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The Chicago Bulls gave Lauri Markkanen a frontcourt running mate by drafting Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. Then they added help on the wing.

More than anything http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-josh-sitton-jersey , the Bulls insisted, they continued to position themselves to move up in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls went big with their first pick Thursday night, drafting Carter Jr. from Duke seventh overall and giving them another versatile frontcourt player to go with Markkanen. They took Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison at No. 22.

Combine those moves with the draft night trade last year that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and the front office believes the Bulls are positioning themselves to make a jump.

”This is a really good night for our organization,” executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. ”We feel like when you look at where we were a year ago and what we decided to do, and one year later, we feel like we have added five really good pieces to build (around). That’s important to us. … We’re excited about the direction we’re headed.”

The 6-foot-10, 259-pound Carter Jr. was the second Duke big man taken after Marvin Bagley III went to Sacramento at No. 2. With his ability to hit from the outside and score down low, he averaged 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a freshman last season while helping the Blue Devils advance to the Elite Eight.

Hutchison is a 6-7 forward who came on strong the past two seasons and averaged 20 points and 7.7 rebounds as a senior.

General manager Gar Forman said the Bulls had some discussions about trading up. But nothing materialized.

The Bulls instead are banking on Carter to form a potent tandem with Markkanen and help them climb in the Eastern Conference coming off a 27-55 season.

”We’re going to complement one another on both ends of the court Shaquem Griffin Color Rush Jersey ,” Carter said. ”It’s very similar to who I played with at Duke – Marvin Bagley.”

One of the knocks against Carter is his foot speed. It affected him at times in transition and on defense. He also ran into foul trouble on occasion, even fouling out in 22 minutes during Duke’s overtime loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. Forman acknowledged lateral quickness is one area where he could improve. Carter insisted he is making big strides.

”I’ve made a huge improvement in that,” he said. ”It’s something I was working on night-in and night-out. I definitely showcased that in the workouts. It definitely paid off, all the work.”

And he sees himself as a match for the Bulls.

”I think I fit perfectly,” Carter said.

The Bulls went all in on rebuilding with the Butler trade after years of treading water in the wake of the Derrick Rose era. Chicago then produced its worst record since the 2003-04 season and missed the playoffs for the second time in three years.

But the 7-foot Markkanen emerged as the team’s best player and one of the league’s most productive rookies with his ability to hit from the perimeter and go inside. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds after being drafted seventh overall, and the Bulls certainly would take that from Carter.

Paxson said he might have put up bigger numbers at Duke had Bagley not petitioned the NCAA to reclassify and become eligible for last season.

”A lot of their offense would have run through Wendell this year,” he said. ”The young man sacrificed a lot in order to be a good teammate and all those things. A lot of it speaks to who he is.”

It’s still not clear if the Bulls have the star they need to become a contender.

”We’re gonna look at everything,” Paxson said. ”You hope you draft players that become stars. We believe that last year, drafting Lauri, he has the potential. He’s got a long way to go Brandon Guyer Cleveland Indians Jersey , but he has the potential. … We’re trying to draft as well as we can, put a core together that we think can play together and win, at least put a team out that’s gonna play hard and compete, play the right way. We feel we’re at the beginning stages of that.”




John Tavares isn’t the only free agent going back to a familiar place.

Several players are returning to their former teams and comfortable situations – from James van Riemsdyk going back to Philadelphia on the second-richest July 1 deal to Matt Cullen taking a significant pay cut to rejoin the Pittsburgh Penguins he helped win the Stanley Cup twice. It’s not quite the tug at the heartstrings that led Tavares to sign a $77 million, seven-year deal with his boyhood Toronto Maple Leafs, but familiarity was part of the bustle on the opening day of NHL free agency .

”I have that comfortablity with knowing a lot about the organization having played there in the past and having a lot of familiar faces still on the staff and stuff like that,” van Riemsdyk said after signing a $35 million, five-year deal with the Flyers. ”Even just remembering to my time previously is just how bad obviously they want to win and they’re willing to put the resources into that. That passion and that commitment to that was a big thing for me.”

Unsure there’d be room for him after his old team re-signed Riley Sheahan, Cullen signed a $650,000 Cheap Baker Mayfield Jersey , one-year deal with the Penguins after spending a season back home in Minnesota. Tomas Plekanec was away from Montreal for only a few months, signing a bonus-laden $2.25 million, one-year deal with the Canadiens after they traded him to the rival Maple Leafs at the deadline.

Plekanec had planned since the end of the season to go back to Montreal, where his family remained when he went to Toronto. He will be back at the Bell Centre on a contract that can be worth another $1.25 million in incentives. The 35-year-old will get to play his 1,000th career regular-season game in his familiar blue, white and red uniform this October.

”That was my priority,” Plekanec said. ”I wanted to come back.”

While Plekanec obviously felt a strong connection to Montreal after 14 seasons there, David Perron will be playing for the St. Louis Blues for the third time in his NHL career after signing for $16 million over four years. Perron spent his first six seasons with the Blues after they took him in the first round in 2007, returned as a free agent two summers ago, was taken by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft a year ago and is back again after setting career highs with 50 assists and 66 points in Las Vegas.

”Obviously (the Golden Knights) made the right decision with the way that David played for them Isaac Yiadom Color Rush Jersey ,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. ”He certainly could’ve made more money on the market. He wanted to come back.”


Thomas Vanek enjoyed his 48 games with the Detroit Red Wings in 2016-17 so much he wanted to sign with them last July but they didn’t have enough salary-cap space. When the opportunity presented itself this time, the 34-year-old winger zeroed in on a one-year deal and chose Detroit’s $3 million offer over a few other options.

”I loved it there,” Vanek said. ”It was a good it. I really liked the whole culture of the organization and the guys were great. We tried to make it work last year. It didn’t work out, so I’m happy it did this year.”

No one says hockey players can’t go home, but there has to be mutual interest. It was simple for the Penguins, who lacked something without Cullen in their second-round loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Pittsburgh had tried to reacquire the 41-year-old center at the trade deadline.

It was a bit more complicated for the Flyers, who traded van Riemsdyk to Toronto in 2012 in a one-for-one deal for bruising defenseman Luke Schenn. That was under a previous regime that believed the 6-foot-3, 217-pound left winger wasn’t tough enough, but GM Ron Hextall sees a player who checks the boxes for a playoff contender with a few holes.

”We felt with the fit that we needed some size,” Hextall said. ”We needed goal-scoring. We need a left winger. This one just fit all around for us and I think James felt the same way.”

The personality fit was there Danny Shelton Color Rush Jersey , too, because Flyers management knew van Riemsdyk, who is 29. Coming through Philadelphia’s system as the second overall pick in 2007 helped with Hextall being willing to make his biggest free agent splash.

”We know the person – people inside this organization – (and) obviously that helps,” Hextall said.

Van Riemsdyk did his homework by talking with captain Claude Giroux, winger Jakub Voracek and recent Flyers players before choosing to return to his first NHL organization. He also fondly remembered the Flyers’ run to the Cup Final in 2010.

”Hopefully again we get a chance to do something like that in the future,” he said.



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