Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 01.10.2014

Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of emails from his readers

A very fond farewell to Luol Deng, who goes down as one of the great players and classy competitors in Bulls history. Deng was a privilege to watch, and gave us one of the few great thrills in the dark days between MJ and Rose when he was the best player on a Bulls team that swept the defending champion Heat out of the playoffs. It was then Pat Riley noted Deng was a guy who could get you 20 without having to run a play for him, which was a great way to sum up a player who never demanded shots or attention but constantly found ways to impact basketball games. Many nights Deng seemed to have the hardest job in league playing in the East in this era of small forwards. Thirty-two times in the regular season alone he manned up LeBron James, thirty-three times he drew Paul Pierce. A lot of those games were classics, and I doubt any player has checked LeBron for more cumulative possessions than Lu. He has beat Carmelo almost without fail since he came over to the Knicks, and Deng has been in many ways the antithesis of the Anthony: an All-Star talent who is about wins over individual accolades, defense over shot totals, and accountability over entitlement. Now with Paul George on the rise, Deng ate him alive in their last meeting, harassing him into a 3-for-14 night while Lu notched an efficient 23 points on 14 shots. For ten years we’ve watched this guy fearlessly go toe-to-toe with the best and always hold his own. Good luck, Lu, and thanks for the memories.

Rory Butterly

Sam: They only remember them after they are gone, eh? Lu always suffered from basically what every Bulls player has since 1998, which is not being Jordan. No matter how many good things Deng did, there always was the complaints, that he wasn’t a great athlete, can’t beat opponents one on one, can’t lead a team to a title. How many can? It is one problem playing in Chicago, which basically only Derrick Rose has dealt with because of his nature. Though lately it’s changed with the injuries. Whether unconsciously or not, the best players the Bulls have had often are picked apart in comparison to Jordan. I don’t think it keeps players away from Chicago, but I do think it has been a sidebar issue with some players. I think that’s also part of the reason with Bulls fans it’s sort of this zero sum game notion that if you are not playing for a title what’s the point, a standard that obviously never has applied to the Bears, Cubs and White Sox. Deng certainly should be regarded as one of the top players in franchise history.

I may be in the minority of Bulls fans. But I for one think this trade is "bull." Not only did management say we are giving up to the fans, but showed that to the rest of the roster. I'm betting guys like Jo, Taj, Kirk, Jimmy, and even Rose are devastated. All these protected picks that most likely won't pan out. I know you're playing for the future. But to me you could have and should have let Deng walk. You didn't get much for him. I was looking forward to see how the rest of this season panned out! Do we get it together and snatch that 3 seed? Can we win a first round series? Do we give Miami or Indiana all they can handle in the 2nd round? Bulls fans have been robbed of any off that. No way Thibs is on board with this and you better trade Kirk and Taj as well if you want him to miss the playoffs.

Phillip Bracero

Sam: This has been a rare sort of situation as we are in the minority on this one. You are right. The majority of my mail has been in support not only of the trade of Deng but offloading more players to get a lottery pick. I don’t see five super players in that 2014 draft top five, so it’s still good luck. But that’s another issue. I always prefer protecting the sanctity of the season and playing it out if you have a chance to be in the playoffs. I’d rather have seen the team play it out and if Deng left, as was quite possible as players leave all the time, you can get below the salary cap and bring in a replacement with certain moves. I do think the Kings with an aggressive new owner have a chance to make the playoffs in the next four years. So maybe one of those picks becomes a first. And I do think there’s a good chance the Bulls miss the playoffs and get in the lottery. So the Bulls have a chance to be better off with what they get than playing it out. But I do know from Bulls history you don’t put it back together with a lot of draft picks and young players. That doesn’t work unless you luck into an historic player. And there is none in this draft; at least that much I can see thus far. But I also don’t buy $100,000 automobiles and $5 million homes. I don’t think anyone has a right to tell me to do so. I also don’t believe anyone has a right to tell someone else to pass on making $20 million when they can. The Bulls said they would go into the luxury tax and be among the league’s biggest spenders to have a chance to win. They did, ranking in the top five in payroll and in the luxury tax the last two years. But they also said if they didn’t have a chance to play for a title, they would not. Once Derrick Rose went out for the season again everyone agreed there was no chance to play for a title. So when they had a chance to get out of the luxury tax with the Bynum deal, I couldn’t object that much. I’d rather Deng stayed, but I can understand the move. And getting under the tax will give them more flexibility to spend after this season. Which, I think, is why we are in the minority among your fan colleagues. The future always tells who was correct.

