Bulls

Huge new contract for DeSean Jackson

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Huge new contract for DeSean Jackson

From Comcast SportsNet DeSean Jackson got his wish after all. Jackson agreed to a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday. The deal is worth 51 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because terms weren't officially announced. The two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver already was tagged as the franchise player, meaning he would've earned at least 9.4 million next season. Now, he gets the long-term security he sought last year. Jackson held out last training camp because he wanted an extension and let the contract situation affect him. He was deactivated for a game for being late for a team meeting, dropped more passes than usual and his production dropped. But the Eagles are counting on Jackson to be the dynamic player he was in 2009-10. "We are thrilled to be able to keep one of the NFL's top playmakers in Philadelphia," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "DeSean is a game breaker. He has the speed and ability to score from anywhere on the field, and he has proven himself to be a big threat for our offense." Philadelphia stumbled to an 8-8 season last year, but closed with four consecutive victories, building momentum for 2012. The Eagles finished, despite a 4-8 start, just one game behind the New York Giants, who not only won the NFC East, but also the Super Bowl. Jackson has career totals of 229 receptions, 4,085 yards and 21 touchdowns in four years as an Eagle after being drafted out of Cal. He also has three rushing scores and a franchise-record four punt return touchdowns, as well. "Signing our own players was a big priority for us this offseason," Reid said. "And DeSean was certainly high on our list. We are very excited about his future as an Eagle." Jackson, 25, was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and is one of five players in NFL history to at least 900 yards receiving in each of his four seasons. Earlier in the day, defensive end Trent Cole and the Eagles agreed on a four-year contract extension through 2017, and on Tuesday, offensive tackle Todd Herremans agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2016. The Eagles also made a couple of roster moves, trading offensive lineman Winston Justice to Indianapolis and releasing former starting center Jamaal Jackson. Cole is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who ranks third on the team's all-time list for sacks with 68. He had 11 sacks in 2011, his fourth season with a double-digit total. "Trent plays the game with a level of tenacity that's hard to replicate," Reid said. "He's one of the premier defensive ends in the league." While Jackson's contract situation was somewhat contentious, Cole and Herremans never said a word about it. "I think that with Todd and me, we conducted business professionally, the way it's supposed to be conducted," Cole said. "We never went out to the media and complained. We did what we had to do to keep moving and we didn't cause any problems with the team and this atmosphere." With the key returnees, there's a feeling -- inside the organization, at least -- that Philadelphia will return to its status as a perennial playoff team in the NFC. "As the season went on, we started coming together a lot more and it showed by us winning our (last four) games," Herremans said. "We really feel that we don't need any extra pieces brought to us in free agency. We feel that the team we have in the locker room can make a great run and go to the Super Bowl next year." The Eagles spent plenty of money in free agency last year, signing several players with high pedigrees. They were expected to contend for the Super Bowl, and had to play under the "Dream Team" label that was attached to them by backup quarterback Vince Young, one of those high-priced signings that didn't pan out.

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

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AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

NBA general managers were fully expecting to see Miles Bridges declare for the 2017 draft after a solid, but unspectacular freshman season at Michigan State. Bridges arrived in East Lansing as one of the nation’s top prospects, and his impressive leaping ability led to a number of highlight reel plays for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Problem is, Bridges didn’t show much versatility to his offensive game because of an inconsistent outside shot and inability to create shots off the dribble. Bridges probably would have been a late lottery pick last year on athletic talent alone, but to his credit, he decided to go back to Michigan State for his sophomore season and work on some of his weaknesses.

Unfortunately for Bridges, he really hasn’t shown much improvement year to year. Yes, he’s leading the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 89%, but his other numbers are basically flat from season to season. Bridges averaged 16.9 points a year ago, 17.1 this season. He shot .486 from the field in 2016-17, .477 this year. Even with all the work he put in on his 3 point shooting, his percentage has dropped slightly this season, from .389 to .376. Rebounding is also down slightly, from 8.3 to 6.8. 

Bottom line, Bridges is once again projected as a late lottery pick.

How does he fit for the Bulls? It’s no secret small forward and center are the two positions of need heading into the 2018 draft, and the 6-7 Bridges would give the Bulls another athletic frontcourt player who fits the pace and space game Fred Hoiberg prefers. Bridges could be a real weapon running the floor with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine for alley-oop dunks, and he should continue to improve as a 3 point shooter.

The Bulls are hoping to land a top 5 pick to add one of the elite players in this draft, and unless the Pelicans drop into the late lottery, Bridges will probably be gone by the time that selection comes up. He’s probably a bit of a reach in the 6 to 10 range, but if positional need and athletic potential are the most important factors for the Bulls, Miles Bridges could be the choice if they don’t improve their position in the current lottery watch standings.

Personally, I would prefer either Kentucky’s Kevin Knox or Villanova’s Mikal Bridges (no relation) over Miles Bridges as a small forward prospect, but all 3 players offer different skill sets that could be helpful to a young, developing team like the Bulls.

The dream scenario would be drafting a young center like Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mo Bamba with a top 5 pick, then coming back to add one of those 3 small forward prospects with the 1st rounder they acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade with New Orleans. We’ll all have to wait until the lottery is held on May 15th to see if the Bulls are in position to add two more foundation pieces to their rebuilding project.