Garnett's return to make big impact for C's

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Garnett's return to make big impact for C's

DETROIT The Boston Celtics are hoping for a different outcome when they face the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

Having Kevin Garnett can only help.

Garnett did not play in Boston's 98-88 loss to Detroit on Wednesday because of a hip flexor injury.

The Celtics have had players banged up all season, so the idea of a starter being out is not a foreign concept to the C's.

But there are starters and then there's Kevin Garnett.

"Anytime he steps on the floor, he's capable of going for big numbers," Pistons center Ben Wallace, told CSNNE.com. "That factor alone, you gotta play him honest."

Despite being one of the league's elder statesman, there's no mistaking the impact that Garnett, 35, still can make on a game.

Bulls coach and former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau is well-versed on all that is Kevin Garnett.

And while his numbers alone make him Hall-of-Fame worthy, those who have coached with and against him - folks like Thibodeau - understand that his value to a team is difficult to quantify.

"The thing about Kevin his numbers certainly speak for themselves," Thibodeau said. "But you can never measure that guy statistically, no matter how good his numbers are. He brings so many different things to winning. Leadership, intensity, gets the ball moving. often Kevin would be the guy swinging the ball side to side, even when he had a good shot to take."

And that selflessness, while appreciated, can sometimes be maddening for a coach.

Thibodeau remembers vividly how upset Celtics coach Doc Rivers would get sometimes when Garnett would pass on a wide open or lightly contested shot, and instead pass to a teammate.

"He (Garnett) just stays true to the game," Thibodeau said. "He's just a winner; he's going to do whatever he thinks it takes to win."

And if that means getting into the heads of young players like Charlie Villanueva, or Andray Blatche consider it done.

"He really doesn't care about the opponent," Rivers said. "He cares about his teammates. He'll do anything for his team to win."

That kind of approach sounds more like a backup player, then a Hall-of-Fame bound superstar.

"He's a superstar that plays like a role player," Rivers said. "And that's rare."

Foes alike recognize how Garnett's play tends to elevate the play of those around him.

"Just his presence is going to force teams to take notice that he's on the floor, and that helps his teammates out so much," Wallace said.

Garnett doesn't say much about his game as it stands now, or how it has evolved over time.

His words, much like his play, are simple but effective.

"I'm a skilled player that knows how to play, that looks forward to making other guys better," Garnett said. "I make the sacrifices for the betterment of the team. That's (who) I am."

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.''

 

Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

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Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

BRIGHTON, Mass. – He hasn’t been cleared to play just yet, but fourth line energy guy Noel Acciari is closing in on a return to the Bruins lineup. 

Acciari joined in for a Bruins morning skate for the first time in 14 games at the end of last week, and practiced with the team again Monday for a morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. The 25-year-old has missed almost exactly a month with a lower body injury, and said he can thankfully now see the light at the end of the injury tunnel for a healthy return to the B’s lineup. 

“It was getting lonely with all the guys on the road, and with me just skating with Frankie [Vatrano] and Zee [Chara],” said Acciari. “It’s great to be back out there with the guys, and it’s good to be back. Each skate I feel a lot better out there and just trying to get my conditioning back. Just being back with the guys is a great feeling, and it’s a big help.”

The fourth line has been okay in Acciari’s absence, but it seemed to be lacking the same kind of energy and hard edge the Providence College standout provided when he was healthy. That was part of what led the B’s to call up the similarly rugged Anton Blidh from Providence at the end of last week, and could provide some interesting energy line options when Acciari is ready to return. 

“I’ve played with [Blidh] before, I’m used to him and I know what he brings to the table just like he knows what I can do,” said Acciari. “So it would work out well [if we played together] I think.”

Acciari has two assists and a plus-1 rating along with four penalty minutes while averaging 10:01 of ice time in 12 games this season, and proved to be very good at unnerving opponents simply by playing all-out all the time.