Hawks revamp their roster with two big trades

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Hawks revamp their roster with two big trades

From Comcast SportsNet
The Hawks have agreed to deal All-Star guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets for five players and a draft pick, and Atlanta will send forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for guard Devin Harris. A person familiar with the Hawks-Nets deal told The Associated Press on Monday night that Atlanta will receive guards Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and DeShawn Stevenson and forwards Jordan Williams and Johan Petro, along with a draft pick Brooklyn received from Houston in a prior deal. The selection only belongs to the Nets if it is not a lottery pick. The person confirmed the trade on condition of anonymity because it cannot become official until Stevenson signs as a free agent with Brooklyn. Free agents cannot be signed until July 11. Johnson has four years and 90 million left on his contract and new general manager Danny Ferry decided it was time to shed payroll and rebuild. The 31-year-old Johnson averaged 18.8 points per game last season, his 11th in the NBA and seventh with Atlanta. The Nets are hoping to team Johnson with free agent point guard Deron Williams, whom they are working to re-sign, in the franchise's first season in New York City after decades in New Jersey. Utah CEO Greg Miller acknowledged the deal for former first-round pick Marvin Williams while picking up guard Mo Williams at Salt Lake City International Airport in preparation for Tuesday's introductory news conference. The Jazz acquired Mo Williams in a multi-team deal last week that also sent Lamar Odom to the Clippers. Miller said it was difficult to part with Harris but he was excited by what Mo Williams brings to the team. Mo Williams said it felt good to be back where he started his career in 2003 and he had always hoped to start for his first team. The Harris-Marvin Williams deal now clears the way for that to happen. "It's always unfortunate when we have to let a player go because all of our players work so hard and they're so invested in helping us win." Miller said. "And it's got to be a tough thing for them. I know it is for us. I wish Devin the best in his career." Mo Williams, dressed in a red T-shirt, black shorts and a New Orleans Saints cap, arrived in Salt Lake City about 8:30 p.m. MDT. He only has one year left on his current deal but expressed hope that he could be in Utah long term. "I'm very excited about a new start for me and a second homecoming," Williams said Monday night. Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor has called letting Mo Williams leave after just one season "the worst: mistake of his career. "I know he says that a lot, but at the same time I was a young basketball player at the time," Mo Williams said. "Obviously he made a decision he thought was best for the organization. I never had a bad taste in my mouth about the organization. I always respected them because they gave me a shot. "I watched 30 teams pass me in the first round. I always had a part of my heart for the Jazz and I'm glad I'm able to come back and prove my worth to them." Harris arrived in Utah in 2011 as part of a blockbuster deal that sent Deron Williams to New Jersey. But Harris struggled to find his niche with the Jazz, and while he stepped up his game late last season, he still has a career 31.5 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Harris, 29, is scheduled to make 8.5 million in 2012-13, the final year of his current contract. Marvin Williams, 29, has averaged 11.5 points for Atlanta in his seven-year career, including 10.2 and 5.2 rebounds last season. Mo Williams was an All-Star as recently as 2009, and was part of a Cleveland team that won 66 games with LeBron James and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. He joined the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011. "I think it's going to be great for us to have Mo here," Miller said. "Obviously he competed at the highest level. He knows what it takes to win. . I think he's going to help us win games." Asked if there were more moves to come for the small-market Jazz, Miller said, "I hope so."

White Sox snap scoreless streak early, cruise past Indians

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USA TODAY

White Sox snap scoreless streak early, cruise past Indians

The White Sox quickly ended their 23-inning streak of offensive futility and didn't look back. 

A three-run first inning propelled the White Sox to avoid getting swept with a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in front of 24,444 at Guaranteed Rate Field Sunday afternoon. 

Tim Anderson led off the bottom of the first with a double, and after Tyler Saladino dribbled a ground ball through the left side, he came around to score on Melky Cabrera's sacrifice fly. The White Sox last run before that came in the fourth inning of their 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday. 

After Cabrera's flyout, Indians right fielder Abraham Almonte made a mess of Jose Abreu's line drive single, allowing it to skip past him to the wall. That error brought Saladino home and allowed Abreu to reach third, and Abreu later scored on Leury Garcia's two-out single to tag a third run on Cleveland starter Danny Salazar. 

Salazar was shaky over his five innings, striking out nine but allowing seven hits and issuing three walks. The White Sox struck again in the fifth inning when Avisail Garcia launched an RBI double off the top of the center field wall. 

Cleveland's inability to catch the ball helped the White Sox push across another run in the sixth inning. After Omar Narvaez drew a leadoff walk, Jacob May put down a sacrifice bunt and hustled to first, where second baseman Michael Martinez — covering for charging first baseman Carlos Santana — had to awkwardly stretch for Santana's underhand toss. Martinez dropped the ball, allowing May to reach.

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Following strikeouts by Anderson and Saladino, Cabrera lined a single to left, and Narvaez was aggressively waved home (a common practice with two outs in an inning). Brandon Guyer's throw easily beat Narvaez to the plate, but Indians catcher Roberto Perez dropped it, allowing Narvaez to score the fifth run of the game.

Another Indians defensive miscue led to the White Sox sixth run in the eighth, when an Abreu ground ball kicked off Santana's spikes and into center field, allowing May to score.  

