From Comcast SportsNetAUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Auburn has turned to Gus Malzahn to restore a program that made an unprecedented fall two years after winning the national title with Cam Newton operating the then-assistant coach's high-powered offense to perfection.Malzahn was the Tigers' offensive coordinator during their 2010 national championship run before heading to Arkansas State for his first college head coaching position. He received a five-year contract worth 2.3 million annually to try to get the team back on solid footing."I recruited a lot of them and have very good relationships," Malzahn said. "I just told them our expectations are to win championships. Whatever happened last year happened last year. It's a new day. We're going to put a good brand of football on the field and we're going to have fun doing it."He led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record, a Sun Belt Conference title and a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, then parlayed that into a job in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference.Several hundred fans greeted Malzahn's plane, and he rushed along the line exchanging high-fives. He promised to get Auburn "back to winning championships.""I'm just tickled to death," he said. "It's a true honor for me to be the head coach of the Auburn Tigers. I spent three years here and I can honestly say it's the best three years of my life. I feel connected forever."The 47-year-old Malzahn returns with his fast-paced, no-huddle offensive style. He replaces former boss Gene Chizik, who was fired one day after a 49-0 loss to No. 2 Alabama to complete a 3-9 season.Malzahn hasn't ruled out coaching in the bowl game for Arkansas State, which said he had a 700,000 buyout.Athletic director Jay Jacobs declined to say who else he interviewed, but said it didn't matter."The characteristics that he brought to the table were head and shoulders above everybody else," Jacobs said.Before his arrival at Auburn in 2009, Malzahn had spent two seasons as Tulsa's offensive coordinator. He was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas for one year after a successful run in the Arkansas high school ranks.Auburn had the nation's 115th-ranked offense last season, averaging 305 yards a game. The Red Wolves were ranked 19th in total yards under Malzahn."We will be a fast-paced, attacking-style offense and defense," Malzahn said. "In this day and age, I believe you have to."It's the second straight time Auburn has turned to one of its coordinators from an unbeaten team. Chizik ran the defense for the 13-0 team in 2004 but was hired by the Tigers despite a 5-19 record in two seasons at Iowa State."We are tremendously excited that Gus Malzahn will be our next head football coach," Jacobs said. "Coach Malzahn was the clear unanimous choice of our search committee, and I am pleased that Dr. Gogue has accepted our recommendation. This is a great day for Auburn football and Auburn University."The search committee was comprised of Jacobs, Auburn Heisman Trophy winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson and former Tigers player Mac Crawford.Jackson said he was confident that "we got the right man.""We talked to a lot of talented coaches, a lot of coaches that are going to be Division I coaches other places, and they're all stars in their own right," said Jackson, the 1985 Heisman winner. "Gus shined a little bit brighter than those guys in the interview process."Malzahn said his first priorities will be recruiting and hiring coordinators, but didn't mention any candidates.Auburn owes more than 11 million in buyouts to Chizik and his coaching staff.The Tigers are hoping Malzahn can return them to success after a winless SEC season."Gus Malzahn is a proven winner," Jacobs said. "He is without question one of the brightest minds in college football and he has won everywhere he has been. Coach Malzahn knows what it takes to build a championship program in the Southeastern Conference. He knows our state and region and he understands what it will take to turn our program around. Coach Malzahn will also be an outstanding ambassador for Auburn University, and that was important to the committee."The NCAA has been investigating the recruitment of signee Jovon Robinson, who was ruled ineligible after a guidance counselor admitted to creating a fake transcript."I feel very confident that everything is fine, and that's my understanding," Malzahn said.The Tigers badly struggled in a transition to Scot Loeffler's pro-style last season, starting three quarterbacks.Auburn was ranked in the top seven in rushing, total and scoring offense in 2010 and Newton won the Heisman Trophy in his lone season out of the junior college ranks. It was the Tigers' first national title since 1957.Without Newton, the Tigers slipped to 100th in total offense in 2011 and then dipped even further.The defense struggled, too. Defensive end Nosa Eguae said he thinks Malzahn was the right guy."I know coach Malzahn, and he's an amazing man," Eguae said. "He's a standup guy. I'm looking forward to the future. I can't wait to get started and turn this thing around and get some wins."The hiring reunites Malzahn with the quarterback he recruited out of Arkansas. Kiehl Frazier was benched last season after struggling as the starter. He was USA Today's national offensive player of the year as a high school senior.Malzahn had been earning 1.3 million a year for the Tigers after interviewing with Vanderbilt after the national championship season. He took a substantial pay cut to join the head coaching ranks with the Sun Belt Conference team. Malzahn replaced Hugh Freeze, who also left after one season at Arkansas State to take over at Mississippi.Chizik's tenure was marred by off-the-field problems, including the arrest of four players from the championship team for armed robbery.Malzahn also made a couple of decisions with players that didn't pan out. Tailback Mike Dyer transferred from Auburn -- where he was suspended -- to Arkansas State. He was then dismissed by Arkansas State in July after a state trooper found marijuana and a gun in a car the national title game MVP was driving.Jacobs said discipline was a factor in choosing Malzahn.
