See which team is going hard after Pau Gasol

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See which team is going hard after Pau Gasol

From Comcast SportsNet
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are pulling out all the stops in an effort to land Pau Gasol. If they have to part with the highest draft choice in franchise history after just one season, the Wolves appear ready to do it. That much became clear leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday, when Minnesota offered Derrick Williams to the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 2 pick as a vehicle to help them land Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers, two people with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. The deal never came together before the draft began, and the Bobcats stayed at No. 2 and took Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The people requested anonymity because the talks were meant to remain private. The Timberwolves were expected to continue their pursuit of Gasol in hopes of putting him with fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on a revamped roster aimed at getting the team back to the playoffs, and beyond, for the first time since 2004. The Wolves' interest in Gasol has long been rumored, with the highly skilled big man considered an ideal fit for coach Rick Adelman's corner offense, and the kind of playoff-tested veteran needed on one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. He is also close friends with Rubio, the Wolves' superb young point guard who is recovering from a torn ACL and hopes to be ready early next season. Gasol has teamed with Kobe Bryant to win three titles in Los Angeles, but has always seemed to catch the brunt of the criticism when things went wrong. That was the case again this year when he averaged just 12.5 points along with 9.5 rebounds in the playoffs, and the Lakers were abruptly eliminated in the second round by the younger, quicker Oklahoma City Thunder. He often appeared to get lost in the shuffle while Bryant and Andrew Bynum got most of the touches on offense. He was the subject of trade rumors all season, starting before it began when Commissioner David Stern, operating as owner of the New Orleans Hornets, nixed a deal that would have sent Gasol to Houston as part of a package that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers. "It has been a crazy year and a lot to deal with. ... Unfortunately, we had tough losses and things didn't really go our way for the most part," the four-time All-Star said at the end of the season. "You just have to regroup and digest this loss and this season, and learn from it and move on." Gasol is due to make more than 38 million over the next two seasons, an enormous sum that the salary cap-strapped Lakers might have difficulty footing under the harsher luxury tax penalties that are scheduled to kick in in 2013. Love's max contract extension kicks in next season, making him the only Timberwolves player who is expected to be on the roster next season making more than 4.6 million. If the Wolves buy out Martell Webster and decline to tender qualifying offers to Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, as expected, they should have plenty of cap room for Gasol. But if they want to bring him in to play alongside Love in the frontcourt, it likely will come at a hefty price. Offering Williams, the second overall pick last season who showed promise and inconsistency in his rookie year, means the Wolves would be giving up on him after just one season. And at just 21 years old, Williams has plenty of potential to grow into the star that many projected him to be when he entered the draft after his sophomore season at Arizona. Gasol will turn 32 next week and has played nearly 39,000 minutes in his career, raising the question if he has enough gas left in the tank to help turn the Timberwolves from an up-and-coming team into a legitimate contender. Williams is aware that the Wolves are trying to deal him, but it's unclear how he will respond if he is still on the team when training camp begins. He averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds and was the only Timberwolves player to play in all 66 games last season. Williams had several big games during an up-and-down year in addition to participating in the slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend. He scored 27 points in 27 minutes in a win over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Feb. 28 and had 27 points and eight boards in a loss at Denver on April 11. But the 66-year-old Adelman has been pushing for the franchise to add more veterans, and he grew impatient at times with Williams last season. Williams did most of his damage while playing power forward, which is the same position played by Love, who blossomed last year into a surprising MVP contender. With Love playing so many minutes at power forward, the Timberwolves were hoping Williams could drop some weight this summer to help him become quick enough to play small forward for the majority of the time. Earlier this week, Kahn said that Williams was already down to 233 pounds, with a personal goal of 225. "I think the most important fact about Derrick to me is that he turned 21 last month. He's still very, very young," Kahn said on Wednesday. "This is a very important summer for him to demonstrate if he's serious about his craft, his occupation, that he's serious about himself. This is the offseason. I challenged him in his exit interview, and I'm eager to see the results of this summer." But Kahn also declined to list Williams with Rubio and Love as "untouchable" players when the team considers trades this summer. "We have two untouchables," Kahn said. "That doesn't mean everyone else will be traded this summer. We just don't know."

Tyler Danish gets win in first big league start as White Sox beat Tigers in first game of doubleheader

Tyler Danish gets win in first big league start as White Sox beat Tigers in first game of doubleheader

There wasn't much offense to be had in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader on the South Side.

But the White Sox scored the only runs they needed in a 3-0 win over the visiting Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Tyler Danish picked up the win in his first big league start, turning in five shutout innings in his 2017 debut with the White Sox.

