NBA coach gets a four-year contract extension

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NBA coach gets a four-year contract extension

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Monty Williams took his first NBA head coaching job with the Hornets at a time when the franchise was defined by uncertainty. Star players were looking to leave and no one knew who the next owner would be, or even if the team would remain in New Orleans long term. Williams kept his focus on coaching, and has been rewarded with a four-year extension running through the 2015-16 season. "The problems we have in the NBA are really good problems to have," Williams said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, the day the club announced his extension. "I would have loved to have all the ducks in a row and all the other good things everybody else had in their organizations, but that just wasn't my reality and at the same time my job hadn't changed and my players needed me to be focused on my job." The new deal comes as the 40-year-old Williams heads into the final year of the first head coaching contract he signed in 2010. The Hornets didn't release contract terms. Williams confirmed the length of the extension, but declined to discuss his pay other than to say, "It's more than I deserve." Williams took the Hornets to the playoffs his first season with a 46-36 record. Last season, the club went 21-45 after trading star Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal that helped New Orleans build for the future with the acquisition of 23-year-old shooting guard Eric Gordon and an additional first-round draft choice. The Hornets then won the NBA's draft lottery, selected Kentucky star Anthony Davis first overall and added Duke's Austin Rivers with the 10th pick. This offseason, the Hornets have traded to acquire forward Ryan Anderson from Orlando and center Robin Lopez from Phoenix. "The Hornets have a promising future and an exciting young nucleus," said Hornets executive vice president Mickey Loomis. "It is our opinion that Monty is the perfect coach to develop and lead this group of talent going forward." Loomis, also the general manager of the New Orleans Saints, was placed in his oversight position with the Hornets after Saints owner Tom Benson bought the basketball team from the NBA, ending a period of ownership uncertainty that had made it difficult for Hornets general manager Dell Demps to acquire or keep established players in free agency. Forward David West cited the lack of a long-term owner as a factor in his decision to leave New Orleans for Indiana in free agency last year. Williams said Loomis initiated the extension talks. "When he did that I kind of felt like when the older guys used to pick me to play on their team," Williams said. "It just made me feel like they're putting a lot of trust in me. Mr. Benson has told everybody that he's confident in our ability as a coaching staff. I just felt really good about that." Williams came to the Hornets after five seasons as the assistant coach in Portland under then-head coach Nate McMillan. Williams played in the NBA for 10 years after the New York Knicks made the former Notre Dame standout a first-round pick in 1994. His playing career also included stints with the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers. The Hornets hired Williams when the club was up for sale by founder George Shinn. During his first season, the NBA stepped in to buy the club in hopes of stabilizing club finances and orchestrating a deal with a new, permanent owner committed to keeping the team in Louisiana long-term. At the time, Williams' peers would often say they felt sorry for him having to start his head coaching career amid such instability, but Williams never complained, saying he felt lucky to be getting paid well to do something he loved. His players routinely professed their admiration for Williams' approach and always seemed to play hard for him. Even as the end of last season approached, with the Hornets well out of the playoff hunt, they finished with eight victories in their final 13 games. It was around that time that Benson agreed to buy the Hornets for 338 million and also agreed to a lease extension through 2024 at the New Orleans Arena. Soon after, Benson and Loomis said they planned to retain Williams. "We could not be any happier to have someone of Monty's quality ---- both professionally and personally ---- involved in the resurgence of this franchise," Benson said. The Hornets have begun moving corporate offices into a newly renovated building that also houses the Saints headquarters and Benson is looking into building a new practice facility on that campus. After two challenging seasons, Williams is now looking at a future that includes stable, deep-pocketed ownership, an infusion of new talent, facility upgrades and enhanced job security. "For me to say that's not good for the organization or the team would be a lot of fake humility on my part. I think it's great for all involved and shows Mr. Benson and Mickey have a vision for the organization that's bigger than all of us," Williams said. "We've had some really good things happen ... yet we haven't won anything, so that is where my reality remains. I want to win. All the stuff that we're getting is a bonus."

McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

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McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

The Red Sox honored the 1986 American League champions before Wednesday's game, but it wasn't the same.
      
Some 30 years on, the players, understandably, were older and heavier.

Hairlines were receded, or gone altogether, and waistlines expanded. It happens to the best of us.
      
