Cubs

Starting Five: Bulls at Rockets

Starting Five: Bulls at Rockets

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 20102:29 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1) Brad Miller acknowledged Houstons injury issues, as well as the teams reputation for role players stepping up even when short of bodies.

It is what it is," he said. "That situation is a little bit of whatever. People always say Houstons always blessed with injuries at some point and I had mine. They said welcome to the team when I turned my ankle. It just seems like the curse of this team, but guys keep stepping up.

Youve got Kyle Lowry at point instead of Aaron Brooks, that changes the team -- Im not saying good or bad, just changes the team. With Yao not out there, it changes the team. So weve just got to be ready to play, like, 20 different styles with all the different lineups that we throw out there.

2) Ishmael Smith, an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest (where the rookie played with Bulls forward James Johnson) isnt putting up gaudy numbers, but has opened some eyes with his game-changing speed in the absence of Brooks, the former Most Improved Player.

It has been an adjustment, the difference from college to the NBA ... its been going well so far," Smith, who earned a spot on the team by virtue of a strong summer-league performance in Las Vegas, told CSNChicago.com after Tuesdays shootaround. "Im just trying to work hard and continue to work on the things I need to work on and get better at the things I guess Im pretty good at.

You never hope injuries happen to anybody and we all hope Aaron comes back with a speedy recovery because were going to need him, but Im just trying to hold the fort, do it whatever it takes to get wins while Im out there and not do anything too crazy.

3) Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is regarded as a key to Yao Mings early NBA development, as he spent countless hours with the center working on his game. Therefore, he better than anybody understands how the Rockets attack changes with the All-Star out of the lineup.

Yao has missed -- unfortunately for him and their team -- games, so I think they have gotten used to playing without him. I think the hardest thing for them at the start is readjusting, where Yao was only playing half the game because they were playing two different styles, said Thibodeau before Tuesdays shootaround. When you have a primary low-post scorer like Yao, it does kind of change the way you play. So now their bigs are up higher -- more in the high-post area -- so it sets up their cutting game, and theyre a great cutting team. Youve got to concentrate on your body position because the low blocks, at times, are not going to be occupied. If you dont have good body position, theyre going to get back cuts and layups, and you cant allow that.

4) With a seven-game road trip and eight newcomers on the team, the Bulls are using their off time spent together as an opportunity to bond.

People have video-game systems. I gave Taj my traveling Xbox. Its like a TV and an Xbox in a suitcase, so we could be playing that -- playing Call of Duty, whatever -- but somehow weve got to get closer, said Derrick Rose after Tuesdays shootaround.

Its going to be good," added Luol Deng. "At the end of the two weeks, well get tired of each other, but its really good for the team, spending a lot of time together.

5) Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

castellanos_thumb.jpg
USA TODAY

Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

The odds of a Cubs-Nick Castellanos reunion happening have seemed slim all offseason. Although they've been connected to him at various points this winter, bringing back the fan favorite right fielder would require some serious financial gymnastics for the North Siders.

With the Cubs cognizant of the luxury tax, the division rival Reds have emerged as the favorite to sign Castellanos, according to MLB insider Jon Morosi.

The Reds have emerged as the frontrunner to sign free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, one source said Sunday, and there are indications the sides have made progress over the past several days. While Cincinnati is now the favorite to sign Castellanos, the Giants also have negotiated with the 27-year-old in recent weeks.

Because of their desire to stay under the luxury tax in 2020, the Cubs have only made low-cost acquisitions this winter. They were penalized $7.6 million for eclipsing the threshold in 2019; if they do so in 2020, they'll be taxed 30 percent on their overages —  and see their 2021 draft pick drop 10 spots, if they go over the figure by $40 million.

At this point, the only realistic scenario where the Cubs re-sign Castellanos is if they shed salary. However, they've reportedly signed outfielder Steven Souza to a one-year deal, giving them five outfielders (along with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward). That might be the biggest indicator of a reunion not being in the cards.

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Sports world reacts to the news of Kobe Bryant's passing

Sports world reacts to the news of Kobe Bryant's passing

According to a report from TMZ Sports, later confirmed by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and ABC 7 News, Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash over Calabasas Sunday morning. This is extremely heartbreaking news that has stunned everyone and the Bulls community weighed in, paying their respects and sharing their emotions on Sunday afternoon:

 

Former Bulls also shared their thoughts on the sad news on Sunday:

 

 

Bryant was one of the NBA's greatest players but his impact was wide-reaching throughout all of sports. This was something that was clear on Sunday when members of the media, team owners, as well as athletes from the NFL, MLB, and much more took some time to state how much Bryant meant to his family, sports, and the world at large:

In a moment of touching tribute, the Spurs and Raptors began their Sunday afternoon game by taking intentional 24-second shot clock violations, in honor of Bryant:

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar honored Bryant by throwing up a "24" salute after scoring a goal on Sunday:

Kobe Bryant's co-star throughout the Lakers dynasty of the 2000s was none other than Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, who put out a heartfelt message on social media:

The story appears to still be developing and is truly terrible, terrible news that has shell-shocked the basketball world at large. Bryant was 41-years old at the reported time of his death. 

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