As a Deng fan, I wish I never had to see him in another uniform, but with the Bulls' current situation, I'm thrilled with the move they made this week. So, the Bulls move forward with a core of Rose, Noah, Gibson, and Butler, along with Dunleavy, Snell, and Teague (and Augustin?), with Butler and Snell getting even more experience now after the Deng move. Ideally they sway Mirotic to come over next year along with having perhaps two picks in the teens (Bobcats' and Bulls') and I assume a 2nd rounder (and not Murphy?). This would leave a small amount to go after one other slightly above the minimum player, I believe. Then, I could see them with two more picks in the teens the following year (Kings' and Bulls'/Cavs' picks) and two 2nd rounders, presumably. That would obviously be too many rookies and sophomores for the next few years, so how would you guess Gar/Pax might use this new flexibility of having some moderate cash and this bevy of not-too-attractive picks so that they can aim to stay contenders? Trade for a young starter with potential? Make everyone outside of Rose available for a superstar? I won't hold my breath on that one. Also, I apologize that after a decade of your exciting Deng trade suggestions (that petered out in number, of course, lately), when he was actually traded it was for a boring waiver and a tentative mid-first round pick (plus some sprinkles).

Tad Halley

Sam: Didn’t I once have a pretty workable proposal for LeBron? Anyway, yes, the consensus in the community seems to be to add to that core, though I think everything is up in the air now except for trading Rose. As always, but for different reasons now. That, of course, is way too many picks, and the hope is the Bulls learned from the Jerry Krause disaster of using six draft picks in the 2000 draft. I know fans are excited about the draft prospects. But the paradox is the same fans have been demanding that elusive second star for years. There’s a question whether you get that out of the draft unless you are in the top three or four and fortunate to pick the right one and hope he develops quickly despite being 19 years old and that you don’t train him for three or four years and then he wants to sign elsewhere. I think Julius Randle can be like Zach Randolph, but Randolph isn’t talked about as leading anyone to a title. Andrew Wiggins seems several years away without a defined game yet. Center Joel Embid will take time to develop. Jabari Parker looks most ready, but hardly the super athlete. The danger with all that young talent is what you always see with teams like the Cavs and Kings of a team filled with prospects generally goes nowhere because the young guys are playing for shots and points and contracts. It’s why it worked so well with Rose as the Bulls had a core of veterans around him. They may not have that many next season. This does sound like a transitional period for the Bulls for the next few years if you are adding two or three draft picks. Can you take one player, like Noah and Gibson, and add a couple of lottery picks and get a star (Carmelo Anthony)? Would you even consider it? My sense is given the talk regarding Mirotic there’s more of a philosophy now to go younger than more veteran.

I'd love to hear your defense for trading away one of our core players. Our security blanket. A warrior who left everything out on the floor and worked so hard that it literally hospitalized him last summer. For two more dodgy knees, a shoddy work ethic, and an attitude that can’t be bothered half the time. Gar/Pax are definitely on the Cavs Christmas card list for next year. Who is waiting in the wings to use this cap space on? If we get a player half the caliber of Lu out of all this I’ll be impressed. I’ve been one of those fans who scoffed at all the stupid trade suggestions you’ve gotten and felt that both Lu and Boozer (who must now know he is being amnestied at the end of the season) should be kept to ride this group out. Who are we getting down the road out of this that’s better than Deng? LeBron isn’t leaving Miami. Love isn’t swapping one freezing city for another when the Lakers will be all over him. I don’t think Durant is on the cards either. In fact, I don’t think we’d have the money for any of them. So help me out here.

