Garnett grateful for career accomplishments

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Garnett grateful for career accomplishments

DENVER The locker room had all but emptied out, with Kevin Garnett the last player still around. It is an image that those of us in the media who have followed his career that began in Minnesota and lived on in Boston, have seen countless times.

For fans, images of Garnett have a certain individuality about them as well which in itself, ironic.

Because when you talk about the greatest players of this generation, often they are clumped into groups of scorers, or rebounders, or assist men.

And then there's Garnett, one of the best all-around players not just of this generation, but to ever play the game. When it comes to such comparisons, words are hollow if they're not backed up by numbers.

And Garnett?

Oh he's got numbers. Hall-of-Fame, milestones-by-the-minute it seems, numbers.

In Boston's 98-91 loss at Denver, Garnett became the first player in NBA history with career totals surpassing 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists and 1,500 steals. He came into the game needing one assist, and finished with five.

For any player to surpass any one of those barriers is an accomplishment. But for one man to do so, and still compete at a relatively high level, is astounding.

"To be honest, I'm not a stat guy," Garnett said. "But anytime you make accomplishments in the league, milestones, you gotta be grateful."

Indeed, good health - and a healthy work ethic - are both essential to having the kind of career Garnett has had.

But ultimately, it comes down to having a desire to be more than good, but great.

And while some see that as being able to score a lot of points or grab a lot of rebounds, Garnett has never viewed himself in such a one-dimensional prism.

"I've always told you guys, that's what I am. My greatest strengths are sometimes my greatest weaknesses. if you know anything about me, my personality, I'm not one-dimensional. It's multi-facets that make up the man that's in front of you. At the same time, I work really hard at understanding the game and trying to perfect my craft."

That work ethic has been a constant throughout his career, drawing younger players to approaching the game the way he does, like a moth to a flame.

"When you see a player that's as good as he is, working so hard all the time, treating practices like games, you can't help but work harder," Celtics guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com. "I pride myself on having a great work ethic, but KG his work ethic is on another level. That's what makes him such a great player."

And while Garnett has certainly put his time in working out, conditioning his body on the beaches of Malibu, and countless, blurry-eyed sessions of breaking down video, he's quick to remind folks that his path to basketball greatness involved many others.

"You just don't reach milestones by yourself," Garnett said. "You need help. and I've always wanted to give that thanks to not only the coaches, but former players I played with, former teammates, great friends. The milestone is a great one. I'm very appreciative of it. Someday it'll be a big deal to me. I'm honored."

Flip Saunders has been a part of Garnett's development, both as his coach in Minnesota, and as someone who tried to come up with game plans to stop him.

"He's always going to play with a great amount of passion. He's always going to play hard. He makes winning plays," said Saunders, who coached against Garnett in Detroit and later, Washington. "As all guys, when you get a little older, he doesn't probably block as many shots as he used to and doesn't have the same total athleticism, but he's got a lot of minutes on those legs. He's going to do whatever it takes to win. Whatever Doc asks him to do, he's going to do that."

Said Garnett, "duration is everything, man. To be able still, to be playing on this level, it says a lot. It's not like I'm playing on some grand level, but I am playing on a decent level to where it's helping the team and I'm still trying to create different edges and different matchups and different mismatches night-in, night-out. And I still have a brain; I still know how to think this game. There's different formats of the game for me at this point. And I'm still enjoying the game. As long as those components are still a part, then I'm good."
But Garnett, who will be 36 in May, has been arguably the Celtics' most consistent player this season. In addition to averaging 15.2 points per game, he's also grabbing a team-best 8.2 rebounds and dishing out 2.8 assists while playing the center position almost exclusively

Garnett doesn't like being a center, but he plays it - and plays it well - because that's what the Celtics need from him.

"That's the great thing about this team," Celtics guard Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "Everybody is willing to sacrifice, because everybody is on the same page, with the same goal and that's to win, win as many games as possible."

And Garnett is often the jumping-off point to the selfless mindset that for the bulk of his time with the Green Team, has been a staple of the Celtics.

But it's not easy, Garnett will tell you, to be all that he can be for himself and the Celtics.

"Every year, trying to better myself, finding things that I need to work on, staying motivated, keeping my body those are not easy things," he said.

And as for all the milestones that he seemingly reaches every game, Garnett said, "I'm blessed man, I'm fortunate. By no means is this something you just wake up and it just happens."

Deal is done: Patriots announce they've traded Stork for conditional 7th rounder

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Deal is done: Patriots announce they've traded Stork for conditional 7th rounder

FOXBORO -- The Patriots didn't release third-year center Bryan Stork, though they informed him they would do so early on Wednesday. Instead, they traded him to the Redskins. 

The deal was announced on Wednesday afternoon. In return for the former fourth-round pick out of Florida State, the Patriots received a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick from Washington.

