Tagged in: chicago

Kendrick Nunn, 26, opts into final year of contract with Los Angeles Lakers

Kendrick Nunn, who missed all of last season because of a bone bruise in his right knee, is opting into the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers worth $5.25 million, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

Nunn, who turns 27 this summer, signed with Los Angeles for the midlevel exception last summer but never played a match during the regular season after injuring an ankle during training camp and later discovering the bone bruise, which was slow to heal.

The Chicago product came into the league undrafted out of Oakland and latched onto the Miami Heat, averaging 15 points on 36.4% from 3 and 88.1% from the foul line in two seasons, along with 3.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.

During his exit interview with reporters in April, Nunn announced his plan to return to Los Angeles.

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“Knowing that I just took this entire year off, it’s a no-brainer for me to opt in,” Nunn said.

Nunn’s decision puts the Lakers at five guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, along with LeBron James ($44.47 million), Anthony Davis ($37.98 million), Talen Horton-Tucker ($10.26 million) and Austin Reaves ($1.56 million).

Russell Westbrook, entering into the final year of his deal worth $47.06 million, has until June 29 to inform L.A. whether he intends to opt in or not.

Los Angeles also has team options on Stanley Johnson ($2.35 million) and Wenyen Gabriel ($1.88 million) for next campaign.

Even if the Lakers exercise those options, the front office will still have half the roster to fill out this summer as it looks to regroup from one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history (33-49 in 2021-22).

In other Lakers news, the team is hiring Nets assistant coach Jordan Ott for a more prominent role on Darvin Ham’s new staff.

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Pittsburgh Steelers sign DT Larry Ogunjobi to one-year deal

Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.

The Steelers did not disclose financial terms of the contract.

Ogunjobi now will have played for the Cleveland Browns, Bengals and Steelers, leaving the Baltimore Ravens as the lone AFC North team not to have had him on their roster.

Ogunjobi had also visited the New York Jets since his three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears fell apart after he failed his physical on March 18. The Bears wouldn’t say why he failed the physical, but Ogunjobi did undergo offseason surgery to repair a right foot injury.

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The Steelers had a glaring need for defensive line depth after the retirement of Stephon Tuitt earlier this offseason.

Ogunjobi will be most important in stopping the run, a major focus of the 2022 Steelers after the run defense concluded last in the league a season ago. Ogunjobi had 12 tackles for loss last season in Cincinnati and has 41 in his career.

Ogunjobi has a little history with the Steelers. He was involved in the 2019 on-field altercation between Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and was suspended one game.

Last campaign, Ogunjobi was part of the overhaul that helped the Bengals go from the lowest sack total in the NFL in 2020 to 11th in 2021, registering a career-high seven, which was tied for the third most of any interior defensive lineman, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

His sack total last season was nearly half of his combined total over four seasons with the Browns (14.5).

Ogunjobi, 28, missed most of Cincinnati’s run to Super Bowl LVI after he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the wild-card victory versus the Las Vegas Raiders. Overall, the 2017 third-round draft pick has 21.5 career sacks with 229 tackles and two forced fumbles.

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LB Robert Quinn says he hopes Chicago Bears don’t trade him

Chicago Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn stated he experienced disbelief and shock when Khalil Mack, the other half of Chicago’s dominant pass rushing duo, was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers last month for a 2022 second-round pick (No. 48) and 2023 sixth-round selection.

The Mack trade was the first major move executed by new general manager Ryan Poles before the start of free agency. The Bears eventually parted ways with more than 25 players in March via expired contracts or roster cuts.

Quinn, who set the franchise’s single-season record for sacks in 2021 with 18.5, has been the subject of trade speculation this offseason after the Bears dealt his Pro Bowl teammate for draft capital while starting a massive overhaul of the roster.

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The defensive end, who turns 32 in May, faces insecurity about his own future in Chicago, even though he remains under contract through 2024 after the Bears gave him a five-year, $70 million extension in 2020.

“The only thing I thought of was hopefully my résumé or my production from last year gives me a little weight to keep my foot in the building,” Quinn said Tuesday after being presented with the team’s Brian Piccolo Award.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business. Again, you see Khalil Mack getting traded. Again, it’s just a business. Don’t dwell on it, too crazy.”

