Michael Walton

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

Former Bears offensive linemen Kyle Long appeared on The Rap Sheet and Friends podcast hosted by NFL insider Ian Rapoport and he didn't shy away from questions about Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Long, while stating that he understood the questioning and criticism that Trubisky faces, still believes in him.

"The Bears have won with Mitchell Trubisky."

Indeed Mitch was the starter for 14 games of the Bears 12-4 season before this year's 8-8 disappointment. The issue was Trubisky's play was of course, as he didn't show any noticeable improvement in 2019 after tossing 24 touchdowns in 2018. "We all regressed this year, but unfortunately heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and Mitch is the captain," Long said. 

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise, and he’s young. He’s so young."

Long seems excited by the idea of Chicago's hires, saying that new faces could have quite the positive effect on Trubisky’s game "I’m looking forward to seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch. It’ll be cool to see.”

This offseason the Bears have brought in a new offensive coordinator (Bill Lazor), quarterbacks coach (John DeFilippo), and promoted former quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator. Bears head coach Matt Nagy, similar to Long, has faith in Trubisky developing, especially in regard to Ragone. In December Nagy said, “I think I know Mitch better than anybody in this building, except maybe Dave Ragone.”

Long certainly seems to miss his teammates though he clearly has no regrets about his decision. He and Trubisky definitely share a bond that will last long beyond their playing days. “I love the kid, he’s a great friend obviously, a teammate, but I’m looking forward to seeing him develop.”

Similar to the message delivered by the Bears’ front office, Long was in full support of Trubisky throughout the entire interview.

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise...”

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Report: Ja Morant will not compete in the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Report: Ja Morant will not compete in the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

After much speculation as to just how loaded the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest would be, we now have a better idea of how the field will actually look. Though the full lineup is not out yet, we know that Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is competing in the contest, hoping to bring back the excitement that surrounded the event when he was the star of it from 2007-09. The next name rumored to be competing was standout Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, but news broke Thursday that he declined an offer to the event. 

According to sources that spoke to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Morant is focused on "good health for the duration of the season."

Morant is having a stellar rookie season that has led many to believe he will take home the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year honors. He is averaging 18 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game on 49.4% shooting from the field, 40.7% from the 3-point line, and 80.4% from the free throw line. Morant's excellent play currently has the Grizzlies in the eighth and final playoff spot in Western Conference. 

Morant did suffer an injury, resulting in back spasms, after a very serious fall into the baseline camera operator on Nov. 25 in a game against the Pacers in Indiana. 

There is still no official word as to whether or not Bulls star Zach LaVine will participate in the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, as the belief is he wants to see if he will make the Eastern Conference All-Star team first. High-flying Miami Heat wing Derrick Jones Jr. is expected to receive an invite and accept it with the news of Morant declining, though it has been reported before that Jones—who was a runner-up in the 2017 dunk contest while with the Phoenix Suns—will definitely compete in Chicago. 

The 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest takes place in Chicago on February 15, a day before the All-Star game. 

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Miami Heat's crowded rotation should interest Bulls

Miami Heat's crowded rotation should interest Bulls

Similar to the Bulls, but amid much different circumstances, the Miami Heat are dealing with a bit of a roster crunch. Their rotation has been excellently managed by NBA Championship winning coach Erik Spoelstra, but they still possess veterans who are hoping to see an uptick in playing time, just like Thaddeus Young in Chicago.

In a report from South Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Ira Winderman, Miami frontcourt players Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson have recently discussed how they have dealt with not being extremely involved in what has been a great Heat season thus far. Possible first-time All-Star Bam Abedayo (15.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists per game) and Meyers Leonard have held down the Heat frontcourt for most of the year, both playing in all 40 games to this point in the season. Olynyk is at 19.8 minutes per game for the season but has only played in one of the Heat's last five games. 

Heat forward James Johnson has only played in 10 games on the season but has seen a slight uptick in playing time, averaging 17.3 minutes per game over four games in January. But that numbers figure to come way down, possibly all the way to zero, when Justise Winslow returns to full health. And of course once Winslow returns, there is no guarantee he gets, minutes, making him an intriguing (although unlikely) target.  

For all of the reasons listed above, the Bulls should be interested in the Heat's roster right now. While they are likely looking to preserve 2021 salary cap space,  recent history indicates that Miami is always in 'championship hunt mode' and will always look for ways to improve their current roster while worrying about cap-space saving moves later. On that note, per Basketball-Reference.com, Johnson, Leonard, and newly signed rookie Chris Silva are the only players currently on the roster playing more than 60% of their minutes at power forward. 

The Heat, again one of the best teams in the league, aren't desperate for forward depth but could possibly use a defensive-minded forward to close over Leonard for certain matchups in the postseason. 

Enter Thaddeus Young. 

It's easy to see how a closing lineup of Butler-Kendrick Nunn-Duncan Robinson-Young-Adebayo would be smothering defensively. And while Young is not the elite floor spacer that Leonard is, he shot 35.4% on corner 3-point shots last season with the Pacers. It is not inconceivable that he could return to that type of accuracy in a slightly different role with a Heat team with a bit more on the roster in terms of threats on offense. 

Young has played a whopping 97% of his minutes at power forward for Chicago and while the Bulls have made attempts to get him more playing time, the situation lingers as an awkward one. Young is definitely a talented enough player to deserve more than the 22.2 minutes per game he is currently receiving with the Bulls but. As he has said himself: "we have different things that we're trying to do. Like I said, we're trying to develop guys and we're trying to win at the same time."

Miami is a team that—while filled with young talent—is firmly in "win-now" mode. While the Heat likely wouldn't be able to give Young the 30 minutes he is used to, they would be able to supply him a chance to fight for a title with the best homecourt team (18-1) in the league. There are no reports of mutual trade interest between the Heat and Bulls right now but with the Feb. 6  NBA trade deadline fast approaching, the Heat are a team that the Bulls should definitely have their eye on. 

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