Game Blog: #17 Merrimack at #19 BU

Merrimack looking to reclaim lost points here at Agganis tonight

Merrimack looks to reclaim lost points here at Agganis tonight

Final: BU 5, Merrimack 2

With this Merrimack loss and a ULowell win over BC tonight, Merrimack falls to 29th in the PairWise Rankings as well as fifth in Hockey East, as there’s now a 4-way tie for first. Merrimack stands only a point ahead of BU, and is currently out of a home playoff spot for the Hockey East Tourney. It was just too little too late. Headed down to the pressers now, if there’s anything worth posting I’ll update in a bit. Merrimack next takes the ice at ULowell Friday night, then again at home on Sunday.

Midway through the 3rd: BU 5, Merrimack 2

Jordan Heywood just found the back of the net twice in under 2 minutes. The first came from a one-timer from the point on the Power Play from Hussar and Collins. I missed the second, but Toomey and Scotti got assists. At least there’s a bit of an upside here.

This is a a bad BU team. 6:49 to play as I type this. Do I smell a comeback?

Second Intermission: BU 5, Merrimack 0

The bad gets worse. Dennehy pulled Marotta in favor of Rasmus Tirronen, who hasn’t played in nearly 2 months, for the second period. Ras had a tough time of it in the period, giving up 2 goals of his own. Both came from Matt Nieto about 7 minutes apart, both were high snipes, the latter of which came on a wide open breakaway. What’s worse: BU only attempted 6 shots on goal in the period. At the time of Nieto’s  second goal, they were 2-for-2 in shots/goals.

As Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) points out here a Merrimack loss drops them to 29th in the PairWise Rankings, 13 spots out of contention for an at-large bid.

There are creepy men dancing poorly to Ne-Yo on the jumbotron. We’re losing 5-0. Can it get worse? I’m uncomfortable. I actually wouldn’t be totally shocked at a Nick Drew sighting tonight. For his sake, I hope he gets some time.

First Intermission: BU 3, Merrimack 0

Merrimack simply looks horrible. I really don’t have a single good thing to say right now. Here’s some notes –

The lines look a little different tonight. Dennehy started his second line of John Gustafsson, Shawn Bates and Josh Myers, as well as the Brendan Ellis-Justin Mansfield D-pair. Sam Marotta started in net as usual.

The Power Play units were a bit different too  – Vinny Scotti, Bates, and Quinn Gould came out with Ellis and Kolomatis first, followed by Connor Toomey-Rhett Bly-Justin Hussar with Mike Collins and Jordan Heywood.

Early in the period, Dennehy was using a stretching technique – essentially leaving a forward in the neutral zone while the team is on defense – to try and catch BU off guard or draw a defender out of the offense. BU completely missed it at first, but a defender quickly reacted and stayed around the blue line to be safe. Gould was the first to do it, then Myers after him. Interesting strategy that Dennehy used to employ a lot years ago but hasn’t really done much of recently.

The scoring opened when BU soph. Evan Rodrigues got out on a breakaway 1-on-1 with Jordan Heywood, managed to edge him off and somehow sneak a nice backhanded shot past Marotta. It was a really weird angle, and it looked like Marotta thought Heywood had cut it off enough that no shot would get by, or he’d at least be square to it if it did. Rodrigues was nearly even with Marotta at that point. Definitely caught me off guard, at least. The goal came at 9:47.

The second came under 2 minutes later as BU assistant captain Garrett Noonan danced around in the offensive zone and gave a nice look to Wade Megan, who sent a one-timer top shelf past Marotta. The shot was straight down the middle, so you’d have to think Marotta might not have seen it, or just completely missed it.

After the second goal, Dennehy used Merrimack’s timeout. There’s been a lot of frustration on the MC bench tonight, and with a nearly empty arena you can hear players yelling things like “Let’s get it together!” on the ice.

Only 2 and a half minutes later BU struck again as Marotta let up an uncharacteristic huge rebound, which soph. Cason Hohmann managed to grab with his stick extended just before a sprawling Marotta covered it. Hohmann spun around, and hardly pushed it towards the net, but it struck just inside the outside pole and in for a goal. Just like that, Merrimack trails 3-0.

