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chenyan31 73 days ago
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The Chicago Bulls like to think they are one of the NBA’s up-and-coming teams Joe Mixon Bengals Jersey , one that could challenge for a playoff berth next season.

They also admit there are many more boxes to check off first.

Led by forward Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls return a slew of young talent but the team lacks depth and key playmakers. Much will depend on Markkanen’s development along with that of swingman Zach LaVine, guards Kris Dunn, Cameron Payne and Denzel Valentine, and big men Cristiano Felicio and Bobby Portis. Like center Wendell Carter Jr. and forward Chandler Hutchison, the team’s first-round draft picks, all are 25 or younger.

Although the Bulls are nearly $40 million below the salary cap, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said a significant move was ”unlikely” this offseason. Free agency begins this weekend.

”We have loads of (salary) cap space,” Paxson said Monday, when Carter and Hutchison were introduced at a news conference. ”What we don’t have are many open roster spots. We could add one player, but we’re not going to risk making a mistake on a longterm deal. At this point, we don’t feel any urgency to do something big.”

At the top of the to-do list is the somewhat murky future of LaVine Cheap Josh Jackson Jersey , a restricted free agent whose athletic talents are sure to generate interest. Sixteen months removed from left ACL surgery, he averaged 16.7 points and shot just 38 percent in 24 games last season.

”Obviously, we want Zach back,” Paxson said. ”But there’s a free-agent process that we’ll follow. The fact that so many teams have limited cap space is in our favor. Until then, we’ll consider Zach to be a big part of our plans.”

For the Bulls to become relevant next season – they’ve reached the conference finals just once since the Michael Jordan years – LaVine and Markkanen will have to fulfill their star potential. The plan calls for them to be more active in the offense, which ranked 30th and last in field-goal percentage (.435) and 26th in points (102.9) last season.

As a rookie, Markkanen averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.

”We’ll allow Markkanen to make plays a lot more next season,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”If he rebounds the ball, we want the other guys running and let him bring the ball downcourt.”

Unable to trade up in the draft order last week, the Bulls made a safe pick in the 6-foot-10 Carter at No. 7 overall. The Duke product does his best work as a rebounder and rim protector but will require time to develop other parts of his game.

”I’m a very hard worker. I’m a winner also,” Carter said. ”I come in and do whatever I have to to help the team win. That will be an immediate impact.”

The 6-foot-7 Hutchison (22nd overall) possesses an intriguing mix of physical tools. At Boise State, he scored and drew fouls consistently. Both are areas of considerable need in Chicago.

While a lot has to go right for a team that finished 27-55 to make a quantum jump Bradley Chubb Broncos Jersey , the Bulls showed flashes when they won 10 of 12 games in December.

”That stretch last season is where the optimism comes from,” Holberg said. ”Since then, we’ve added two young, versatile players who fit for our roster very well. And Zach will have fewer restrictions. So there are a lot of reasons to be excited.”

Already a dozen NFL teams have new quarterbacks, half of them starters. And next month’s draft features a deep class of QB prospects, a half-dozen of which could hear their names called in the first round.

Why such a remarkable run on prime-time passers?

”They’re hard to find,” Denver Broncos general manager John Elway said after introducing Case Keenum as his fifth quarterback since Peyton Manning’s retirement just two years ago. ”It’s a tough spot to play. There are a lot of expectations. It’s a hard position. There are a lot pressures on it. You’ve got to play with consistency and there are a lot of people that rely on that position.”

So, proven passers and projects alike see teams jockeying to throw multiple millions their way.

The harbinger of the ”Great Quarterback Shuffle” of 2018 came during Super Bowl week when word got out that the Kansas City Chiefs were sending Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins, freeing Kirk Cousins to become a free agent in his prime, one who would rewrite the conventional contract.

Cousins made the media rounds at the Super Bowl, where he secretly scouted out the city he would soon call his own.

Minnesota surged past Denver, Phoenix and New York as Cousins’ desired destination after the Vikings decided to let all three of their veteran quarterbacks hit the open market.

While Cousins was working out a three-year Cole Beasley Jersey , ground-breaking (fully guaranteed) and record-setting ($28 million average) deal in Minnesota , the Broncos, Cardinals and Jets were picking through the Vikings’ quarterback bin:

-Coming off a $2 million deal in Minnesota, Keenum commanded a two-year, $36 million deal in Denver after leading the Vikings to an 11-3 mark and the NFC championship game.

–Sam Bradford, whose injury opened the way for Keenum’s breakout season, signed a one-year, $20 million with the Cardinals, who lost Carson Palmer to retirement.

–Teddy Bridgewater, once the Vikings’ established starter before a devastating knee injury two years ago, signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Jets Minkah Fitzpatrick Dolphins Jersey , who also re-signed Josh McCown for one year at $10 million.

Trevor Siemian, who blew up the Broncos’ quarterback plans two straight summers by beating out 2016 first-round flop Paxton Lynch, heads to the Vikings as Cousins’ backup after going 13-11 in Denver.

Leading the Bills to their first playoff appearance in 18 years wasn’t enough for Tyrod Taylor to secure his long-term future in Buffalo. The Bills traded Taylor to Cleveland, which traded DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers, where he’ll back up Aaron Rodgers.

AJ McCarron finally gets his chance to prove himself after spending four seasons in Andy Dalton’s shadow. He signed a two-year deal with the Bills and said it makes no difference if his new team adds more competition by selecting one of the highly regarded quarterback prospects in the draft next month .

”I try not to ever waste any mental thought on it because it’s something I can’t control,” McCarron said. ”… You can either let it affect you in how you go about your work and let that define you. Or you can change everybody’s thought process. My mindset is to change anybody that’s had any doubt.”

Keenum said his mindset won’t change should Elway draft a quarterback such as Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson or Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

”I’ve been around long enough to know that anything is a possibility in this league. I was a starting quarterback when a team drafted somebody No. 1 overall and traded a bunch of draft picks. I know how that goes,” Keenum said, recalling when the Rams selected Jared Goff in 2016.

Teams are also doling out big bucks for backups just two months after watching Nick Foles‘ MVP performance in leading the Eagles past Tom Brady’s Patriots in Super Bowl 52 while starter Carson Wentz watched from the sideline.

Mike Glennon went from being the Bears‘ backup to Arizona Billy Price Jersey , Chase Daniel went from the Saints to Chicago and Tom Savage moved from the Texans to New Orleans.

None of them got the kind of money Jimmy Garoppolo did after serving as Brady’s backup for several seasons and then getting traded to San Francisco. After sparking the downtrodden 49ers, Garoppolo was rewarded with a record-breaking deal that averaged a whopping $27.5 million a season.

That mark stood until Cousins’ deal came in at an average of $28 million, which is sure to fall when the Packers and Rodgers work out a new contract in the next year or so.

In several weeks, the NFL will be flush with a new crop of quarterbacks, some of whom may one day make today’s jaw-dropping contracts look a little less eye-popping.

They may have to start out as a backup such as Patrick Mahomes II last year in Kansas City or Rodgers did in Green Bay when Brett Favre was still going strong.

Rodgers said that although there’s an ever-widening schism between college offenses and the ones the pros run, today’s QB prospects are in many ways more prepared for the NFL because the coaching is better at all levels.

”I think you’re seeing more spread offenses in college, which give you the run-pass option a lot of times. You’re seeing the NFL incorporate some of that. But in general, I think there’s just so much more education about quarterbacks that allows these guys to be more ready to play than, say, myself or Alex Smith or Jason Campbell were in 2005 when we got pi.

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