Daniels remembers Walker as 'a good mentor'

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Daniels remembers Walker as 'a good mentor'

BOSTON Antoine Walker's playing career is over now, which is somewhat surprising when you consider the 35-year-old Walker is less than a year older than Celtics Captain Paul Pierce.

There's no way to ignore the fact that Walker, who recently announced his retirement, has made his share of mistakes both on and off the court.

But during his 12 NBA seasons (seven with the Celtics), Walker did make an impact - a positive impact - on a number of players.

Current Celtic Marquis Daniels is one of them.

The two first got to know each other when both played for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2003-2004 season.

Daniels was an undrafted rookie out of Auburn while Walker was the veteran that took Daniels under his wing.

"Antoine, he was a good mentor for me," Daniels told CSNNE.com. "He showed me a lot of things, being a point-forward too, that really helped me adjust to the NBA, like moving the ball, getting the team in the offense, just preparing for games. He showed me a lot of the stuff that coming in to the league as a rookie, you would need to know."

And while there are many who now frown upon how badly things have gone for Walker in both his personal and professional life, Daniels isn't one of them.

He has nothing but positive memories of Walker as a teammate.

"Antoine is the type of guy that would give you the shirt off his back," Daniels said. "He's a great guy. People only see the bad. They don't see all the good that he did. He did a lot of great things when I was around him, like charity events in Dallas."

Unfortunately, few recall that side of Walker when his name comes up on conversation.

"One bad thing seems to out-weigh a million good things," Daniels said. "But in my book, he's a great guy."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't spend much time with Walker, having coached him for just half a season in 2005.

Still, he was around him long enough to develop a soft spot for how quickly things in his life went south.

"When any of that stuff happens to any athlete," Rivers said, "it doesn't even have to be basketball, it always tugs at your heart in my opinion, because they've worked so hard to get ahead and then when things don't go right for them, it really does. It bothers you."

Walker averaged 17.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his 12 NBA seasons which included two separate stints (1996-2003, 2005) with the Celtics who drafted him with the sixth overall pick out of Kentucky in 1996. A three-time All-Star (all with the Celtics), Walker also played for Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, and Minnesota.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''