Teams are back on the ice for the second period, so stay tuned, but this could be a long night. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for live updates at @PatBradleyUSCHO

Game Blog: BC downs Merrimack in OT

 

Final: BC 2, Merrimack 1

After Quinn Gould raced down the ice with a breakaway following the opening faceoff, it was all BC. The Eagles kept possession and attacked Marotta with the puck. Junior center Rhett Bly was injured following a BC offensive set and skated off under his power without his stick in the middle of a play. He must be really hurt if he just left the play, but understood they needed a fifth able-bodied player.

After Marotta appeared to make another tremendous save, BC sophomore Quinn Smith found a rebound and put it in for BC for the win.

With the loss, Merrimack drops to 24th in the PWR with 5 games to play in the regular season. Next game is Tuesday at BU.

End of Regulation: Merrimack 1, Boston College 1

A crazy back and forth third period led to several close chances for both teams. Sam Marotta has played mind-blowingly well. Milner has matched with some great saves of his own and 41 saves. Lawler chanting “Sam Marotta” as I type this.

Bigos got hurt and skated to the locker room holding his left shoulder area, but came out quickly after. Dennehy has changed lines late in the third. Off to OT.

End of 2nd: Merrimack 1, Boston College 1

Overall a pretty boring period. Both teams looked fairly even, and after a 20-7 Merrimack SOG advantage in the first things evened up in the second with Merrimack holding a much closer 11-9 SOG advantage. Both teams had a few breakaway chances followed by great stick checks from the respective defensemen to break up the play. Although the game has gotten chippy in the latter half of the period, there were no penalties called the entire 20 minutes.

Jerry York called his timeout with 1:02 to play in the period and, frankly, the Merrimack fan in me panicked. However, a nice defensive stand from the Warriors in the final minute left the Eagles empty handed and both teams headed to the locker rooms with the score still tied at 1. Merrimack has certainly looked like the better team for most of this game, but with the score tied BC can easily take over. Merrimack has to start capitalizing like they did towards the end of the first.

Remember, as College Hockey News’ Mike McMahon pointed out earlier, a win brings Merrimack to 13th in the PWR, a loss drops them to 24th, and a tie keeps them at 19th. Puck drops for the third in under 10 minutes, so follow me on Twitter for live updates.

End of 1st

With the game being televised nationally on CBS Sports Network, the fans at Lawler came out ready to rock. From puck drop this place has been relatively loud. As small as it is, Lawler has to be one of the most difficult, intimidating places to play. Imagine a small high school gym for basketball game when fans are on top of you and making ridiculous amounts of noise. It’s a fairly similar atmosphere here.

BC came out strong, drawing a penalty from Merrimack Captain Jordan Heywood in the first minute. It seemed they had taken command of this game early, even though Merrimack was able to kill the penalty. Fortunately, the Warriors came out gunning afterwards. The second line of Gustafsson-Bates-Myers played very well, throwing shots on net, posting up in front of Milner, and providing an excellent forecheck on turnovers.

BC caught Merrimack in the midst of a change a few minutes later, and Bill Arnold made a great play using his body to fend off the Merrimack d-men and make a nice pass to Steve Whitney on the left wing who fired a beautiful shot past Marotta on the breakaway.

Oddly enough, following every TV timeout BC was starting a Power Play. On the second of these, Shawn Bates finally found the back of the net at 12:43 after a gritty sequence for the Warriors. Vinny Scotti originally put a shot on net that produced a juicy rebound, and Ben Bahe and Bates chipped away with about 5 shots until Bates’ finally crossed the goal line.

Follow live updates on Twitter at @PatBradleyUSCHO

Gustafsson Moves to 2nd Line

John Gustafsson celebrates his first career goal at Boston College on November 16th

John Gustafsson celebrates his first career goal at Boston College on November 16th

 

In light of Clayton Jardine’s fractured tibula plateau last Sunday at Providence, Freshman John Gustafsson is active and playing in Jardine’s left wing spot today for Merrimack.

Gustafsson is a nice option on a line that was finally starting to click together. With experienced junior Shawn Bates centering sophomore wing Josh Myers as well, Gustafsson adds speed to an already speedy lineup. He also has a strong shot and great finishing ability, so look for that second line to really press BC with their speed today, creating mismatches, rebounds and easy chip ins on open nets.

Gustafsson has 5 points (1-4-5) in 23 games played this season. His only previous goal came against Boston College in November 16th this season. Gustafsson also scored in an exhibition against the US Under 18 Team in December.

