Nets set to acquire Joe Johnson from Hawks

807986.png

Nets set to acquire Joe Johnson from Hawks

According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets are "finalizing a trade to acquire Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson," according to league sources.
The Nets would acquire the six-time All-Star in exchange for guards Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and DeShawn Stevenson and forwards Jordan Williams and Johan Petro, along with a 2013 first-round draft pick.
Johnson has four years and almost 90 million left on his contract, and the Nets are expected to hear soon from point guard Deron Williams on whether he will accept the team's five-year, 100 million contract extension. Williams met with Nets officials today, and the team is confident he will stay instead of choosing the Dallas Mavericks.
But the one player who may be affected most by this move is Dwight Howard. The Orlando Magic center, who has requested a trade, is only willing to sign a contract extension with the Nets. But with Johnson's contract, Williams' extension, 40 million invested in Gerald Wallace, and an "eventual 50 million-plus deal for center Brook Lopez," it appears that the Nets would be out of the running for the disgruntled center.
With the move, Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov has introduced his own version of the "Big Three" in Williams, Johnson and Wallace. Alongside Lopez and young role players MarShon Brooks and Danny Green, the Nets could be in good shape for the future.
And while this won't directly affect the Bulls, it does make the Eastern Conference Playoff race a bit more exciting. The Hawks should still contend for a post-season spot with Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague. And the Nets now find themselves with one of the best starting lineups in the conference.

Why Dusty Baker believes these Cubs are better positioned than his Kerry Wood/Mark Prior teams

maddon_on_win_05-05_640x360_680475203518.jpg

Why Dusty Baker believes these Cubs are better positioned than his Kerry Wood/Mark Prior teams

The Washington Nationals PR guy made sure a red backdrop spelling out the team’s website and Twitter handle framed Dusty Baker’s pregame media session for the TV cameras. But you could still see an even bigger blue screen covered with Cubs logos and Wintrust advertising inside this corporate conference center.  

There are so many layers to Baker, so much history with a guy who’s spent almost 50 years in professional baseball, building a resume that’s probably one bullet point away from the Hall of Fame and shouldn’t be defined by Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.   

“Boy, this is different than the old interview room,” Baker said Thursday at Wrigley Field. “Look at this place. Before, I was in kind of like the dungeon over there around the corner. And then I walked in here and I saw the lights and stuff and I was ready to ‘Saturday Night Fever.’”

Insid their state-of-the-art clubhouse, the Cubs now have a Celebration Room, which they got to use after a 5-2 victory over the Nationals that pushed their best-in-baseball record to 21-6 with an absurd plus-96 run differential.  

Back managing a star-studded first-place team after two seasons away from the game, Baker knows all about huge expectations after guiding the 2003 Cubs to five outs away from the World Series, and then missing the playoffs with a 2004 team that won 89 games and might have been even better on paper.

So far, the 2016 Cubs are even better than the hype, and Baker believes they will be better positioned to withstand the attrition that wrecked what once looked like a great foundation.   

“I know they have more depth than we had,” Baker said. “They have a better bullpen than we had then, which is no consolation, but that’s why I had to stretch out my starters longer than I even wanted to, because we didn’t have the bullpen. Not to say we didn’t have a good bullpen, but at that time we had to make a big trade in order to make that push.”

A media/fan-driven narrative unfairly labeled Baker as a bad caretaker for young pitchers, and the way it ended with a last-place finish in 2006 probably helps explain the occasional shouting from the stands on Thursday night: “Dusty sucks!”  

“What kind of upset me a little bit is how much money they spent as soon as I left,” Baker said. “But I had to also realize that the Cubs weren’t spending money then because we were in the middle of the transition for the Tribune Company to be sold. 

“When you look back on things, ‘How come you didn’t do this?’ Or, ‘How come we didn’t do that?’ And then again, baseball takes a backseat to baseball business.”        

Baker is a three-time Manager of the Year who has won 1,690 games and already guided three different franchises to the playoffs. Cubs-Nationals would be a fascinating matchup in October.   

“Sometimes people appreciate you more when you’re gone than when you’re there,” Baker said. “On the other hand, I think about many times how I wanted to be the guy that won it in Chicago. We were close. 

