Yesterday’s ambush of trade and free agency talk tipped off with a rather awkward rumor: The Celtics weren’t actively shopping Rajon Rondo, but that they’d be open to a deal should anything materialize. In the sports world, that’s basically code for other teams to start calling so they can start the bidding. Danny Ainge and Boston were hinting at something. We just didn’t know what it was yet. So naturally the response from most fans was: WTF? It didn’t help that Rajon Rondo trade rumors are an offseason rite of passage by this point. It doesn’t feel right unless we get a few of them. The Celtics have told Rondo they haven’t been looking to deal him, and then Sean Deveney of the Sporting News tweeted: I am told that the chances of the Celtics actually trading Rondo are “minimal.” Source says, “They’d ask for the sky.” Well the rumor being reported now is the largest/most important one we’ve seen, and if it went through, the Celtics would get more than just the sky. Sam Amick of SI.com reports that the player the Celtics wanted all along – the guy Ainge has had discussions about – is none other than Chris Paul. There’s an interesting history here. First of all, CP and Rondo have always carried a healthy beef, going at each other in every matchup and even during one game, that boiled over into a near fight. Plus even more importantly, Ainge and the Celtics very nearly traded Paul Pierce for CP on his draft night. That was the plan. At this point, the Hornets want to involve a third team to get more assets, and Boston is still trying to figure out if Paul would agree to stay long-term in Boston. At least for the time being, it’s doubtful any move involving the Hornets’ franchise goes down. The NBA runs New Orleans at this point, and the last thing they need is another PR situation involving a big star going to a huge market. Behind closed doors, we bet they’d love it. But in the public eye, it’d be a blow to the perceived “success” of the lockout, as well as a failure to keep a quality team together in New Orleans. Paul told reporters yesterday that his heart is in New Orleans. But a squad featuring Paul, Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett could definitely win another title just as long as they replace everyone’s knees. We can’t figure out which player scenario intrigues us more: this CP stuff (New York or Boston?), or Dwight Howard … Because we’ve all heard the Dwight-to-L.A. storyline for about a year now, but no one ever really considered the JVs might land him instead. That’s right, Chris Broussard reports that the Clippers are ready to do whatever it takes (besides parting with Blake Griffin) to bring Dwight Howard to L.A., and throw on their uniform instead of the purple and gold. And while playing for a racist owner probably isn’t on Howard’s bucket list, he really needs to look at this. The Clippers – with a consent from Howard that he would sign there – probably have as much to offer Orlando as anyone. They have Eric Gordon, Mo Williams, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu. BUNDLES of young (or not old) talent. Imagine a BG/Dwight frontline? We don’t even know where to start. If winning in basketball is all about controlling the paint and rebounding, then a frontline of Superman, Quake Griffin and freakin’ one of us could be scooping up titles … Nene‘s name is on everyone’s mind right now with nearly half the league set to line up at his doorstep the minute free agency begins. Because of that, and because we can almost guarantee it’ll happen, Nene made our list of the five free agents who will most likely end up being overpaid. Another center we nearly put on the list was Tyson Chandler, who is going to cash in very soon off Dallas’ championship … Other rumors floating around: Utah isn’t set on using the amnesty clause on Mehmet Okur…if Brandon Roy is let go, the Warriors want to sign him…and the Thunder don’t have a problem at all giving Russell Westbrook a max deal to re-up in OKC … Hit page two to hear about how Duke got embarrassed, and the classic Gary Payton sneakers he says are coming back …
Carlos Boozer is promising a championship. Well, not totally. But he does say Chicago has a championship-level team and that he will be back this season better than ever and ready to quiet the haters who called for his head after he played as soft as the Pillsbury Doughboy during last season’s playoffs. But the Bulls still need to make a splash in free agency. They maxed-out last season, and if they go back to battle with the same squad – and don’t plug the offensive and shooting guard holes they have – it won’t matter if Boozer comes back playing like Godzilla … You can cross Zach Randolph‘s name off the “Shawn Kemp Lockout List.” Z-Bo looks skinnier as ever … Thank you Kyle Singler for confirming to all of us what we’ve long suspected: that it sucks to be a Piston. Singler basically told the team that drafted him this summer, “Hey, you guys are cool. But I think Imma try my luck overseas… seems to really be the popping off thing right now. No hard feelings though right?” Singler, reported by Yahoo! Sports, reached an agreement with Real Madrid and won’t play in Detroit this season … We figured Ohio State would beat Duke. They were home. They have better athletes. Their four best are better than Duke’s four best. And they have the best player. But 85-63? A game that wasn’t even close right from the start after the Buckeyes went up 11-0? No one expected that. Every few years, Duke fields a team that just isn’t tough enough or physical enough to really contend with the best squads in the country. They always have skill, but this feels like one of those years: They’ll beat the less talented schools, but then will have trouble with the top of the line. Ohio State had four players with at least 17 points: Jared Sullinger (21), William Buford (20), Deshaun Thomas (18) and Aaron Craft (17). It’s not like the Buckeyes are overwhelmingly athletic, but Duke didn’t have a prayer in stopping them, allowing the hosts to shoot nearly 60 percent for the game and let the crowd stay frenetic all night. With what seemed like 20 NBA players in the house (including D-Wade and LeBron), you’d think Duke would’ve made it at least somewhat interesting instead of being barbecued and served … Syracuse wiped the floor with Eastern Michigan, 84-48 while Baylor won (as Perry Jones suited up for the first time this year and went for 27 points on 10-14 from the field). No. 25 Saint Louis was upset by seven by Loyola Mary, and Michigan was terrible in the second half against Virginia. The No. 15-ranked Wolverines ended up losing 70-58 … Gary Payton is saying Nike will indeed bring back the Air Zoom Flight “The Glove” kicks next October, which is some of the best news we’ve heard in a while with the sneaker game. It’s a long way off, but we’re glad we got the heads up. This might be a situation where you buy more than one pair. Nike always kills it when they bring back some of the older classics – at least compared to JB – so this has us extra hyped … Did you know Diddy‘s son, Justin, is going to play football next year at UCLA? … And congrats to Deron Williams for getting his jersey retired. Seriously. Look … RIP Patrice O’Neal … We’re out like the Dukies.
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