Wakeup Call: Pete's not pumped and jacked about this

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Wakeup Call: Pete's not pumped and jacked about this

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, January 14:

BASEBALL
Call it confidence, or call it whistling in the dark. Either way, Adrian Beltre thinks the talent-ravaged Rangers can still compete in the A.L. West. (AP)

Losing isn't all that loveable, is it, Theo? (AP)

Rafael Palmeiro says he "made a mistake" at the end of his career that "basically wiped out everything I did for 20 years". The mistake? Accepting what he says was a tainted B-12 supplement from teammate Miguel Tejada that, he says, caused him to test positive for steroids. And here you thought it was wagging his finger at a bunch of Congressmen, right? (CSN Baltimore)

It's not a surprise, but it's still sad. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Not bad enough that Michigan lost its first game of the year. It also happened on the same weekend Duke lost, which will probably prevent the Wolverines from moving up to No. 1 in the polls. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
In today's installment of Declaring For the NFL Draft, we have Texas' Brandon Moore and three players from Alabama. (AP)

Speaking of Alabama, Nick Saban received a congratulatory phone call from President Obama for the Crimson Tide's national championship. (AP)

Now that Ohio State is eligible to compete for the national title again, Urban Meyer would like you to curb your enthusiasm. (AP)

GOLF
Your weekend winners: Russell Henley (in his PGA Tour debut, no less) at the Sony Open . . . (golfchannel.com)

. . . and Louis Oosthuizen at the Volvo Champions. (AP)

The Masters folks like Ryo Ishikawa so much, they keep inviting him back. (AP)

HOCKEY
Brian Boucher is proving you can go home again. And again and again and again . . . (CSN Philly)

Ilya Kovalchuk is coming home, too -- well, he's leaving his home in Russia to come back to the Devils, but you know what I mean -- and Lou Lamoriello never doubted it for a second. (AP)

It's only been a day, but new Capitals coach Adam Oates has a big fan in Alex Ovechkin. (CSN Washington)

They're not big fans of Scott Gomez in Montreal, though. (AP)

And now for a little familial self-promotion: The NBC Sports Group will air 70 NHL games on NBC and the NBC Sports Network during the shortened regular season. (nbcsports.com)

PRO BASKETBALL
Dwight Howard returns, and so do the Lakers' winning ways. (AP)

That's 12 in a row at home for the Spurs. (AP)

And six in a row overall for the Nets. (AP)

But the Blazers' winning streak is over at nine, thanks to Kevin Durant and the Thunder. (AP)

Don't go counting on a new team just yet, Seattle. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

You may not be crazy about Mark Cuban, Dirk, but he likes you. (Pro Basketball Talk)

How in the world can a pro athlete go on a 15-day fast during his or her season? And I bet you expected me to make some Honey Nut Cheerios crack, right? (Pro Basketball Talk)

Come on now, Bulls, sing with me: You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative . . . (Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
When the Falcons finally win a playoff game, they give you quite the bang for your buck, don't they? (AP)

Even though his Seahawks lost, the legend of Russell Wilson continues to grow. (AP)

To me, the icing-the-kicker stunt does nothing more than give a professional kicker two chances to make one kick . . . which is why Atlanta is moving on and Seattle is going home. But Pete Carroll says Matt Bryant shouldn't have been allowed to take the first kick, the one he missed, and that's why he was so mad. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Ravens' Super Bowl win? The Colts beating the Giants in overtime in '58? Sorry; when it comes to great Baltimore football victories, everything takes a back seat to what happened Saturday in Denver. At least in Ray Frager's mind. (CSN Baltimore)

But to the Broncos, it's "like a bad dream that keeps playing over and over". (AP)

That's General Flacco to you, pal. (Pro Football Talk)

After getting beat pretty soundly Saturday night in San Francisco, there could be big changes coming for the Packers. (AP)

Brian Billick, Eagles? Really? (CSN Philly)

TENNIS
Venus Williams cruises in her first match at the Australian Open. (AP)

As does Maria Sharapova. (AP)

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.