White Sox

Thibodeau-Bulls rift truly headline-worthy?

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Thibodeau-Bulls rift truly headline-worthy?

An ESPN.com report quoted Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau as being "dismayed" about the lack of progress in reaching a new contract extension. While it may be new to you, this isn't news.

After winning the NBA's Coach of the Year award in his first season as an NBA head coach, it's only natural Thibodeau would want to be rewarded for his service. However, Thibodeau is currently in the second year of his contract and the Bulls have the option to bring him back for a third year, something that's universally expected to occur.

"I don't know where that's coming from and I'm not worried about any of that stuff," Thibodeau said after Friday's win over the Pistons. "I'm under contract and I'm fine with everything here."

What else would you expect him to say? Let's be logical, folks: Thibodeau is known as one of the most focus and intense people in the business, so at this late juncture in the season--or even earlier in the campaign, when a New York media outlet first reported his frustration about his contract situation--do you think he would strategically leak his concerns, taking away from the Bulls' goal of winning a title?

Highly unlikely. Sure, Thibodeau is probably disappointed that the Bulls haven't already addressed the issue, as well as the fact that he's one of the league's lowest-paid head coaches, but knowing the potential of this team and being a student of the game, on and off the court--specifically the Bulls' track record of dealing with coaches' contracts as an organization, with Phil Jackson and Scott Skiles as two examples--he surely can't be surprised at the process.

He's also very likely aware that the grass isn't greener elsewhere. Looking around the league at possible upcoming vacancies, New York comes to mind with Mike D'Antoni starting the season as a lame-duck head coach and Mike Woodson as an interim coach--albeit a successful one, thus far--and with Thibodeau's history as a Knicks assistant, it would seem like just the opportunity to lure him away.

But even if the Knicks were interested, Thibodeau knows that he's already put his stamp on this Bulls team, he won't ever find a more coachable superstar than Derrick Rose, he wouldn't find a more ideal supporting cast and even taking into consideration the amount of talent on New York's roster, the relentless competitor would actually be taking a step back in his quest for a championship. Does that sound like a move the ever-calculating tactician would make?

Don't fret, Bulls fans: Thibodeau's contract situation will be resolved in due time. Even if they appear to be dragging their feet in doing so--and like any fiscally-sound operation, they're being prudent in waiting to pay him the big bucks, to Thibodeau's consternation, at least for the time being--the Bulls' braintrust understands there's not really an upgrade from Thibodeau available on the market, as long as Phil Jackson stays retired (and the triangle offense isn't exactly a perfect fit for Derrick Rose's skill set) and not to mention, they wouldn't want to chance of alienating their players.

"Of course--I'm not going to give you guys the answer I'm supposed to say--but not just for me, but for this organization and what he's done, and if we don't bring him back, somebody's going to take him. He's that good," said Luol Deng, who has developed into an All-Star under Thibodeau and along with Rose, has probably benefited the most from his tutelage. "I didn't even know there's a situation. He's not the type of guy who's going to talk to us about it. We're not the type of team that's going to talk about it. I think we all want to see him stay here for many years to come, but that's not up to me."

Deng will likely get his--and Bulls' fans--wish, but thinking about far-fetched scenarios, like arguably the league's top coach simply walking away due to lack of interest, makes for good headlines in the meantime. It hasn't been a perfect world under Thibodeau's reign, as his laser-like focus can rankle people to a degree, but nobody questions his work ethic, intent and most importantly, results, all of which make the likelihood of the Bulls not bringing him back and even after 20 years as an assistant before getting a shot, perceived anger and impatience at the slowness in getting his first extension as a head coach, a tad overblown.

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Nationals to become latest MLB team to extend protective netting down foul lines

Another MLB team will soon extend the protective netting in its home ballpark. 

Thursday, Nationals owner Mark Lerner announced that the Nationals will extend the protective netting at Nationals Park further down the foul lines. The netting will be installed during the All-Star break, according to Lerner's press release. 

Ahead of the 2018 season, all 30 MLB teams extended the protective netting in their home ballparks to reach the outfield end of both dugouts. However, the White Sox announced on Tuesday that they will extend netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to reach both foul poles, becoming the first MLB team to do so.

Extended netting has become a widely-discussed topic across baseball this season. In a game between the Cubs and Astros on May 29, a four-year old fan was struck by a foul ball line drive hit by Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. The fan was rushed to the hospital following the incident and players from both teams were visibly shaken afterwards.

Almora spoke out about the need to protect fans several days later.

"I hope this never happens again, so whatever the league has to do to make that happen," Almora said at Busch Stadium on May 31 ahead of a Cubs-Cardinals game. "I don't think any kid that goes to a baseball game with their parents or whoever should worry about making it out unhealthy or whatever the case may be. I don't think that should ever cross their mind. 

"Whatever the league needs to do to do that, that should be in place."

Lerner referenced the fan in Houston specifically in the Nationals' announcement on Thursday.

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums," Lerner said. "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive.

"I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

Although only the White Sox and Nationals have announced plans for further extended netting this season, more teams will likely follow suit. In fact, the Rangers will extend the netting at their new ballpark next season to a similar area as the Nationals.

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Jalen Rose hints at or proposes a Bulls-Pelicans NBA Draft trade

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USA TODAY

Jalen Rose hints at or proposes a Bulls-Pelicans NBA Draft trade

The Bulls expected to be picking at the top of the NBA Draft after finishing in the top 4 of lottery odds. They dropped to seventh however, but could they be moving up?

Some think they can, and former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose "proposes" a Bulls-Pelicans trade while strongly suggesting their might be insider info behind this "proposal."

When asked what the Pelicans should do with the No. 4 pick, Rose suggests a trade.

"If I was them.... I guess I'm going to say this, I was going to look at my phone to see if I was able to say this," Rose says. "I'll swap with the Bulls and try to get [Zach] LaVine from them.... and give [the Bulls] Lonzo Ball."

So that would be the Bulls sending the seventh overall pick and LaVine to New Orleans for Lonzo Ball and the fourth overall pick.

When asked if that was going to happen, Rose coyly responded "we'll see."

Ball has been connected to Chicago ever since the Lakers started pursuing Anthony Davis during last season. Rumors also connected the Bulls to the Lakers-Pelicans trade for Davis in the past couple weeks as the third team. And further rumors have suggested the Bulls were the most active team in regards to moving up in the NBA Draft.

But what would it take to move up in the draft and who would the Bulls pick? Mark Strotman has the answers.

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