Fire

Watson eager to showcase shooting in three-point contest

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Watson eager to showcase shooting in three-point contest

CHARLOTTE -- When one thinks of the best pure shooter on the Bulls, Kyle Korver is the name that usually first comes to mind. However, this season the designated marksman has competition for the title of the most automatic stroke on the team: C.J. Watson.

Watson, who has firmly established himself as one the leagues upper-echelon backup point guards this season, is shooting 46.6 percent from long range, in addition to solid 9.9 points per game and 4.2 assists per game averages, as well as battling through injuries in a manner that have elicited compliments from normally stoic Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who often refers to him as a tough little guy. The soft-spoken Las Vegas native -- while confident on the court, he normally isnt very boastful in interviews -- wants to join teammates Derrick Rose and Luol Deng at the NBAs All-Star weekend in Orlando later this month by showcasing his accuracy from deep in the leagues annual three-point contest.

If I get selected it would be a great honor, he told CSNChicago.com prior to the Bulls Friday-morning shootaround at Time Warner Cable Arena. I think I can do well in it and maybe even win it if I had the opportunity.

Watsons quick, effortless shooting release make him well-suited for the competition, as he doesnt need much time to fire off shots and doesnt expend a lot of energy elevating, something key in the event, which requires speed and stamina. Additionally, with the exception of a rare off night this season Wednesday in New Orleans, Watsons been extremely hot from outside of late.

But to hear him tell it, simply participating in the often-overshadowed event would be a thrill and would be the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

Just growing up, watching it when I was a little kid and still watching it now, being a fan of it, he said. I always wanted to be in something like that on a big stage.

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.