Brady lauds Luck's impressive rookie season

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Brady lauds Luck's impressive rookie season

FOXBORO -- It's hard to believe Andrew Luck is a rookie. Especially for Tom Brady.

By now, we all know how Brady describes his rookie season.

"I was like fourth-string and eating nachos before the game in the stands," he said after Thursday's practice, when asked about Luck's first NFL season.

It's a recycled line that Brady has used when comparing his rookie season to another's.

But it's true. Compared to what Luck has done this year -- 10 passing touchdowns, 5 rushing touchdowns, and 2,631 yards in the air -- Brady might as well have been eating nachos in the stands. But that was because Brady only appeared in one game during his rookie season in 2000-01. He went 1-for-3 for six yards.

Brady didn't want to get into comparing a potential rivalry with Andrew Luck to his former Indianapolis Colts rivalry with Peyton Manning, on Thursday.

"My focus has been on what that defense does," said Brady when asked about the old rivalry with Manning. "Its always the Colts defense and its always centered around two players and those two guys are still there. Thats really the challenge for us this week, is trying to figure out how to block that entire front. There are a lot of different looks from the last time we played them, trying to understand the scheme and how theyre doing things but theyre good and they really rush the passer and thats a big challenge."

But as much as Brady would like to end the "Colts rivalry" talk, there's no hiding from reality. And that reality is that Manning is now in Denver. And his replacement has already left his impression on the league.

So Brady did spend a few moments, on Thursday, reminiscing about the first time he met Manning. It was Brady's second season, and just his first full season, in 2001-02.

By that point in time, Manning was already a two-time Pro Bowler, and had been to the playoffs twice in his fourth full season.

Manning, the veteran. Meet Brady, the new guy.

"Yeah, I remember I was out there warming up for the game and he came over and he said, Hey Tom, Im Peyton,' " recalled Brady.

But Brady hinted towards not making such a gesture before the two teams play on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

"I dont know," said Brady. "Well see. Usually I dont go out to the field too early anymore. I tend to just keep to myself."

So while Luck probably shouldn't expect the same treatment that Manning gave Brady back in 2001, the Colts' rookie quarterback should still realize that the Patriots' veteran quarterback respects the success he's having this early in his career.

"I always admire those rookies who can do it because it is such a challenge, whether youre a defensive end like Chandler Jones, or Donta Hightower or Andrew Luck or any of these rookies who really play a big role for a certain team," said Brady. "Its a real credit to them and their ability to transition and focus on all these new things that have really come about and go out there and play well.

"I had quite a few -- 18 months -- to develop camaraderie with the guys that I played with, and it was a lot of time and practice and extra coaching sessions and so forth. For those rookies, coming right from college to this position, is very challenging."

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

NEW ORLEANS – All-star weekend is winding down and the Boston Celtics once again are seemingly at the epicenter of most trade discussions.

That’s in part because they have the pieces to help pull off a blockbuster deal for themselves, or become the third team to help facilitate a trade coming to fruition. 

But in talking with league executives and scouts this weekend in New Orleans, all agree that the Celtics are focused more on making a blockbuster-type move, rather than a deal that could make them slightly better than they are now. 

“Anything is possible as you know,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “But they’re not Toronto which is basically 'all in' this year to try and get past Cleveland. Boston’s in the thick of it all, but not pressed to do anything unless it makes them a lot better and to be frank, there aren’t a lot of those potential deals out there for them.”

That’s because the Celtics (37-20) have the second-best record in the East despite their preferred starting five (Isaiah Thomas; Avery Bradley; Jae Crowder; Al Horford and Amir Johnson) having played a very limited number of games (21) together thus far this season.

Even when everyone’s healthy, Boston understands that they still may not be enough to get past the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So the addition of a likely role player at the cost of one or more of their major assets (this year’s right to swap picks with Brooklyn or next year’s Brooklyn pick outright), is reason enough for Boston to pause and assess whether the benefit outweighs the cost of what they will have to give up. 

Boston can make a push for Denver’s Danilo Gallinari or his teammate Kenneth Faried who are both available and would help Boston’s overall talent base. They could also revisit Jahlil Okafor discussions or Nerlens Noel with Philadelphia, too.

But for what they need to significantly improve upon where they are now, they have to add a game-changing difference-maker to the mix. 

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins are three players who on paper at least, would meet that criteria. 

Multiple league sources this weekend confirmed that each of their respective teams isn’t making a push to trade them. But like every team in the league, they will certainly listen to any and all offers. Only Indiana and Sacramento have come out publicly to say they are not planning to trade their players, with the Pacers indicating they’re willing to give up their first-round pick in order to add a stable, proven talent to the mix in order to help George going forward. 

Meanwhile, the Bulls have been somewhat indifferent to potentially moving Butler, who is playing his third all-star game tonight. 

That’s why several teams, the Celtics included, have inquired about Butler’s availability. While the Bulls haven’t set any specific parameters, league executives believe they are seeking some combination of high draft picks and young veterans (players with experience who are either near the end of their rookie deals or have team-friendly contracts) just to consider moving Butler.

Boston has exactly what the Bulls are looking for if they decide they are going to move on from Butler and rebuild, but how much are the Celtics willing to give up?

That more than anything else, is what will ultimately determine if a deal between the Bulls and the Celtics comes to pass. Boston loves Butler, and believes he could be part of their continued surge towards becoming an elite team that can bring home Banner 18. But the Celtics are not convinced that the addition of Butler would necessarily catapult Boston to the same level of Cleveland or ahead of them. 

Even if the Celtics decide to stand pat with its team as they are now and let the Feb. 23 trade deadline pass without making a move, the Celtics are still working from a vantage point that few teams in the NBA can work from – a team near the top of their conference with relatively young players all with good team-friendly contracts, and draft picks in the next two years that are each likely to be high lottery (top-14) picks.

"They’re well positioned for the future,” said Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the West all-star team. “Because of the young talent, because of the coach (Brad Stevens) and because of the draft picks that they have coming up. They could end up with the number one pick in the draft which is remarkable.”

Kerr added, “That doesn’t happen often when you’re talking about a team that’s one of the best in the league already. Boston’s in a great place.”

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Morning Skate: Brian Boyle embroiled in trade rumors

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while enjoying Hockey Day in America. 

*Brian Boyle is the subject of trade rumors with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he wants to stay a member of the Bolts. 

*Watch out for the Florida Panthers, who swept the road trip through California and are now back in playoff position for the first time in a long time. 

*It’s great to see play-by-play man Dave Strader back in the broadcast booth doing what he does best after his cancer diagnosis. 

*Hats off to the Bruins ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, for the sweet-looking Boba Fett sweaters worn during this weekend’s Star Wars night. 

*It’s pretty amazing when you’re an NHL player and a former first round pick, and you’re the one most known for being somebody else’s brother. That’s life for Dallas Stars D-man Jamie Oleksiak. 

*Interesting piece about sportswriting, politics and a couple of worlds that were destined to collide at some point. 

*For something completely different: For the 40h anniversary of Star Wars, the toys are being used to recreate classic movie scenes.