Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

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Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

In a few hours this will be moot, but with Thursday evening's announcement of the NBA All-Star Game reserves, below are CSNChicago.com's picks.
Keep in mind, these aren't predictions, just this writer's opinion on which players are deserving of the honor.
Eastern Conference reserves
Chris Bosh, Miami: Due to playing alongside East starters LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Bosh often gets overlooked, but is an important piece on the defending-champion Miami, again the conference's top team.
Tyson Chandler, New York: The league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year has helped transform New York into a more defensive-oriented squad, while also contributing as an efficient offensive option.
Luol Deng, Chicago: Deng's recent injury might give coaches an excuse not to select him, but his consistency as a go-to scorer and workhorse is a huge reason Chicago is in the upper echelon of the East's standings.
Paul George, Indiana: The athletic swingman is experiencing a breakout season on both sides of the ball, picking up the slack from the sidelined Danny Granger as Indiana's alpha dog.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia: Although Philadelphia has struggled as of late, Holiday has emerged as one of the league's top-tier point guards.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee: Jennings is the best player on a surprisingly successful Milwaukee team, which has thrived under interim head coach Jim Boylan thus far.
Joakim Noah, Chicago: Observers have taken notice of Noah's offensive development, ability to handle a heavier workload and defensive presence, all of which have been integral to Chicago's early-season success.
Alternates
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn: It's tough to keep a Brooklyn player off the initial roster, but although the center has had a solid season, with fans voting in an undeserving Kevin Garnett as a starter, Lopez likely gets the short end of the stick.
Josh Smith, Atlanta: The combination of Atlanta's current slump and the versatile forward's recent one-game suspension could be the tie-breaker in ensuring he's snubbed for yet another year.
Snubs
Carlos Boozer, Chicago: The much-maligned power forward has been dominant in January, but his superb stretch likely occurred too late to send him to Houston next month.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland: The second-year point guard is already an elite player at his position, but in addition to a chunk of games missed due to various injuries, Cleveland's dismal record is too much to ignore.
Western Conference reserves
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland: Portland has cooled off as of late, but the underrated Aldridge has established himself as one of the league's best power forwards.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio: Aside from the flashback season Duncan's having, the future Hall of Famer is showing that he's still one of the premier big men in the league on a nightly basis.
James Harden, Houston: Harden has proven that he's worthy of all the fuss that occurred when he was traded to Houston at the beginning of the regular season, earning the right to represent the host city as one of the game's top scorers.
David Lee, Golden State: The Warriors have had a resurgence that's heavily based on improved defense and while Lee will never be regarded as a great player on that side of the ball, he's come to be viewed as a blue-collar type and the player most responsible for the squad's turnaround.
Tony Parker, San Antonio: Parker continues to quietly be the best player for an aging San Antonio team, as well as one of the league's top-five floor generals.
Zach Randolph, Memphis: Now healthy after missing most of last season due to injury, Randolph's blend of hard-nosed low-post scoring and dominance on the boards symbolizes Memphis' approach.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: Playing in the shadow of three-time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant, the point guard is almost equally responsible for Oklahoma City maintaining its high standard of play after Harden's departure.
Alternates
Stephen Curry, Golden State: The oft-injured point guard is finally healthy, but as much as the sharpshooter has been praised for his impact on his team's turnaround, it would be hard to put two Warriors on the roster.
Marc Gasol, Memphis: In a similar situation, it would seem that only one of Gasol and Randolph will make the trip to Houston, and while the true center is clearly one of the best at a dying position, Randolph's elite rebounding gives him the edge.
Snubs
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles: The early-season favorite for the league's Sixth Man of the Year is also his team's leading scorer, but his defensive shortcomings and the Clippers' array of weapons takes away from his influence on their success.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City: Ibaka's impact on the defensive end has never been questioned, but while his improvement as a scorer has been remarkable, in a conference loaded with excellent big men, it would be hard to justify his selection.

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”

North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

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North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

Tim Beckman is coaching Power Five conference football again, something that came as a big surprise to many a year after Beckman was fired for mistreating players at Illinois.

But his new "boss" — Beckman is a volunteer assistant at North Carolina — doesn't seem to have any problem with Beckman being a part of his staff.

North Carolina head Larry Fedora — who worked alongside Beckman when the two were coordinators at Oklahoma State in 2007 — was asked about Beckman on Wednesday, and had some comments that seemed to show he doesn't care about the reasoning behind Beckman's firing.

"I don't believe everything I read, all right," Fedora told reporters, his quotes tweeted by Andrew Carter of the News & Observer. "I know Tim. I know his side of the story, also. So I was comfortable with it. If I wouldn't have been, obviously I wouldn't have brought him. I wouldn't have allowed him to be in our program. But I was very comfortable with it. I don't have any issues with it at all."

When asked about criticism and questions surrounding Beckman's presence, Fedora responded, "I know it's going to happen, and then a couple of days from now it won't be news. I mean, I promise you, I didn't see anywhere where the NCAA said that he should be banished from the game of football. You know? I mean, the guy didn't win enough games. That's all it was."

Well, coach, that's not all it was.

Beckman was fired a week before the start of last season when an investigation found evidence supporting social-media accusations months earlier that Beckman mistreated players by forcing them to play injured, demeaning players with injuries and threatening to take away players' scholarships.

While it's true Beckman was on the hot seat for winning just four Big Ten games in three seasons, he would've been the coach to start last season had it not been for the results of that investigation.

Now, in his role at North Carolina, it was reported Wednesday, Beckman is relegated to scouting and film study. But he is allowed to travel with the team, meaning he could show up in Champaign on Sept. 10, when North Carolina plays Illinois at Memorial Stadium.

Illini announce Kipper Nichols will be eligible after fall semester

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Illini announce Kipper Nichols will be eligible after fall semester

John Groce will get a midseason addition this year in the form of Kipper Nichols.

The Illini announced Wednesday that Nichols will sit out the fall semester and be eligible to play once the semester is over, anticipating his first game will be Dec. 17 against BYU at the United Center.

Here's the full announcement from Illinois:

"Fighting Illini redshirt freshman forward Kipper Nichols will sit out the 2016 fall semester to complete his academic year in residence. Nichols will be eligible following the conclusion of the fall semester, which is anticipated to begin with the BYU game on Dec. 17. Nichols joined the Illinois program in December and sat out the 2016 spring semester while practicing with the team. He will have three and a half years of eligibility with the Illini."

Nichols signed with Tulane as a member of the Class of 2015, but after attending classes for just a few days he decided to transfer, eventually picking the Illini and signing with Groce & Co. in November.

Nichols is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward rated as a three-star prospect out of the Cleveland area by Rivals.