Chicago Bulls

The Cubs Way: Brett Jackson is still thinking big

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The Cubs Way: Brett Jackson is still thinking big

Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo became fast friends and sent each other text messages last winter: We got to make this team.

Cubs executives had other ideas, a long-range plan that had them ticketed for Triple-A Iowa out of spring training. They would polish their game, so that whenever they were called up to Wrigley Field, theyd never go back down again.

While Rizzo has crushed it in the Pacific Coast League, building buzz for his eventual promotion, Jackson still has something to prove.

Jackson entered Tuesday hitting .243 with five homers and 18 RBI through 46 games. The 23-year-old outfielder had also struck out 64 times in his first 181 at-bats.

Jackson recently sat down with Comcast SportsNet in Des Moines, telling Luke Stuckmeyer that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, both for himself and the entire organization.

Certainly, I dont think Im off to the start I wished for, Jackson said in an interview airing on SportsNet Central on Tuesday at 10 p.m. But I think statistics can indicate something thats not necessarily true.

The punch-outs are something, but I think every day Im moving in the right direction to become a better player. Every day Im excited to come to the park and see how Ive grown and see how I make those adjustments. Id certainly rather be making those adjustments in Iowa than Chicago.

(Its) a struggle (that) in the long run is going to make me grow as a player and advance my potential.

Jackson is intelligent and self-aware, a 2009 first-round pick out of Cal-Berkeley. He fits Theo Epsteins ideal vision of a player who may not do one thing extremely well (like hit 30 bombs), but can make contributions across the board, grinding out at-bats, running the bases and covering a lot of ground on defense.

The skys the limit, said Cubs pitcher Randy Wells, whos spent time in Iowa this season. Hes going to be a big-time player. Hes got every tool that you need.

Jackson doesnt lack for confidence, and many in the organization have noticed the way he carries himself in the clubhouse, that sense of belonging when he walks through the room.

Jackson and Rizzo are supposed to set the tone for future Cubs teams, as glue guys in the lineup and the clubhouse, the idea being that their personalities and work ethics will rub off on teammates.

(Jacksons) a great talent, Iowa manager Dave Bialas said. He competes very well. You never have to get on him about running out a groundball, because hes playing hard every day.

People who were around the Iowa team last season remember how Jackson struggled when he first came up from Double-A Iowa in the middle of July, before turning it up last August, hitting .351 with six homers, 19 RBI and a 1.023 OPS in 28 games.

Jackson was also said to be pressing when former general manager Jim Hendry scouted the team last summer, thinking he was close to being called up. One team official noticed his sense of urgency to get to the big leagues, almost from the moment he signed.

Every night I go home, Jackson said, I feel that Im like an adjustment away, (that) Im on the cusp of going off as a hitter.

Jackson talks a good game, and isnt afraid of the television cameras or the media hype or the fan expectations that will come with his arrival on the North Side.

Its motivating, Jackson said. Thats one of the pleasures of playing for a Chicago Cub team, or a New York Yankee team, one of those big organizations in a big city.

Baseballs not the same without pressure. Its not as fun without pressure. We take that pressure and we run with it. We thrive off it. I enjoy it.

At times, yeah, you get down on yourself. (But) thats how you make the adjustments. Thats how you grow.

We want to do big things in Chicago and were not settling for anything less.

General manager Jed Hoyer made it clear that no one will be promoted from Iowa just to shake things up or try to rescue the offense. Each prospect in the organization was given an individual player plan, outlining goals and expectations for this season.

So Jackson will have to complete the checklist. But he was untouchable in the Epstein compensation negotiations with the Boston Red Sox. And recent first-round picks Andrew Cashner (San Diego Padres) and Tyler Colvin (Colorado Rockies) were traded away last winter.

That leaves Jackson as an eager spokesman for The Cubs Way.

Its an attitude, Jackson said. (You) talk to guys that have been with the Yankees before and (look at) the way the Yankees and Red Sox carry themselves: (You) know youre going to win going into a game.

There are certain players that go into their at-bat knowing theyre going to win, whether they win that at-bat or not. Thats the attitude that were going for in Chicago, (what) Theo talks about.

The Cubs Way is something I want to be a part of its something that I believe in.

Rizzo appears to be on the faster track, but pretty soon it will be time to start the Jackson Watch.

Report: LeBron James' camp thinks Dwyane Wade will wind up with Cavs

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USA TODAY

Report: LeBron James' camp thinks Dwyane Wade will wind up with Cavs

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that then-Bulls Derrick Rose went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat's tag-team duo in the Eastern Conference.

Six years later, Wade has replaced Rose in Chicago. Rose made a pitstop in New York via trade. James, after winning two titles in Miami, went back to Cleveland. Rose joined him earlier this offseason, signing a one-year deal with the Cavs.

Got all that?

