Bulls

Will RG3 be able to play Sunday?

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Will RG3 be able to play Sunday?

From Comcast SportsNetLANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Robert Griffin III walked gingerly through the Washington Redskins locker room, his sprained right knee in a big black brace.Teammates stood at their lockers, mixing the emotions of an improbable 31-28 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens with the fear that their franchise player could be seriously hurt."We're happy that we won, obviously," left tackle Trent Williams said. "But that is concerning, knowing he went down. Everyone wants to know how he's doing."Griffin went down during Washington's final drive of regulation Sunday, with the Redskins trailing by eight. Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, who had played in only one other game this season, stepped in and hit Pierre Garcon for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining, then ran the quarterback draw for the 2-point conversion to tie the game.Yet another rookie, Richard Crawford, returned a punt 64 yards in overtime to set up Kai Forbath's 34-yard game-winning field goal. The Redskins (7-6) have a four-game winning streak -- remaining one game behind the New York Giants in the race for the NFC East title -- but the day's most important result was still to come. About three hours after the game ended, the Redskins said an MRI exam showed no major ligament damage.The worst-case scenario would have been a season-ending ACL tear, like the one Griffin had on the same knee while playing for Baylor in 2009. But team spokesman Tony Wyllie said the MRI showed "everything is clear" and ruled out that sort of significant injury.At about the same time as Wyllie's announcement, Griffin tweeted: "Your positive vibes and prayers worked people!!!! To God be the Glory!"Griffin had been confident that his injury wasn't serious."I'm not a doctor, but I know what an ACL feels like," Griffin said immediately after the game. "And it doesn't feel like an ACL. ... If I felt that, I'd be pretty nervous. But we won the game, everybody's praying for me, I feel pretty good right now about the whole situation."With the Redskins trailing 28-20 after Ray Rice's 7-yard touchdown run with 4:47 to play, Griffin started moving his team before he was tackled by Haloti Ngata at the end of a 13-yard scramble."I knew as soon as I got hit. I screamed. Like a man, of course," Griffin added with a laugh. "It hurt really bad."Griffin left for one play, then returned for four more, completing two passes to get the Redskins deep into Ravens territory. But he was also hopping on one leg. Eventually, he fell to the turf and could no longer continue."I knew I needed to get out at that point," Griffin said. "I couldn't move. At some point you have to do what's right for the team. And if I'm playing the rest of that game, I probably would have hurt myself even more."In came fourth-round pick Cousins, who was a clutch 2 for 2 -- back-to-back to Leonard Hankerson for 15 yards and 11 yards to Garcon."He's ice. Like they used to say about Larry Bird, he got ice water in his veins. That's the best thing you can say about Kirk," receiver Joshua Morgan said. "He was coming like nothing was even going on."Then came some Bird-level audaciousness -- the quarterback draw on the 2-point try, a call that Griffin heard through his headphones while getting treatment on the sideline."It was awesome," Griffin said.The Ravens got the ball to start overtime but went three-and-out. Seventh-round pick Crawford, getting a chance to handle punts for the first time after a disappointing set of games from Brandon Banks, had the big return to Baltimore's 24-yard line, putting the Redskins easily within the range of Forbath, who hasn't missed in 14 attempts in his debut NFL season.It was all part of a day of big-time contributions from first-year Redskins: Sixth-rounder Alfred Morris ran for 122 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown.While the Redskins have been in must-win mode since dropping to 3-6, the Ravens (9-4) would have clinched the AFC North with a win. Instead, they ended a 15-game winning streak following a loss, dropping back-to-back games for the first time since 2009. They are 2-2 in their last four -- all decided by three points."As a leader on this team I like to finish teams out," said Rice, who ran for 121 yards on 20 carries. "I don't want to be known as Yeah, we get them close in the fourth quarter, and the Ravens are going to give it away.' That's never been us. That's not going to be us."Joe Flacco completed 16 of 21 passes for 182 yards and three first-half touchdowns for the Ravens, and third-round pick Bernard Pierce ran for a season-high 53 yards. Anquan Boldin, who passed the 10,000-yard receiving mark, caught two touchdown passes and set up a third with a 28-yard catch-and-tiptoe-run down the sideline.The big accomplishment for the Ravens defense was getting RG3 out of the game -- and they still couldn't win. After sweeping their three NFC East rivals in three weeks, the Redskins now have bragging rights over their neighbor to the north."We knew if we didn't get the win today, obviously those other three didn't mean a whole lot," Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. "I'm really proud of how the guys played."NOTES:Ravens RG Marshal Yanda sprained his right ankle and wore a black walking boot on his foot in the locker room. LB Jameel McClain had a neck injury, but X-rays were negative. FB Vonta Leach sprained his ankle. Rice had a left hip pointer. ... The Redskins have their first four-game winning streak since 2008 and have six 30-point games, their most since 1996. ... Washington became the first team since the 1970 merger to have two rookie quarterbacks lead fourth-quarter comebacks in the same season.

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.