Fire

Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

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Simeon's Parker wins USA Basketball Award

Simeon basketball star Jabari Parker has been named USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year for all men's basketball teams.

The 6'8 junior, rated as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 and arguably the nation's leading high school player regardless of class, is the youngest ever to receive this prestigious national award.

Parker, son of former Farragut, Texas A&M and NBA star Sonny Parker, was the most valuable player while leading the United States team to the Under-16 championship at the FIBA Americas Championships last summer. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

"He has a complete game," said longtime recruiting analyst Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com. "He can run the break off the glass as a point forward or known down threes with much improved regularity. He can finish at the rim in traffic or hit the open man off the dribble if double or triple-teammed.

"He makes everyone around him better. And he isn't afraid to do the dirty work on the glass or lock down the opponent's top scorer. He is the total package. He has drawn comparisons to (NBA stars) Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony because of his ability to make things happen both inside off the dribble or post up as well as with the jumper or pass on the perimeter."

Most veteran recruiting analysts, including Coleman and Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports, rate Parker as the top player in high school regardless of class. He is the leader of a Simeon team that is rated No. 1 in the nation and heavily favored to win its third consecutive state championship and fifth in seven years.

According to his father, Parker won't make his college decision until the fall of his senior year. Jabari, who is Mormon, is considering Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Stanford, Brigham Young, Washington, Connecticut, Florida, Louisville, Georgetown, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and North Carolina State.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

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.