Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

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Should the Knicks match offer for Jeremy Lin?

From Comcast SportsNet
Back in February, Jeremy Lin was Kobe Bryant's equal on the court and at the souvenir stand during a mesmerizing period that NBA commissioner David Stern said he had "never quite seen anything like." There was no way the New York Knicks were letting Lin get away back then, when he was the biggest thing in the basketball. Things are different now. Lin no longer plays for a coach whose offense seems designed for him. He's coming off knee surgery and would come at a monstrous cost -- thanks to an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets he signed -- even for one of the league's richest teams. So what once would have been an easy answer now creates so many questions. Do the Knicks want Lin back? Does Lin want to go back? When will it be resolved? The last one should be resolved the easiest. Teams have three days to match an offer sheet for their restricted free agents, so the Rockets believe the clock expires late Tuesday. Except the Knicks have never confirmed if they received the offer sheet from the Rockets on Saturday, so it's possible they have a different deadline in mind, which could even lead to some kind of dispute or protest. The contract is for three years and about 25 million, an enormous figure for someone who has made 25 starts. After paying Lin about 5 million per year the first two seasons, it balloons to nearly 15 million in the final year but would cost the Knicks more than twice that in luxury tax payments under the harsher penalties in the new collective bargaining agreement. The terms of the original offer Lin had agreed to were for four years and about 28 million, creating speculation that he went back to the Rockets and asked for something that would be tougher for the Knicks to match. A number of fans want them to do it anyway, more than 5,000 signing an online petition at Change.org asking the Knicks to keep him. Team officials, who repeatedly said they intended to keep Lin before he signed the offer, won't comment on their plans now. "I hope we get it done, man. I hope we can get it done," Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. "I would love to see him back, honestly, I would definitely love to see him back. But knowing the business of basketball, it's kind of a tough situation, kind of for both parties. With Jeremy, I know he definitely would want to be back in New York, and with the team, (owner James) Dolan definitely wants him back." Anthony had called the Rockets' offer a "ridiculous contract" on Sunday and said he wasn't surprised by the backlash that followed. "It was ridiculous for them to do what they did, as far as throwing that out there and making it tough on us to sign him back," Anthony said. Maybe the Knicks could have avoided this by making Lin an offer right away. Instead they let him find one elsewhere first, which is what many teams do with restricted free agents. Given his popularity in New York and all the opportunities that affords, it's difficult to imagine he'd want to sabotage his chances of returning. Yet maybe he doesn't see the same potential for himself under Mike Woodson as he showed in Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense. Or perhaps he's one of the many who sees the futility of the Anthony-Amare Stoudemire pairing and doesn't want the burden of being the point guard charged with making it work. And maybe the Knicks don't believe he is, anyway. They made a veteran point guard a top priority in free agency, missing out on Steve Nash but signing Jason Kidd. Then they agreed to a sign-and-trade with Portland to bring back Raymond Felton to New York in a deal that was completed on Monday. None brings the marketing potential of Lin, whose story of undrafted Harvard Universty graduate to unexpected NBA star was a hit around the world. (How many other players went into free agency with "Time" magazine list of top 100 most influential people on their resume?) That gives Houston plenty of reason to want him back. The NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent would continue to grow the popularity the Rockets already enjoy in Asia thanks to their retired star, Yao Ming. The Rockets had Lin on their roster during the preseason before waiving him, with two point guards ahead of him on the depth chart and an open roster spot needed to add a big man. It wasn't long before they wished they'd done differently, general manager Daryl Morey writing on Twitter during Lin's dazzling span, when he averaged 24.6 points and 9.2 assists in 10 games from Feb. 4-20, that cutting Lin was a mistake. Now it's up to the Knicks. Keep Linsanity where it was born or risk the same regret.

Ben Zobrist leads Cubs’ home run derby win over Nationals

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Ben Zobrist leads Cubs’ home run derby win over Nationals

Don’t touch Ben Zobrist right now. The guy is straight fire.

Zobrist continued his recent hot streak in a big way Friday, belting two home runs as part of the Cubs’ home run derby against Nationals ace Max Scherzer in an 8-6 win over the team with the second best record in baseball.

Zobrist, who entered the day hitting .325/.431/.600 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in his previous 11 games, went 2-for-2 with a pair of homers, a pair of RBIs, a pair of walks and a trio of runs scored Friday. In his last three games, Zobrist has four home runs and 11 RBIs.

After the Nationals tagged John Lackey for a pair of runs in the first two innings, the Cubs’ offense wasted little time in coming to the starting pitcher’s aid. Zobrist walked and was along for the ride when Tommy La Stella bashed a two-run, game-tying homer in the second inning. An inning later, Anthony Rizzo and Zobrist clubbed back-to-back jacks. Rizzo’s danced around the foul pole and was upheld on video review, while Zobrist’s made it three straight days with a home run for the second baseman.