Quinn then reiterated his desire to stay with the Bears in 2022.

“I didn’t expect to go anywhere, or want to go anywhere, but again, this is a crazy business,” Quinn said.

At the NFL owners meetings last month, Poles was asked whether considering trading Quinn was an option.

“That hasn’t come up,” Poles said in March.

For now, Quinn remains with the Bears, but he’s not particularly a fan of the phrase most would use for the state of the Bears: a rebuild.

“I don’t think that’s the right way we should phrase it, because people in — the guys in the building are professionals and I think everyone carries themselves to high expectations,” Quinn said.

“I believe, me personally, no player is better than me, and I believe everyone else should carry themselves the same way. So to say, ‘a rebuild’ is, I guess, a funny word. I think it’s just getting guys to believe who they truly are, and perform at their high level of expectations, because everyone’s talented enough, because they’re here. Now you’ve just got to go prove it.”

Speaking ahead of his first draft as general manager, Poles addressed the situation the Bears are currently in with a roster that only has 64 players under contract and a host of needs they hope to address with the NFL draft this week, most notably along the offensive line and at wide receiver and cornerback.

The way Poles describes it, the Bears view the state of the team as a remodeling project, not a rebuild.

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Grayson Allen sinks Chicago Bulls amid boos as Milwaukee Bucks take commanding 3-1 lead

In the days leading up to the team’s first road playoff games in Chicago, the Milwaukee Bucks used every chance they could to shower Grayson Allen with boos.

They booed Allen when he walked onto the team bus. They booed him when he arrived in the lobby of their team hotel. They even booed him during film sessions and when Allen touched the ball in practice.

So when Allen set back-to-back playoff career highs in Games 3 and 4 this weekend to help Milwaukee take a commanding 3-1 series lead over Chicago, the Bucks bench enjoyed booing him all the way.

“They have so much fun doing it,” Allen said with a laugh after scoring 27 points off the bench in the Bucks’ 119-95 victory Sunday afternoon. “I think it’s honestly hilarious. They’ve kind of turned it into a fun thing. It makes hearing it out there during the game a lot easier too because they think it’s so funny.”

Game 5 will be Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

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The Bucks started jeering their own teammate earlier this season once they heard the reaction Allen received every time he touched the ball during the team’s first game in Chicago back in March. Allen became public enemy No.1 to Chicago basketball fans after his flagrant foul on Bulls guard Alex Caruso during a game on Jan. 21 resulted in a fractured wrist for Caruso, forcing him to miss two months.

Allen stated Sunday that he had attempted to reach out to Caruso to apologize after the incident, but the two never connected.

The Bulls downplayed any lingering animosity toward Allen leading up to the series, but fans at the United Center have not let it go as easily, responding with loud boos each time Allen approached the scorer’s table or touched the ball on offense each game this season.

Even if he has gained a reputation as a villain in Chicago, Allen insisted after the game Sunday that he does not feed off such a negative reaction.

“It’s not naturally comfortable for me,” Allen said. “I am to the point now, anytime I go out and play basketball, I just remind myself to go out and have fun with this. … My personality is naturally uncomfortable with the attention, the booing, the heckling. It’s not something I feed off of. I’m not going out searching for it.”

That hasn’t stopped Allen’s teammates from having fun with it.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo suggested Allen frame a photo from Game 3 in which the Bucks bench is in the background booing Allen as he heads to the free throw line after a converted and-1.

Allen went 10-of-12 from the field on Sunday, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range, to outscore Chicago’s bench all by himself 27-17. He became the first Bucks player to score 25 points and knock down six 3s in a playoff game in team history and first Bucks player with at least 25 points off the bench since Tim Thomas in 2003, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

Allen even made plays on defense, collecting three steals and holding Chicago to 3-of-8 shooting when he was the primary defender.

Allen rebounded after going 0-for-4 from 3 to start the series in the first two games. His performance this weekend helped the Bucks withstand the loss of forward Khris Middleton, who will miss the rest of this first-round series with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Chicago had waited five years for a home playoff game here, and the fans’ reward was a weekend of uncompetitive basketball.

