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Miami Heat add two veteran sharpshooters

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Miami Heat add two veteran sharpshooters

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- Ray Allen's role in Miami is yet to be totally determined. And that clearly doesn't bother the NBA's leading 3-point shooter. Allen and Rashard Lewis signed their free-agent contracts with the Heat on Wednesday, giving the NBA champions a pair of veterans who bring tons of experience and versatility to a lineup already featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. And both wasted no time saying they want to adapt to the Heat way. "Whatever's going to be best for me in this situation is going to figure itself out," Allen said, flanked by Heat President Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra for his introductory news conference. "This team won a championship without me. I'm not going to come in and expect for coach to cater to who I am and what I do. I've got to make that work on the floor with my new teammates." Allen agreed to join the Heat on Friday, deciding to leave Boston after five wildly successful seasons and the 2008 NBA championship. Lewis agreed to terms with Miami on Tuesday. Allen will make just over 3 million this season. Lewis will earn about 1.35 million from the Heat, plus another 13.7 million after getting a buyout from the New Orleans Hornets earlier this offseason. "I'm at a point in my career where I've been on the All-Star team, played for 13, 14 years and I've made a pretty good amount of money over my career," Lewis said. "Everybody sets goals over their career and my next goal is obviously to try to win a championship. The ball can't bounce forever. I'm sure you all see the gray hair on my head." For Lewis, coming to Miami is a new beginning. For Allen, coming to Miami wraps up a month of unexpected twists and turns. The Celtics' season ended in Miami a little over a month ago, with a loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Allen was unusually emotional after that defeat, then insisted that even after an injury-marred season -- he's recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle -- he has basketball left in his legs. Boston tried to keep him, offering him twice as much as he'll make per year in Miami. Nonetheless, Allen found himself drawn to the Heat. "You come into the summer, and you don't know what potentially can happen," Allen said. "And you take the process a step at a time, try to figure out what's best for you and your family. And here I sit." Allen said that Celtics coach Doc Rivers and general manager Danny Ainge were disappointed by his decision. Allen said he reached out to Kevin Garnett -- he was particularly close with Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston -- when he began leaning toward Miami, telling Garnett in a text message that the move was likely. Garnett's responded by saying that he was sure Ainge would do whatever it took to keep Allen in Boston. Days later, Allen was signing in Miami. And on Wednesday, Allen downplayed the notion that the move came in part because of a perceived rift with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. "I can't say that it factored in my decision," Allen said. "As teammates, we were brothers. ... There's differences. We all have differences. Paul eats corn flakes. I might not like corn flakes. That's just part of kind of who we are as individuals." Lewis has already thought plenty about what it could mean to share the court with James, Wade, Bosh and Allen. In short, he knows defenses could be a bit confounded. "You've got to double-team LeBron. You have to double-team Dwyane Wade. You've got to double-team Chris Bosh. And then you think they're going to leave Ray Allen open?" Lewis said. "They've got to leave somebody open. So I have to go shoot a million jumpers tonight and be ready to knock them down." A few moments later, Lewis posed with Riley and Spoelstra, holding his new No. 9 jersey in Miami colors. "He's played in a great program already. He's been to the finals. He's a winner," Spoelstra said. "We've had some great battles against him." Spoelstra simply raved about Allen as well. "There's only a handful of players, really, in this league that absolutely strike fear into their opponent. And Ray is one of those players," Spoelstra said. Allen and Lewis were Seattle teammates for five seasons, from 2003 through 2007 -- and both figure to fit perfectly into Miami's plan to surround James, Wade and Bosh with even more shooters who can stretch defenses. Allen's 2,718 made 3-pointers are the most in NBA history, and Lewis ranks fifth among active players with 1,690 makes from beyond the arc. Slowed by a bone bruise in his left knee this past season, Lewis averaged 7.8 points in 28 games for Washington. For his career, he's averaged 16.1 points per game with Seattle, Orlando and Washington. "I think it's important, year in and year out, that you continue to try to add quality talent, experience and players who want to make a commitment to winning," Riley said. "And I think we found out the last couple of days how hungry Rashard is."

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot.