Bears

Evans and Kings at a crossroad

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Evans and Kings at a crossroad

While Sacramento Kings owners are trying to iron out talks of a new arena deal with the city, another interesting dilemma is facing the ball club.With rookie averages of 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game, Tyreke Evans became the fourth first-year player to average (20-5-5), joining the likes of Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.His production in his sophomore year tailed off a bit due to plantar fasciitis and this season, he has been moved off the ball completely as coach Keith Smart has experimented with him at small forward.A move, he apparently isnt thrilled about. Via: Sam Amicks post on Basketball Latest updates on Sulia."Tyreke Evans agent, Arn Tellem, made a rare appearance tonight to express his concerns about the former Rookie of the Years role. He met with Kings Basketball president Geoff Petrie, Evans brother, Reggie and another Tellem rep as well. Source close to Evans says hes frustrated with how marginalized hes become. Evans reps are encouraging him to be more vocal about his perspective going forward. No extension discussions (hes eligible this summer), FWIW." Evans is his best with the ball in his hands, but point guard isnt his best position as he goes one-on-one too often and with the Kings already boosting scorers such as Marcus Thornton, DeMarcus Cousins and others who need their shots, the third-year player is in a system that doesnt suit the strengths that made him Rookie of the Year. Even with Cousins temperament, its hard to find 6-foot-11 power forwards with his skill set and footwork, so Evans could be the odd man out. Evans, 22, is sure to gain plenty of interest next season if the Kings dont offer him an extension. With the proper coaching, an offensive system that could utilize his strengths, he could be a perennial All-Star for years to come.With Evans' talent, what team could he flourish on?

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: How much will Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game?

Mark Carman, Scott Merkin and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester looks to get back on track against the Pirates? Should he still be the Cubs Game 1 starter in the playoffs?  Len Kasper joins Kap to discuss.

 

How much will Mitch Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game? And will Carlos Rodon end up being the White Sox’ best starter?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

A stellar Jon Lester outing gives the Cubs more than just a win

It's been a tale of two halves for the Cubs veteran Jon Lester, who after a sparkling first half of baseball that saw him win 12 games with a 2.58 ERA, has looked nothing like a 2018 All-Star. Prior to Thursday's start, Lester had posted a 10.32 ERA, allowed 4 or more runs in 4 of his 5 most recent starts, and had yet to win a game in the second of the season. 

The 34-year-old veteran flipped the script Thursday night, throwing 6-shutout innings while striking out 8 Pirate batters in the Cubs 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Lester surrendered only 5 hits and baffled the Pirates all-night, finally busting out of his slump and giving the Cubs his 2nd quality start since the All-Star break. 

Lester attacked the bottom portion of the strike zone all night with his fastball, which topped out at 93 mph, generating 4 whiffs with his heater. Over the last month, Lester has said he's felt he can't quite execute his "out" pitches, explaining that when he has a hitter set up for a strikeout he hasn't been able to throw the ball effectively in those moments. 

And while Lester walked off the mound after the 6th inning amassing 8 punch outs, the veteran starter never looked like he was trying to strike out batters. He just continued to dot the corners, occasionally raise the eye-level of the batter with an elevated heater, and threw his secondary pitches just enough to keep the Pittsburgh batters uncomfortable at the plate. 

The Cubs offense once again struggled, facing Ivan Nova who has won four his last five starts against the Cubs, but Ian Happ's solo shot in the 4th inning was enough run support for Lester to push the Cubs to 20 games over .500. But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night's win isn't that the Cubs came out on top, it's that Jon Lester returning to form gives this Chicago rotation something they've lacked seemingly this entire season. 

Stability at the front of the rotation. 

With Cole Hamels impressive three starts in a Cub uniform and Kyle Hendricks finally figuring out his issues on the mound, if Jon Lester can replicate Thursday's performance throughout the rest of the season, the Cubs rotation may finally turn into the strength many thought it could be before the season started. At the very least, Lester showed that whatever he's been working through over the last month of baseball is fixable. 

It's only one start in a string of poor outings for Lester, and while The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma did find some positives in his starts prior to Thursday's big win, Lester will have to show he can maintain this level of pitching through the remainder of this season. But I think our own Tony Andracki put it best tonight on Twitter. 

With the Cubs pitchers finally starting to perform to their expected level, and the return of Yu Darvish looking closer each day, it could be the Cubs starting pitching that carries through the rest of the season.