Richard Connor

Sam: I know you are from Great Britain, a united sort of kingdom, with the “s” in hospitalized. I’ve been swamped with angry tea partyesque emails from your area. I understand, of course, as the Cavs are not that popular in England. It’s an interesting dichotomy as the trade, which I’ve noted, has been well received here and for the most part among Bulls fans as sort of a time to move on. There obviously is a more sentimental view from Great Britain given Deng grew up there and played for the Olympic team. But the Cavs games are televised, too. It is nice to know, though, that there’s a strong sense of compassion at a place we mostly viewed for not respecting American rights in the 18th century. Count this as another way of getting back for burning the White House in 1814. That really was unnecessary.

The Bulls saved roughly $20 million in cap salary and penalties and avoided the highly punitive tax for at least a few years. They get a probable Sacramento first round pick in super draft years 2014 or 15, a potential draft position flip with Cleveland in ’15, two Portland second round picks in ’15 & ’16 and free agent flexibility. They have a really wonderful set of alternatives for the next few years with their own draft picks, Mirotic and the Charlotte 1st at some time. The Bulls still have a decent relatively younger core and the ability, if desirable, to amnesty Boozer. What’s not to like? Seems like an almost illegal steal with absolutely zero downside and a deal that many did not think was even in the realm of possible/rational or realistic. All this for buying a Phoenix first round/Deng pick ten years ago. I’ll drink to this trade and Pax/Forman for the remainder of January and beyond. Brilliant!

John Petersen

Sam: Well, you asked for it and now you got it. The Bulls haven’t typically been bold in trading and risk taking, so this is a bit of the daring many fans have asked for. It also places the onus on the management to make the right picks, add the right guys and come up with All-Stars after you traded your only healthy multiple All-Star. No matter how you view Deng, that was how he was viewed by NBA coaches. Not a superstar, to be sure, but a star. This is what the fans have asked for. Will they be as excited this time next season and the season after? It is on management now. But it should produce a lot of storylines to come this summer and maybe as big a draft as when the Bulls had the No. 2 and No. 4 overall picks in the 2001 draft that produced stars like Tony Parker, Zach Randolph and Joe Johnson.

I think Luol’s leaving was inevitable – there was no way the Bulls could/would pay him Rose money and that’s probably what he’ll command in July – so they probably did the best they could. I also think they treated Luol fairly by giving him “a best and final offer” to stay in Chicago before making the trade. That said, I think it’s time to find out what Snell and Murphy can do Dunleavy has been playing great and it seems to be a disservice to him to stick him on a yet another losing team at his age – what’s his trade value? – seems like a contender could use him for a say 15-30 first round pick or a decent young player. Next, Carlos Boozer – it will be pointless to continue to play him and thus win just enough games to miss the lottery – and still go out in the first round of the playoffs. He’s playing very well this year – amazing how much better he is when he finally gets a reasonable number of “touches” – but I doubt he has any significant trade value at his current age/salary. My dream – amnesty him right now and bring in of the some better D-League guys for “auditions.”

Tom Rowlett

Sam: This is the total tank scenario of becoming a minor league team to try to lose every game the rest of the season and get a guaranteed top three pick. I cannot imagine any scenario in which the Bulls completely give up like that. Though I thought they’d keep Deng. So don’t go by me. I’d find it unconscionable as a franchise, though I’m not being asked for advice. I just think it’s because Forman and Paxson don’t know my email. It’s certainly possible they could make a move with Dunleavy and Hinrich, who have value to good teams. But it would take a No 1 pick, I assume. The Bulls aren’t taking back players with contracts. But I also was surprised the Cavs gave up the pick. But the Cavs haven’t done that well with the lottery picks they did have. I agree. Anything is possible now. Though I’d hope the Bulls feel they owe the game and remaining players enough to continue to be able to field a competitive team.

I was a bit confused, exactly how much cap space will the Bulls have this summer assuming we also amnesty Boozer? Assuming we have plenty of cap space, who will we go for besides Mirotic? Hear plenty of rumors about guys like Carmelo Anthony, but I hate feeding into rumors and I am more of a realist. So what do you think?

