Preps Talk

Montador: We're not holding our breath

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Montador: We're not holding our breath

Talking, discussing, working it out. The NHL and NHLPA havent done much of that lately but thats set to change. After a lengthy meeting at a secret location on Saturday, the two sides are reportedly set to meet this week again, beginning on Tuesday.

Great news, right? Well, sort of. As good as it is the two sides are talking and hopefully talking substantially now Steve Montador said proceed with caution.

Wed rather be talking than not talking, so thats definitely a positive. But nobodys holding their breath unless there are new proposals or changes coming from it, said the Blackhawks defenseman and player representative. Im not expecting much from it because I dont know how far (the league) will come toward our side. Weve come far enough with continued concessions. But our goal is to always talk. Thats important.

And the two sides need to keep talking throughout the week, not just on Tuesday. They need to take whatever came out of Saturday and build off it, get into the nitty-gritty of discussions. So much has already been canceled, from regular-season games through November to the Winter Classic, which was nixed on Friday.

So right now, theres at least some hope that this weeks chats could lead to progress.

Were just hoping theyre taking steps forward, said Washington Capitals forward Troy Brouwer. Hopefully this week and last weekend theyre making (up) some ground, be it core economics, discipline, pension, things like that. As long as things are getting worked out then were getting closer to a deal.

Saturdays meeting was done quietly, with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr talking at an undisclosed location. After they talked, reportedly into the early Sunday-morning hours, each made a quick statement and that was it. No snide comments, no details, no rhetoric. And it looks like the two sides will keep it quieter to the media this week, too. A league spokesman told CSNPhilly.coms Tim Panaccio not to expect a formal media session following Tuesdays talks, that the silence may lead to better traction in talks.

Fine. Whatever works. The quicker this gets worked out, quietly or not, the better.

Sometimes, just having meetings and not having to explain it and then have it critiqued a bunch of ways can help us, Montador said. I dont know how much that can really happen these days; someone will see or hear something. But wed rather keep meeting than not meeting. I dont think its a bad thing to have some quiet meetings sometimes.

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

CLASS 1A

Revealing the Class 1A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 1A Bracket

CLASS 2A

Revealing the Class 2A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 2A Bracket

CLASS 3A

Revealing the Class 3A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 3A Bracket

CLASS 4A

Revealing the Class 4A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 4A Bracket

Predicting Class 1A-4A

CLASS 5A

Revealing the Class 5A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 5A Bracket

CLASS 6A

Revealing the Class 6A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 6A Bracket

CLASS 7A

Revealing the Class 7A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 7A Bracket

CLASS 8A

Revealing the Class 8A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 8A Bracket

Class 7A and Class 8A Predictions

 

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

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AP

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

Keeping the game simple is often a tough task for rookies entering the NBA, but it seems Lauri Markkanen has been a quick learner in that aspect.

Through two games he’s probably the lone bright spot, especially after the Bulls’ cringe-inducing 87-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their home opener at the United Center.

Jumper not falling? Okay, go to the basket.

“It wasn’t falling so I tried to get to the rim a couple times,” Markkanen said. “At the end, I was like let’s do it and I connected on a 3-pointer, I felt more open just because I was at the rim. I think that helped.”

He was asked what the difference was in the second game of his career compared to the first.

“I mean the crowd was chanting for us (tonight),” Markkanen said, referring to Thursday in Toronto.

He wasn’t attempting to display any dry wit but applying common sense seems to work for him, even though he’s been thrust into a situation after an incident that doesn’t make any sense.

With Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic out for the foreseeable future, playing a game-high 37 minutes will be more common than anomaly.

“Whatever your minutes are, you gotta play them to the best of your ability,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s being allowed to play through some mistakes right now. He’s gonna play heavy minutes every night.”

He only shot five of 14 but achieved his first double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds after a 17-point, eight-rebound debut against the Raptors Thursday.

No, someone didn’t open a door for a draft to come into the United Center on that three-pointer that went wide left, but it didn’t stop him from being assertive and continuing to look for his shot.

There was plenty of muck, easy to see on the stat sheet. The 38 percent shooting overall, the lack of penetration, the 29 percent shooting from 3-point range and 20 turnovers.

It’s not hard to imagine what Markkanen will look like with competent and effective NBA players around him, along with a true facilitating point guard that will find him in this offense.

“Markkanen is a wonderful player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s aggressive, he’s smart and obviously, he can shoot the ball. He’s just going to get better and better as he figures things out.”

He received a crash course, facing the likes of Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay Saturday night. On one instance, Gay drove baseline and made Markkanen buckle with a 3-point play.

Aldridge had 24 shots in 32 minutes as a new focal point with Kawhi Leonard out with injury.

So he’s not getting treated with kid gloves, nor is he backing down from the assignments.

“He didn’t shoot the ball well but he battled,” Hoiberg said. “He had a tough assignment with Pau, who’s gonna be in the Hall of Fame one day. Good experience. He guarded Aldridge, Rudy Gay some. He battled, he fought them.”

Even with the airball, had the moment that gives the Bulls fans hope, when he drove on Gasol, spun and hooked a lefty layup while being fouled by the veteran in the first half—giving the United Center faithful something to have faith in for a moment.

“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. That’s the label Lauri had,” Hoiberg said. “But he really is a complete basketball player. He’s versatile, he can put in on the deck. He slides his feet very well for a guy that’s seven feet tall, someone his age. Yeah, he’s learning on the fly. He’s gonna have ups and downs, as young as he is. He’s gonna have some struggles at times. But he’s played pretty darn well for everything he’s been through, understanding two days ago he’s gonna be in the starting lineup.”

And for all the bad air around the Bulls right now, from the on-court product to the off-court drama that seems to follow them around like Pigpen, it would be even worse if Markkanen’s first two games had him looking like a corpse, or someone who would be a couple years away from reasonably contributing to an NBA team.

“He’s good, he’s very good,” Gasol said. “I like him. I like his game.”