The Jardine-Bates-Myers line had seemingly just found their groove, highlighted by 2 huge goals in the January 26th game at UNH, a 4-1 Merrimack victory.

If Merrimack wins today, they move up to 13th in the Pairwise Rankings, meaning if the playoffs started tomorrow, which they don’t, Merrimack would be one of 16 teams to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

There’s A Storm Coming, Boston College

Connor Toomey scores the game-winner in OT last week against BC

Connor Toomey scores the game-winner in OT last week against BC

There’s a blizzard outside for the third weekend in a row. The weathermen originally predicted another monstrous storm to hit us, but in the wake of those comments the predictions were scaled back and it’s been a relatively quiet weekend as far as snow goes. About an hour ago, no one expected anything significant to happen. Now, just 2 hours before puck drop, it’s snowing so hard it may never snow again. How appropriate.

After Merrimack stormed back into the National Conversation in the past few weeks, capped by a 2-1 overtime victory against Boston College last weekend, things have seemingly calmed a bit. Last week, the anticipation before the game was practically palpable as you walked through campus; every one was buzzing about the Battle for First. The last few days, however, things have cooled unseasonably, but today’s matchup remains crucial to both Merrimack’s playoff dreams and BC’s playoff seeding. With a Merrimack victory, they jump to 13th place in the Pairwise Ranking, good for a spot in the NCAA Tournament should the season end tomorrow.

Maybe it’s a a trap to lure in the unsuspecting Eagles, although after last week’s gritty win from the Warriors, unsuspecting isn’t quite the word I’d expect to us to describe BC. This blizzard could be a sign of things to come this afternoon. It’s about time someone else claimed the Hockey East throne, and while Merrimack stands atop the perch, it’s a damn good time to make one final statement to the perennial champions. There’s a storm coming, Boston College. Look out.

Keys to the Game:

Stay on the Ice!

Merrimack did a really good job of playing intelligent hockey last week to stay out of the penalty box. In total, Merrimack only committed 5 penalties, while BC committed 10, including four in the third period and overtime. The OT Power Play would ultimately give Merrimack the victory as Connor Toomey scored the advantage goal while Pat Mullane was in the box for interference. BC has killed right around 86% of it’s penalties and scored on about 22% of opponents’. If you translate those numbers to the NHL, BC would be ranked 6th and 9th, respectively. Merrimack does not want to get into a special teams battle.

Part of playing smart means smart hitting, which Merrimack in the past has struggled with. They need to get out and make some big hits early, simply sending a message that says “Hey, we’re here. This is our house. We’re not backing down.” If  BC comes out and runs the table, sending Merrimack bodies flying in the first, it’ll be a long afternoon. Clip those wings and hurt their confidence early and it’ll go a long way.

Defense, Defense, Defense!

Merrimack defenders love to dive on the ice and block pucks and did so again last week, blocking 17 shots taken by BC shooters. Diving for pucks and saving the goalie is a staple of Merrimack hockey, and they need to keep it up if they want to win again today. While Sam Marotta is playing tremendously in net, BC has 5 players with 20 or more points, and 3 above 30. This team is tremendously skilled and will pepper Marotta with shots every chance they get, especially if they get rolling on the Power Play. Marotta may be playing like a superstar right now, but he can’t do it alone.

Capitalize on Offensive Chances

You’re not going to score a lot of pretty goals on these BC defensemen. Period. Parker Milner is playing some of the best hockey of his career in net as a senior as well, and while he’s never really played well at Merrimack, he’s still very good. Merrimack needs to get into their offensive rhythm early on and consistently keep it at their pace throughout the game, period-to-period. They can very easily score goals in bunches, but BC may be the biggest threat to match this feat in the league, as evidenced by the teams’ first meeting where Merrimack scored 3 goals in 5 minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead, only to watch it disappear 7 minutes later. They need to get the puck on net, get a defender in front of Milner to block his view, and just keep chipping away until an ugly goal or 3 find the back of the net.

Follow live updates on Twitter at @PatBradleyUSCHO

Your Turn : Who wins today?

Red Sox Spring Training Notes: Lackey Back, Pedro’s Praise, and Gator Hunting

Lackey SPring Training

John Lackey has a lot to prove this spring

John Lackey took the mound today in the first Red Sox Spring Training game against Major League competition. For Lackey, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, this was his first start in any real game action in about 18 months. Typically pitchers recovering from TJ surgery struggle with the command of their pitches, while their velocity seems to find an added boost from their robo-arm. So, basically, I wasn’t expecting much from John Lackey, but was excited to see him out there anyway. There’s a lot riding on this guy if this team is going to finish anywhere above .500% or being in playoff contention. No pressure, right?