In the bottom of the fifth, Zobrist broke the game wide open, following Jason Heyward’s double and Rizzo’s walk with a three-run blast that made it 7-2. Dexter Fowler picked up an RBI with a single in the sixth.

All in all, the Cubs’ 4-5-6 trio of Rizzo, Zobrist and La Stella combined to go 5-for-8 with four home runs, seven RBIs, six runs scored, a triple and four walks.

Lackey silenced the Nationals following those early runs, but the Cubs’ bullpen was roughed up in the eighth, Clayton Richard and Justin Grimm surrendering two runs apiece in that four-run frame.

The Cubs exacted revenge on Scherzer, who in his first start against them as a National League pitcher last season struck out 13 over seven shutout innings. Scherzer fanned seven hitters Friday but yielded seven runs on seven hits, four of which were home runs, in just five innings.

The offensive outburst — a regular occurrence on the North Side this season — was more than enough for Lackey. He struck out 11 hitters, matching a season high and recording his 2,000th career strikeout in the process.

The Cubs have taken the first two games of this headline-grabbing four-game set between two first-place National League clubs. It was consecutive win No. 5 for the Cubs, who beat up on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game sweep earlier this week.

Well-traveled Khaly Thiam settling in with the Fire

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Well-traveled Khaly Thiam settling in with the Fire

Khaly Thiam's still young soccer career had already taken him to multiple countries and continents. When he joined the Chicago Fire earlier this week he added another country and continent to that list.

The Fire officially added the 22-year-old Senegalese midfielder on loan on Wednesday. His first training session with the team was on Thursday. The club hopes he will be available in the May 11 match in Vancouver, pending getting his visa to go through in time.

“I am getting on with everybody," Thiam said. "It is football and everything, but this team they are really great guys. I am friendly with the coaches, the players, everybody is helping me to integrate into the team.”

Thiam learned English through a private teacher in Senegal and speaks with a British accent, but said he wasn't able to practice the language until he moved to Europe. He first joined the Novara Primavera, the Italian Serie B club's youth and reserve team. He then moved to Hungary, where he had been since 2012.

“I first went to Italy for one tournament there," Thiam said. "One month in the Primavera with Novara when I played this tournament. Then I went to Hungary for a first division team. From there I got my first professional contract.”

The Fire acquired Thiam's MLS discovery rights from the Columbus Crew. If Thiam starts 12 matches or the Fire make the move permanent, the Fire will send general allocation money to the Crew. If neither of those happen, the Fire will give the Crew a second round pick in the 2017 draft.

Thiam has not yet been able to check out Chicago or explore and he won't have much of a chance for a while either. The Fire leave for a three-game road trip on Tuesday and will not return until after the May 18 match at the New York Red Bulls.

After growing up in Africa and beginning his professional career in Europe, coming to the U.S. is another new adventure for Thiam. Thiam took the chance to join the Fire after hearing good things about MLS.

“I came here for the soccer because now I see the soccer is building up and the level is coming up," he said. "I came here to see what was going on here.”

Thiam will be a welcome addition to a Fire midfield which has struggled to keep possession, the Fire are currently last in MLS in that category. He also comes at a time when the roster is dealing with a number of nagging injuries in the midfield and attack ahead of a crowded schedule featuring two midweek games in the next two weeks.

David Accam and Alex Morrell worked out separately from the rest of the team on Friday. Gilberto, who has a hamstring injury, did some running on the side. Matt Polster, who missed the 1-1 draw against D.C. United on April 30 with a calf injury, left practice early.

“Gilberto, Morrell, Polster they are in the final phase (of recovery)," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "Accam also, but we also have to work on Accam’s fitness because he was out longer. We have to take care of his fitness. We don’t want any new issues with him. We have to be smart and manage the load, minutes and everything once he is ready."

John Goossens was not at practice and could still be out for a few weeks after suffering a sprained LCL just before the D.C. match.

Ex-Pitt running back Chris James announces transfer to Badgers

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Ex-Pitt running back Chris James announces transfer to Badgers

Wisconsin landed a Power 5 transfer running back Friday.

Like the Badgers need another running back.

Former Pittsburgh ball carrier Chris James, a Chicago native, announced on Twitter that he's coming to Madison, re-teaming with Paul Chryst and the coaching staff that recruited him to the Panthers a few years back.

James was a four-star recruit coming out of Notre Dame College Prep in 2014, ranked by Rivals as the No. 22 running back in that class. He was recruited to Pitt by Joe Rudolph, currently the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, and picked the Panthers over the Badgers and offers from a host of other Big Ten teams including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue.

James rushed for 437 yards on 87 carries, scoring four touchdowns as a freshman in 2014. Last season, he rushed for 253 yards on 56 carries.

Per NCAA rules, James will have to sit out the upcoming season, but he'll have two years of eligibility remaining starting in 2017.

That's good news for the Badgers, who will see two thirds of their three-headed running back monster — Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale are seniors, Taiwan Deal is a sophomore — depart after the 2016 campaign.