Fire decline Segares' option in advance of re-entry draft


Fire decline Segares' option in advance of re-entry draft

Its not unusual for the Fire, or any Major League Soccer club, to decline options on players in preparation for the next season. Salary cap considerations play into such decisions as well as player performances.

This week, the Fire declined at least initially to bring back three players in preparation for Fridays start of the MLS re-entry draft.

Two were not surprising. Jay Nolly, the third goalkeeper, didnt play a game for the first team this season and rarely even dressed for one. Midfielder Corben Bone was the clubs first-round draft choice (13th overall) in 2010 but never made a significant impact.

The third player declined for 2013, however, was defender Gonzalo Segares. Hes been a mainstay at left back for eight seasons and also has been versatile enough to play in the midfield when needed. He was the clubs Defender of the Year in 2007 and has played in 178 games and 13 postseason matches for the Fire. His loss would be felt immediately.

Declining the option on Segares for next season was a calculated risk from the clubs perspective, and its not a done deal that he wont be back at least not yet. The re-entry draft represents a chance for players in their option years or out of contract to test their market value.

Segares can remain in the re-entry draft, in which each club puts such players up for selection by other teams. Such players from other league teams on this years re-entry lists include forward Juan Pablo Angel and midfielder Danny Califf of Chivas USA, defender Marvell Wynne of Colorado, midfielder Tony Tchani of Columbus and midfielder Julian de Guzman and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman of FC Dallas.

Also among the 63 players made available for the re-entry process are a trio who once did time with the Fire John Thorrington (now with Vancouver), Chad Barrett (Los Angeles) and Justin Mapp (Montreal).

They could be claimed by another team on Friday, provided that club is willing to meet the players current salary requirements. If not, the players will be up for bidding again on Dec. 14 without that restriction.

Only five players were selected on the first round of the re-entry draft since MLS has conducted it. More get chosen in the second phase, and the Fire landed defender Cory Gibbs via that method in 2010.

Things could change by Friday. Some of the players up for the re-entry draft will opt out of the process and sign with their present teams. They could also be traded or they could head to foreign clubs.

Seemingly, the re-entry draft begins the process for roster adjustments for 2013, but some teams have already taken major steps. Real Salt Lake sent Jamison Olave, the MLS Defender-of-the-Year in 2010, and striker Fabian Espindola, who had nine goals and seven assists this season, to the New York Red Bulls for allocation money that will presumably be spent to acquire a top level offensive player. RSL also picked up more allocation dollars by sending midfielder Will Johnson to Portland.

Olave, a two-time selection to the MLS Best XI, became expendable in part because of the development of Kwame Watson-Siriboe, a former Fire draftee who couldnt earn a place in Chicago.

In another personnel move, the Vancouver Whitecaps traded Atiba Harris, a striker for the St. Kitts & Nevis national team, to Colorado for an international roster spot.

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?


Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

New York Times veteran NBA writer Marc Stein tweeted late Friday that multiple teams were interested in fourth-year swingman Rodney Hood.

We know that the Jazz are one of the rumored teams interested in embattled forward Niko Mirotic and while it wouldn’t seem to make sense on the surface, Rodney Hood could be a good fit for the Bulls.

Hood will be a restricted free agent this summer and the Bulls would retain the rights to match any offer if they felt like the former Duke Blue Devil was the right piece to join the new core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn.

There is one complication in a potential Mirotic for Hood deal; the salaries don’t quite match. Utah would need to send another player like Alec Burks to Chicago in the deal. The Bulls would have to be OK taking on Burks’ $11.5 million salary for the 2018-19 season and his cap hit in free agency. Good news though, the free agent class this summer is very thin at small forward, the main position the Bulls have a need for.

Another road block, the Bulls are set to max out LaVine this July, and they may be wary on tying up a good part of their cap space for the next four years on two players.

Acquiring Hood hurts the ‘tank’ but you’d have a three-month audition of a 25-year old shooter that on paper would seem to work with the current rotation. If the Bulls felt like Hood wasn’t a good fit, let him walk in free agency. They would then keep their cap space intact for the 2019 super free agent class.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders


Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.