Lackey started just as I figured he would: a 5-pitch walk to start the game. His continued to struggle with his control, as he let a high, meaty fastball sail right Desmond Jennings’ wheelhouse, though he fortunately missed it and hit a hard single through the left side instead. Lackey capped up the top of the order disaster by hitting Matt Joyce, a lefty, on the shoulder to load the bases with no outs heading into the heart of the Rays order.

The good news? Lackey recorded 3 straight outs to follow this, with a nice sequence to strike out Jack Cust, a Sac Fly to right that scored Ben Zobrist, and a fly out. So, with no outs and the bases jacked, Lackey escapes with only one run in. Impressive, given the circumstances.

Lackey spoke to NESN’s Jenny Dell in the dugout following his inning of work.

“It felt great,” he said referring to his pitching arm. “It was good to be back out there. [I] threw a lot of fastballs, arm felt good. It’s good to be back.”

You’ve got to imagine there were some nerves for Lackey as well, who threw 10 of his 20 pitches for strikes. Only time will tell what Lackey will contribute to this team, but all in all, it wasn’t a terrible first outing of the spring.

Ruby de la Rosa Reaction

Apparently the soon-to-be 24-year-old is turning heads down in Fort Myers with his stuff. It prompted Pedro Martinez, who has known de la Rosa for years and watched him evolve, to compare him to some of the greatest pitchers ever in a conversation with WEEI.com.

“He has an opportunity to be someone special. Not just a regular player, but special. When you see someone like de la Rosa you think someone special, like a Clemens, a Juan Marichal. You think about elite players. That’s the type of stuff he has.”

Coming from one of the greatest pitchers ever himself, that’s incredibly high praise.  Ruby de la Rosa grew up admiring Martinez in the Dominican Republic, and the two are actually cousins. Pedro’s role on this team could very well be purely to turn this guy into the next Pedro Martinez, and if that’s the case, the future will be bright for years to come.

Lineup Preview?

There’s been lots of speculation as to what the Red Sox batting order would look like this season, and we may have had our first glimpse at the top of the order today. Jacoby Ellsbury led off, followed by Dustin Pedroia, both familiar spots for the Red Sox vets. Newcomer Shane Victorino stepped up in the 3-hole followed by Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting cleanup, Johnny Gomes in the 5 hole and Will Middlebrooks batting 6th. Absent from today’s lineup were David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, so nothing is set in stone quite yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Napoli take over that clean up spot and Ortiz bat fifth, moving everyone else down. It’s also reasonable to think that Will Middlebrooks could hit cleanup if he’s comfortable doing so. It’s still plenty early though, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

Gomes and Ross gator hunting

Ironsides and Blue Wolf get ready to hunt some gators

Return of the Idiots

Okay, so Johnny Damon is walking through that door, and frankly no one wants him to. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past decade of Red Sox baseball, it’s that clubhouse chemistry, more than anything, will determine how far this team can advance. On paper, the 2011 and 2012 Red Sox should have been record-setting winners. Instead, we’ve received two of the most storied seasons in history – for all the wrong reasons.

The team needed an overhaul of fun, loose veteran experience, so that’s what they got. Two of the new guys, OF Johnny Gomes and C David Ross, are bringing that lighter, enjoyable atmosphere to the team already.

Gomes and Ross, who have nicknamed themselves “Ironsides” and “Blue Wolf”, respectively, decided to dress up and go gator hunting yesterday. The two went out on a professional airboat tour and got to see real gators in their natural habitats. When they got back to dry land, the two even held baby gators. While some may cry foul at their players going out in search of Alligator-induced fun, there’s nothing wrong with some safe, guided goofiness to get a chuckle out of everyone from the clubhouse. At least they aren’t drunk in the clubhouse yet, right? These two might be just what the doctor ordered.

 

The Jordan Era Begins. Err, Crawford, that is.

As the dust settles on this year’s NBA Trade Deadline, there’s one thing we know for certain: the Celtics are a better team than they were yesterday.

