– by Megan Rilkoff
March. In New England, March is typically a cold, rainy month where everyone is crazy for real spring weather to arrive. This week, record highs hit the East Coast, with a nice hot 72 degrees this past Monday! For the first time in my three years in Los Angeles, it was the first day Boston heat beat the consistent LA sunshine.
On the sports front, March has also brought some big changes for our hometown teams – and we aren’t the only ones adjusting to new players and parting ways with franchise favorites (if you are still mourning, I offer my condolences for Derek Fisher). The NBA trade deadline ended March 15 and the nation has been awaiting the final decision of Peyton Manning since Indianapolis released him on March 7. Monday morning, Peyton decided to join the Broncos in Denver, turning down prospects in San Francisco and Tennessee. His one stipulation was not playing in the NFC as he did not want to face his brother, Eli Manning, and the Jets in the regular season, possibly keeping one of them from the Super Bowl (can you imagine the family showdown on Super Bowl Sunday? Might be sooner than we think…) However, once sealing the deal with Peyton, the Broncos are looking to deal out Tim Tebow – the young quarterback from the University of Florida who won Broncos hearts by winning the AFC West title last season and gaining lots of publicity for his ‘tebowing’ on the playing field. Is this a good move for the Broncos? Peyton is clearly one of the best quarterbacks currently in the NFL but only time will tell how his one season off and his neck injury will affect his play. I have little doubts that he will outperform this season but it might not be a bad idea to have a solid back-up in Tebow. Naturally, the rumors are spreading like wildfire with one speculation that Tebow could even come to the Patriots. While I don’t think we are in need of 4 quarterbacks, I don’t see anything wrong with having Tebow as something of an apprentice to Brady, learning from his years of experience and successes (last year’s Super Bowl is now forgotten).
While we await this possible addition to the team, the Pats have been busy taking advantage of free agency and the open market and signing some much needed offensive players in Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth, and Anthony Gonzalez, as well as defensive end Trevor Scott, Steve Gregory, Jonathan Fanene and 3 others. So who are these new (and one returning) players? Donte Stallworth was with us in 2007 and had a solid season with 46 catches for 697 yards and 3 TDs. However, when playing in Cleveland in 2009, Stallworth killed a pedestrian in Miami while driving under the influence. He was jailed for 24 days and suspended for the rest of the ’09 season but has been pining away for New England since he left and now has his long awaited reunion.
Daniel Fells was part of the Denver Broncos when Tebow-mania spread across the nation in their comeback win in overtime in Miami. A Cal-Davis graduate, Fells has been on five teams, ending in Denver where he caught 19 passes for 256 yards and 3 TDs in 2011. Robert Gallery – offensive lineman – was the second draft pick in 2004 and was just released from the Seahawks last Wednesday and has started in his 103 of 104 games. Overall, these acquisitions bring a lot of depth to our team, making injuries easier to deal with as the season goes on.
Surprisingly (and thankfully), the Celtics were quiet this week as the trade deadline passed on March 15. After weeks of rumors of a Pau Gasol-Rondo trade and breaking up the Big Three to clear cap space for an attempt at Dwight Howard, the Celtics made no changes to their roster even after news that Chris Wilcox would be out the remainder of the season due to a heart condition (along with Jeff Green, earlier in the season). With a lack of a “big” holding down the defensive end of the court and grabbing rebounds on offense, fans were prepared for another shocker like last year’s Kendrick Perkins (oh how we could use him now) and Nate Robinson trade to OKC. But the day passed peacefully and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. At this point in the season, with playoffs six weeks away, it doesn’t make sense to acclimate a new player into the roster and expect things to go smoothly. What makes the Celtics still one of the strongest teams in the NBA (on their good nights) is their gelling quality as a team which only years of playing together and building trust can produce. (See Rondo’s no-look behind the back pass to Ray last week?) When we decide to show up to play – like tonight against the Hawks or in LA against the Lakers and the Clippers – our efforts produce the results we want. But the days when we think just showing up is enough – Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets – we come up short and humiliated. I agree with Doc: “…at the end of the day, I like our team,” said Rivers. “Obviously we need a big, but let’s not do anything that hurts this team this year or the future to try to get a big. I just don’t think we should do that.” In the end, I think Ainge made the right decision.
On the other hand, the Lakers made a surprising last minute trade with Derek Fisher – attaining the younger and faster, Ramon Sessions from Cleveland, in the process. GM Mitch Kupchak claims he didn’t warn Fisher or his representatives of the trade until last Thursday’s deadline. Seems a bit harsh for a player who has won 5 championships in 16 seasons with the team and has meant a lot to the city of Los Angeles over the years – joining the Lakers the same year as Kobe in 1996. I don’t blame Fisher’s decision to reach a buyout from the Rockets in hopes for a sixth ring this year – where he can put the Lakers to shame (and without a yellow and purple jersey on, I might even be rooting for him).
As far as trading time goes, this season’s was predictably long-winded – full of rumors, speculations, and surprises; tears, cheers, and jeers. Hopefully for the Celtics, this year’s non-acquisitions will help us more than last year’s losses and gains. The best part (or worst) is seeing how it all plays out once players don their new jerseys, hear the cries of new fans, and teams and coaches adjust once again. All in hopes of success, a win, a ring.