Westbrook, Durant confident in Rose's return


Westbrook, Durant confident in Rose's return

Russell Westbrook was looking forward to working out with Derrick Rose this past summer when he heard the news of Roses torn ACL.

The two had worked out the past four seasons in Los Angeles, a relationship stemming from the pair sharing the same agent and both being top selections in the 2004 NBA Draft.

So while it was tough for the Thunder point guard to watch a limited Rose in Los Angeles on occasion, hes confident Rose will come back stronger than ever once he returns.

I cant imagine what that feels like. He was going through a tough year being injured, and it was tough, Westbrook said. But hes done a great job of continuing to bring himself to be better and come back next time. Hell be stronger, definitely will be a lot better after seeing him this summer, seeing how he was getting better and better.

Westbrook said Rose was in attendance on multiple occasions when he was working out in Los Angeles, and that he tried to do as much as he could to keep things similar.

It was different. He wasnt able to do everything that he was capable of doing, but at the same time he was still there working, trying to get better, Westbrook said. We were definitely helping him out as well.

Kevin Durant also shared his thoughts on Roses injury. The two played together in 2010 on Team USA during the FIBA World Championship. During that span and the last few years, they formed a relationship that made it difficult for Durant to watch when he went down in June.

He works extremely hard, and hes one of those guys that he has a lot of faith in himself and I can tell theres a lot of confidence in what the guys around him are doing as far as rehab and guys helping him out with his knee, Durant said. So if guys go down, knee injury or serious, I always hope they come back stronger and better.

Durant said he has seen a few of Adidas TheReturn video, and feels positive about the track Rose is on to return even healthier and stronger than he was before the injury.

No doubt in my mind he will come back, he said. He works hard at what he does and he definitely will come back better and determined.

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. might be in the middle of a breakout season. The 24-year-old outfielder continues to show his impressive range in center field and is having his best year at the plate.

In Sunday's 8-3 win against the Giants, Almora had three hits and showed off his wheels in center to rob Evan Longoria of extra bases. The catch is visible in the video above.

"Defensively, right now he's playing as well as he possibly can," Maddon said.

On top of the defense he has become known for, he is hitting .326. That's good for fifth in the National League in batting.

"He's playing absolutely great," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's working good at-bats. His at-bats have gotten better vs. righties.

"The thing about it, is there's power there. The home runs are gonna start showing up, too."

There's also this stat, which implies Almora is having a growing significance on the Cubs as a whole:

There may be some correlation, but not causality in that. However, with Almora's center field play and growing accolades at the plate, the argument is becoming easier and easier that he is one of the most important players on the Cubs. That also goes for Almora's regular spot in the lineup, which has been up in the air with Maddon continuing to juggle the lineup.

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”