the season opener but Josh McDaniels got enough of a look at Amendola in St. Louis to know what he's dealing with. And what he's dealing with in Amendola is a Welker clone. We'll keep you up to date on this as information comes in.

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.