Bulls

Sandusky jurors include students from Penn State

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Sandusky jurors include students from Penn State

From Comcast SportsNet
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) -- The fast-moving jury selection for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse trial could wrap up quickly as lawyers try to fill the seven remaining slots on the panel. Twelve jurors and four alternates are needed, and nine were selected Tuesday. Twelve of the 40 potential jurors questioned Wednesday morning were excused, mostly because they said serving on a multi-week trial would be a financial hardship. Defense attorneys told the panel their witness list includes seven members of Sandusky's family, including his wife, Dottie, and two sons. Before jury selection resumed, defense lawyer Joe Amendola told reporters he was confident the nine jurors picked on Tuesday will give "us a fair shake." Lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, Pennsylvania's senior deputy attorney general, said that jury selection was "so far, so good." The five men and four women already selected include some people with strong ties to Penn State. They include a rising senior at the college, a retired soil sciences professor with 37 years at the university, a man with bachelor's and master's degrees from the school and a woman who's been a football season ticket holder since the 1970s. Others selected included a 24-year-old man with plans to attend an auto technician school, a mother of two who works in retail, a retired school bus driver, an engineer with no Penn State ties and a property management firm employee. Sandusky, 68, is fighting 52 criminal charges for alleged abuse of 10 boys over 15 years. He has repeatedly denied the allegations. He faces potential penalties that could result in an effective life prison sentence. More than 600 jury duty summonses were sent out to residents in Centre County, the home of Penn State University's main campus. In questioning 40 prospective jurors Tuesday, about half said they or immediate family members worked at Penn State or were university retirees. One woman rented apartments to college students. Four knew Sandusky and two knew his wife. Sandusky's lawyer won the right to have jurors chosen from the local community, and prosecutors had concerns that Centre County might prove to be nearly synonymous with Penn State. Sandusky had helped build the football team's reputation as a defensive powerhouse known as "Linebacker U." His arrest toppled Joe Paterno from the head coaching position just months before his death from cancer, and some of the alleged attacks on children are said to have occurred inside university showers. One of the very first jurors to be seated wasn't just a season ticketholder since the 1970s: She said John McQueary -- a possible trial witness and the father of a key witness -- once worked with her husband. When Sandusky's lawyer sought to have her removed for cause, Cleland signaled he would need more grounds. "We're in Centre County. We're in rural Pennsylvania," Cleland said, noting that such connections "can't be avoided." Amendola opted not to use one of his eight challenges, and she joined the panel. Amendola did strike parents with children who are roughly junior high school age, similar to the ages for the alleged victims. All the jurors will have to say under oath they can be impartial. Prosecutors have claimed that Sandusky groomed boys he met through The Second Mile, the charity he founded for at-risk youth in 1977, then attacked them, in some cases in his own home or inside university athletic facilities.

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.