From Comcast SportsNetPHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton vetoed a trade to the Seattle Mariners, a person with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.The person asked to remain anonymous because Upton's decision had not been made public. Upton's contract gave him the power to turn down a trade to a short list of cities, Seattle included.The Diamondbacks have a glut of outfielders and Upton, a former All-Star, is by far the most marketable. He is coming off a subpar season in which he was bothered by a thumb injury.Upton's rejection of the trade first was reported by FoxSports.com, which said Seattle offered four players in the deal -- relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, infield prospect Nick Franklin, and one of three pitching prospects; James Paxton, Danny Hultzen or Taijuan Walker.Even though he is just 25 years old, Upton has played five full major league seasons, so his best years could well be ahead of him. Last season he hit .280 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs but did score a career-high 107 runs. In 2011, while helping Arizona to its surprising NL West crown, Upton hit .289, with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs, the latter two categories are career bests. Overall, he's a career .278 hitter with 108 home runs.The younger brother of major leaguer B.J. Upton, Justin was the first overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft. He has three years and 38.5 million left on his contract, making him highly affordable by today's salary standards.While Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has consistently downplayed the talk, there has been speculation about Upton's possible trade throughout the offseason. That talk will only increase with word that Arizona had a deal with Seattle.The chances that someone -- most likely Upton or left fielder Jason Kubel -- would be traded grew when the Diamondbacks signed free agent outfielder Cody Ross. That gave Arizona four veteran outfielders -- Upton, Ross, Kubel and Gerardo Parra, as well as two rookies the organization feels are ready for the big leagues -- Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock. Eaton, particularly, has drawn praise from Towers as the team's leadoff batter of the future. Trading Chris Young to Florida appeared at the time to clear the way for Eaton in center.Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Scottsdale on Feb. 11. Position players report three days later.Recent activity suggests Upton, for the first time in his career, could well be elsewhere.
Keeping the game simple is often a tough task for rookies entering the NBA, but it seems Lauri Markkanen has been a quick learner in that aspect.
Through two games he’s probably the lone bright spot, especially after the Bulls’ cringe-inducing 87-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their home opener at the United Center.
Jumper not falling? Okay, go to the basket.
“It wasn’t falling so I tried to get to the rim a couple times,” Markkanen said. “At the end, I was like let’s do it and I connected on a 3-pointer, I felt more open just because I was at the rim. I think that helped.”
He was asked what the difference was in the second game of his career compared to the first.
“I mean the crowd was chanting for us (tonight),” Markkanen said, referring to Thursday in Toronto.
He wasn’t attempting to display any dry wit but applying common sense seems to work for him, even though he’s been thrust into a situation after an incident that doesn’t make any sense.
With Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic out for the foreseeable future, playing a game-high 37 minutes will be more common than anomaly.
“Whatever your minutes are, you gotta play them to the best of your ability,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s being allowed to play through some mistakes right now. He’s gonna play heavy minutes every night.”
He only shot five of 14 but achieved his first double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds after a 17-point, eight-rebound debut against the Raptors Thursday.
No, someone didn’t open a door for a draft to come into the United Center on that three-pointer that went wide left, but it didn’t stop him from being assertive and continuing to look for his shot.
There was plenty of muck, easy to see on the stat sheet. The 38 percent shooting overall, the lack of penetration, the 29 percent shooting from 3-point range and 20 turnovers.
It’s not hard to imagine what Markkanen will look like with competent and effective NBA players around him, along with a true facilitating point guard that will find him in this offense.
“Markkanen is a wonderful player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s aggressive, he’s smart and obviously, he can shoot the ball. He’s just going to get better and better as he figures things out.”
He received a crash course, facing the likes of Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay Saturday night. On one instance, Gay drove baseline and made Markkanen buckle with a 3-point play.
Aldridge had 24 shots in 32 minutes as a new focal point with Kawhi Leonard out with injury.
So he’s not getting treated with kid gloves, nor is he backing down from the assignments.
“He didn’t shoot the ball well but he battled,” Hoiberg said. “He had a tough assignment with Pau, who’s gonna be in the Hall of Fame one day. Good experience. He guarded Aldridge, Rudy Gay some. He battled, he fought them.”
Even with the airball, had the moment that gives the Bulls fans hope, when he drove on Gasol, spun and hooked a lefty layup while being fouled by the veteran in the first half—giving the United Center faithful something to have faith in for a moment.
“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. That’s the label Lauri had,” Hoiberg said. “But he really is a complete basketball player. He’s versatile, he can put in on the deck. He slides his feet very well for a guy that’s seven feet tall, someone his age. Yeah, he’s learning on the fly. He’s gonna have ups and downs, as young as he is. He’s gonna have some struggles at times. But he’s played pretty darn well for everything he’s been through, understanding two days ago he’s gonna be in the starting lineup.”
And for all the bad air around the Bulls right now, from the on-court product to the off-court drama that seems to follow them around like Pigpen, it would be even worse if Markkanen’s first two games had him looking like a corpse, or someone who would be a couple years away from reasonably contributing to an NBA team.
“He’s good, he’s very good,” Gasol said. “I like him. I like his game.”