Chicago Bears

NBA superstar re-signs for 3 more seasons

553968.jpg

NBA superstar re-signs for 3 more seasons

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Tim Duncan era isn't over yet. The San Antonio Spurs announced Wednesday that they had re-signed Duncan, bringing back the 36-year-old forward for at least a 16th season. Terms were not disclosed, though Yahoo Sports cited anonymous sources in reporting it was a three-year, 36 million deal. The first overall pick in the 1997 draft, Duncan in 15 seasons has led the Spurs to nine division titles and the playoffs every year, including four NBA championships. The Spurs are 830-352 in the regular season during his tenure, the highest winning percentage over any 15-year span in NBA history, and Duncan has two league MVP awards to go along with three NBA Finals MVP honors. "Tim Duncan has established himself as one of the best players in NBA history," coach Gregg Popovich said. "He is an unselfish superstar who loves to compete and has only one goal when he steps on the court -- to do whatever it takes to help his team win. We are all thrilled that he'll spend his entire career as a San Antonio Spur." Duncan, a 13-time All-Star, has averaged 20.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.22 blocks per game over his career. The Spurs have other questions headed into the offseason. He experienced a bit of a renaissance this season after injuries and age led some observers to speculate his career was nearing an end. Duncan averaged 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in leading the Spurs to the Southwest Division title and a league best 50-16 record. "I think (his health) probably had as much to do with solidifying in his mind how long he wanted to go into the future," general manager R.C. Buford said. "He played well throughout this whole season and he even felt better than he ever had. I think in his mind, that was what was important. We're going to play him as long as he says he can play and then probably a couple of days longer. We're hoping he's going to extend us." The signing was expected, especially after Duncan told Yahoo Sports, "I'm here and I'm a Spur for life," during their Western Conference playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. "You're never confident that is going to happen until it's done," Buford said, "but he made it clear he wanted to be here. We laid out what our realities were and here's how we thought we could accomplish the best team we could put around him and he said, I want to be a part of it.'" To that end, the Spurs also announced restricted free-agent Danny Green had re-signed with the team. Buford said there was nothing to report about whether forward Boris Diaw re-signed or if 2009 second-round pick Nando De Colo would join the Spurs, because there are "logistics involved" with signing international players. De Colo and Diaw are both playing for France's Olympic Team along with Spurs point guard Tony Parker. De Colo played the past three seasons with Valencia of the Spanish League. With the possible exception of De Colo's addition, the Spurs are expected to return virtually their entire roster from this season. "I was going to announce that we traded for Steve Nash, but the Lakers beat us to it," Buford said. "I think we won't go into the season with the exact same team as we had a year ago. (But) we think there is a lot of opportunity for internal growth, especially this summer when we have our gym and our players and the opportunity to get our coaches with them." But the Spurs have other questions headed into the offseason. The Spurs lost in the playoffs to Oklahoma City, blowing a 2-0 lead. They don't have many glaring needs, with the bulk of the roster on track to return. Parker has apparently healed from a bizarre eye injury in time to play for France in the Summer Olympics. He got a shard of glass in his eye, damaging his cornea, during a New York City night club fight involving Chris Brown and members of hip-hop star Drake's entourage. The 30-year-old Parker has two years remaining on a 50 million contract. He is coming off averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 7.7 assists. Manu Ginobili is also in London this summer playing for his native Argentina, a moonlighting stint that always makes the Spurs anxious because of the 34-year-old playmaker's propensity for injury.

Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?

9-23kylefuller.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Bears: Where does Kyle Fuller fit with Prince Amukamara back?

Prince Amukamara (ankle) is expected to make his 2017 regular season debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers after being a full participant in practices Thursday and Friday (he wasn't listed on Friday's injury report). But that leads to the question: What does defensive coordinator Vic Fangio do with Kyle Fuller?

Fuller acquitted himself well in starts against the Atlanta Falcons — in which he helped limit Julio Jones to four catches on five targets — and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears signed Amukamara to start opposite Marcus Cooper, but Fuller has at least earned the opportunity to keep his job — or a job — on Sunday. 

And it's worth noting that both Fuller and Amukamara are in contract years, so both should be motivated to not lose playing time going forward. 

“I was pleased with the waay Kyle played overall,” Fangio said. “There's obviously some plays he'd like to do over and play them a little better, but overall I thought he did a good job. I like where he's at right now.”

Fangio didn’t play Fuller as a nickel corner in 2015. But if the Bears want to get their best defensive players on the field could Fuller force his way into a nickel role with Amukamara and Cooper as the outside guys? 

That’s an especially pertinent question given Pittsburgh’s explosive trio of receivers: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

“No matter where a receiver lines up, it’s not going to be a down to take off,” Amukamara said. “We’re always going to have to have our ‘A’ game.”

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

usatsi_10219511.jpg
USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

Avisail Garcia's "big head" almost cost the White Sox on Friday night. At least, that's Reynaldo Lopez's humorous theory. 

With the game on the line and the Royals' tying run dashing for the plate, Garcia slipped a bit before making a clutch recovery to nail Whit Merrifield. The craziness continued after the tag as Narvaez caught Lorenzo Cain drifting off first base to seal a win. 

"I was watching the game on the TV here," Lopez said, "and then when I saw the hit from Cain, and I saw that Avi fell down because he has a big head, I was concerned but at the same time I saw that his throw, he has a good arm and he made a very good throw." 

Just your average 9-2-4-6 double play to end a game on the South Side, right? 

"Obviously, when he slipped we took a little gasp," Renteria said. "But we were talking about his body control to be able to maintain himself enough to get up and make the throw that he did. Unbelievable. It's pretty exciting finish to a ballgame that kind of got a little ugly early on."

Ugly is an apt way to describe the first few innings. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada both made errors in the Royals' six-run third inning, and Lopez capped it off with a wild pitch that allowed Eric Hosmer to score. But it went from an eyesore loss to an overzealous "we could make noise in 2019" rebuild win from there, and Garcia's defense -- of all things -- played a significant role. 

Garcia's outfield assist in the ninth was his second of the game. The first, an absolute strike to cut down Alex Gordon in the sixth, didn't involve a slip, though. 

And while much has been made of Garcia's breakout year with the bat, he believes his defense is hugely improved, too. 

"I think 100 percent," he said. "I just try to get better every day with hitting and defense. That’s baseball so get better in everything."

He has 12 outfield assists on the season, up from five a year ago. And despite his overall fielding percentage being down, his strong arm may give him a stronger defensive reputation. 

"Since last year, he's always had an excellent arm," Renteria said. "I think his accuracy is something to be pointed out too because as off balance as he was, he's made some throws to the plate that have been really spot on."

Renteria attributes Garcia's accuracy to the outfielder putting in extra time with Daryl Boston. 

"(Boston) has those guys throwing, and none of you guys are out there watching them work, but they'll throw quite a bit to the bases, especially second base," Renteria said. "They'll get deep and they'll work on doing that, so that's just a part of their routine."

The evolution of Avi carries on.