• Celtics shopping away Rajon Rondo

    The Boston Celtics are actively trying to trade their star point-guard Rajon Rondo. The Celtics are shopping away Rondo after his attitude and personality have become too much of a burden on the organization, said an ESPN report.

    The three-time All-Star is arguably among the top-five best point-guards in the league averaging a career high 14 points per game and more than nine assists per contest.

    His on the court play has remained steady for the aging Celtics, but the off-court distractions have the Celtics front office listening to offers. Rondo’s clashes with Head Coach Doc Rivers have earned him a reputation of being high maintenance.

    With the championship window likely shut on their current roster, the Celtics are looking to rebuild. Sources say the Celtics front office believes that Rondo isn’t worth the headaches and are no longer trying to build around the 26-year-old guard.

    Golden State has become a likely destination for Rondo if he is traded before the March 18 deadline. The two teams have had discussions about a possible Rondo for Stephen Curry trade, but Curry’s recent ankle injuries have kept the Celtics from pulling the trigger on the deal.

    Celtics GM Danny Ainge acknowledged in early January that Rondo’s name came up in trade talks before the season when elite point-guard Chris Paul was on the trade block. Ainge said at that point he wasn’t shopping Rondo he was just trying to acquire a player of the caliber of Chris Paul.

    "I was not trying to trade Rajon Rondo," said Ainge. "There's a big difference between trying to acquire a player and trying to trade a player."

    Even with the Celtics new stance on the former Kentucky guard, they aren’t planning to just dump Rondo. They would like to receive a high quality player in return for him, similar to what they would have obtained had they landed Paul.

    Rondo has three years and $36 million remaining on his contract after this season.

  • Top five moves made in the offseason

    New York Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda, of Japan, laughs during practice at baseball spring training. Kuroda will give the Yankees much more depth in their rotation.
    New York Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda, of Japan, laughs during practice at baseball spring training. Kuroda will give the Yankees much more depth in their rotation.

    As intrasquad scrimmages rage on and actual spring training games are on deck, baseball’s most recent offseason has finally drawn to a close.

    All 30 teams jockeyed for position over the winter, some more successful than others.

    Everyone saw the Los Angeles Angels add Albert Pujols, arguably the most feared hitter in the game today, and the addition of CJ Wilson to an already stacked rotation. Everyone saw the Rangers win the bidding rights for Yu Darvish, and eventually sign him to a 6 year contract. Everyone saw the newly christened Miami Marlins go on an impromptu spending rampage, adding all star shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell, along with top of the rotation man Mark Beurhle. Everyone saw the Yankees trade uber hitting prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda, a 23 year old flame thrower who has ace-like potential.

    But there were also a few important moves made over the winter that flew under the radar, and we’re going to count down the top five most impactful, just in case you blinked.

    5. Carlos Pena returns to Tampa Bay

    The slugging first basemen enjoyed ample success in his first stint with the Rays, helping lead them to their first ever World Series and their first two titles of the AL East. A career .239 hitter, Pena left the Rays after the 2010 season to peruse the open market before eventually signing a 1 year deal with the Cubs. After a 28 homerun campaign in Chicago, he decided to return to Tampa Bay to help beef up the middle of the order, coming to terms to a 1 year deal worth 7.25 million. Pena will be counted on to provided the pop for a primarily pitching heavy team, and attempt to help lead them back to the playoffs for consecutive years.

    4. Joe Nathan comes to Texas to slam the proverbial door.

    We all remember that fateful night of game 6 in the 2011 World Series. The Rangers were 1 strike away, twice, to winning their first ever World Series before the bullpen let them down on both occasions. Now the Rangers add one of the most consistent closers in the game in Joe Nathan, formerly of the Minnesota Twins. He comes in with an 89% save percentage, good for 2nd all time in the history of baseball, and allows the Rangers some flexibility to tinker with former closer Neftali Feliz to throw in the starting rotation. Nathan missed all of the 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery, and had a rocky start to the 2011 campaign before regaining his form after the all star break. If Nathan can get back to his old ways, the Ranger’s bullpen will be set, but if he struggles, it will throw numerous kinks into the Ranger’s grand plan.

    3. Hiroki Kuroda adds much needed depth to the Yankee’s starting rotation

    The Yankee’s Achilles heel in 2011 was their starting rotation. In 2012, it looks to be a strength. Along with adding Michael Pineda and a fully healthy Phil Hughes, the Yankee’s also will introduce 37 year old Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda signed in January to an 11 million dollar deal, and brings with him a career 3.45 ERA. Last season, the Yankee’s were forced to lean on an out of practice Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. This year, they’ll have much more reliable depth to help get them through the grind of a 162 game season. Kuroda has only landed on the disabled list once in his 4 year career in America, and that was due to a freak incident that saw him get railed with a batted ball that came right back into his skull. If Kuroda can bring the same goods he brought while with the Dodgers, the Yankees should be considered the team to beat in the AL East.