Jordan Crawford: newest Celtic

Jordan Crawford: newest Celtic

Right around 2 pm eastern, an hour before the deadline, The Celtics swung a deal with the Washington Wizards to acquire third-year guard Jordan Crawford. In exchange for the talented young scorer, Boston sent the expiring contract of veteran C Jason Collins as well as the expiring contract of injured guard Leandro Barbosa to Washington. Rookie C Fab Melo was originally thought to be included in the trade, but Washington ultimately decided it wanted the cap space trading Crawford and acquiring Collins’ expiring contract would provide.

Crawford is in the third year of his 4 year, $5.5 million rookie contract, and will be a restricted free agent when his contract expires following the 2014 season, meaning the Celtics can match any offer another team makes and retain Crawford should they choose to do so at that time. Crawford also has a club option in 2014 for just over $3 million.

With the emergence of rookie phenom Bradley Beal in Washington at the shooting guard position, Crawford became expendable.

Disappointed with the team’s decision, Crawford had been relegated to bench duties for the past few weeks and wasn’t seeing much court time.

The former 27th overall pick has averaged 14.5 points per game in his career. This season, he is averaging 13.7 points and 3.5 assists. Crawford is most notably remembered for a monstrous 2009 dunk on LeBron James at a Nike camp that Nike reportedly didn’t want to get out. Several reporters’ tapes were confiscated, per the request of James according to people at the game. Some video did leak out though. Check it out below, right at about :34 seconds:

What does this mean for the Celtics?

Well, Crawford is a terrific scorer whose talent allows him to score in bunches, nearly at will. He’s shot 43% from the field this season and provides excellent depth for the Celtics bench, as well as at the guard position where they were a bit depleted following torn ACLs for both starting point guard Rajon Rondo and Barbosa. He’s also a cheap, team controlled, young scoring guard who is a nice piece for any rebuilding efforts the Celtics make, as well as a nice contributor for this team as they attempt to make another deep playoff run.

With Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee the starting guards, you have to think Crawford’s duties will be on the second team with Jason Terry. If Crawford excels and impresses coach Doc Rivers, he’ll earn more playing time. For now though I can’t see him getting an overwhelming share of the minutes. He’s nice depth, especially if anyone gets into foul trouble or injured, but this trade probably opens up more playing time for someone else…

Let the Fab Melo Era Begin!

Okay, so maybe I like this guy way more than I should, but Fab Melo has the raw potential to be the future defensive face

Fab Melo: Shot-Blocking Machine

Fab Melo: Shot-Blocking Machine

of this franchise. He isn’t terrible offensively, and has terrific defensive instincts. The guy is a legitimate 7-footer who looks more imposing on the court than anyone else when he’s out there. He’s listed at 7′ even, but I’d give him a few inches, for sure. He also set an NBA D-League Record with 14 blocks in a game, which ohbytheway he recorded a triple-double in. Then, in his next game, he had 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 blocks – something only 3 players ever accomplished at the NBA level. He’s averaging 11 points, 6.8 rebounds, and an astounding 3.4 blocks per game.

The point in this Melo gushing? He will very likely slide into the minutes left open by Collins, something that can only make him a better player under Kevin Garnett’s tutelage. Am I excited? HAH. What an understatement.

Of course, this could be a preemptive strike to signing a veteran forward like Kenyon Martin, essentially an older version of Josh Smith, who is rumored to be drawing interest from Miami after they traded reserve C Dexter Pittman to Memphis.

You decide: Was this a good trade for the Celtics? Vote below!

Celtics Deadline-Day Trade Rumblings

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are among the Celtics who cold be traded today

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are among the Celtics who cold be traded today

Just about every Celtic has been rumored to be on the block the last few days as today’s 3 pm eastern NBA Trade Deadline rapidly approaches. I’ll try to keep you up to date as anything changes or gets reported throughout the day, so check back for details.

Here’s the latest:

Update 3:30 pm

As a slew of deals get reported following the deadline, word has just come through that Boston has sent C Jason Collins to Washington as part of the deal. His contract, which was only for $1.35 million this season, expires at the end of the season. This gives Washington and Boston a tiny bit more cap flexibility, and may mean one phenomenal thing for the Celtics: THE FAB MELO ERA HAS BEGUN!! Of course we’ll have to wait and see how Doc Rivers handles his roster, but, for now, things look promising in terms of playing time for Melo who you’d think would at least get Collins’ minutes – an increase from what he’s getting now.