The Bulls were outscored by a combined score of 230-176 in the two games on their home floor and must win on Wednesday in Milwaukee to extend their season.

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Ian Happ gets 3 hits as Cubs beat Brewers 5-4 on opening day

Ian Happ offered Nico Hoerner some friendly advice after he hit the majors’ first homer of 2022.

“Keep hitting more,” Happ cracked. “Yeah, try not to get cold after that.”

It was that type of opening day for the Chicago Cubs.

Happ had three hits, including a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning, and the Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Thursday.

Hoerner hit a two-run homer and Kyle Hendricks pitched neatly into the sixth, leading Chicago to the triumph on a chilly, overcast afternoon at Wrigley Field. Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki reached three times and scored in his first big league game.

“Who had Nico in the first homer pool?” Cubs manager David Ross joked after the win.

On a day stuffed full of firsts and debuts, Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes and catcher Omar Narváez became the first battery to use baseball’s new electronic pitch-calling system in a regular-season game. The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner permitted three runs and four hits in five innings.

“Never really actually found the command of the cutter,” Burnes said. “Kind of one of those things, I found it a little bit in the third, but then I just kind of lost it.”

Suzuki singled in the fifth for his first big league hit and walked twice. The 27-year-old finalized an $85 million, five-year contract with Chicago in March in the Cubs’ biggest move of the offseason.

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“In all my at-bats I was able to be myself,” Suzuki said through a translator, “so just enjoyed the game today.”

Andrew McCutchen, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez each had two hits for Milwaukee, and Lorenzo Cain drove in two runs. McCutchen served as the designated hitter in his first game with his new team after agreeing to a one-year deal last month.

The Brewers erased a 3-1 deficit with two runs in the seventh, but the Cubs went ahead to stay in the bottom half.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Happ hit a drive off Jake Cousins that caromed off the wall in center. Clint Frazier and Willson Contreras scored on Happ’s second double of the day.

Happ, who homered on baseball’s first pitch of the 2018 season, had elbow surgery in February, but he is feeling pretty good now — about himself and his team.

“Burnes starting Game 1, to be able to kind of put up some runs there and then get a few more and tack on, that says a lot for where we’re at as a team,” Happ said.

The reigning NL Central champions got one back on Cain’s sacrifice fly in the eighth, but David Robertson worked the ninth for his first save since 2018 and No. 138 for his career.

Milwaukee went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

“It felt like a game, we didn’t time our hits very well,” manager Craig Counsell said.

Aaron Ashby (0-1) got the loss. He was charged with one run and three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Making his third consecutive opening-day start, Hendricks permitted one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who had a career-high 4.77 ERA last year, struck out seven and walked three.

Chris Martin (1-0) got two outs for the win in his Cubs debut.

The Brewers jumped in front when McCutchen singled and scored the majors’ first run on Cain’s groundout in the fourth. But the Cubs responded with three in the fifth.

Patrick Wisdom hit a sacrifice fly before Hoerner drove a 1-1 pitch from Burnes into the bleachers in left for a tiebreaking two-run shot. It was Hoerner’s first big league homer since Sept. 21, 2019, against St. Louis.

“Sometimes it just lines up,” a smiling Hoerner said.

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DeRozan scores 50, Bulls rally past Clippers 135-130 in OT

DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 50 points and the Chicago Bulls rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 135-130 in overtime Thursday night.

DeRozan finished two points shy of his career high. The five-time All-Star scored 17 in the fourth quarter, though he missed the go-ahead free throw in the closing seconds of regulation after making the first two attempts to tie it.

He then scored 10 in overtime, helping the Bulls come away with a win they sorely needed after falling behind by 16 in the third period.

Chicago, which led the Eastern Conference for a large portion of the season, moved a half-game ahead of sixth-place Toronto with five left. The Bulls are trying to stay in the top six in order to avoid the play-in round in the postseason.

Nikola Vucevic added 22 points and 14 rebounds. Zach LaVine scored 21 as the Bulls won for the third time in four matches.

Reggie Jackson led Los Angeles with 34 points.