Stork is reportedly mulling retirement. If he does not report to the Redskins, and the conditions of the deal are not met, the Patriots would not receive compensation.

The seventh-round pick would provide the Patriots with a seventh-rounder in 2017 that they didn't have when the day began. The team traded its original seventh-rounder to the Lions last season in exchange for tight end Michael Williams.

(The Patriots could, in theory, receive a seventh-rounder from the Lions since they received a conditional seventh in a trade for linebacker Jonathan Bostic, who was sent to Detroit in May. But because Bostic is recovering from foot surgery, the conditions of that trade may prevent the pick from ever making its way to New England.)

The Patriots informed Stork of his release early Wednesday, but before that move was processed, the Patriots and Redskins were able to work out a deal. 

Stork has had difficulty staying healthy as a pro, his emotions sometimes got the best of him on the field, and teammate David Andrews had beaten him for the starting center role with the Patriots. Still, Stork's teammate and friend Jimmy Garoppolo said it was tough to see Stork move on.

Despite the question marks that accompany Stork's arrival in Washington -- that is, if he decides to report -- the Redskins were more than willing to pay the modest price to acquire him. They are desperate for help at the center position.

Sandoval happy to return to the field after shoulder surgery

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Sandoval happy to return to the field after shoulder surgery

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the first time in months, Pablo Sandoval met up with his Red Sox teammates Wednesday, breaking from his rehab program two hours away in Fort Myers.

Sandoval, who underwent shoulder surgery in April to repair a torn labrum, has been working out six days per week at the club's spring training complex and appeared noticeably lighter.

"I just starting taking ground balls two days ago,'' said Sandoval. "I feel a little better. I'm happy to be back here with my teammates and happy that I'm starting to work in the field.'' 

Sandoval said his surgically repaired left shoulder is "not back to normal, but it's feeling a lot better. I've started doing a lot of things in the field -- ground balls, playing catch, handling the ball, working out.''

He plans to see Dr. James Andrews soon, and hopes to get clearance to start swinging a bat.

Sandoval appeared to make some veiled references to his weight and conditioning, saying "you learn a lot. You learn from all the mistakes you make, all the things in the past. I have good people around me, supporting me every single day.''

He added that he feels "way different'' than he did in spring training.

"Now that I've learned my lesson,'' he said, "I can do a better job out there. Everything out there is not easy. You have to work hard to learn all the things you were doing wrong. I'll keep working hard and do everything I can to be a better person on the field and off the field.''

As he grinds through conditioning and rehab, Sandoval said he's motivated by "my little boy (Leon). Every time I wake up, I want to do everything for (him), so he can see me back on the field, playing baseball.''

He deflected a question when asked what role he envisioned for himself next February at the start of spring training.

"Whatever,'' he said. "I'm just going to do best that I can. I just want to prepare myself to be better next year.''

Sandoval met with John Farrell Wednesday afternoon.

"He's in good spirits,'' Farrell said. "I think he feels good with all the work he's done. To date, he's done a good job with what he's been capable of doing. The one thing that's clear in getting to know Pablo, I see a guy who's got a lot of pride. Maybe things haven't worked out the way he anticipated through the first two years.

"But it's clear through my conversation with him that he's motivated, he feels like he's got a lot to prove. And I think when you combine his ability with the drive and motivation, this has got a chance to prove to be a productive player here in Boston.''

Meanwhile, Sandoval acknowledged that the Red Sox had not seen him at his best in his two seasons with the club.

"I know that I can prove more and do a better job out there,'' he said. "Things happen for a reason. I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied with the things I'm doing. I'm just going to keep working hard, continue my rehab and be better for next year.''

Sandoval said he misses the game, but watches the Red Sox on TV "every single day.''

"This (time down) is a bonus for me,'' he said. "I want to play, but at the same time, I (get) to see my baby growing up.''

 

All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

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All signs point to Rodriguez returning to rotation Sunday, Buchholz to bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It won't be made official until Thursday, but all signs point to Eduardo Rodriguez returning to the Red Sox' starting rotation Sunday night against the Kansas City Royals.

That, in turn, should also result in Clay Buchholz going back to the bullpen after three spot starts recently.

Rodriguez, who pulled himself out of his last scheduled start Sunday in Detroit when he wasn't confident that he could compete with a strained left hamstring, threw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday and emerged from that session convinced that he was heading toward a return to the rotation.

But just to make sure, the Sox want Rodriguez to test himself physically Thursday morning before the Sox complete their road trip with a game here Thursday afternoon.

"He went through some aggressive long toss today,'' said John Farrell of Rodriguez, "and came out that feeling fine, no restrictions in the hamstring. We'll take this each work day at a time. Once we get through tomorrow, we'll have a little bit more clarity going forward.''

Buchholz threw 94 pitches while allowing a run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings Tuesday night, so he wouldn't be available out of the bullpen for a few days.

"He's going to need a couple of days down regardless,'' noted Farrell.