Bears

Third time the charm for James, Bulls?

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Third time the charm for James, Bulls?

Mike James is back, Tom Thibodeau announced, after the Bulls head coach ran down his laundry list of team health-status updates, a daily occurrence these days. With starting point guard Derrick Rose and his backup, C.J. Watson, both game-time decisions for Wednesdays clash with the Heat, the arrival of James -- who was signed to his second 10-day contract, but could very likely join the Bulls for the remainder of the season -- is just in the nick of time.

They always say, if somebody wants you, they leave you, come back, leave you, come back, James, who received interest from Oklahoma City and San Antonio, quipped. Well, when you come back, its supposed to be the charm the third time, so well see.

There were teams starting to talk, he continued. A lot of things were about to start happening after the trade deadline, but its a familiarity here, with the team, with the coach, with the system and so, its a blessing to be back and just ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

James may be utilized in Wednesdays contest, something hes ready for. With Rose and Watson being game-time decisions, hes even prepared to start.

I dont know, I just got here. Just like Coach gives DNPs and they give coachs decision, well, whoever starts tonight, thats going to be his decision, also, he joked. Ive been working. Its not like I was home, sitting back, just enjoying life. Ive been training, so Im ready. This isnt my first dance. Ive been thrown in the fire before, so if I get thrown in the fire, hopefully God will protect me again this time.

James connection to Thibodeau, which dates back to their time together with the Houston Rockets, is part of what makes him comfortable with the situation in Chicago.

Im thankful for it. I know my times in Houston, I always stayed in his office when he was an assistant coach with the Rockets. He grew fond of me when I was there and I always used to be in his office, venting, and always telling him, Lets go get in the gym, lets go get some work in. Days off, Id always call him, so there was always that respect factor, the 36-year-old veteran explained. I guess when he saw me and saw that I was still somewhat the same player that I was in Houston, and I had the same work ethic -- because you cant hide a work ethic -- and what he was used to seeing with me, if he would have seen anything different, he would have noticed it off the top because of how much time we spent when we were there together. So, he sees that I still have that work ethic and sees that I have that hunger and that chip on my shoulder, and I guess thats something as a head coach now, that interests him a lot about me.

He was a hard worker, he was always one of the first in the gym and hes just a genius. He has a lot of wisdom and knowledge of this basketball game, and its funny how they say hes always in the gym, all the time, he continued. Its like hes married to this game. This is his love and when someones that passionate about something, you have to respect their knowledge and wisdom as a coach.

Ironically, the journeyman has a similar connection with the opposing coach Wednesday, the Heats Erik Spoelstra, from his early NBA days in Miami. James was coached by Miamis current team president, Pat Riley, whose smooth talking is what he believes convinced the Heats Big Three to team up South Beach.

Spoelstra was my guy, also. It was the same thing with Coach Thibs. Id call Erik on days off, Lets go in the gym, lets go work. He was a video guy at the time when I was there, but he was always hungry, eager and he was always one of the first ones in the gym, and one of the last ones to leave and always ready to talk about basketball Whatever basketball knowledge there was to share, he was willing to share it, he recounted. Riley has a way with words. Even when I played there, our pregame speeches, as soon as he finished, your eyes get watery, your adrenaline is extremely high, youre ready to run for a wall then and there, just by his words. Thats why hes a great motivator and Im pretty sure Coach was able to say words to them, just to get them excited in that moment and they just got caught up in the moment. Coach Riley is good for that.

Contract decisions coming for Bears defense as questions hang over LB Danny Trevathan

Contract decisions coming for Bears defense as questions hang over LB Danny Trevathan

As 2018 came to its bumpy playoff-loss ending, the Bears could look toward the coming offseason without major crisis decisions looming for what was then an elite defense. They’d prepared contingencies for possible departures of safety Adrian Amos and nickel back Bryce Callahan.

This offseason they will have further-reaching calls to make, beginning at inside linebacker where two of their top three players are coming out of a contract: Danny Trevathan, also off an elbow injury suffered against Detroit, and Nick Kwiatkoski, coming off a second defense-leading performance in a backup role.

The Bears made a decision earlier this year to keep Nick Kwiatkoski for the final year of his rookie contract. The former college teammate of wide receiver Kevin White had played his way under the NFL’s “Proven Performance Escalator” from $720,000 up to a fourth-year salary $2.025 million, a not-insignificant tab for a reserve linebacker on a defense fortified with major dollars invested on the line (Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks), at linebacker (Khalil Mack, Trevathan) and cornerback (Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller), with decisions pending at both safety spots.

Possibly before this season is done, the Bears could secure Kwiatkoski with another deal, particularly after Kwiatkoski has stepped in and keyed the defense in place of Roquan Smith (Minnesota) and on Sunday when Trevathan went down with a severe elbow injury.

“Right now honestly I’m not thinking about it because there’s a lot of football to play and it’ll take care of itself,” he told NBC Sports Chicago last week. “For me, I feel like whatever happens, happens.”

What has happened is that twice Kwiatkoski, until now a four-phase leader on special teams, has helped the Bears make their decision. Against the Lions, Kwiatkoski’s third-quarter interception, the first of his career, set up the Bears’ third, final and ultimately deciding touchdown.

“Ryan [Pace, GM] and his personnel guys, they created this depth chart throughout our team where when guys go down you're able to have guys step up,” said coach Matt Nagy. “Kwit has done that, and that's what it's all about.”

Kwiatkoski’s is not the only critical depth-chart decision the Bears have upcoming for their defense.

Besides calls like whether Amukamara is playing at a level commensurate with a $9 million base, or whether to go longer-term on a deal for safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris will be a restricted free agent. They picked up Leonard Floyd’s fifth-year option but now need to assess whether he is worth either $13.2 million this year or a long-term deal.

And defensive lineman Nick Williams, leading the Bears with six sacks, is going to be worth more than the $895,000 they landed him for this year.

But the Trevathan injury, besides presenting player and team with a difficult decision on injured reserve, also adds a complicating factor in determining where the quarterback of the defense falls among their priorities. His four-year deal, with $15.5 million guaranteed, averaged $7 million per season, with base salaries of $5.8 million in the last two.

There is zero question where the former Denver Bronco wants to finish his career.

“This city’s been nothing but good to me,” Trevathan said. “It’s all I think about, all I want to be. Chicago is a linebacker’s dream. It’ll take care of itself, I’m sure.

“Everybody has a role. I just wanted to do my job and be the best ‘Danny Trevathan’ I can be, and the best Bear I can be. That’s all I can do. My Mom always told me that things would take care of themselves if you work your tail off.”

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Bob Nightengale sees White Sox going after "the big boys" in free agency

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Bob Nightengale sees White Sox going after "the big boys" in free agency

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey talk about the rumors connecting the White Sox to premium free agents like Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg (1:30). Then they call up USA Today's Bob Nightengale at the GM Meetings in Arizona who confirms that's what he's hearing (8:20). How realistic is this? (10:10) Does the front office feel the need to make a big splash? (11:20) Is there a Scott Boras factor with the White Sox? (13:30) and more.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast

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