But that wasn't what made the occasion melancholy. And it went beyond the usual nostalgia, that recognition that time eventually catches up to us all, or even the knowledge that some of that team's stars had already passed away (Dave Henderson) while others weren't well enough to appear.
      
No, it was something more. It was the realization that, through no fault of its own, the 1986 American League Championship team will mean less and
less as time passes.
      
The same can be said of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox and the 1975 A.L. champs, too.
      
For the longest time, those teams -- each of which won a pennant and got as far as Game 7 of the World Series before coming up short of the ultimate
goal -- were all Red Sox fans had. The near misses. The Almosts.
      
Those teams were lionized, romanticized and celebrated because they came the closest in the modern era to snapping the franchise's championship
drought. A break here, a bounce there, and maybe the string of futility wouldn't have reached 86 long years.
      
For decades, Red Sox fans had to relive how tantalizingly close those three teams got.
      
If only Lonborg had more rest for Game 7 in 1967. 
      
What might have happened if Rice didn't break his hand in September of 1975? 
     
No team got closer than the one in 1986, when the Red Sox were, more than once, one strike away. The champagne was on ice. The clubhouse was
set up for a celebration. Even the Mets, prematurely, saluted the Red Sox as 1986 champions on the scoreboard at Shea Stadium.
      
Then, it all unraveled, from the wild pitch/passed ball, to the  "little roller up along first.....behind the bag!'' That was only Game 6 of course, but the dye was cast that night. Game 7 would end in defeat, too.
      
For decades, that was all the Red Sox and their fans had. And so they toasted their heroes, who fell just short of their goal, relived the misery and staged the occasional baseball equivalent of an Irish wake.
      
What else was there to do? In need of champions, Red Sox Nation settled on the next best thing. Those guys played their hearts out, cried some in the dugout, then held their heads high.
      
Oh, well.
      
Then came 2004. And after that, 2007. And for good measure, 2013.
      
Suddenly, this World Series thing wasn't so complicated after all.

Three titles were notched in the span of a decade.
      
Now, there are happy endings to celebrate. There are Octobers to remember without the cruel plot twists at the end.
      
No more close calls, what ifs or could-have-beens. There were three honest-to-goodness World Series championships to celebrate. Even with three
last place finishes int the last four seasons, present-day Red Sox fans can lay claim to having experienced the greatest era of the team's long history.
      
And that, of course, has served to marginalize teams like the 1986 Red Sox.
      
Teams like that one, like the one lauded on the field at Fenway Wednesday night, are now quaint remembrances of another era in team history. It's like looking at old picture of yourself, decked out in a leisure suit with platform shoes: it seemed like a good idea at the time.
      
So, you smile and remember, ruefully, Marty Barrett and Oil Can Boyd and Rich Gedman. You thank them for their effort, and the memories they gave, even if some of them are still painful.
      
But you don't hold them in the same regard as Dave Roberts or Kevin Millar or Keith Foulke. You remember Clemens, but not in the way you revere Curt Schilling.
      
You still have fond feelings for '67 and '75, and most assuredly, '86, and sometimes, when you think of how they all ended their seasons, how impossibly close they came, you can't help but smile.
      
Now, you have other editions -- three! -- that figured out how to finish it off. You don't have to apologize for throwing them celebrations and you don't have to explain to out-of-towners why it is you're paying tribute to a team that lost when it counted most.
      
And every year, whether you acknowledge it or not, those teams -- none more than the one from 1986 that was feted Wednesday -- mean a little less, fade a little more into the recesses of time and shrink into history.

Gronkowski, Butler among missing from Thursday OTA session

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Gronkowski, Butler among missing from Thursday OTA session

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a handful of surprise absences from Thursday's OTA session, the third such session of the week and the first that was open to reporters. 

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, corner Malcolm Butler, corner Logan Ryan and safety Duron Harmon were all missing from the session. The reason for their absences was unclear. 

Other players missing from the practice were receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, both of whom are recovering from offseason surgeries. Edelman was spotted wearing a boot on his surgically-repaired foot at Wednesday's Patriots fantasy camp at Gillette Stadium. 

Running backs LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis -- both of whom ended last season on injured reserve -- were also missing from the practice, as were offensive linemen Tre' Jackson, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer. 