Elbron Odisho

Sam: I should clear this up: Hardly anyone. The Deng trade likely does not make the Bulls a major free agent player. If they were to sign Mirotic from overseas, they wouldn’t have that much left. Even if they don’t, they likely are not in contention for any top free agents. These are all estimates for now. But the cap is at about $58 million now and projected to be about $62 million for next season. The Bulls payroll now is about $49 million for next season. But they have to add in draft picks and they could get two. If they go for Mirotic this summer, I assume he costs $6 million to $8 million given he has a buyout to pay if he leaves this summer. So that may leave the Bulls about $5 million for a free agent. If he doesn’t come, then the Bulls have maybe $12 million. Still, it’s far below any maximum contract for a free agent. But there are many, many possibilities and no way of knowing now. I’d describe what’s going on now as a process.

I was just reading a Brian Windhorst article and he mentioned that the Bulls have the option of signing Luol this summer. Is that true?

Argie Grigorakos

Sam: Of course. You can make an offer to any free agent. I’d say there is virtually no chance of Deng returning to the Bulls. The Bulls have made it clear Mirotic is an offseason priority. He could elect to stay in Europe. But with slots to pay draft picks, they likely wouldn’t have much more than that $10 million they offered Deng. Even if he found no market, pride alone would probably send him elsewhere. But Deng figures to have good timing. It’s not a strong free agent summer with many top players already resigning, like Paul George and Kobe Bryant. No one believes LeBron could come to Chicago; plus the Bulls don’t have enough cap space. Nor for Carmelo Anthony without trading someone like Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah. But a lot of teams do have cap room and if James and Anthony resign with their teams, like many expect, Deng could be the beneficiary of a free agency windfall. And the Cavs seem to have indicated they will do all they can to keep Deng. That sounds like much more than $10 million worth.

I'm not necessarily mad at the Luol Deng trade because it makes sense for the Bulls, but it’s going to be even harder to watch the rest of the Bulls season now.

Yousuf Shamsie

Sam: That is the problem with doing this. You still have 50 or so games to play and more than three months. That’s a lot of Broadway shows with the understudy. It does come down in some respects to an issue that always has been familiar and which has gone on in the NBA forever or any sports league with a draft that matters (not baseball). And more so in basketball because so few players are needed to be a champion compared with other sports. You can identify a star much easier. And he makes an impact more quickly. So the temptation always is there if you are not that good to give up and try to get that star. So the team really isn’t cheating its fans in the view of many around the NBA. It’s saying it wants the best for its fans, a chance for a title, and this is the best and quickest way to achieve that. But there’s pain along the way. So how much can you take. It obviously hits the paying customers the hardest, though they also profit the most when the team does well. How valuable were those Bulls playoff tickets in the 1990’s? As readers know, I always lobby for playing out the season as hard and well as you can and then work from there. But at the same time any business person would be foolish to reject a $20 million payment. I never make issue with teams’ spending. That’s why I wasn’t critical at the time of the James Harden deal. If you can’t make a profit you can’t run a business, and as the players always remind us, it’s a business. I don’t allow anyone to tell me how to spend money or if I can make a profit; so I don’t tell others. But in taking a chance on getting much better you do run the risk of making the current show much worse.

It's a sad day indeed, as I'm a big Lu fan, but I understand that management really had no choice but to do what it did. In the end it was ultimately Lu's choice - come back and play with the coach and players he loves, albeit for less money and years, or seek market value. My temptation is to say that $30 mil would be enough for me to stay for those reasons, especially coming off a big contract, but I might feel differently if I was in his shoes. Everyone I think has a desire to be paid what they believe they're worth. And for all we know, with the high character he has, he might view the extra dough as the equivalent of a couple of schools built in the Sudan - greed doesn't seem to fit his style. If I were management I would leave the $30 mil / 3 year option on the table and formally offer it to Lu once free agency opens this summer. Maybe they sweeten it a bit with a coveted no-trade clause, as I think Lu would still qualify - he brings so much value to the team. He's going to have the experience playing elsewhere for a few months, and you never know how the change in perspective might affect him. I'm sure Ben Gordon would agree!

