McHale made strong impact on Garnett, Lee

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McHale made strong impact on Garnett, Lee

BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee were closely tied to Hall of Famer Kevin McHale before either played for his former team, the Boston Celtics.

When McHale returned to the TD Garden on Friday as head coach of the Houston Rockets, his two former players were eager to reflect on their time under his watch.

McHale has been part of Garnett's basketball career since the day he entered the league in 1995. He held the role of Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves when they drafted Garnett with the fifth overall pick 18 years ago. McHale served as head coach during the 2004-05 season, and was in the front office when the Timberwolves traded Garnett to the Celtics in 2007.

"Kevin hasn't been my coach for a long time but he's taught me a lot," said Garnett. "So I see the similarities and I see some things I remember that are refreshing to my mind sometimes when I'm watching his teams play. The disadvantage is that he taught me everything so he's probably telling them everything that I know. But in competition it's always good to see people you've worked with before still in the game, still a part of the game."

Lee spent much less time with McHale but the impact was still as strong. McHale became the head coach of the Houston Rockets for the 2011-12 season when Lee was a guard for the team. In one season, they developed a close bond that meant just as much on the court as it did off to Lee.

"He's a great coach," said Lee. "He's a great communicator. He'll come out there if somebody's not getting it right and talk to them until they get it right without getting on them. He's positive. As a person, he's just a great person."

Playing under both McHale and Doc Rivers, two former NBA players, Lee sees similarities in their approach with their players and a few differences in their systems.

"They're similar in the case that both of them are players' coaches," said Lee. "They both played the game and they've been apart of it they understand what players need to get going and what not. But as far as system-wise, Doc's more of an instructor with his system as far as running sets, executing. As far as McHale, he has that trust in players where he lets you go out there and just play."

Garnett and Lee got the win over their former coach on Friday, as the Celtics beat the Rockets, 103-91. Garnett finished the night with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Lee had one of his strongest showing of the season with 14 points.

Regardless of the outcome, they welcome him to the Garden any time.

"I think Kevin's one of the best teachers I've been around," said Garnett. "He has a lot to give to the game, always has. He loves basketball, so any time you have someone who loves basketball that much, it's good that they're still around."

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.