Patriots

Giants re-sign postseason hero to 20 million deal

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Giants re-sign postseason hero to 20 million deal

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Second baseman Marco Scutaro is staying in San Francisco, right where he wanted to be.The NL championship series MVP agreed to a 20 million, three-year contract with the Giants late Tuesday. Vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said only a physical was left to finalize the deal."He was a priority from Day One," Evans said. "He was a key part of our 2012 success and served as a tremendous veteran presence."Earlier in the evening, Scutaro had been weighing a two-year contract offer that included a vesting option -- but he was seeking a three-year deal to remain with the World Series champions. The Giants and Scutaro's representatives met Tuesday at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.In other moves, the Giants exercised 2014 contract options on manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean.The 37-year-old Scutaro batted .362 with three homers and 44 RBIs in 61 regular-season games with the Giants after he was acquired in a July 27 trade with Colorado. He frequently said how much he enjoyed playing for San Francisco and that he hoped he would return.The Giants suddenly have quite a familiar roster returning after making two big moves in as many days to keep their own free agents. On Monday, center fielder Angel Pagan agreed to a 40 million, four-year contract.Left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt received an 18 million, three-year contract on Nov. 14.Retaining Affeldt, Pagan and Scutaro were among the top priorities for Sabean and Evans this offseason.Giants CEO Larry Baer considered it a productive winter meetings -- and offseason so far -- for his busy club after already re-signing Affeldt last month. Winning the World Series for the second time in three seasons put San Francisco behind on its offseason plan again, though everyone in the front office would say that's a great problem to have."Culture is important, and Marco is a wonderful influence with our players, especially the Latin players," Baer said.The 31-year-old Pagan batted .288 with eight home runs, 56 RBIs and a San Francisco-best 15 triples in his first season with the Giants. Pagan said late in the season and again after the World Series parade that he hoped to return, but wanted to test free agency and sought some job security in the form of a multiyear deal.On Friday, Sabean said the club had made backup plans to move forward without Pagan or Scutaro in case neither decided to re-sign -- but progress with Pagan apparently happened during the weekend after Sabean said, "We don't have a deal, so that tells you we're not close."San Francisco declined Friday to tender a contract to closer Brian Wilson, the 2010 major league saves leader with 48. The right-hander is working his way back from a second Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

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 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”

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