Bears

Why's Melo so upset about missing games?

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Why's Melo so upset about missing games?

From Comcast SportsNet

NEW YORK (AP)The first big night of the NBA season, barring further cancellations, would feature Carmelo Anthonys return to Denver.

The Knicks All-Star doesnt want to lose that one, but is concerned there may not be basketball at all this season.

Right now, anybody would be, he said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. They cancel the first two weeks of the season, maybe in a couple of days they cancel another two weeks of the season. So I dont know how to feel right now.

But he knows he wants to play in Denver on Nov. 16, just to get the return to his first NBA home out of the way. He knows it could be a circus, but said: I cant shy away from that. Ive got to deal with it.

Obviously once they said the first two weeks was going to be canceled, of course the Denver game was highlighted on the calendar, not just for me but for everybody. So right now, that has a chance to be up in flames now.

The current season opener is Nov. 15, featuring just four games. The next night is a full slate, including Boston at Miami in a playoff rematch. Those could be gone if there is no collective bargaining agreement soon.

Looks like everything is up in jeopardy, Anthony said.

Anthony released his Melo M8 on Wednesday, his eighth Jordan sneaker and first since being traded to the Knicks in February. Anthony said the sneaker, with a suggested retail of 135, was his lightest model by far.

The move to New York has given him more opportunities for exposure, part of the reason he was looking to leave Denver. He would have become a free agent this summer and could have left through that route, but pushed for a trade to get done during the season so he could get under contract under the old rules.

And though he took some criticism from Knicks fans who would have preferred getting him for nothing instead of a costly trade, he made the correct financial decision given the current lockout.

I think I did the right thing. For the average person out there who really thought I was just trying to get up and just leave for no reason, that really was a big key in my decision, Anthony said. I knew free agency was coming, I knew it would be altered, I knew itd be messed up, so imagine if Id have stayed. Id have been a free agent now in limbo. Itd have just been all bad.

But he played well while awaiting the deal and the Nuggets ended up getting great value, acquiring Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and center Timofey Mozgov and trading Chauncey Billups. So the No. 3 pick in the 2003 draft expects a mostly positive reception whenever he does return.

I dont think I did anything wrong to the Denver fans. I think Ive been loyal to them for 7 12 years, so for me to go backof course youre going to have some boos and people weeping and whining about itbut for the most part I can say I did a hell of a job out there in Denver, Anthony said.

I think it was kind of a win-win situation for both teams.

If hes not on the road with the Knicks next month, Anthony hopes to be playing in an exhibition game in New York. Hes played with LeBron James and Chris Paul in the recent star-studded affairs in Philadelphia, Winston-Salem, N.C. and Miami. If so, he hinted at some surprises on the court.

It is New York, the game would have to be that much bigger, he said.

But Anthony, recovered from offseason elbow and knee surgery, would prefer to be back at the Pepsi Center.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?