Bulls

Marlins trade for former All-Star slugger

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Marlins trade for former All-Star slugger

From Comcast SportsNet
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ozzie Guillen knows Carlos Lee from their time together with the Chicago White Sox. Now Guillen hopes Lee can provide his typical brand of slugging on the field for the Miami Marlins, and give them some leadership off of it. The Marlins acquired Lee from the Houston Astros in a trade on Wednesday, sending a pair of minor leaguers to Houston. "It's a huge move, I think, the front office, showing people how much we want to win," Guillen said. "They show how much we care about winning this year, they showed the players that they're willing to do anything to help this ballclub." The Astros acquired third baseman Matt Dominguez and left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen in the deal. Marlins general manager Michael Hill said the club also received cash considerations from Houston in the deal. "We felt like it was a good time to infuse a veteran, professional, experienced bat into the lineup," Hill said. The 36-year-old Lee spent five-plus seasons with the Astros and is hitting .287 with five homers and 29 RBI this year. Houston manager Brad Mills removed Lee in the seventh inning of a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday. Lee's locker was already empty by the time the clubhouse opened after the game. The right-hander gives the Marlins a veteran hitter as they try to get back into the race in the NL East. First base has been a problem for Miami this season, where regular Gaby Sanchez came into Wednesday's game hitting .194 with two homers and 16 RBIs. Sanchez hit his third homer in Wednesday's 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, but it wasn't enough. Hill said Sanchez had been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. "Unfortunately, first base has not been a productive position for us, and we're looking to upgrade our offensive production at that position," Hill said. Guillen provided a more harsh assessment of Sanchez's play. "It's not easy, but that's our job," Guillen said. "I don't think he should be blaming anybody. He should blame himself. We gave Gaby a lot of opportunities. The reason they made this move (is) obvious. We've not had much production from him, and in Carlos, we hope we've got more production. People don't make moves just to make moves." Hill said Lee did not have to approve the trade because the Marlins were not listed on his limited no-trade clause. He is expected to join the team in Milwaukee on Thursday. "Still a dangerous hitter," Hill said. "He'll fit nicely in the middle of our lineup. He's a proven run producer, and we're expecting him to come in and do what he's done his entire career." That's what Guillen will be counting on, especially with runners on base. "He will bring those guys in," Guillen said. "He knows how to hit in an RBI situation."

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.