As the Cavaliers fall further and further behind the Celtics, it appears there's some internal grumbling that the problems that have led to eight losses in their past 10 games aren't fixable with Cleveland's current roster.
After their loss to the NBA-champion Golden State Warriors Monday night in another Finals rematch, the third-place Cavs have dropped 7 1/2 games behind the Celtics and 3 1/2 behind the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference.
The complaints are a clear message to management that a change will be necessary at the trade deadline and, according to Cleveland.com, the offseason acquisition of Isaiah Thomas isn't going over too well. Thomas, who was out until Jan. 2 while he recovered from hip surgery after he was acquired from the Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade, is shooting 36 percent and is averaging almost as many turnovers (2.4) as assists (3.4). But it's his defense that's hurting the Cavs more. Here's what Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon reported a "league source" told him:
“Rotations are awful. IT is so much worse than Kyrie defensively it’s insane. There is not a great feeling anywhere. They need to limp into the All-Star break and get away from each other.”
Meanwhile, the guy Thomas was traded for has led the Celtics to an East-leading 34-10 record and become a leading MVP candidate.
Let’s get this out of the way: the Celtics should absolutely try as hard as possible to land Anthony Davis. Danny Ainge’s track record means any deal that ultimately lands “The Brow” would, at worst, be fair, and at best, be a steal.
That said, there are arguments to be made against an Anthony Davis trade. Here they are:
1. GARY TANGUAY CAN'T BE RIGHT
This is more important than anything else. Gary Tanguay cannot have this win. We can’t validate his reckless speculation with a Davis-to-Celtics deal. Banner 18 is not worth the years of Gary telling us he was right about this. All joking aside, let’s give Tanguay some credit for predicting this, even if it was luck.
2. ACQUISITION COST
Freedom isn’t free and neither is a 24-year-old mega-star. It’s important to realize that the Celtics are not the only team making this trade. The Pelicans will, justifiably, need one of the biggest return packages in NBA history in order to move Anthony Davis. For starters, say goodbye to Jayson Tatum. The C’s wunderkind looks like a future star and there’s just no way New Orleans makes this deal without him. Ditto for the Lakers/Kings pick acquired from the 76ers this summer and at least one more future first-rounder. Did we mention Al Horford yet? His salary is almost a must in any deal for Davis.
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I’m not positive a package of Tatum, Horford and every future pick of value is enough to convince the Pelicans to trade Davis. If I’m New Orleans, I’m asking for Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Horford and the LAL/SAC pick for Davis and the ridiculously expensive corpse of Omer Asik. So yeah, the Celtics have positioned themselves to pull off a deal of this magnitude, but it’s sure gonna cost them.
3. FINANCIAL COST
Including Horford in a deal for Davis lessens the blow of adding another max player; however, the Celtics will also be trading at least one of their rookie-scale starters, and that cannot be overlooked. Tatum and Brown aren’t just potential All-Stars, they are cost-controlled starters who the Celtics are paying a combined $10.6 million this season. The other seven Eastern Conference playoff teams (as of Tuesday) are paying an average of $36M for their starting SG/SF combos. Losing one or both of Tatum and Brown means the C’s will be pinching pennies to try and fill out their starting lineup. The calculus gets much harder when Kyrie Irving opts-out of his deal after next season.
4. INJURY CONCERNS
Davis is an absolute stud when he’s on the floor. The problem is he’s often sidelined with injuries. Davis has never played more than 75 games in a season, averaging 67 games through his first five years in the NBA (he’s already missed seven games this year). Davis’ alien-like size/athleticism combo make him a devastating two-way force, but might also make him injury prone for his entire career. Similar to Joel Embiid of the 76ers, Davis sometimes seems too big and fast for his own good, crashing to the floor at a rate rivaled only by Kelly Olynyk.
5. DOES HE MOVE THE NEEDLE ENOUGH?
Is Davis good enough to overcome reasons 1-4 on this list? Going by individual stats, absolutely. Davis has the third-highest career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in NBA history, trailing only Michael Jordan and LeBron James. But that individual success has only led to a 165-206 record and one playoff appearance for the Pelicans franchise. Before this season, the Davis-led Pelicans boasted a top-10 offense once in five seasons. It’s the same on the defensive end, with one top-10 finish in Davis’ first five years. If Davis is such a game changer, how come he hasn’t been able to impact winning at a greater clip? Most of that can probably be blamed on Pelicans management for doing a terrible job building around him, but it should be a question the Celtics ask before trading just about everything to acquire him.
The Celtics would be crazy turning down the chance to add Davis to a core of Irving, Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens, even if it does mean Tanguay can brag for the rest of his life. Ainge has assembled a super team before and you better believe he’s on the phone right now trying to do it again.