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."

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

Ulf Samuelsson saw the changes the Blackhawks made this season, his hiring as assistant coach being one of them. Soon he’ll be working with the team’s defensemen, another area that’s had some upheaval.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here, some uncertainties and some moving parts that I probably, typically haven’t seen going into a season. So that makes it even more interesting and challenging,” Samuelsson said. “So I’m looking forward to this opportunity to really develop and work with some of the younger players.”

From its immediate coach to its personnel, the Blackhawks’ defense is dealing with plenty of change that will continue when the season begins this fall. The Blackhawks have had some addition (Connor Murphy, Jan Rutta and Jordan Oesterle) but dealing with the subtraction (Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk) will nevertheless be tough. Coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday that pairings are a work in progress.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we're going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” he said. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

For Murphy, who was acquired in the deal that sent Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, there are no set expectations as to where he fits yet.

“With any team you go into training camp proving where you’re going to be. Everyone has to come in and earn certain positions, especially me being a guy who they’re not as familiar with; I have to show what I can do,” Murphy said. “I definitely want to bring a more physical edge to defending at times and be able to skate well, have a good reach, make smart reads and try to help out with whatever’s needed with that.”

As for young players, the opportunity is there. Gustav Forsling admits he wasn’t happy that fellow Swede and role model Hjalmarsson was traded. But Forsling, who looked strong coming out of camp last September, knows he has to take advantage of the situation.

“Of course, I want to take the next step and play more,” he said. “I want to keep progressing my game and keep developing.”

The same goes for Jordan Oesterle, who the Blackhawks signed to a two-year deal on July 1.

“When I wanted to come here the opportunity was tremendous. Just the chance to come in and try to make the top six is there, it’s a battle with a number of us guys but that’s all you ask for in the situation I’m in,” he said. “Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more. I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Again, the Blackhawks could re-address defense once they implement Marian Hossa’s long-term injured reserve after the season begins. General manager Stan Bowman said there’s “no exact plan” right now on how they use that space – “that’s probably going to be dictated by where we’re at when we get to October, how the team’s playing, what areas are strong, what areas we want to add to,” he said.

It remains to be seen on that front. Regardless, from coaching to personnel, much has changed with the Blackhawks defense. 

Familiar problems for Fire in loss at New York City FC

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USA TODAY

Familiar problems for Fire in loss at New York City FC

A game which paired two of the top teams in the MLS standings didn’t deliver in a traditional sense, but did produce a wild game on Saturday.

The Chicago Fire looked like a team coming off a break in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at New York City FC. The Fire played up a man from the 12th minute on, but defensive lapses throughout and a lack of crispness in front of goal cost the Fire.

After a first half in which the Fire (11-4-5, 38 points) were outshot 7-4 despite the man advantage, NYCFC (11-6-4, 37 points) scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half and held off the Fire’s late surge.

For much of the match, the Fire struggled to complete passes and couldn’t even put shorthanded New York City under pressure. Once the Fire fell behind 2-0, David Accam, who entered the match as a halftime sub, got the Fire within one with a long-range effort that slammed in off the bottom off the crossbar.

The final 30 or so minutes resembled the Fire’s previous struggles this season of playing against teams defending deeply. The Fire couldn’t score against Orlando when the Lions were down two players on June 4. Later in June in the U.S. Open Cup, the Fire couldn’t score against USL opponent FC Cincinnati which defended deep the entire match.

NYCFC took the lead two minutes into the second half on a David Villa volley where Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson was screened on the shot. A few minutes later Frederic Brillant rebounded his own header on a set piece to double the lead.

Accam’s goal finished off a stretch of three goals in eight minutes, but the Fire couldn’t beat former goalkeeper Sean Johnson again despite 25 shots.

The loss snapped the Fire’s 11-match MLS unbeaten run and tightened up the Eastern Conference race. Toronto FC, which tied NYCFC in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, is up a point on the Fire. NYCFC is now a point behind the Fire with an extra game played.

Before the red card, the Fire caught a big break when a Bastian Schweinsteiger turnover nearly led to a penalty kick. Johan Kappelhof slid to knock the ball away from Herrera in the fourth minute, and appeared to miss the ball, but the ref did not give the penalty to the hosts.

Fire defender Brandon Vincent was announced as a starter before the match, but the club said he suffered a left quad strain in warmups and was replaced by Michael Harrington in the lineup.