Ross Goodman

Sam: Maybe he’ll call Ben. Nah, they weren’t very close. Who knows who’ll be left to play with, anyway? It’s likely if Lu is willing to take less to pursue a chance to play for a title contender next season he’d likely find a team with a better chance than the Bulls.

The Bulls sans Deng are not a lottery team. As long as Noah and Augustin don’t get injured, I see the Bulls finishing 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. Maybe a second round depending on matchup. Thibs, strong candidate for coach of the year. Bulls defense is something to admire.

William Blanco

Sam: I hope you are right as I’d like to see some playoff basketball with this group. Even if it’s not two month’s worth. I think they’ll try, as will the coach. But it’s a lot to ask of a team, especially with the possibilities hanging over their heads of more moves for draft picks. It’s just too difficult to lose your two best scorers. Imagine Oklahoma City without Westbrook and Durant, Miami without LeBron and Wade, Houston without Howard and Harden, Indiana without George and West, Portland without Aldridge and Lillard. I don’t include San Antonio as they can make the playoffs if no one plays. I don’t expect the Bulls now to be a top four team in the East and I do think making the playoffs will be difficult. To quote Jim Mora, “Playoffs!”

In some ways the non-signing and trade of Luol Deng has answered my question. Miami players signing reduced contracts to form a team is not carrying over to others. I've been wondering if Bulls players would do this to form the Team around DRose. Luol wanted more money so that sets the example. Do you think this establishes the trend or will top players play for less to be in Chicago?

Lawrence Joy

Sam: The Miami thing was unique given the quality of players. Plus they didn’t take much less with the lack of a state income tax. And they ended up getting sign and trades for more money. But, yes, they did make some sacrifices. Deng didn’t know whether he was asked to take a large home discount. I don’t blame him. How could he accept $10 million—yes, as much as it is—when he had no chance to test the market. I think he handled himself professionally and did the right thing for his future. The playing for less to be in Chicago is fairly irrelevant since the Bulls obviously have had trouble attracting free agents for more money. The issue here is building around Rose. That is over with. I believe Rose will return and be a high level player again. But obviously the Bulls cannot rely on that after two years out as they did previously. So I think they’ll look at Derrick as more of a piece now, sort of like when he came to the team and we all pretty much agreed with his lack of a jump shot would never average 20 points. So they’ll wait to see if he can surprise them again. They are going with him, just not completely around him.

Now that Deng is traded and more cap is being cleared, I read that Golden State is interested in Kirk as a backup. Would shipping off Kirk and those three picks Chicago just acquired for Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes reasonable? Even throw in Dunleavy if need be since he's on a two year deal. Which means even more cap. Both Thompson and Barnes are on friendly rookie deals for now too. Any thoughts or possibilities to this happening?

Frank DiGiulio

Sam: Some fans seem to feel these moves were about making other moves now. I don’t believe they were. Sure, teams may be interested in Bulls players. But the view around the NBA now is the Bulls are dumping players for more cap room. So basically teams are offering to take salaries off the Bulls hands for nothing and suggesting the Bulls throw in a pick to help and save the Bulls money on the draft pick. I highly doubt the Bulls are considering any move that involves bringing back a player with a contract beyond this season. If there are any more deals, I suspect now they would be for draft picks and expiring contracts as the priorities have changed.

I read that Houston is interested in Mike Dunleavy and is shopping Donatas Motiejunas. How about trading Dunleavy and Murphy for Motiejunas and Ronnie Brewer? A second round pick or two could be added to sweeten the deal for the more reluctant party.

Mike Wilson

Sam: I have not heard they are shopping Motiejunas. I would be surprised if they were as he’s a young seven footer and it’s obvious they are trying to trade Asik. If someone wanted to trade the Bulls a young, athletic seven footer for one of their veterans I have no doubt they’d be thrilled. I don’t expect that to happen.

What do you think Loul Deng's per year market value compensation would be this free agency? Do you think the $10mm per year offered, or even say $11 or $12mm, is comparable to other 2 time All-Stars or to comparable mid-career small forwards of Deng's productivity and overall package?