Paul George scored 22 in his second game back after missing three months because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

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Marcus Morris Sr. added 20 points and Nicolas Batum scored 17. But the Clippers — eighth in the West — lost for the sixth time in seven matches.

Chicago led by four in overtime when Luke Kennard hit a 3 for Los Angeles with 1:12 left. 

Patrick Williams answered with one of his own to make it 129-125 with just under a minute remaining.

Jackson then hit two foul shots for the Clippers before DeRozan converted two to make it 131-127.

Williams rebounded a missed drive by Jackson, leading to two more free throws by DeRozan that made it a six-point game. Jackson nailed a 3 to cut it to 133-130 with five seconds left.

DeRozan caught the inbounds pass following a timeout by the Bulls and drove for a dunk, sealing a wild victory for Chicago.

The Clippers saw their lead shrink to four early in the fourth and got it back up to 11 with about five minutes remaining before the Bulls made another push.

Los Angeles was leading 118-115 with seven seconds left in regulation when Terance Mann got called for a foul away from the ball on an inbounds play following a timeout.

That led to a free throw for DeRozan that cut it to two and possession for Chicago. DeRozan then got fouled by George on a 3-point attempt with 3.5 seconds left. He hit the first two foul shots to tie it at 118 and missed the third, sending the game to overtime.

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Buffalo Bills to match Chicago Bears’ offer sheet to guard Ryan Bates, GM Brandon Beane says

The Buffalo Bills will match the offer sheet offensive guard Ryan Bates signed with the Chicago Bears last week, general manager Brandon Beane stated Monday at the NFL’s annual owners meetings.

The Bills had until Tuesday to match the offer sheet Bates signed with the Bears.

“We’ve kind of pondered that and worked through it. And obviously we’re tight on the cap, but we are going to bring Ryan back,” Beane said.

The deal is for four years, per a source, and the first two years are fully guaranteed.

“I just found that out. It stinks. But that’s part of the RFA process,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said. “So we’ll adjust and we’ll keep adding players. It’s out of your control. It’s just part of the deal where you put your best foot forward and we did. We came strong, and that’s given back to their team and it’s up to them whether they want to match it. It is what it is. We’ll adjust like everything else.”

Bates, 25, had free-agent visits with the Bears, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots last week, after the Bills offered an original-round tender of $2.4 million. With the Bills, Bates will compete for the starting right guard spot. Rodger Saffold III was signed in free agency and is expected to start at left guard.

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The team also re-signed offensive lineman Ike Boettger to a one-year deal Monday.

Boettger started 10 matches at left guard for the Bills last year before tearing an Achilles versus New England in Week 16. Bates came in for Boettger when he went down with the injury.

“It’s really important for us to be strong up front, both lines, Ryan’s a versatile player,” Beane said. “He can actually play all five spots, but most importantly, he’s been a center, guard he’s filled in, and we thought when he had his opportunity this year, he did a heck of a job starting the last four regular-season [games] and then the two postseason games. It didn’t seem too big for him. You want to keep as many of those key pieces, he knows our system. He obviously knows Josh. RFAs are close to UFAs, but it was a deal that we felt we could match, and we plan to do that.”

The 6-foot-4, 302-pound Bates spent the past three seasons primarily as a backup for the Bills after he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019.

Because of injuries along the offensive line, Bates started the final three games of the regular season and two postseason contests, most of which came at left guard, and played 223 total snaps between left and right guard last season. He also has experience at center.

While injuries led to him taking the field, Bates maintained the starting job for the end of the season and the playoff run because of his performance alongside left tackle Dion Dawkins.

For the season, Bates had a 93% pass block win rate at guard, which hovers around league average, and a 59% run block win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The Bills’ offensive line as a unit improved with Bates on the field. Quarterback Josh Allen was not sacked once over the final three games of the season and was sacked twice in the postseason.

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Chicago Bulls’ Patrick Williams to make return against Toronto Raptors

Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams will return Monday night versus the Toronto Raptors to play in his first game since having wrist surgery in October, the team said Sunday.

Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, has not played since Oct. 28, when he tore ligaments in his left wrist during the fifth game of the season.

Although he started the season in the starting lineup, Williams is expected to return in a reserve role with a minutes restriction. “He’s anxious to get back,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said Friday.

