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SportsMonday: Offseason City

Maybe if the Sox could have finished off the sweep. Maybe if they had eked one out after rallying to tie their game with the Astros at 7 after six innings Sunday at the Cell. Then, not only did they not hold on, they gave up the lead as quickly as they could (two doubles on about three pitches in the next inning) and eventually went down to an 11-7 defeat.

If the Sox had held on, perhaps a column on Chicago baseball would have filled the bill before a certain football team reports to training camp on Thursday. But the Sox didn't hold on. Chicago baseball (other than Jose Abreu's pursuit of 50 home runs) is still meaningless and on the North Side, hopeless.

So we cling to off-seasons.

At the end of the free agency period over the weekend (the Bulls were on the verge of wrapping things up by signing intriguing six-foot point guard Aaron Brooks to a veteran minimum deal), many argued the Bulls didn't do everything possible to woo Carmelo Anthony.

They pointed out that the Bulls' contract offer of about $73 million over four years never had a chance and that they should have cleared more space in order to offer the sort of non-Bird rights maximum deal the Lakers offered. Yeah, and how did that work out for the Lakers? ("Bird rights" refers to the clause in the collective bargaining agreement that allows teams to offer an additional year and additional dollars to potentially returning free agents.)

I am a little puzzled by people who somehow believe that the Bulls offering $96 million (the estimated size off the Laker offer) would have somehow made a difference against a Knicks team offering, as it turned out in the last report I read, $124 million. The thought is that Anthony was willing to leave almost $30 million on the table but not about $50 million?

And of course to have offered $96 million, the Bulls would have had to get rid of power forward Taj Gibson among others. Some have mischaracterized this situation as the Bulls choosing Gibson (who will make $8 million this year in the second year of a four-year deal) over Anthony. Come on.

The Bulls chose to not completely annihilate themselves to offer a free agent $20 million more when he was almost certainly going back to the city where he has made a home, his wife is happiest and the team president has a decent reputation. Sure Phil Jackson did all of his winning as a coach and not as a team executive, but that's a subject for a different column.

The best part of this off-season wasn't any Bulls signing. It was the fact that the team owned by Jerry Reinsdorf actually went ahead and did it. The Bulls went ahead and amnestied Carlos Boozer, meaning they will pay him about $13 million this coming off-season to not play for them. I wouldn't have believed it - until Reinsdorf's White Sox shocked the sports world with the $68 million contract offer that was accepted by Abreu during the off-season. It would appear that the forever owner of the two franchises has decided to go ahead and splurge as he nears 80 years of age (he is 78).

And so we won't have to watch Boozer fail to rotate on defense for the official millionth time in his career as a member of the Bulls (Lakers fans will have the honor after Los Angeles picked up Boozer on waivers). When you look back at it, it was a miracle Joakim Noah never just hauled off and decked his teammate for yet another failure to complete a standard defensive rotation after his teammates had played great defense together for the first 20 seconds of the shot clock in a pivotal part of a game. Then again, that was probably thanks to more great coaching from Tom Thibodeau, who decided long ago to simply not play Boozer during those parts of games.

What we will see is rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic attempting to make an impact in their first years with the Bulls. I'm skeptical. Both almost certainly will have to spend most of this year focused on adding the additional strength they will need to make a positive impact in an NBA front court. I'm more optimistic about Tony Snell. He wore down as last season went on but he showed legitimate long-range shooting ability earlier and there is a great chance he will make the leap to at least contributing NBA rotation player this time around.

What about the Blackhawks' offseason, you ask? Well, they re-signed their stars to contract extensions that will keep them in town through the hearts of their careers. They'll have to cut some significant salaries to make it work under the cap in the 2015-16 season, but Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will be operating under their previous contracts for this next season ('14-'15) and therefore the team will return virtually intact for the coming campaign.

I'm going out on a limb here but I'll go ahead and say I think the Hawks are in pretty good shape.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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