Archive for the ‘chicago’ Category

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry will likely make his much-anticipated postseason debut Tuesday for Game 2 of the Golden State Warriors‘ second-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Warriors are officially listing Curry as probable.

Coach Steve Kerr said Curry will not be on a minutes restriction.

“I feel like he’s in a pretty good place to come back right now,” Kerr said.

Golden State won Game 1 123-101 over New Orleans.

It has been just more than five weeks since Curry, a two-time MVP, suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, forcing him to miss 15 games. The plan all along was for him to make a return at some point during the semifinal round.

“He’ll want to get his legs underneath him,” Kerr said after practice. “So we’ll try to find that balance between being cautious and letting him go a little bit.”

Curry has participated fully in four consecutive practices. He had wanted to give it a go for Game 1.

“If it were up to me, I would have played for about 20 minutes tonight,” Curry told ESPN after the Warriors’ victory on Saturday. “The plan is to return Tuesday, but ultimately it’s up to the training staff. I feel good.”

Through 51 games in the 2017-18 season, the All-Star point guard averaged 26.4 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3-point range.

“I expect him to be who he is,” Kevin Durant said Monday. “I’m not saying it’s guaranteed to happen. But he puts in the work and prepares himself right when he’s put in that position, so when he comes out and he plays well it’s not a surprise to me at all.”

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Oklahoma City’s vision of a Super Team was a flop and now the Thunder are looking at a tumultuous summer after being eliminated in six games by the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

Russell Westbrook’s five-year, $205 million extension is ready to kick in and the 2016-17 MVP likely is not going anywhere. But the same cannot be said about any of the Thunder’s other stars, and even coach Billy Donovan, whose job could be in jeopardy.

Paul George is entering free agency and his future in OKC is uncertain. But whether George stays or ends up in Los Angeles, the Thunder are stuck with the aging Carmelo Anthony. OKC would like nothing more than for Anthony to decline his player option but someone who turns 34 in a month and is coming off the worst season of his career is not going to turn down $27.9 million.

So then what?

If Anthony remains expect the Thunder to attempt to buy out his deal, similar to what the Bulls did with Dwyane Wade last summer. But, first, OKC may try to get something in return and this is where the Miami Heat could come in.

Miami has its issues with the cap and could be a trade partner for the Thunder. The Heat, though, likely would have to shed long term money to make it worth paying nearly $30 million for one year of a fading star.

With center Steven Adams under contract for three more years and $77.5 million, unless this turns into a blockbuster, including Hassan Whiteside ($25.4 million next season, $27.1 million in 2019-20) in a deal could be difficult.

More realistic would be Miami packaging two contracts, say James Johnson ($14.4 million next season, three years total remaining) and Tyler Johnson ($19.2 million each of the next two years) and take back an additional cheaper contract to make the deal work.

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Paul George is set to become one of the most highly coveted free agents this summer. Several teams are expected to be in pursuit of the superstar, and after the way things ended this season with the Thunder, there is reason to believe he could be on the move. 

Here are the four best destinations for George:

Philadelphia 76ers

If Playoff P wants to become Finals P he needs to become a 76er. If George is your best player, the chances of winning a title are slim to none, but as a third option on a team like this, the chances are no longer slim. Even as the C-option, George may turn out to be the one they go to late in games until (if ever) Ben Simmons develops a jump shot.

The 76ers should be one of, if not the favorite, to win the East next season, and with George they can own the conference for years. The Big 3 in Oklahoma City was a failed experiment; George, Simmons, and Joel Embiid could become the most unguardable Big 3 in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers 

The Lakers have always felt like the ideal fit for George since he made it clear that he would “love” to play for his hometown team and listed the Lakers as a place he wanted to be traded to last summer.

Whether he would be joined by LeBron James or not, the purple and gold would be a natural fit for George. Without LeBron, it would be the return of the Indiana PG13 as the primary scoring option. With LeBron, George will get the opportunity to compete for championships.

Going home is one thing, playing with a pass-first point guard in Lonzo Ball and a young talented roster is another. Oh, and it is Los Angeles.

San Antonio Spurs

This move will require several moving parts, but with Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs severely damaged, this trade scenario could satisfy all sides. If George is willing to commit to a sign-and-trade, a deal that involves the Spurs and Leonard is ideal. The Spurs can provide him with the best coach in the NBA, an unmatched system, and a ticket to be Batman on the River Walk.

Unless Leonard’s injury is career-threating, what better return can the Thunder receive? Even if the Thunder cannot get Leonard to sign an extension on their end, they have shown before they have no problem renting and hoping.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Of course, resigning with the Thunder cannot be ruled out. After all, the Thunder do own George’s Bird Rights and can potentially offer him a five-year deal worth $207.4 million. Along with the most money, familiarity, and minimal pressure, the Thunder’s GM Sam Presti has proven to be one of the best in the business. If Presti has both George and Russell Westbrook locked up, the smart money is on him providing them with a more than reasonable supporting cast.

