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."

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.