Bulls

Marlins trade for former All-Star slugger

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Marlins trade for former All-Star slugger

From Comcast SportsNet
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ozzie Guillen knows Carlos Lee from their time together with the Chicago White Sox. Now Guillen hopes Lee can provide his typical brand of slugging on the field for the Miami Marlins, and give them some leadership off of it. The Marlins acquired Lee from the Houston Astros in a trade on Wednesday, sending a pair of minor leaguers to Houston. "It's a huge move, I think, the front office, showing people how much we want to win," Guillen said. "They show how much we care about winning this year, they showed the players that they're willing to do anything to help this ballclub." The Astros acquired third baseman Matt Dominguez and left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen in the deal. Marlins general manager Michael Hill said the club also received cash considerations from Houston in the deal. "We felt like it was a good time to infuse a veteran, professional, experienced bat into the lineup," Hill said. The 36-year-old Lee spent five-plus seasons with the Astros and is hitting .287 with five homers and 29 RBI this year. Houston manager Brad Mills removed Lee in the seventh inning of a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday. Lee's locker was already empty by the time the clubhouse opened after the game. The right-hander gives the Marlins a veteran hitter as they try to get back into the race in the NL East. First base has been a problem for Miami this season, where regular Gaby Sanchez came into Wednesday's game hitting .194 with two homers and 16 RBIs. Sanchez hit his third homer in Wednesday's 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, but it wasn't enough. Hill said Sanchez had been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. "Unfortunately, first base has not been a productive position for us, and we're looking to upgrade our offensive production at that position," Hill said. Guillen provided a more harsh assessment of Sanchez's play. "It's not easy, but that's our job," Guillen said. "I don't think he should be blaming anybody. He should blame himself. We gave Gaby a lot of opportunities. The reason they made this move (is) obvious. We've not had much production from him, and in Carlos, we hope we've got more production. People don't make moves just to make moves." Hill said Lee did not have to approve the trade because the Marlins were not listed on his limited no-trade clause. He is expected to join the team in Milwaukee on Thursday. "Still a dangerous hitter," Hill said. "He'll fit nicely in the middle of our lineup. He's a proven run producer, and we're expecting him to come in and do what he's done his entire career." That's what Guillen will be counting on, especially with runners on base. "He will bring those guys in," Guillen said. "He knows how to hit in an RBI situation."

Bulls will sign player to 2-way contract, but NBA roster is set for now

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USA Today

Bulls will sign player to 2-way contract, but NBA roster is set for now

The Bulls waived Milton Doyle, Justin Simon and Simisola Shittu Saturday, which is minor news since they were mostly camp bodies competing for possibly a two-way contract.

The bigger development is that the Bulls’ roster is basically set, pending the signing of one player to the second two-way contract still available. No Iman Shumpert. No Alfonzo McKinnie. And that’s just naming two hometown products recently linked to the Bulls via the rumor mill.

The Bulls still want to see what they have in Chandler Hutchison, who did some individual shooting Saturday but missed all training camp with a hamstring injury. Denzel Valentine, currently out of the rotation, is staying ready.

And Shaq Harrison, who missed all five preseason games with his own hamstring injury but now is fully practicing, remains a Jim Boylen favorite.

And that’s what the roster staying set for now is about as much as anything. The buy-in Boylen has received from players dating to voluntary September workouts and bonds that have formed could be disrupted by the waiving of someone like Harrison, whose contract isn’t fully guaranteed but his commitment is.

While the Bulls recognize proven wing depth is a question mark, they value Harrison’s toughness and defensive ability. If Hutchison or Harrison or Valentine---if he gets an opportunity---don’t produce, perhaps a move could be made at a later date.

But expect only the signing of a second player to a two-way contract to join Adam Mokoka for now.

“We’ve been talking about that,” Boylen said. “We’re working on that. We’ve got our list and have reached out to some people. We’re actively in process.”

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Lauri Markkanen is focused on team, not individual, goals for Bulls

Lauri Markkanen is focused on team, not individual, goals for Bulls

You can’t put Lauri Markkanen in a box.

Just as you can’t pigeonhole one of the faces of the Bulls’ franchise offensively, you won’t get him to bite on any statistical goals for himself. As the outside world clamors for him and Zach LaVine to represent the Bulls at All-Star weekend in Chicago, Markkanen is focused on team goals.

“We haven’t made it to the playoffs and haven’t won many games since we’ve been here,” Markkanen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago following Saturday’s practice, alluding to himself, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. “That really bothers us. So we want to win first.”

In fact, as Markkanen fielded questions about a preseason that featured him playing more as a spot-up shooter than the dynamic, double-double machine that defined his February 2019, he shifted the focus to defense and rebounding.

Ho and hum, indeed.

“You’re trying to get me to say 22 (points) and 12 (rebounds) and 3 assists,” Markkanen said, smiling. “I don’t have those kinds of goals. I want to get our wins from 22 to whatever. And I want to get our home wins from nine to whatever. I’m not putting a number on those either. But I think guys are doing a good job of making unselfish plays and making the extra pass. We’re coming together as a team.”

In fact, Markkanen said, at least for now, his only individual goals are to “stay healthy and be consistent.” He reiterated his stance from media day that his goal is to play all 82 games after averaging 60 games his first two seasons.

“I wanted to focus on defense more this preseason and I was a little disappointed in myself in that regard early in preseason. But I watched a lot of film and I think I had my learning moments and I think I got better as preseason moved on,” Markkanen said. “I’ve talked to Coach. We both expect rebounding from me. I think we’re going to be really good offensively. It’s at a high level now, and we’re deeper. If we rebound and can limit their possessions, we have a chance to be really good.”

Don’t mistake Markkanen’s aversion to setting statistical goals for submissiveness. Early in the interview, he called his preseason “maybe not as great as I wanted to play” and acknowledged he needs to increase his free-throw attempts by getting to the rim more.

Of Markkanen’s 42 shots, 24 came from beyond the arc and he attempted just seven free throws in close to 91 preseason minutes. That average of 1.8 free-throw attempts in his four preseason games pales in comparison to the 3.8 he averaged last season.

“I haven’t got to the rim as much. I’m conscious of that. Those are easy points for us,” Markkanen said. “(Driving) is still available to me. But defenses are loading up on me more and trying not to let me get downhill. And we’re not in the post as much (offensively) as we used to be. We’re shooting a lot of 3s.”

Markkanen smiled again as he said this, so it’s clear he likes the Bulls’ approach. He also remains confident his varied offensive game will be on display at some point.

“I don’t always talk to him about his offense to be honest with you,” coach Jim Boylen said. “I talk to him about defending and rebounding and handling the ball. I’ve shown him some of his decisions in transition where he’s handled the ball.

“I want him to compete at the defensive end, rebound, handle the ball and everything else to me takes care of itself. I know he’s going to make shots. Historically, he’s been better when the lights come on.”

Those lights get flipped on for real Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. You can’t put Markkanen in a box. But he can put pressure on himself to help the Bulls make the playoffs.

“I have really high expectations of myself,” he said. “That’s what keeps me going. I want to win."