Celtics still on the phones, but nothing imminent

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Celtics still on the phones, but nothing imminent

LOS ANGELES With the NBA trading deadline less than 48 hours away, word around the NBA is that the Boston Celtics are still having lots of conversations but no deal is imminent.

Danny Ainge, who is traveling back to Boston today, told CSNNE.com on Monday night that he thinks his team won't change much, if at all, between now and Thursday's 3 p.m. (EST) trade deadline.

"It's not because of a lack of trying or having conversations with other teams," Ainge, the C's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com. "We just haven't come across a deal that we feel good about, that will make us a better team."

The Celtics are trying to do the seemingly impossible right now.

They want to upgrade their roster, particularly in the frontcourt where they are painfully thin. They could become even thinner depending on the news Ainge receives from the Celtics' medical staff about Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal.

But at the same time, they don't want to tinker with their core group (which has been banged up all season) or make a deal that will hamper the franchise's flexibility in the near future.

In addition to having a roster in which just about every player is potential trade bait, the Celtics also have a pair of first-round draft picks in this year's draft - their own pick and one from the Clippers that they received in the Kendrick Perkins trade - that they could use as enticements to get a deal done.

However, Ainge appears reluctant to part with either pick right now which makes sense when you consider this year's draft will likely be one of the deepest in years.

"We would like to do something that can help us in the short-term, obviously," Ainge said. "But we don't want to necessarily do that at the cost of our long-term goals, either."

The Celtics player whose name has come up the most in media reports involving the C's and trade talks has been Rajon Rondo, the 26-year-old point guard who is far and away, their most valuable asset because of his age, experience and ability.

But multiple league sources on Tuesday said that Ray Allen remains the one Boston player that's most likely to be traded, although there has been a "significant" amount of interest in Avery Bradley as well.

One Eastern Conference official was told inquiring about Bradley's availability was pointless because, "Danny loves that kid, and now that he's playing and playing well . . . he's worth more to them to keep, then to flip."

In terms of the Big Four, Ainge has made it clear that he expects a significant return for moving any of them.

Former Celtic Larry Bird, now the GM of the Indiana Pacers, told ESPN.com's Jackie McMullan that Ainge offered Allen for Tyler Hansborough and a future draft pick.

Bird said he rejected the offer.

"If that's the value Danny's putting on Ray, he ain't getting it," Bird said.

The only Celtics player who appears to be safe, is . . . Rondo?

Ainge told CSNNE.com on Monday that he will not be trading Rajon Rondo prior to Thursday's deadline.

Of course that could change if a team like, say New Jersey, were willing to part with Deron Williams which a Nets source said "ain't happening."

Short of landing that kind of player, Rondo's future beyond Thursday with the C's appears pretty solid.

But with all the injuries and out-of-nowhere health concerns (Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, for example), you would think the Celtics would be eager to shake up things.

That might have been the case if this were not such a condensed season, which has forced GMs like Ainge to draw condensed conclusions about their respective teams.

"I feel I have a pretty good grasp on how each of the guys is playing, and what our holes are," Ainge said. "There's a lot of good things going on. Our offense has been a lot better. We've been playing small ball, and we've been getting beat on the glass but our defense has remained good and our offense has gotten better. So we have to find different ways to win. We have to play to our strengths."

Boston (22-19) is 7-2 since returning from the All-Star break, but has been outrebounded by 9.2 rebounds per game during that span. Over the course of the whole season, they've been outrebounded by five rebounds per game.

Poor rebounding may very well be the price the Celtics have to pay, in order to win.

And that's why the idea that this trading deadline could come and go without the Celtics getting a deal done, isn't that big a stretch.

"I like our team a lot," Ainge said. "Of course we'd like to be healthier and have a few more wins, but like I said, you can see we are getting better in a lot of areas. The biggest problem we have now is rebounding. And depending on what the doctors say on Wednesday about Chris and Jermaine, I'll have a better idea after that about what we may need to do with our bigs situation."

Quirky Super Bowl schedule this time around for Patriots

Quirky Super Bowl schedule this time around for Patriots

The Patriots schedule for the next few days in Massachusetts and Super Bowl Week in Houston is a little quirky.

Players are off on Tuesday (media has conference call access to Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia). There’s no media access on Wednesday at all as the team begins getting introduced to the Super Bowl game plan that will have been partially formulated (and subject to tweaking). The players are in Thursday, Friday and Saturday for afternoon practices and there’s media access to the players each day. There’s no media access on Sunday.

The team will fly to Houston on Monday and – in a major departure – will do its media duties at night. The NFL has repackaged media day as Super Bowl Opening Night. It will be held at Minute Maid Field (home of the Astros) with access to the Patriots from 10 to 11 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, there will be access from 1:30 to 2:30 EST to Belichick and a handful of players at the Patriots’ hotel. There will be full access to players and coaches on Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 6:15 EST.

There’s no NFL-sponsored access of any kind on Friday or Saturday. Previously, there was a final press conference with the head coaches and a press conference with the NFL Commissioner. His name is Roger. Roger Goodell.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame committee meets on Saturday and will announce the 2017 inductees by the end of the day.

For those of you who like television - or who stream on your tiny devices – we’ll be all over this mess.

This week, look for Patriots Wednesday Live on Thursday at noon (hard to have Wednesday Live if ain’t nobody gonna be live from the team).

Mike Giardi and I will be down there Sunday so start looking for live reports and my giant nose in the great state of Texas at that point.

If we’re not live during media day in the evening, I don’t know what we’re doing with our lives. Quick Slants will be Tuesday night and Jerod Mayo will be down there.

Lotta podding planned. Lotta podding.

We’ll keep you updated.

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”