The issue, however, is that Westbrook is difficult to play with on the court and the Thunder cannot even think about a championship as long as Carmelo Anthony is around.

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Jimmy Butler (23) reacted after hitting a three-pointer during the third quarter of Game 3.

With Andrew Wiggins already signed (for better or worse) to a maximum contract, the Timberwolves now aim themselves after their first playoff season since 2004 toward a summer in which they must decide if and how they can sign All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns to similar deals as well.

When or if they do, they also must determine how they can assemble a competitive roster around a team that would dedicate most of its rising payroll to three players.

Could they create some flexibility to improve their three-point shooting and defense by trading backup center Gorgui Dieng, who has three years and more than $48 million left on a contract that looked reasonable in October 2016 when money was flooding into the salary cap from a massive new TV deal and Dieng still was a productive starter. Now it’s a commitment few teams would be willing to make.

Might they try to trade Wiggins and his deal worth at least $146 million before it even begins this next season? Guaranteed such a big contract last fall, Wiggins delivered a season in which he said he “learned a lot” while learning how to play with Butler on the perimeter. He also said, “I don’t think I had the best season,” a statement some Wolves fans consider the euphemism of the year.

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor calls decisions to sign both Butler and Towns “big issues” about which he wants to give himself, coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden time to ponder after their just completed 47-victory season and the next season ahead before they start making such big decisions.

“Well, we’re working on it,” Taylor said.

From there, the Wolves must decide whether to re-sign veteran guard Derrick Rose, a Thibodeau favorite who was effective in the playoffs. And can they afford to keep upcoming restricted free agent Nemanja Bjelica, who intrigued at least two NBA teams with money to spend this summer when he became a starter after Butler sustained a February knee injury and played well.

“I don’t know what I can say right now,” Bjelica said after Wednesday’s Game 5 loss. “I hope I will stay here. We will see. We had bad luck to play against Houston in the first round, but we have a great group of people here. First time in playoffs in 14 years is very important for us. I like it here.”

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford has a player option for next season and said he won’t begin to contemplate that decision until he decompresses from this past season. Backup point guard Tyus Jones, a member of Towns’ 2015 draft class, will be eligible to sign a contract extension this summer, and little-used veteran center Cole Aldrich can be paid off $2 million of the nearly $7 million owed him next season if he is waived by June 20.

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It appears to be the end of the road once again for former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Cutler is expected to retire soon. Rapoport notes Cutler will be appearing on wife Kristin Cavallari’s reality show. He also did not rule out Cutler going into the broadcast booth with FOX, something he was expected to do last year before an opportunity to join the Miami Dolphins arose. He was set to be part of the network’s No. 2 team along with Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis on NFL

All of those hoping to hear Cutler talk about his former team had their dreams dashed when an injury occurred to Miami Dolphins signal-caller Ryan Tannehill during the summer. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase worked with Cutler in 2015 in Chicago and called upon his former QB for some help. On August 3, Cutler signed with the Dolphins, casting aside his television booth dreams. He signed a one-year deal and was named the team’s starter for Week 1. In 14 starts for the Dolphins he completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,666 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. As a starter he went 6-8.

The 11th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Vanderbilt by the Broncos, Cutler showed signs of improvement in each of his first handful of seasons in the league. As a rookie in 2006 he started five games, throwing for 1,001 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. The following year he took over as the team’s starter and threw for 3,497 yards with 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In his Pro Bowl year with the Broncos in 2008, Cutler once again started all 16 games, throwing for 4,526 yards with 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions

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The Bulls tanked so hard this year, the NBA warned them to cut it out. It was a rare instance of the league responding to actual tanking measures rather than just talk of preferring to lose.

Bulls executive John Paxson, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

“We did this year what we felt was in the longterm best interests of the Bulls,” Paxson said. “It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again; it goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in; but it’s the way the system is set up.”

Chicago could try to turn around quickly. The Bulls project to have about $25 million in cap space this summer – enough to land a good player or two.

The assumption in league circles is the Bulls will wait until 2019 to make their big move when players like Klay ThompsonKawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving could be on the market, and might consider signing with the Bulls after watching another year of development from LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.

This is the wise course. It’s unlikely Chicago can lure anyone good enough to lift such a young core quickly. The Bulls are better off remaining patient – and bad, which will net another high draft pick as Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn develop.

This is also probably the course thrust upon Chicago. Even if they wanted to, the Bulls probably can’t land a premier free agent this summer. Star free agents can see the same problems with Chicago trying for a quick fix and will likely avoid the situation.

There’d be no harm in trying for top free agents like LeBron James or even Paul George. But the Bulls will probably be relegated to 2019 if they want to sign someone meaningful. Better they realize that than make a desperate attempt for relevance this year.