Tim Van

Sam: Market value is what someone will pay you, not what you are worth compared to other players or what are your stats. A negotiation is when each side decides what it will offer and accept. The Bulls made a calculation and decided Deng's value to them. Deng believes it is different for him. So he'll test the market as CEOs do all the time as well as minimum wage employees. If someone wants to pay Deng substantially more than the Bulls, that is his value. He's never tested the open market. It makes sense for him to try.

I vote for trading Gibson which not only gets them under the cap this year, but adds flexibility in the future. He is owed $33M over this season and the next three. Financially that could make keeping Boozer through the end of his contract a better option than amnesty. Either way they still have to pay Boozer, so salary cap is the only reason to get rid of him. Keeping Boozer also gives Bulls flexibility if Mirotic waits another year to come over. Can you think of any playoff teams that would want Gibson? If not I think some small market team that struggles to attract free agents as the perfect trade partner. An example would be Milwaukee. I'm not looking for much in return, just financial flexibility.

John O’Connor

Sam: This isn’t the last season in NBA history. The Bulls will be required to play a season next season as well. Financial flexibility doesn’t win too many games. Didn’t we hear a lot about that in 2010? I suppose you could dump Noah as well and have even more. There are obviously various scenarios now as everything has to be on the table after trading Deng. But I’d guess as Gibson has begun to show this season he can handle the power forward spot at a high level and if you can an $8 million salary isn’t unreasonable, I’d think the Bulls prefer to keep him.

Although I thought it was the right move from a financial perspective and the future health of the team, it was a sad day to read that Luol was traded. More than anyone else, he has personified the heart, hustle, and toughness of the Bulls teams of the last 3 years under Thibs. Because of those qualities I've never enjoyed watching the Bulls more, and that includes the 6 championship years. The last 3 years have been a reminder that the failure/success of a sports team cannot always be measured by championships lost or won. With the Derrick Rose injuries, there will be plenty of 'what-if' conversations in the future. Even those debates have their own joy.
So, my question is what non-championship NBA team have you most enjoyed watching?

Kyle Hubbard

Sam: It’s a wonderful point that is too often overlooked. I’ve always resented the arbitrary view of many that if you don’t win you are a loser. Though it’s fairly common everywhere. And no one celebrates success, no matter how accidental, than Americans, who eagerly call everything they win world championships. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of favorite teams and players who lacked that ultimate win. I came to regard the Spurs when the Rockets beat them in the conference finals and David Robinson took such a beating as a supposed loser because Hakeem Olajuwon played so great. So did Robinson. Guys are winners without championships for the way they compete as much as the right bounce. I enjoyed Mike D’Antoni’s Suns and believe they were robbed of a chance for a title by a bad league ruling on a suspension. The 2001 Kings were terrific and got some tough calls in a few games that left them forgotten about. The Lakers of the 60’s with Baylor and West never won a title despite being in the Finals almost every year. Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas’ Royals of the 60’s also were great to watch though even never winning against the greatest dynasty ever. Dominique’s Hawks in the 80’s were fun and just about any team with Pete Maravich. We work backward too much and see who won and then decide they are the best team. You’ll have more fun watching them from the front and appreciating them for what they do as much as what they accomplish.

Any reports on whether Bynum made the trip from Cleveland to Chicago before being waived? Did he even get a chance to try on a uniform? But then given the cold weather he probably made a beeline straight to Miami or back to LA.

Ross Dalrymple

Sam: Actually, his behavior of ignoring the coach and shooting threes from the other end of the court in practice may be a fairly typical sign of Midwestern cabin fever. I do it often, though without a basketball. I thought the Bulls could have done well selling some Bynum jerseys. It could have replaced some of the Priest Lauderdale, Martin Muursepp and Dedric Willoughby jerseys that still are so popular.

I was sad to see Luol Deng go. I never wanted him gone and felt that management lowballed him. Now that he's gone, it's clear that management is looking to the future. Chicago will most likely bring Mirotic over. I think Chicago should target Lance Stephenson as well. He's a great young player and the Bulls should do everything they can to get him. So how does Chicago clear the cap space for this move?