“Physically, he feels good. He knows the timing part is going to take a little bit of time. But I think just how he feels and where he’s at mentally, he wants to come back and play.”

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Williams, 20, had a promising rookie season as one of the youngest players in his draft class, but his second season didn’t get off to much of a start.

He averaged 6.6 points on 56.5% shooting and 2.2 rebounds in five games before he tore his wrist ligaments falling on a flagrant foul by the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson.

While the Bulls were on a three-game West Coast road trip this past week, Williams remained in Chicago to practice with the Windy City Bulls, the team’s G League affiliate.

Donovan said reports have been encouraging about Williams’ conditioning but that his timing was off after being sidelined for five months.

The Bulls are on a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday, and Donovan stated it was possible that Williams could play in both games.

Williams’ return comes as the Bulls are on a three-game losing streak and have dropped eight of their past 10 games. They started Sunday fifth in the Eastern Conference. “He makes our team better,” Donovan told reporters.

“There’ll probably be some growing pains of him finding a rhythm. With Patrick, the biggest thing is going to be how he fits into a rotation and what a realistic number of minutes look like for him.”

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Mitchell scores 25 of 37 points in 3rd, Jazz beat Bulls

Donovan Mitchell scored a Utah-record 25 of his 37 points in the third quarter, Jordan Clarkson added 26 and the Utah Jazz defeated the Chicago Bulls 125-110 on Wednesday night.

Mitchell made a franchise-record seven 3-pointers in the third period on nine attempts. He broke Karl Malone’s team mark of 22 points in a quarter.

Mitchell finished with nine 3-pointers, besting his previous career best of seven.Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.

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Alexander-Walker, who came to Utah in a Feb. 9 trade from New Orleans, had only nine total points in his first seven matches with the Jazz.

Chicago’s Zach LaVine, who has been affected by a sore left knee, made five 3s and had 33 points in tying his highest scoring output in four months. DeMar DeRozan added 25 points.

The Bulls have dropped seven of nine.

Ayo Dosunmu’s layup trimmed Utah’s lead to 103-99 before the Jazz responded with a clinching run.

Alexander-Walker had two 3-pointers from the corner in a 14-0 run that featured suffocating defense and floor-spacing offense. Rudy Gobert’s free throws capped the run and lifted the Jazz to a 117-99 lead with 4:38 to play.

Mitchell’s huge third quarter pushed the Jazz ahead 89-81 entering the fourth quarter.

Rudy Gobert had 14 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks while Mike Conley had in 14 points and seven assists.

The Jazz played without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (left calf strain), along with key reserves Trent Forrest (right wrist sprain), Danuel House (left knee bone bruise) and Udoka Azubuike (right ankle sprain).

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Siakam scores 25 points as Raptors beat Bulls 127-120 in OT

Pascal Siakam had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Chris Boucher added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Chicago Bulls 127-120 in overtime on Thursday night.

Scottie Barnes scored 21 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:44 left in OT, and Gary Trent Jr. added a decisive 3-pointer with 16 seconds left.

Trent scored 16 points, ending his career-best streak of 30-point games at five.

Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby each scored 21 as Toronto won its fourth straight overall and snapped a five-game losing streak versus the Bulls.

Nikola Vucevic matched his season high with 30 points and had 18 rebounds for the Bulls, his ninth double-double in 10 games. DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points.

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The Chargers have struggled on special teams for several years.

Ficken will be tasked with trying to improve an inconsistent Chargers special teams unit. Los Angeles improved as the season went along because of the midseason signings of returner Andre Roberts and kicker Dustin Hopkins. Roberts led the league with a 32.8-yard kick return average while Hopkins was 18 of 20 on field goals after joining the Chargers.

A short time later, then-head coach Anthony Lynn took over special teams to finish the season.

In 2021, the Chargers added returner Andre Roberts and kicker Dustin Hopkins — both veterans — in October. Their arrivals boosted a unit that steadily improved but still concluded near the bottom in the NFL’s overall rankings.

Last month, coach Brandon Staley decided to make a change, dismissing Swinton and special teams assistant Mayur Chaudhari.

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