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Baron Davis discusses Saturday's lockout talks

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Baron Davis discusses Saturday's lockout talks

NEW YORK--As the first player to leave Saturday's negotiating session at a Manhattan hotel, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Baron Davis was besieged by reporters following four hours of bargaining meetings.

"I'm in no capacity to give you guys anything that's tangible," Davis, bespectacled and with his trademark beard, said initially. "We're working."

While the affable veteran floor general interspersed humor into his comments, he was also cautiously optimistic about progress in the labor talks after Friday's discussions were described as confrontational, according to reports.

"Very constructive," said Davis of the portion of Saturday's meeting he witnessed. "I think both sides are willing and they're able, and we both understand that as long as we continue--this is a big issue and I think both sides are voicing their opinion and what they're passionate about. Everybody's being a lot more receptive today to moving forward. Ever since we've been here, we've been all trying to figure out the best process.

"A lot of Friday's reports of conflict between the union and league's representatives was blown out of proportion. In the midst of negotiations, people are going to talk. People are going to voice their opinions and I think that both sides have a great deal of respect for each other, as well as admiration from a business standpoint," he continued about the meeting, which reportedly included smaller groups than Friday. "The players, we're united and we're standing firm with each other and the owners are doing the same. We're here to work and that's what we've been able to do, and we're continually working and I think that good things are to come."

Although Davis claimed to not know whether the two parties would meet for a third straight day Sunday, he did acknowledge the symbolism of some of the NBA's higher-profile players participating in negotiations Friday as crucial in demonstrating the union's solidarity.

"From a player's standpoint, we want to play, but at the same time, we want to do what's best for us as a whole and we're all standing behind Derek Fisher. He's our president and they're going to make the right decision," he said. "We'll continue to play in our pickup games and support each other in our communities and just continue to play basketball until the time comes where the deal is right.

"It was great that all the guys came out because Paul, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen--these guys are very intelligent and highly-intelligent people, as far as the business of basketball and understanding that, and it was great that we all showed up because there's so many ideas and opinions that can be voiced and Derek Fisher just does an excellent job as a president, of being able to filter a lot of the information and apply it in the right manner. What came out of yesterday, for us as the players, is great unity and great camaraderie and just some great, innovative ways to work towards getting a deal done," he continued. "It's a work in progress. Today, tomorrow, next week. We're here this weekend to get it right and each and every day, there's been some progress. So, we're just going to keep supporting our union, keep supporting our president and they'll make the right decision."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Potential top pick in 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter Jr. will likely miss entire freshman season

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USA TODAY

Potential top pick in 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter Jr. will likely miss entire freshman season

The Bulls will be keeping a close eye on the best young talent the loaded 2018 NBA Draft will have to offer. But they likely won't be seeing much of Missouri's Michael Porter Jr.

The school announced Tuesday that their freshman forward, the top recruit in the country, will miss the remainder of his freshman season.

Porter played all of 100 minutes for the Tigers, amassing 2 pioints and 2 rebounds in the Tigers' win over Iowa State.

The injury isn't to say Porter won't declare for the 2018 NBA Draft, or that it will affect his stock at all. He's still considered a legitimate franchise player and certainly someone all teams drafting in the top 5 will have their eye on.

But there will be competition. Players like Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton and Mo Bamba make up what could be one of the best draft classes in recent memory.

For now the Bulls will have to wait until the spring or summer to see Porter Jr. work out, while doing due diligence on the rest of the class.

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

It'd be a stretch to say that any rookie is having a better or more impactful season than Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. The Sixers are 9-7, and Simmons looks like a 10-year veteran with his decision making, athleticism and all-around feel for the game. He's the frontrunner for MVP, but there are two other rookies vying to catch Simmons and win that title. And they'll face each other tomorrow night in Los Angeles.

Lonzo Ball was the second pick in June's NBA Draft, and fellow Pac-12 freshman standout Lauri Markkanen went five picks later to the Bulls, who had traded up as part of the Jimmy Butler trade. Both players were drafted to rebuilding franchises - the Lakers still working out the kinks in the post-Kobe era, and the Bulls beginning their rebuild after dealing Butler - and were expected to make immediate impacts on their franchises.

Ball's was more pronounced, as the Lakers dealt D'Angelo Russell to the Nets on draft night to free up space at the point for their prized No. 2 pick. Markkanen's came more abruptly, as the 20-year-old was thrust into the starting lineup after Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic's fight put Mirotic in the hospital and Portis on paid leave. However they got there, both players have been impressive in their early NBA careers.

Starting with Markkanen, the Bulls knew the 7-foot stretch forward was a perfect build for the modern NBA. He set freshman 3-point and rebounding records that, since 1992, only some guy named Kevin Durant had reached. After a successful summer in Eurobasket he was set for a large role with the Bulls, and he's succeeded in just about every aspect. His 15.6 points per game are third only to Simmons and the other Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, and his 8.1 rebounds are second to Simmons. And his 2.6 made 3-pointers per game are most among rookies, and well past No. 2 on the list (Utah's Donovan Mitchell, 1.9 per game).

In fact, Markkanen would become the only rookie in NBA history to average at least 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers per game. The 2.5 3-pointers would break a rookie record currently held by Damian Lillard (2.3 per game). The closest a rookie has ever come to reaching those marks was Stephen Curry, who averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-pointers per game as a rookie. Allen Iverson also met the 4/2 threshold, but that's a far cry from Markkanen's 8/2.5 mark. Paul Pierce's rookie season saw him average 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers.

But that's not all. If he kept those averages up he would be just the fifth player EVER to accomplish those thresholds. The others are James Harden, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Antonie Walker, who naturally did it twice.

So, yeah, Markkanen is having quite a rookie year.

So, too, is Ball. While he's had some real issues with efficiency, slashing .313/.228/.462 and has committed 2.6 turnovers per game, his counting stats have been outstanding. Ball is averaging 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists, and that puts him in equally impressive company.

Simmons has reached those numbers this season, too, averaging 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists. You may have heard of the other two players, named Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

The two future Hall of Famers averaged these numbers:

Robertson: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.7 assists (missing averaging a triple-double for the season by 20 assists)

Johnson: 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists

Ball is also averaging 0.9 blocks, and no other rookie guard has ever accomplished that. It might not always look pretty for Markkanen and Ball as they feel their way out in the NBA, but just remember watching these two that they're in the midst of making history in the new era of the NBA.