“Now I’m in a similar situation in D.C. (The Nationals) haven’t been in existence that long. But baseball’s been in D.C. for a long period of time. This is the third try at baseball in D.C. since I’ve been alive. So now I got a new goal – to be the first guy to manage a team, take it to the World Series and win in D.C.”

Erik Johnson struggles in rotation audition as White Sox fall to Red Sox

ventura_on_petricka_05-05_640x360_680343107648.jpg

Erik Johnson struggles in rotation audition as White Sox fall to Red Sox

The situation regarding the fifth spot in the White Sox rotation is still fluid after Erik Johnson made his first start on Thursday night.

When he announced Tuesday that John Danks would be designated for assignment, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said little about the final spot in the rotation is certain after the club parted with its struggling veteran pitcher. Johnson would receive the first audition, but whether or not he got another was to be determined.

The team’s next move is likely still up in the air after Johnson yielded a lot of hard contact early and the White Sox dropped a 7-3 contest to the Boston Red Sox in front of 20,126 at U.S. Cellular Field. Johnson retired seven of his last eight he faced, but not before allowing four earned runs with eight hits and three walks in five innings.

Not much looked easy for Johnson, who officially was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday afternoon.

After he struck out leadoff man Mookie Betts in the first, Johnson was tagged for a solo home run by Dustin Pedroia on the first pitch he threw. It would be a sign of things to come for Johnson, the 2015 International League pitcher of the year.

Johnson put two more men on in the first, including a walk to Hanley Ramirez, one of 16 combined free passes by the clubs. He put at least one runner on in four of the five innings worked and stranded six men in his first three frames alone as Boston built an early 4-1 lead.

While Johnson didn’t allow anything in the fourth and fifth innings, which allowed the White Sox to rally within a run, it remains to be seen if he did enough to earn another start.

After all, one of the reasons the White Sox moved on from Danks, who went 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in four starts, is he didn’t give them much of a chance to win.

Hahn and the White Sox moved quickly on Danks because they don’t want to have their chances of contending this season done in by a weak link in the rotation. Hahn has several other options at Triple-A he could turn to if Johnson’s audition is only the one start.

The White Sox could again turn to Miguel Gonzalez, whom they signed early last month and has already made one start. He allowed five runs in Toronto on April 25 in a contest the White Sox eventually rallied to win.

The right-hander, who won 30 games for the Baltimore Orioles from 2012-14, last pitched on Wednesday night for Charlotte. He allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and has a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings for the Knights. Gonzalez has 18 strikeouts and only four walks.

The club could also call upon Jacob Turner, who has a 3.04 ERA in five starts at Charlotte. But Turner has struggled in his past two outings, allowing seven earned runs and 12 hits in 9 2/3 innings.

If the White Sox — whose fifth starters are 0-5 with a 7.44 ERA in 32 2/3 innings — aren’t satisfied with their internal options, Hahn said they’d consider external ones, too.

The White Sox offense had plenty of chances against Henry Owens and an entourage of Boston relievers to earn the win.

But the big hit avoided them every time.

Jose Abreu grounded into a double play in the first with runners on the corners and no outs, a play which tied the game as Adam Eaton scored from third. But Abreu struck out with two on in the third and and Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie couldn’t come through with the bases loaded.

Avisail Garcia’s solo shot in the fourth got the White Sox within 4-2. But Abreu flew out to left with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Hector Sanchez drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth to make it a one-run game. But Lawrie was thrown out at home on Austin Jackson’s one-out fly to shallow right — a call Robin Ventura contested because he believed Ryan Hanigan improperly blocked home plate. Replay officials disagreed with Ventura and the White Sox trailed by a run.

The Red Sox bullpen then shut down the White Sox for four innings. Meanwhile, Boston added three runs against against the White Sox bullpen, including the first earned run yielded by Matt Albers since July 31, 2015.

White Sox turn to Latos as they play Twins Friday on CSN

ventura_on_johnson_05-05_640x360_680315971663.jpg

White Sox turn to Latos as they play Twins Friday on CSN

The White Sox take on the Minnesota Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Mat Latos vs. Ricky Nolasco

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.