The NBA looks different these days, and according to one Cavaliers beat writer it could look way different sometime this year. That's because Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon reported Tuesday that people in James' camp believe Dwyane Wade will play for the Cavaliers at some point this season.

"As of right now, people close to James are fairly confident that, at some point this year, Dwyane Wade is going to end up on the Cavs."

Now, there's obviously a lot to break down here. First, Wade is under contract with the Bulls and is due nearly $24 million this season. Then again, a report earlier this month said that Wade is likely to be bought out by the Bulls sometime in the near future. That part isn't all that wild, but it's far from a sure thing, especially if Wade and the Bulls can't agree on how much Wade should receive if bought out.

Then there's the decision Wade would have to make after clearing waivers. It was pretty clear he wasn't chasing a championship ring when he opted to sign with the Bulls last summer. Who's to say that itch has returned? We already know he'd be welcomed back to Miami, as face-of-the-franchise center Hassan Whiteside said he would.

Going to Cleveland would, of course, put Wade in great position to go chase a fourth NBA title, but it would also put him alongside his good friend James.

There's a lot to break down here, but we know this much: the Bulls have entered rebuilding mode and clearly don't have a use for Wade. But Wade could also be part of a trade in the winter as an expiring contract that nets the Bulls future assets. He's also a heck of a mentor for what will be one of the best young teams in the league. He also puts butts in the United Center seats, which may be more difficult to do than in recent years.

NBA 2K18 releases the all-time Bulls roster...sort of

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AP

NBA 2K18 releases the all-time Bulls roster...sort of

NBA 2K18 released its all-time Bulls roster on Tuesday. Well, most of it. We think.

Check out the players below and we'll break down each one (including the mystery legs in the background)

From left to right:

Joakim Noah: A fairly easy choice considering his entire career. Noah played nine seasons in Chicago, averaging 9.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 blocks in 572 games. He won Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and was named First Team All-NBA. He also finished fifth in MVP voting and became the face of the franchise post-Derrick Rose injuries.

Jerry Sloan: Another easy choice. Sloan spent 10 seasons as a player for the Bulls, averaging 14.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 696 career games. He was an All-Star twice and made six All-Defensive NBA teams. He was an assistant in 1978 before becoming head coach in 1979. He spent four seasons with the Bulls before beginning his illustrious Hall of Fame career with the Jazz.

Derrick Rose: You knew he was going to be on the list. The youngest MVP in NBA history was simply breathtaking in his seven seasons with the Bulls. He was a three-time All-Star, averaged 19.7 points and led the Bulls back from one of the ugliest stretches in franchise history. The knee injuries slowed him down entirely, and he'll never be what he once was, but his spot in Bulls history is cemented.

Artis Gilmore: The best left-handed player in Bulls history is also the best center in Bulls history, averaging 19.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks over seven seasons. He led the NBA in field goal percentage twice, was a four-time All-Star and led the Bulls to a pair of playoff appearances.

Luol Deng: We see you back there, Lu. One of the most recognizable (and probably tired) Bulls was an absolute fixture of the organization for 10 seasons. He averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 637 games. He was twice named an All-Star (while leading the league in minutes both years) and made the All-Defensive Second Team in 2012. An all-time Bulls team wouldn't feel right without him.

Michael Jordan: Um, yeah.

Dennis Rodman: The Worm was another easy choice for this list. His three-year stay in Chicago resulted in three championships for the Bulls, where Rodman averaged 15.3 rebounds (leading the league all three seasons) and set the tone every night for Phil Jackson's squad.

Scottie Pippen: Another no-brainer. Let's keep moving.

Horace Grant: The power forward for Scottie and MJ averaged a cool 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in seven seasons, winning three titles in the early 90s while donning his famous goggles. He made the All-Star team in his final season before taking a big payday from the Magic in 1994.

Toni Kukoc (we think): This could be one of two players: Kukoc or Pau Gasol. But seeing as he's just a smidge taller than Jimmy Butler (to the right) we'll guess it's the 6-foot-7 Kukoc and not the 7-footer Gasol. All Kukoc did in seven Bulls seasons was average 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists out of primarily sixth man role. He was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 1996, and he was instrumental in the Bulls' second three-peat. He's littered across the Bulls all-time record books, including 3-pointers (9th), assists (10th) and steals (10th).

Jimmy Butler: The youngest player on the all-time Bulls team is the third of three current players no longer with the Bulls. Butler became a star during his six seasons in Chicago, improving his scoring in each season, being named to three All-Star games and earning All-NBA Third Team honors this past season. He didn't leave on the best of terms, but a player of his caliber deserves a spot on this squad.

Mystery guys in the back: To the right of Rodman in the back, we're going to guess that's Steve Kerr. The second digit looks like a "5." It's also a good bet that on the left side Bob Love is behind Artis Gilmore. Chet Walker may be back there, too. We're still holding out hope that Captain Kirk Hinrich took the team photo and is part of the team.