The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Magic

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Magic

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
2:08 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. The Bulls spent their Thanksgiving in Denver, where they ate a holiday dinner together at former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elways restaurant. After the team meal, Joakim Noah had an encounter with the Hall of Famer. Its weird that you mention that because I was in the steam room. We had a little time in the hotel and I was in the steam room by myself, just focusing, enjoying the day off, Thanksgiving and he was there. He just came in. I dont know too many football players, but I know him, said Noah after Tuesdays practice. Its kind of weird. Its a true story, though. Continued Noah: I actually didnt say anythingIt was a kind of weird moment. Kind of awkward. Even though, according to Noah, It was just me and him in there, he ultimately declined to introduce himself to the NFL legend. I was going to say something, but then I was like, Maybe he just wants to spend some time alone.

2. His statistics havent been gaudy, but Bulls reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer has been gradually picking up his play as of late, resembling the dynamic and versatile player he was in Utah after a hamstring injury during training camp got him off to a slow start.Im getting more comfortable, more confident. I think Thibs is getting more comfortable with allowing me to do some of those things. Allowing me to push the ball and make plays, drop it off to different players and attack the basket. Im still trying to find my niche with this team and hopefully I can continue to improve my play, Brewer told CSNChicago.com. Brewer believes his role on the Bulls is an energy guy. Weve got a lot of guys on this team that can score pointsJoakims been doing a great job, D. Rose, Booz comes back, Luoland for me to go out there and contribute, that means knocking down open shots, get to the basket, put pressure on defenders and try to make plays for other people, and be a lockdown defender. Thibodeau acknowledged Brewers improved play. When you think about what Ronnie went through. He was hurt for half a season last season and couldnt do a whole lot over the summer. Hes finally in really good shape again and now I think were seeing the activity hes shown in the past. Im very pleased with the way hes playing.

3. Chicagos starting power forward to this point, Taj Gibson, returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Mondays practice to rest his sore right ankle. Its day-to-day. I talked to Coach Thibs Tuesday. He was extremely understanding about the injury. I talked to the doctors Monday. Its just day-to-day. They told me to ice it, get a lot of treatment on it and just hope for the best, said Gibson. Its not the plantar fasciitis. It was the injury I got from the Bulls practice in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. It was the right ankle ligamentits been real painful, but Ive just been playing through it and just been pushing. The doctors came in and said Im not in danger of hurting myself any further. To tend to the injurywhich Gibson said throbs sometimes when he pushes off his right foot or runs hardthe second-year player has had a lot of hot and cold treatments, stim electronic stimulation, then they just double wrap it with a little pad around it before playing. Speaking of his lingering plantar fasciitis, he said, The plantar fasciitis is up and downIve been on top of it, keeping my feet in an ice tub, which I hate, but its been helping me. If Gibson is bothered about losing his starting spot to Boozer, he certainly isnt acting like it. I talked to Coach Thibodeau this Tuesday morning. It doesnt affect anything the way I play. He told me about the whole focal point of our team. It was a great talk, having your coach be behind you 110 percent. As far as him Boozer coming back, thats great for our team. Weve shown a lot of people with him down that were a great teamcoming off the bench, its going to be even better for me because coming off the bench last year, I thrived, said Gibson. Sometimes I might be in with CarlosWe play together and we go against each other in practice, we go against each other in drills. He talks to me. Its great having somebody like that being around you. We have great guys on our team. Theres no animosity, everybody cheers for one another.

4. Chicago attempted to woo Orlando shooting guard J.J. Redick in the offseason, but the Magic eventually matched the Bulls offer sheet to the veteran sharpshooter. This season, Redick has slumped, shooting 27.7 percent from 3-point range and 34.8 percent from the field while averaging 7.1 points in 22.4 minutes per game off the bench behind Vince Carter.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

--Aggrey Sam

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the NHL's salary cap could stay flat next year, reports ESPN's Craig Custance.

Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed at the latest NHL's Board of Governors meeting that the projected ceiling for the 2017-18 campaign could be an increase between zero and $2 million, which isn't exactly encouraging considering the projection at this time of year is normally an optimistic one.

That means the salary cap may be closer to — or at — the $73 million it's at right now.

In the last four years, the cap has increased by $4.3 million in 2013-14, $4.7 million in 2014-15, $2.4 million in 2015-16 and $1.6 million in 2016-17. The number continues to descend, and it affects big-budget teams like the Blackhawks the most.

It makes it especially difficult for the Blackhawks to navigate because they own two of the highest paid players in the league in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom carry a $10.5 million cap hit through 2022-23. It's a great problem to have, though.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

According to capfriendly.com, Chicago currently has $60.6 million tied up to 14 players — eight forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender — next season. If the cap stays the same, that means the Blackhawks must fill out the rest of their roster with fewer than $13 million to work with and still have to sign Artemi Panarin to a long-term extension.

And they may need to move salary to do it, with the potential cap overages crunching things even more.

On the open market, Panarin would probably be able to earn Vladimir Tarasenko money — a seven-year deal that carries a $7.5 million cap hit — but if he prefers to remain in Chicago, the contract would likely be in the range of Johnny Gaudreau's six-year deal with an annual average value of $6.75 million.

With the expansion draft looming, the Blackhawks know they're going to lose a player to Las Vegas in the offseason. The two likely candidates, as it stands, are Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk, and the former would free up $3 million in cap space while the latter $825,000.

If that won't get the job done, the Blackhawks may be forced to part ways with a core player such as Brent Seabrook and his eight-year, $55 million contract, although he has a full no-movement clause until 2021-22 and it would be very hard to imagine since you're trying to maximize your current championship window.

Anything is possible, however, after seeing promising young guys like Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw shipped out of Chicago due to a tight budget.

It's a challenge general manager Stan Bowman has certainly already been thinking about, and a stagnant salary cap doesn't make things any easier.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Kap on the panel. Jonathan Toews is still not back at practice. Is it time to panic?

Meanwhile, the Bulls beat the Spurs. And Rajon Rondo compliments the coaches? Is all well in Bulls-town?

Plus, Dexter Fowler is Cardinal. Should Cubs fans be angry?

And finally, is it good idea for Jordan Howard to get the ball less for the rest of the season?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: