Cubs

Bulls agree to bring Hinrich back

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Bulls agree to bring Hinrich back

The Bulls have made their first move in the NBA's free-agency period by bringing back a familiar face: Kirk Hinrich. As first reported by the Chicago Tribune, the veteran guard agreed to a two-year, 6-million contract, a source confirmed to CSNChicago.com.

The deal is believed to be the "mini" mid-level exception, according to the same source, which is earmarked for teams up against the salary cap. While Hinrich drew interest from several other NBA teams, including the nearby division rival Milwaukee Bucks, ultimately returning to the franchise that drafted him and being able to live with his family in his north-suburban home he has resided in during offseasons since being traded from the Bulls in the summer of 2010 was a deciding factor.

Hinrich, who is capable of playing both guard positions and is regarded as a strong defender, will likely start the season as the Bulls' starting point guard as Derrick Rose recovers from ACL surgery. When Rose eventually returns, the veteran will reprise a role he's familiar with by backing up Rose, as well as incumbent starting shooting guard Rip Hamilton.

The Bulls will likely opt for another veteran point guard on the roster, as first-round pick Marquis Teague is inexperienced and still must learn both Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau's system and the NBA game, but with Hinrich set to sign his contract on July 11 -- the date the free-agent moratorium ends and players' commitments to teams can become official -- that player is unlikely to be free agent C.J. Watson, for whom the team has a 3 million option for next season.

The Bulls are expected to waive Watson and free-agent swingman Ronnie Brewer by Tuesday, before their contracts are guaranteed for next season. Another free-agent point guard on the roster, John Lucas III, could be another casualty of Hinrich coming back, as the Thibodeau and fan favorite will seek out a multi-year, guaranteed deal elsewhere and with Teague needing playing time to grasp the nuances of the professional level, the backup role, even with Rose on the shelf to begin the season, will be filled.

Other pending decisions for the Bulls, besides whether or not to match backup center Omer Asik's offer sheet from Houston, which they will have three days to do after July 11 or whenever the Rockets formalize the agreement, include free-agent sharpshooter Kyle Korver's 5-million team option for next season. But with a starting-caliber point guard in the fold, the Bulls' attention may have turned to addressing their wing depth -- although it's quite possible that All-Star Luol Deng will not require surgery for his injured left wrist after the Olympics in his hometown of London -- and with free agent Gerald Green, who played for the Nets last season, visiting the Berto Center on both Friday and Saturday to meet with team management, the organization's next move could have zeroed in on its next target, especially if the athletic swingman is willing to play for the league veteran's minimum.

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

No, the Cubs are not currently talking to the Baltimore Orioles about bringing Manny Machado to the North Side of Chicago.

So says Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations who met with the media at Wrigley Field ahead of Friday's series opener with the San Francisco Giants.

Epstein vehemently shot down the notion of trade talks and specified the major diffence between trade rumors and trade talks, while refusing to comment on Machado in particular.

"I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player with another team," Epstein said. "I would never talk about that in a million years. The simple way to put it is there's been a lot of trade rumors involving the Cubs and there's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs.

"There's a real disparity between the noise and the reality and unfortunately, sometimes that puts a player or two that we have in a real tough circumstance. And that's my job to clarify there's nothing going on right now.

"We have more than enough ability to win the division, win the World Series and we really need to focus on our roster and getting the most out of our ability and finding some consistency. Constant focus outside the organization doesn't do us any good, especially when it's not based in reality right now."

The Cubs have presented a united front publicly in support of Addison Russell, whose name has been the one bandied about most as a potential leading piece in any move for Machado.

After all, the Cubs have won a World Series and never finished worse than an NLCS berth with Russell as their shortstop and he's only 24 with positive signs of progression offensively.

Trading away 3.5 years of control of Russell for 3-4 months of Machado is the type of bold, go-for-it move the Cubs did in 2016 when their championship drought was well over 100 years.

Now, the championship drought is only one season old and the window of contention is expected to remain open until through at least the 2021 season.

Epstein likes to point out that every season is sacred, but at what cost? The Cubs front office is still very much focused on the future beyond 2018.

"Everybody's talking about making trades in May — the first part of the season is trying to figure out who you are," Epstein said. "What are the strengths of the club? What are the weaknesses of the club? What's the character of the club? What position is the club gonna be in as we get deeper in the season? What's our short-term outlook? What's our long-term outlook? What's the chemistry in the clubhouse?

"All those things. It's a process to get there and figure it out. If you rush to those kinds of judgments, you can oftentimes make things worse. I think it's important to figure out exactly who you are and give guys a chance to play and find their level and see how all the pieces fit together before you make your adjustments."

So there's no chance we could see the Cubs once again jump the market and make an early deal like they did last year for Jose Quintana or five years ago for Jake Arrieta? Will they definitely wait another five weeks until July to make a move?

"It's just the natural order of things," Epstein said. "We wouldn't be opposed to doing something, but that's not the case right now. It's not happening."

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

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247 Sports

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

New Trier junior three-star ranked athlete Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) gave Northwestern his verbal commitment last Sunday yet waited until Friday morning to make his decision public via his Twitter page.

Olges, who was recruited by the Wildcats as a defensive tackle, felt pressure to make a decision since the Wildcats already had one defensive tackle verbal commitment in Clear Springs Texas Jason Gold while another defensive tackle with an offer was making an on campus visit later that day.

“I didn’t know if it was the right decision, to be honest. It was impulse more than anything,” Olges told WildcatsReport.com's publisher Louis Vaccher. “But what comforted me is after having a couple days to think about it, I felt a sigh of relief. It would have hurt me too much to let that scholarship go. As much as I wanted to go and visit other schools, losing that scholarship would have hurt more than anything else.”

Olges is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Wildcats Class of 2019  and the second in state pledge along with Bolingbrook junior DB Cameron Mitchell. 

Olges, who was holding 26 scholarship offers this spring, was planning to make summer visits to Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia and Duke before giving the Wildcats his verbal commitment.