Noah for Defensive Player of the Year?

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Noah for Defensive Player of the Year?

SportsIllustrated's Ben Golliverreleased his first quarter NBA awards today, and Joakim Noah was dubbed the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year.
It's lofty praise for the 27-year-old, who has seen a boost in productivity after the Bulls declined to bring back reserve center Omer Asik. Noah is second in the NBA in minutes per game (39.8), trailing only his teammate Luol Deng (41.2) in that category.
But Noah's play has earned him those minutes, too. He ranks sixth in the league in rebounds per game (10.8), third in steals for centers (1.4) and fifth in blocks (2.3). He and Lakers center Dwight Howard are the only two players in the league averaging double-digit rebounds, a steal and two blocks per game.
The tiebreakers between those two -- Golliver does not list Howard in his top three candidates -- has been the Bulls' play. Whereas the Lakers have been one of the league's biggest disappointments, the Bulls have remained one of the league's top defenses and are atop the Central Division standings through 19 games. Golliver points out that the Bulls allow the fewest points per possession of any team in the league.
Golliver has Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka trailing Noah in the race, while Memphis shooting guard Tony Allen ranks third and would be the first guard since Gary Payton in 1996 to win the award.
While Noah has impressive defensively in the early going, he's also managed to average a career-high 13.7 points and 4.2 assists. Chalk it up to the increase in minutes, but Noah is playing the best basketball of his six-year career.
Bulls fans will also notice another familiar face in that Golliver ranked Asik third in the running for Most Improved Player. Brooklyn's Andray Blatche and Dallas' O.J. Mayo are legitimate frontrunners, but Asik is averaging a double-double in his first season in Houston and, with the help of fellow newcomers Jeremy Lin and James Harden, helped the Rockets stay afloat in the Western Conference. As of Tuesday's games, Houston sits just one game out of the No. 8 seed in the West, a drastic improvement to preseason expectations, even with the arrival of Harden.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, the panel previews the Bulls' matchup against the Cavaliers. 

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David Schuster (670 The Score) and Kendall Gill to break down the keys to a Bulls win. Later, Vincent Goodwill (CSNChicago.com) joins Luke to discuss the team's progress. 

Finally, LeBron James pays off his World Series bet and the entire media world is there to see it. 

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: 

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.