Danish allowed no runs and just three hits while striking out six in the victory. He did walk six hitters but managed to escape various jams with no damage on the scoreboard.

Three of those walks came in the first inning, but a double play and an inning-ending ground out helped Danish get out of that early challenge. Two more runners reached in the second, and after a 1-2-3 third, two reached in the fourth. But no runs scored in either of those frames. Danish's sixth walk of the day prompted a Rick Renteria mound visit in the fifth, but a lineout followed to end the inning.

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The White Sox offense, shut down much of the afternoon by Tigers starter Michael Fulmer, finally got a run across in the bottom of the fifth, giving Danish a 1-0 lead when Tim Anderson scored on Yolmer Sanchez's bases-loaded double play.

The White Sox added two more off Fulmer in the eighth when pinch-running Adam Engel scored from first on Leury Garcia's triple and Garcia scored two batters later on Jose Abreu's bloop single into center field.

But it was a strange result considering how dominant Fulmer was much of the day. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year yielded just one run and six hits in his first seven innings of work before the White Sox rallied for a pair in the eighth. Still, Fulmer recorded every out for the Tigers and threw fewer than 100 pitches in a losing effort.

Meanwhile, White Sox pitchers combined to walk nine Tigers hitters but gave up no runs. The bullpen did its job in relief of Danish, with Chris Beck, Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson throwing four scoreless innings in relief.

How White Sox tradition of Cuban players helped them land Luis Robert

How White Sox tradition of Cuban players helped them land Luis Robert

Before Luis Robert donned a White Sox jersey, before he signed his name on his new contract, before he even entered the room where he was to be introduced as one of the brightest stars in the White Sox rebuild, there were those who came before him.

Quite literally, Robert, the 19-year-old Cuban outfielder, was surrounded by his fellow countrymen who have worn the White Sox uniform prior. There was, of course, the legendary Minnie Minoso, former White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, current All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu and current top prospect Yoan Moncada, banners of all four players to the sides of the table where Robert sat with general manager Rick Hahn.

Saturday was the latest step in the White Sox rebuild, the team adding Robert to their list of big-time prospects that has fans drooling over lineups and pitching staffs a few years down the road.

But Saturday was also the latest step in a franchise tradition of bringing in Cuban players, a tradition that seemed to have helped the White Sox land Robert.

"The White Sox tradition for Cuban players was something that motivated me to sign with this team," Robert said through a translator during Saturday's introductory press conference. "It's something that made me feel comfortable.

"I feel proud because those players were examples for us in Cuba. For me now to be here wearing the same uniform as them is a huge honor for me."

Comfort seemed to be the biggest factor in Robert's decision to sign with the White Sox over other bidders. Hahn explained Saturday that the team had been scouting Robert since he was just 14 years old, and when asked what the most decisive factor was in this process, Robert said the White Sox showed the most interest.

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But there was something to continuing the team's Cuban tradition. Hahn said that Robert's talent certainly meant more than simply his nation of origin, but he said that the franchise's tradition helped with its pitch to Robert, a pitch that included a video with personalized messages from Abreu and Moncada.

"It was certainly part of our identity that we presented to him to help inform him about where we were and the level of success that we’ve had with similar type players," Hahn said. "We certainly felt that having a comfortable and welcoming environment for similar type players was going to help him reach as close as he can to his ceiling. Not saying he couldn’t reach it elsewhere with different environments, but we certainly felt we had a good nurturing developmental environment for a player with his background."

Part of that environment is Abreu, who was guiding Robert around Guaranteed Rate Field before Saturday's introduction, talking with him in the dugout and on the field.

Hahn said that Abreu relishes a mentoring role and that players like Abreu and Moncada have taken the initiative to welcome Robert into the organization.

"A lot of it comes from the players themselves. We don't need to hand them a phone and make them Facetime with each other. They've already been a little proactive on their own, and I suspect that will continue over the coming years," Hahn said. "Jose, as I'm sure he'll tell you directly, takes a great deal of pride in playing that mentor type role in the organization. He's certainly done it with Yoan ever since we acquired him and has already begun doing it moving forward with Luis. And I suspect Moncada will follow suit as well.

"So it perpetuates itself, it's something we can facilitate with our coaches, any of our culturalization people as the process unfolds. Obviously we have a strong history in this regard and have had some success doing it."

Whether Robert will have a career more similar to Minoso, Ramirez, Abreu, Moncada or even the heretofore unmentioned Dayan Viciedo remains to be seen. But one advantage he does have in his development is an organization with a tradition and environment to help him succeed.

No wonder he felt comfortable.