Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia

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Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIAWhen Kyle Korver first entered the NBA back in 2003 as a second-round draft pick from a small college in Nebraska, he joined a 76ers team led by superstar guard Allen Iverson. He appeared to initially struggle with the speed and athleticism of the game, but found his niche as a prolific spot-up shooter by his second season, and although he experienced four coaches in his four-plus seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, the sharpshooter was respected for his gradual all-around improvement and averaged a career-high 14.4 points per game in 2006-07, his fourth professional campaign.

Korver arrived in Philadelphia a couple years too late for the Sixers 2001 run to the NBA Finals, but he did get a taste of the playoffs in his second seasonlosing to current teammate Rip Hamiltons Pistons in 2005before getting traded to Utah early in the 2007-08 season. Another team removed from the Sixers now, Korver still reflects fondly on his tenure with his first team, though its a very different squad from the one he left, as only All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala and two youngsterscurrent reserve mainstays Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, a second-year player out of high school and a rookie with only one college season under his belt, respectivelyremain.

Its always good to be back in Philly, Korver told CSNChicago.com before the Bulls Friday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center, an arena thats changed its name since Korvers stint in town. Your first team you play with for a few years, you assume youre going to be there forever, the rest of your career and then, the reality of the business sets infree agency, trades. But its good to be back here. Theres still a lot of good people in the Sixers organization, a lot of the same people who were here when I was here and its good to see everybody.

They were the young guys when I was here. Now, theyre the leaders and I think, obviously the team has grown. Theyve grown as playersAndres an All-Star this year, Lou Williams has grown into an unbelievable scorerthings that you saw they could be and theyre happening now. Theyre really good guys, theyre really hard workers, so Im happy for them.

Iguodala, known as a student of the gameparticularly on the defensive end, as some observers believe hes the NBAs top perimeter defenderassessed Korvers development since leaving Philadelphia in a positive light.

Hes had a lot more NBA experience. Being with him in Philly, he was a younger guy. Now, hes a little bit older, hes one of the vets, so hes seen a lot. Hes seen the different coverages teams are going to throw at him. Defensively, they say hes a liability throughout his career, so hes been able to see what teams throw at him on both ends, said Iguodala. Hes been able to adjust and thats a big part of his career. When somethings thrown at you and they say you have a weakness, how do you adjust? And I think hes been able to do a great job of adjusting to that and keeping himself a threat on the court, and not being a liability on defense.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

PHOENIX — When the 2014 season concluded, with all its drama, poor play and internal dysfunction, Bears Chairman George McCaskey passed along the unvarnished mood of Bears matriarch and owner Virginia McCaskey:
 
"She's pissed off," George McCaskey declared.
 
The 2016 season ended worse record-wise (3-13) than 2014 (5-11) but Bears ownership sees arrows pointing up, not down as they appeared after 2014, occasioning the jettisoning of the general manager and coaching staff.
 
"[Virginia] sees the progress, but like any Bears fan, she wants results," George McCaskey said, chuckling at the recollection of relaying his mother's mood. "That's the quote that won't go away."
 
"Progress" and "results" are vague terms, and sometimes relative. But Bears ownership is not setting a public fail-safe point for either general manager Ryan Pace or head coach John Fox to remain in place, although no scenario could presumably consider four wins actual "progress" from three.
 
"We want to continue to see progress, see the building blocks but there isn't any sort of particular threshold," McCaskey confirmed. "We're not on any particular timetable that somebody else is wanting to set for us. We're wanting to see continued progress toward our goal of sustained success."
 
"Sustained success" is not beyond the scope of possibility, assuming that a talent core can be established and includes a quarterback, which the personnel department under Pace believe it is on the brink of putting in place, whether around Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez or a player to be drafted or traded for later.

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GM Phil Emery adopted the buzz phrase of "multiple championships," but current leadership does sound less grandiose and more grounded. And where Emery drafts proved disastrous, the Pace administration has had clear hits, injuries notwithstanding, as recently as the 2016 class, which McCaskey mentioned in the context of Pace building the roster exactly the way ownership prefers.
 
"We have confidence in Ryan and John," McCaskey said. "We want to build through the draft. Ryan said that in his interview when he said he was interested in coming to the Bears and we like how he's stuck to that plan. We saw it last year when we had three rookies on the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team; Cody Whitehair, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Howard.
 
"And that's what we need to keep doing; keep building through the draft. I told Ryan he should get ripped this time of year every year for not being more active in free agency and that's because we're developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys."
 
McCaskey supported the actions, or lack of same, by Pace in the pursuit of max-dollar free agents this offseason. The Bears dropped out of sweepstakes for cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Tony Jefferson, among others, when prices spiked far beyond the parameters set by the Pace staff.
 
"I've been very impressed with [Pace] as a leader, as an evaluator of talent," McCaskey said. "And one of the things I've been most impressed by with him is the discipline he's shown just as recently as this free agency period. He didn't want to overpay guys. Too often, I think, you overpay guys who don't come through for you and then you have a big hole in your salary cap and you're behind the 8-ball. So I like the discipline he has shown, the restraint he has shown in free agency."