    2. Edwin Jackson adds veteran presence to up and coming Nationals

    The Washington Nationals and all their youthful talent are probably another year or two away from consistently competing for NL East titles, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to try to crash the party early. In January, the Nationals signed 28 year old Edwin Jackson to a 1 year deal, and he brings World Series experience to a young aspiring team. Jackson has a career 4.46 ERA, and has also thrown a no-hitter in his time in the Majors. The ultra talented Stephen Strasburg could learn a few things from the well traveled Jackson, along with Bryce Harper. They say experience is the key to championship runs, and the Nationals added a piece of that with this move. If Jackson can be an anchor at the top of the rotation along with a healthy Strasburg, there is no reason to believe the National’s won’t be bumping elbows with the Braves and Phillies out east a year ahead of schedule.

    1. Diamondbacks add Trevor Cahill to an already loaded rotation

    Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers must be well versed in the phrase “buy low, sell high”. In December, Arizona traded prospects Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook to Oakland in exchange for front line starter Trevor Cahill and relief pitcher Craig Breslow. Trevor Cahill is coming off a letdown of a season, somewhat of a junior slump. In 2010, Cahill was in talks for receiving the Cy Young award with a 2.97 ERA and an 18-8 record. Looking to follow up on that, he hurled 207 innings in the 2011 campaign and earned a 4.16 ERA, causing his stock to fall a little bit, which is when Towers decided to pounce. The Diamondbacks already return young standouts Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson to the rotation, both of whom turned in stellar 2011 performances, and now add another potential ace to their squad in the desert. The Diamondbacks won the NL West last year, and were beaten in 5 games in the ALDS against the Brewers. The addition of Cahill, if he can regain his ace-like dominance, might be the key piece to putting them over the top in 2012, and winning the World Series for the first time since 2001.

  • Stat Guy: Texas turns in simply average season

    The 2012 regular season is over at last. A difficult year has come to an end, and now Texas can look forward to the Big 12 tournament on Thursday. But Before that, what conclusions can be made about the season that Texas had? One word comes to mind: Average. And it has a 9-9 conference record to prove it.

    Texas has finished the regular season below 20 wins for the first time since 2002. That season only saw the Longhorns play 28 games, instead of the 31 they played this season. The year may have been disappointing to Texas fans, but it was still one with lots of potential. Right now we're talking about a decent team with no major wins or any kind of signature moment in the season. One four game span could have changed all that.

    From January 21 to January 30, Texas played three top 10 teams, and lost by a combined nine points. If one of those games has a different result, then Texas is a 20 win team with a very good win and a sure lock to make the Big Dance. Two wins, and Texas is a very dangerous tournament team. All three, and Texas is a giant killer and sleeper to make a decent run in the tournament. But things didn't work out that way, Texas didn't get those wins, and the Longhorns are struggling to secure a bid to the NCAA tournament, still trying to fill out the resume.

    On to Saturday. Texas hung around with Kansas for a while, and actually didn't have a poor game. It just didn't have the horses to keep up with the Jayhawks, who slowly pulled away. J'Covan Brown had another good game against his favorite team with a 33 point outing. In five games against Kansas, he is averaging 25 points, with a low of 17. By comparison, he is averaging 20 points per game this season.

    The only glaring stat from the game is that Kansas outrebounded Texas by nine. But Texas had a better assist-to-turnover ratio than the Jayhawks, but the Kansas defense at home on senior night was too much for Texas. The Longhorns shot 37% from the field, and made a pedestrian 17% of their three-point shots.

    Losing Wangmene didn't help their cause either. After getting within two points of the Jayhawks, Texas came down on defense where Chapman was knocked to the floor, taking out Wangmene's footing, causing him to fall awkwardly. With the senior out for the rest of the game, Texas was more vulnerable in the paint, where Kansas got scored 30 points, with 13 second chance points.

    Over the past 10 seasons, Texas is 5-12 against Kansas, sweeping the season series only once in 2004(regular season and tournament. Only played once in regular season up to this year). Almost all the contests have been close, especially of late. The average margin of victory between these two teams is only 10 points, with nine of the 17 matchups being won by 10 points or less with six single digit results. Each team has one 25 point victory, otherwise, there are no margins greater than 15 points.

    The games may be close, but they usually end in Kansas' favor. 5-12 is the record of a good program against a great program. While Texas may be one of the top three or four basketball programs in the Big 12, Kansas is one of the top five programs in the nation, standing toe to toe with Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and UCLA. Rick Barnes' best Texas team went to the Final Four, but could not win in the Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The last truly great season the Longhorns had was in 2008, where they made a run to the elite eight. Kansas one upped them again but shutting them out of Big 12 tournament finals, and winning the National Championship against the cheaters(Looking at you Calipari) who sent Texas home. Simply put, Texas wants to be Kansas. Athletic envy isn't a common thing at Texas, but when it comes to basketball, it has no choice but to bow to the kings of the Big 12.