Ainge: Celtics aren't shopping ex-Wildcat guard Rondo
The Boston Celtics say they're not actively trying to trade point guard Rajon Rondo.
Amid reports that he's willing to explore that possibility, Danny Ainge, the team's president of basketball operations, said Thursday "I don't anticipate" breaking up his core of four stars — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rondo.
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Ainge and Coach Doc Rivers met with the media for the first time since the NBA lockout. The session was held at the team's practice facility, but there was no sign of any players, who were allowed to begin working out there Thursday.
Sports Illustrated first reported that the Celtics would be willing to give up Rondo to get Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets. Paul can become a free agent after this season.
Asked if he was actively seeking to deal Rondo, Ainge said, "I'm not," but he knows that rumors are always around.
"I'll talk to Rondo, but I won't talk to you about what I said to him," Ainge told reporters. "Rondo will be fine. Rondo knows that we love him ... and he's excited to come back and play basketball."
Ainge isn't surprised when other teams ask him about Rondo.
"He gets a lot of attention. He's a great player. There's a lot of people that call me and ask me about Rondo," he said.
Woods three shots back at Chevron
K.J. Choi opened with five straight birdies and shot a 6-under 66 for a three-shot lead over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif. They were the only three players to break 70 in the 18-man field in the final official event in America this year. "Anything under par is a good day today with the wind up," said Woods, a four-time winner of this event and the tournament host. "If the wind stayed down, you're going to have to shoot probably 68 or below for it to be a good score." Jason Day was among the leaders until the wind, gusting up to 30 mph, gobbled up his approach on the par-5 16th, leading to double bogey. Then he hit into the trees on the par-3 17th and injured his right thumb trying to play out of the mess. He made another double bogey and finished with a bogey for a 74. Matt Kuchar was 4 under until he made triple bogey on the 16th, bogeyed the 17th and had to settle for a 72.
Westwood, Schwartzel share lead
Defending champion Lee Westwood birdied the last hole to shoot a 4-under 68 and share the first-round lead with Masters winner Charl Schwartzel at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa on Thursday. The third-ranked Westwood holed a putt from nearly 20 feet on No. 18 for his fourth birdie. The Englishman also had an eagle-three on No. 9 and two bogeys. Top-ranked Luke Donald had a double-bogey six on No. 17 that left him with a 70 and a tie for fourth alongside five other players. Robert Karlsson of Sweden was alone in third after shooting 69.
McIlroy shoots 64 in Hong Kong
U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy shot a 6-under 64 in blustery conditions on Thursday to share the lead with Alvaro Quiros and David Horsey after the opening round of the Hong Kong Open. Defending champion Ian Poulter (71) struggled in the swirling winds at the Fanling course at Hong Kong Golf Club. Quiros and Horsey shot their 64s when conditions improved later in the day. Two-time champion Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain was fourth after a 65. Ryder Cup players Edoardo Molinari and Padraig Harrington had 70s for a share of 29th place.
Blackwelder 5 over in LPGA qualifier
Former Kentucky golfer Mallory Blackwelder followed a first-round 72 with a 5-over 77 in the second round Thursday in the 90-hole LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla. Blackwelder is in a 17-way tie for 47th with three rounds to go. The top 40 and ties will receive 2012 LPGA Tour membership. Blackwelder had four bogeys and one double-bogey Thursday on LPGA International's Champions Course, but she closed with a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole. Christine Song shot a 2-under 70 on the Legends Course to take a two-stroke lead over former UCLA star Stephanie Kono. Song had an 8-under 136 total.
Buckner coming back to Boston?
The most intriguing part of Bobby Valentine's first news conference as the Boston Red Sox manager: the possibility of making Bill Buckner his hitting coach. Valentine and Buckner were college roommates who played together in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system. The new Boston skipper said he would consider the former Red Sox first baseman for his staff. Despite a 21-year career in which he amassed 2,715 hits, Buckner was best remembered in Boston for his ninth-inning error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that helped the New York Mets come from behind and win. Valentine said of Buckner, "I respect his every opinion, in baseball and worldly matters."
■ Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, said Thursday that he plans to participate in the bidding process for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The process could begin next week, when the investment bank handling the sale of the Dodgers is expected to provide prospective buyers with confidential financial data in a bid book. He "will see a book," Cuban wrote in an email.
Penske signs Keselowski to extension
Brad Keselowski was rewarded for a breakthrough season at NASCAR's top level with a contract extension from Penske Racing for both the driver and his crew chief. The team said Thursday the extensions for Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe were for multiple years, although the specific length and financial terms were not disclosed. In his second season with Penske, Keselowski won three races and earned a berth in his first Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The last word
Green Bay Packers backup guard Evan Dietrich-Smith, on the celebrity that comes with being stomped by a Pro Bowl player (Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh) in a Thanksgiving Day game:
"I had a million people calling me, 'I just saw you on SportsCenter !' I'm like, 'Yeah, I know.' It's not really cool to be famous for getting stepped on."