White Sox starter Derek Holland was solid in his six innings, allowing only a solo home run to Francisco Lindor with three walks and six strikeouts. His toughest test came in the top of the fifth, when he issues a two-out walk to Santana to load the bases but struck out Lindor to end the frame. Holland lowered his ERA to 1.99 with his six innings of one-run ball Sunday. 

The Indians tacked on a late run when David Robertson threw a wild pitch that allowed Lonnie Chisenhall to score with two out in the ninth.

Quality more important than quantity for Bears in 2017 NFL Draft

Quality more important than quantity for Bears in 2017 NFL Draft

NFL teams typically wants as many draft picks as possible. The theory: The needier the team, the more picks required for those needs.

Not sure that this is the true situation confronting the Bears in 2017, however. In fact, something nearly the opposite, a variation on a less-is-more theme, is truer.

For the Bears approaching the 2017 NFL Draft, quality is more important than quantity. “Best available” player is fine, but for a team in major need of true impact difference-makers, a “best-possible” player is paramount. How GM Ryan Pace and his personnel posse accomplish that will be one of the most closely watched and far-reaching dramas of this draft. Because it may require some creativity on the clock, with a dizzying array of scenarios popping up in front of them by virtue of possible picks by the Cleveland Browns at 1 and San Francisco 49ers at 2.

Pace already has been about the business of giving himself the option of going after best-possible rather than simply waiting, staying with the draft board and selecting best-available.

The Bears were among the NFL’s most active teams in free agency. That has taken care of some “quantity” issues (cornerback, wide receiver, tight end), with an eye toward freeing the draft for the pursuit of true excellence, something too few Bears drafts have managed to secure (which is how teams miss playoffs nine times in 10 years and find themselves on third different GMs and coaches in the span of six years).

As he has always had within the context of the overall direction of the football franchise, Pace has a draft plan. More specifically, he also has a structure within which to execute that plan.

Draft “bands”

Besides an overall top-to-bottom ranking of players, the Bears establish various “bands” of players they identify as being worth a pick at a certain spot. Not all players in the band are graded equally, and the Bears may move to trade up if a significantly higher-graded players in the band is within reach, or if they fear other teams leap-frogging them to grab a targeted player.

But the bands allow the Bears to weigh trading back and still being able to select one of the talents in that band. With the Bears sitting at No. 3 this year, the first band in this draft will be a small one.

“We’ll have an elite group of names that we’re confident will be there [at No. 3],” Pace said at the recent owners meetings. “Three names, yeah. But beyond that, [we say,] ‘OK, there’s some pretty good depth in this draft, too, so are there scenarios’ — and it’s easier said than done — ‘where we can trade back.’ Those things’ll be discussed.”

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They’re being discussed right now. The phone in Pace’s Halas Hall office has been increasingly active the past couple weeks — calls ingoing and outgoing — and will become more so this week as the Bears and most of the NFL take the temperatures of trade ideas going into the start of the draft Thursday night. It happens every year about this time: general managers looking to satisfy sometimes-conflicting objectives, one of adding draft picks via trades down where possible, and the other of adding best-possible players, sometimes necessitating trades of picks or players to move up.

For the Bears, this year is a bit out of the ordinary, if only because they hold the No. 3-overall pick in a draft considered extremely talent-rich at certain positions and extremely less so at others. Loosely put, a position such as cornerback is rated deep enough that quality starters can be had even down into the fourth round, so teams likely need not trade up to land a blue-chipper. Conversely, the quarterback position, the one most often targeted for round-one trades up, is short of consensus elites, so again, teams are less likely to trade up to secure one.

The Bears are in position to select a franchise quarterback but opinions vary widely on whether there are clear ones to be had as high as where the Bears draft, as the order now stands. Pace, who established last year his willingness to trade up for what he considers “elite,” is like any other personnel executive in wanting more selections.

The Bears do not want to slip out of a band entirely. When they sat with No. 7 in the 2015 draft, the Bears identified a quiver of eight players deemed worth the seventh-overall pick. Those ranged from quarterback Marcus Mariota to wide receiver Amari Cooper to defensive lineman Leonard Williams, and included Kevin White, one of two from the eight not already selected by that point.

Because the goal was a player judged to be elite, trading down was not a realistic option because of the risk of getting none of their targets and instead settling for the next, lower tier of prospects.

Dealing with market forces

But what will the market allow this time? 

“Yeah, and based on the talent of the guys in those bands, what it would require for us to go back?” Pace said. “Those things are all being talked about and studied now, and we’ll keep on fine-tuning it.

“But you’ve got to have a partner willing to do that, too.”

Pace has been a willing partner for trades either up or down, sometimes in the same draft.

Last year, holding the 11th pick, the decision was made to trade up to No. 9 because of their grade on Georgia edge rusher Leonard Floyd, and the concern that either the New York Giants would take Floyd at No. 10 or another team would leap-frog the Bears and grab him. The Bears wanted a pass rusher and the falloff from Floyd was viewed as significant. Clemson’s Shaq Lawson was the next edge rusher taken (No. 19), he was less the speed player that Floyd was, and concerns about Lawson’s shoulder issues proved valid, requiring offseason surgery that cost him most of his rookie season.
 
On day two, Pace traded down twice with an eye toward landing one of his top second-round-band talents: Kansas State offensive lineman Cody Whitehair.