Defensive linemen Frank Kearse and Alan Branch were not present. Safety Nate Ebner, who is in the process of trying to make the US Olympic rugby squad, was also missing. 

Long-snapper Joe Cardona, who is currently fulfilling his duties as an active member of the Navy, was also not present Thursday. 

Pandolfo ready to jump from player development to Bruins assistant

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Pandolfo ready to jump from player development to Bruins assistant

Jay Pandolfo grew up a rabid Bruins fan as a native of Burlington, Mass, and got to live out his youth hockey dreams playing in the Black and Gold at the very end of an excellent NHL career that included winning Stanley Cups for the New Jersey Devils. 

Pandolfo then was hired as a Player Development coach with the Bruins and was charged with working with their young prospects. Pandolfo responded as he typically does with a great work ethic and an open-minded, success-driven attitude, and did some very good things with young players Frank Vatrano, David Pastrnak and Noel Acciari the past couple of seasons.

So, it was a bonus for both the individual and for the team when Pandolfo was added to Claude Julien’s NHL coaching staff this week and it also bodes well for the further development of young players on the NHL roster. Perhaps Pandolfo can even coax a little more production out of young veteran forwards Jimmy Hayes and Brett Connolly, who were both lackluster given ample chances to consistently produce last season.

Pandolfo was also a part of the interview process two years ago when Geoff Ward departed from Boston’s NHL staff and the Bruins eventually hired Joe Sacco as Julien’s top assistant.

Clearly, developing the young players was a mandate with the hires of both Pandolfo and Bruce Cassidy to the NHL staff, and getting the coaching experience in the NHL is something he wanted to try after his retirement as a player.

“Coming out as a player, Jay expressed interest from day one to get into coaching, had been a part of the search process [last season] that Claude referenced earlier. I’ve spent an awful lot of time with [Pandolfo] in the last two years while he’s transitioned into a development role. He spent a lot of nights behind the bench in Providence. He watches a lot of video with our players in a development role,” said Don Sweeney, who also added that Pandolfo’s move to coaching would open the door for former Devils forward Jamie Langenbrunner to become more involved in the B’s burgeoning Player Development Department. “I don’t really think it ever left him that he wanted to take a crack at this. I think it’s sort of in him as part of his fabric to want to teach, to want to impart upon the players the knowledge that he knows what it takes to win.

“He’s won. I’ve trained with him in the summer; he knows exactly what it takes. I think that it’s in his blood. It doesn’t mean that he can’t transition back out in a year’s time if it’s something that he doesn’t want to do. But it’s something that he wanted to jump into right from the get-go.”

Both Pandolfo and Cassidy have the unique position of having already coached many of the prospects, either in the NHL or on the cusp of breaking through from Providence. Take it one step further, Pandolfo also has the unique perspective of having played with many of the B’s core group of veteran players. That experience can be a vital conduit between those players and Julien when normal brush fires crop up or when the head coach is actively looking to gauge the true pulse of his team.

“I think it’s a huge benefit. I think working with especially some of these young guys who will be coming up in Providence. Even getting to know the prospects that hopefully will be making the jump and whether it’s a year or two years, having those guys feel comfortable with coming into a situation,” said Pandolfo. “I’ve played with a lot of guys that are still on the Bruins, so I think being comfortable with those guys [is important], and those guys knowing me and being comfortable with them being able to bounce stuff off me. As an assistant coach, you know, a lot of times you’re a bit of a sounding board too for those guys. You know they can’t always go to the head coach for things, so you know they like to sometimes talk to the assistant, and get a feel for what everyone’s thinking.

“It’s a good situation. I played for Claude so I’m very comfortable with him. Working with Butch the last couple years has really helped me a lot and we’re real comfortable together. So it's a similar situation. I’ve known Joe for a long time and also working with Goalie [coach] Bob [Essensa] as well down in Providence on a regular basis and having a really good relationship with Don Sweeney the last two couple years, it’s a very similar situation. For everyone I think it’ll allow us to get close as a group right from the hop. I think that matters a lot when you’re trying to build a winning team.”

Clearly, the Bruins are trying to make adjustments to the coaching staff in the hopes things will be different than they’ve been the past two seasons. It remains to be seen how many more changes need to be made before the truly positive results start to return for the Black and Gold, and things begin to stabilize on Causeway Street.