Belal Tiba

Sam: Stephenson would be intriguing. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Pacers could match any offer. But that could be an issue. The indications are Stephenson wants to remain with a good Pacers team. But he’s been one of the most surprising and most improved as well, and unlikely given he was regarded as such an out of control player. If the Bulls go for Mirotic they’d be out of the bidding for someone like Stephenson. But they also conceivably could make an offer that would be tough for the Pacers to match as the Rockets did with them for Asik. The Bulls could have $10 million to $12 million for a free agent, though that is uncertain at this point given they don’t know about draft picks yet. There’ll be several teams pursuing Stephenson. And the Bulls figure to move Jimmy Butler to be a small forward. But there are going to be so many possibilities this summer and I doubt at this point before the draft the Bulls have any true idea how they’ll proceed or even how much money they’ll have available.

Since it seems our Bulls are "rebuilding" by trading Deng and possibly willing to trade Hinrich and/or others, wouldn't it be the perfect scenario if this were to happen: We get the 8-16th pick because we do bad. From the Deng trade we get Cleveland's pick from the Kings, a 1st rounder next year if the Kings finish with the 13th pick or worse. Then we also can get Charlotte's pick if they finish with the 11th pick or worse next year. Added with our own (let’s say 8th pick, best case scenario) we have the possibility of having 3 picks within the top 10-20 players of the "deepest draft." Then we also bring over Nicola from Real Madrid next year, amnesty Boozer and use his salary to pick up some FA's It's possible that we may have 3 draft picks that pan out to be really good. That's one quick rebuild in one year’s time. Or you can always try and swap all 3 picks for the number one pick (Jabari Parker). Just dreaming a lil dream is all. It doesn't hurt to dream.

Jovani Agosto

Sam: I won’t wake you up. But that scenario does give you a good chance to win the NCAA title.

I’m really going to miss Luol Deng in a Bulls uniform. I thought he was a great player for the Bulls and I can understand why the coach/team is upset. Do you think the Bulls will honor him in the future by retiring his number?

Marc Lindley

Sam: The Bulls are conservative when it comes to retiring numbers. It basically comes down to this: You have to be in the Hall of Fame and be there because of what you did with the Bulls. That’s why I don’t expect the jersey numbers of Dennis Rodman, Artis Gilmore and Chet Walker to be honored that way. Rodman made his name with the Pistons, Gilmore in the ABA and Chet with the 76ers as Wilt’s wing man when they won the title. So you ask why Bob Love. Bob’s retirement was long after his career ended and he’d dedicated his post career to the Bulls. He even had his wedding ceremony at halftime of a game and it was presided over by former top Sun-Times Bulls beat reporter, the Rev. Lacy J. Banks. I don’t expect Lu to have the same post career Bulls commitment.

Based on how this season is going do you think the Bulls will end up with either Charlotte or Sacramento's 1st round pick in the next draft?

Brian Jackson

Sam: If the draft were held today based on standings, the Bulls would have No. 16 from the Bobcats, No. 17 for their own pick and not get the Kings pick. The best chance is the Bobcats pick as I think they’ll miss the playoffs, but they could end up at the bottom of the lottery at 12 or 13. I don’t see the Kings getting out of the bottom 12 in the league this season. But I think they will by 2017.

I need help and I suspect I'm not alone... my head is spinning with all the draft pick scenarios that the Bulls will have over the next 3 to 4 years. Can you find a way to simplify that for us fans who are draft scenario challenged?

Ray Sibley

Sam: There is no simple formula since most everything is based on whether teams including the Bulls make the playoffs. I’d say not to think about it until April 16 in Charlotte, the final day of the regular season, which could be the classic tanking game. It’s possible a Bulls loss in that game can mean the difference between two lottery picks and none as the Bulls will get Charlotte’s pick first rounder this season if it’s 11-30. So would the Bulls purposely lose the final game to get the Bobcats a better record? See, I told you it could be an exciting season right to the end.

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