Update 2:40 pm

Only 20 minutes remaining until the 3pm eastern deadline. Nothing new has come up about the Celtics, but as Bill Simmons tweeted “actual deals rarely get leaked as rumors before they happen.” It’s been silent on the KG/Pierce fronts for the most part. Could mean nothing is happening, could just mean no one has gotten off the phone to leak anything to a reporter. Ainge could be in process of getting Garnett to waive his no trade clause. Personally, I don’t think anything else major will go down for the Celtics, but we’ll see.

Update 2:03 pm

The Celtics will send only Leandro Barbosa’s expiring contract to Washington for Jordan Crawford, per reports. GREAT deal for the C’s. Really a steal.

Update 2pm

We have a trade! The Celtics have reportedly acquired Jordan Crawford from the Wizards, although, unlike previous reports, it looks like Fab Melo is NOT part of the deal. We’ll see what is sent back to Washington, but right now I love this deal. Crawford is solid bench scoring for the Celtics, and they get to keep Melo. I still think there could be more to this, but without Rondo and Barbosa the C’s are somewhat short at guard. Stay tuned.

Update 1:22 pm

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that talks between the Celtics and Wizards for guard Jordan Crawford are heating up again. Same players as before – Fab Melo would likely go in the deal.

I don’t quite understand this trade, unless it’s a precursor to something else. Maybe there’s an unmentioned third team and this is part of a bigger deal for Atlanta’s Josh Smith? Could Crawford be part of another deal and swung somewhere else so Ainge doesn’t have to give up more than he wants to? Maybe Crawford goes to New Jersey in a Pierce deal as well, and they send the extra first rounder he wants in exchange for Melo and someone from the Nets. We’ll see how this plays out.

Update 1:10 pm

David Alridge from TNT is reporting the Clippers are unlikely to make any big deal today, saying the team likes their chemistry and depth and wants to preserve that. That most likely means management feels that way, but if your head coach and superstar point guard are calling for a trade, I’d question that chemistry. Garnett undoubtedly helps them, although I was personally shocked to hear of Jordan being involved. He had lots of potential, but hasn’t seemed to find it. Garnett would help him, but he’ll likely be dealt in any deal for KG. We’ll see.

Update 12:30 pm

Kevin Garnett to the Clippers has been back and forth and changed about a million times at this point, but there’s new life. The back story is that KG was originally rumored to be on the table for backup PG Eric Bledsoe and SG Caron Butler. That was shot down fairly quickly. Then, over All-Star Weekend in Houston, the deal resurfaced, but this time for Bledsoe and talented young center DeAndre Jordan, who has what’s left of a $40 million contract left. A bit pricey, but talented and still cheaper than Garnett. Rumor said Clipper’s coach Vinny del Negro would love to have Garnett for Bledsoe and Jordan, but management wouldn’t do it so it was called off. Now, the Herald’s Steve Bulpett says things are heating up again, and other rumors report Chris Paul has asked for Kevin Garnett. KG would have to waive his no-trade clause for any deal to go through.

Paul Pierce has also been thrown around quite a bit, as reported last night. According to sources, Boston was the one who initiated that deal to Brooklyn, and they were considering it. Boston reportedly wanted an extra player and draft pick, which staled things. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix is reporting that Ainge is not simply trying to dump Pierce, but looking for expiring contracts and draft picks as well, a steep price that likely won’t be paid. Nothing is out of the question though, and if teams get desperate, he may get his asking price.

ESPN’s Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) is reporting via Twitter that the Celtics are pursuing Tyreke Evans of the Sacremento Kings, a former 4th overall picks and very talented guard. My guess is that young big man Demarcus Cousins would be involved in any deal as well, but that’s purely speculation. The Kings have been in sort of a fire-sale the last few days, so you never know who could be available and how cheap they might come.

Just after Stein tweeted that though, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that both Evans and Cousins had been given the impression that they would not be traded. We’ll see what happens.

The Celtics have also been rumored to be interested on Wizards scoring guard Jordan Crawford. In his third year in the league, Crawford is shooting a healthy 43% from the field, but is probably best known for his dunk on Lebron James that Nike didn’t want anyone to see.

If any deal is done for Crawford, it would probably be for Fab Melo and Leandro Barbosa, according to sources.

Also, if you missed it, USA Today claims that Rajon Rondo‘s agent has been assured by Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge that he will not be traded.