Newly acquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics

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Newly acquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics

WALTHAM As Sean Williams finished talking with the media following a rare Boston Celtics practice, he was ready to head back to the locker room and change.

He opened one door, only to realize it wasn't the one he was looking for.

"See, I'm still learning my way around here," said Williams, who seconds later found the right door.

Williams has a history of taking the wrong path, whether it was his time at Boston College which led to him being kicked off the team, or in the NBA in two-plus seasons with the New Jersey Nets.

By all accounts, those troubled days have certainly delivered a major blow to his stock as an NBA player.

But it also in many ways humbled him, making the 25-year-old appreciate the one thing so few NBA teams have been willing to give him lately - an opportunity.

And the C's are more than willing to give him that chance, something that few teams have been willing to do after his first three seasons in New Jersey seemed to get progressively worse from one year to the next.

Since appearing in 126 games during his first three seasons with the Nets, Williams has played in just nine NBA games since - eight with the Dallas Mavericks and one with the Celtics.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle speaks highly of Williams, a player they had to release because at the time they needed help at the wing position.

Carlisle describes Williams as a "good kid, great athlete" who is a "very smart kid."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke with a number of former coaches and former teammates of Williams, who all spoke glowingly about him.

"The one thing they all say is he's not just smart, he's brilliant smart," Rivers said. "But he does dumb things. We have to get him away from that, and just be a ball player. If he can do that, he has a chance."

And at this point, that's all Williams wants from the Celtics.

"You just come in, try to work hard, keep your eyes open, come in early, stay late and get a sense of how the organization is run," Williams said. "And work hard, at the end of the day, just work hard."

Those are the expectations he has for himself.

As for what Rivers expects from Williams?

"He just told me to be a positive influence, and have each other's back," Williams said. "It starts with the family."

And Williams is indeed part of that family, which is a testament in itself as to how much Rivers believes that despite Williams' issues in the past, he believes he can be an asset - both as a person and as a player - for the Celtics now.

"We're bringing in a 10-day, and I talked to nine coaches, assistant coaches, ex-players who played with him, because my locker room is unbelievable," Rivers said. "I don't want to bring in anyone, even for five days, that'll upset that."

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

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Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson named Lakers president of basketball ops, Kupchak fired

Magic Johnson was named the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations after longtime Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and vice president of basketball ops Jim Buss were fired, the team announced.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights [late owner] Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss' daughter, Jim Buss' brother and Lakers president and co-owner, said in a statement. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”

Johnson, the Hall of Famer guard who led L.A. to five NBA titles, said in the same statement: “It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family. Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

Johnson, part of a group that owns MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers, returned to the organization as an adviser earlier this month. Johnson coached the Lakers briefly in the 1993-94 season, going 5-11. 

Johnson's new job with the Lakers won't change his role with the Dodgers, according to the L.A. Times.

The current Lakers have the third-worst record in the NBA at 19-39 after finishing with the second-worst mark in the league (17-65) last season. Kupchak was named an assistant GM under Jerry West in 1986 and in 2000 took over for West as GM.