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Friday, June 23, 2017

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David Ortiz throws terrible ceremonial first pitch (Video)

The Red Sox celebrated the storied career of David Ortiz on Friday night, and the former first baseman and designated hitter had his number retired and threw out the first pitch before the team’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. He also spoke to the fans for nearly ten minutes, receiving a warm welcome.

Perhaps all the years not playing in the field affected Ortiz’s throwing arm, because his first pitch was quite ugly.

Ortiz shook off the bad performance with a laugh. He can continue to smile knowing his number looks good sitting above Fenway Park.

Ortiz was well deserving of the honor, having made 10 All-Star games and winning three World Series championships as a member of the Red Sox.

Shane McNichol covers college basketball and the NBA for Larry Brown Sports. He also blogs about basketball at Palestra Back and has contributed to Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.

Report: Celtics believe they can sign Paul George to extension

Paul George

The Boston Celtics were reportedly in serious discussions with the Indiana Pacers about a Paul George trade on Thursday, and those talks are not necessarily dead just because the 2017 NBA Draft has come and gone.

The Celtics are still loaded with future first-round picks, and the Pacers may be looking at a total rebuild. It seems unlikely that Boston would give up much in a trade if George is just going to leave as a free agent next summer, but one sports anchor in Boston says he has heard the Celtics believe they can sign George to a three-year extension as long as they also add Gordon Hayward this offseason.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who reported back in March that George would love to play with Hayward, is skeptical of George signing an extension with Boston.

If anything, it seems more likely that there would be a handshake agreement in place. Would Danny Ainge risk giving up a bunch of assets without putting pen to paper? There would obviously be some risk involved.

Skeptics will argue that George wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are the Celtics’ biggest rival. However, George is 27 and the Lakers could be years away from being able to contend with the Golden State Warriors in the West — unless a certain someone joins George in LA. If the Celtics find a way to add George and Hayward to a starting lineup that already includes Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Avery Bradley, George may decide his best chance at capturing a title will be in Boston.

Josh Jackson canceled Celtics workout as they were flying out to meet him

Josh Jackson

The Boston Celtics used the third overall pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night on former Duke star Jayson Tatum, and it sounds like their decision was made simple by the refusal of another player to meet with them.

Just before the draft began, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge revealed that Kansas swingman Josh Jackson canceled his workout with the team while Ainge and others were in mid-air flying to Sacramento to meet him.

“I never talked with Josh. No one in our organization did,” Ainge said, via Nicholas Goss of NESN.com. “They canceled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento, and they just decided to cancel it as we flew.

“There was something, that he didn’t want to play for the Celtics. In spite of that, we’ve watched Josh for two years, and we’re fans (of him). He’s a terrific kid and a good player.”

Ainge compared the situation to when Kris Dunn didn’t want to work out for Boston a year ago, and he said the Celtics still considered Jackson at No. 3 and tried not to “penalize” him. Still, Ainge made it clear the last-minute cancellation bothered him.

“I was mad,” he said. “Flew across country, are you kidding me? I had to get up at 4 o’clock and fly back home. There’s nothing to do in Sacramento.”

Jackson is from California, so perhaps he wanted to be drafted by the Phoenix Suns at No. 4 to be closer to home. Either way, the comments he made about the Celtics earlier in the week don’t really match his actions.

Jimmy Butler’s trainer rips Bulls on Twitter after trade

Jimmy Butler Chicago Bulls

It remains unclear what Jimmy Butler thinks about being traded by the Chicago Bulls, but one member of his inner circle doesn’t seem sorry to see him go.

Travelle Gaines, Butler’s personal trainer, sent a scathing tweet shortly after Butler’s trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves was made official, and he pulled no punches against Chicago general manager Gar Forman.

Notably, Gaines sent the tweet from Paris, where Butler is currently staying.

Obviously, there’s no way of knowing whether Gaines’s views are at all representative of Butler’s. The guard himself, it is said, wanted to stay in Chicago. Whatever the case, there is clearly some ill will in Butler’s camp toward Forman, team vice president John Paxson, and the organization as a whole.

Report: Timberwolves close to acquiring Jimmy Butler from Bulls

Jimmy Butler Chicago Bulls

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly closing in on acquiring Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported the news Thursday.

The trade would reunite Butler with his former coach Tom Thibodeau and could signal a full-scale rebuild is underway in Chicago. It is also an indication that the Timberwolves are ready to take a big step forward in 2017-18.

Report: Paul George has ‘serious interest’ in trade to Spurs

Paul George

The San Antonio Spurs may be making a run at Paul George, and they would reportedly be willing to trade for him even without a commitment beyond next season.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported on Thursday that the Spurs have a “real shot” at landing George, and the Indiana Pacers star is said to have mutual interest.

The belief remains that Paul intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers when he becomes a free agent next summer, but Kyler notes that the Spurs are committed to contending with the Golden State Warriors next season and would not be deterred by the thought of “renting” George for a year.

The Spurs don’t pick until No. 29 in Thursday night’s draft, so it’s unclear what type of package they would be able to offer Indiana. They are reportedly exploring the possibility of trading LaMarcus Aldridge, but a three-team deal might be the only way they could add George.

If San Antonio acquired George and gave the Warriors a run for their money, there’s a chance the All-Star swingman could be convinced to stick around beyond the 2017-2018 season. Plus, the Spurs reportedly have interest in adding other star free agents. That could strengthen their chances of signing George to an extension if they end up trading for him.

Report: Free agents view signing with Knicks as ‘absolute last resort’

Phil Jackson

The New York Knicks hoped Phil Jackson would turn them into a title contender when they hired him to run their basketball operations department. So far, he has done the opposite.

Aside from the uninspiring win-loss record, just how bad have things gotten for the Knicks? According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, it is going to be nearly impossible for New York to sign top free agents this summer.

Jackson has already said he believes Carmelo Anthony would be better off playing elsewhere, and he admitted on Wednesday that he is open to trading Kristaps Porzingis. Drafting Porzingis in 2015 was just about the only thing Jackson has done right since he joined the Knicks, so the team would basically be starting from scratch if they deal the 21-year-old.

If the Knicks can’t attract free agents, Jackson is going to have to build through the draft and trades. At this point, players are openly mocking Jackson with hilarious tweets. The Zen Master won 11 NBA championships as a player and coach, but his career as a front office executive could not be off to a worse start.

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