Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 02.08.2013
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
The latest rumor is that the Bulls are talking with the Raptors for a Boozer-Bargnani swap. While it's only talks as of now and I doubt it will actually happen, it is an interesting possibility. Defense between Boozer and Bargnani is null, they are about the same. Rebounding has a favor to Boozer, but Bargnani is a 7 footer and Noah and Deng are both good rebounders. Offense is about the same as both are 14-18ppg. The big difference then comes in is play style. Boozer is a post/paint player. Bargnani is more mid-range/3pt shooter. With Derrick's play style, Bargnani is a bit better fit as he spaces the floor better and allows Derrick to attack the basket with out the paint being clogged with others.
Sam: I’ve gotten several of these emails. I’m not sure you make that deal, though I know we’ve said for two years you can’t trade Boozer. It really doesn’t sound like a good deal for either team, actually. I find it hard to believe the Raptors after taking on Rudy Gay’s $19.3 million in 2014-15 would add Boozer’s $16.8 million. That’s $36 million of a $58 million cap for two non All-Stars? I can’t imagine you couldn’t get a shorter deal for Bargnani, whom I’m told the Raptors for some reason really hate these days. It’s true the Raptors have no size, though they like their rookie power forward Jonas Valanciunas. Boozer as a five? They must really hate Bargnani. Well, if you are playing Aaron Gray anyone is an improvement, I guess. Does it tell you something if the Raptors are so desperate to get rid of a No. 1 overall pick in the draft who they’ve labeled their franchise player for years for a player with such a big, long contract? Perhaps if Bargnani had a year or two fewer on his contract I’d more strongly consider it as the Bulls. Yes, you’d save about $5 million per year on the contract differences, though not until maybe the 2013-14 season because you’d have to take back a contract or two to match salaries. Thibs probably would push to get John Lucas back as he regretted letting Lucas go. Of course, Nate Robinson has done pretty well. Bargnani has been an injury prone player who’s missed an average of 25 games per season the last three seasons. He’s a poor rebounder who often doesn’t even appear to try and seems almost afraid of contact. At that size, you’d get hit in the head with more balls than he usually catches. His defense is awful. But he is an excellent three point shooter and could space the floor nicely for Derrick Rose and maybe be a bigger playoff factor for the Bulls when the interior gets clogged in the playoffs. But when you trade, you cannot use amnesty for the guy you receive. So if the Bulls had a chance to get a high level star player or make a major move before 2015-16 they could be stuck because of Bargnani’s contract. Trading for Bargnani also might mean the Bulls would have to let go Luol Deng when his contract expires. I’d much rather keep Deng. So, yes, you maybe could trade Boozer. And oh how everyone wanted to do that the last two years. The interesting thing is the majority of the more than two dozen emails from Bulls fans I received Thursday when ESPN published a rumor was the fans would rather keep Boozer. How about that after these last few years? Mr. Booz for Most Popular Bull. I’ve heard from those close to both sides who say there’s nothing to it. But no one actually admits to trade stories.
Bargs for Booz rumor... I won't even ask, fake?
Sam: As Elaine famously said in Seinfeld, “Fake, fake, fake, fake.” I don’t know of anything imminent, but Boozer’s name often comes up in rumors (mostly by fans) given his long contract and until recently limited production. He supposedly was untradeable. Given he’s played well this season maybe the Bulls look to get out from under the deal when his value is high is one notion. I guess it’s possible. If I were to trade Boozer I’d want to get a shorter contract. I’d also like Kevin Durant. If you play Bargnani after losing Asik along with Boozer maybe you lose the edge you’ve long had as a rebounding team. The Bulls have being creamed lately on the boards with their smaller lineups. With Bargnani having two seasons left after this it could clash with the hopes of adding Mirotic, who plays similarly, by the summer of 2014. But you move Boozer for scoring. And Bargnani did average 21 and 19 the last two seasons, though he missed a lot of games. Or maybe the Bulls feel Belinelli needs a friend. I’m fairly sure they’d like to keep Marco. Is Gallinari available? Bargnani/Boozer is an interesting combination to consider even if I don’t see any such deal being made.
Please tell me that there is no chance for a Boozer-Bargnani trade. This would be terrible for the Bulls. Our advantage over Miami is our size and rebounding, so we trade for someone who is 7 ft tall, yet can't average more than 5 rebounds a game? Plus he is an even worse defender than Boozer is. I understand that we save some money, but at what cost? Trading Boozer who is playing his best basketball since he arrived here, and than getting Bargnani who is playing his worst basketball doesn't make any sense to me.
Sam: That’s right. Bulls fans are rising up: We will not go on witout the Booz! It seems just last week... Well, actually four weeks ago.
Nazr Mohammed has thoroughly disappointed me. I never expected him to be the team MVP, but I was hoping, and it looked in the preseason, that he would play a very similar role to that of Kurt Thomas two seasons ago-a defensive-minded center with the ability to hit the pick and pop jumper. However, it appears that father time has caught up to Nazr, and he is no longer capable of playing meaningful minutes for the Bulls. Do you think the Bulls will plunge into the depths of the d-league, perhaps on a 10-day basis, for temporary help while our front court remains thin due to injury? If so what are some potential Bulls-signees? Or will the team look elsewhere, such as via trade?
Sam: The concern de jour this week, and there generally is one, was Nazr. Well, until the Bargnani rumor report on ESPN. No, he hasn’t done much lately with Noah out. Of course, he barely got to play with Noah out. Which raises the eternal question of which came first, the dunk or the highlight show. If you don’t play, you can’t help, to say nothing of scoring. But if you’re not playing that must mean you can’t play. But if Michael Jordan never played would we know if he could play? This is the sort of stuff which makes me consult my Confucius. Or Phil Jackson. If you have paid attention to the Bulls and especially Thibodeau the last few years you should be pretty sure they aren’t making any changes. First, Noah isn’t expected to be out long and Boozer is back. Plus, the plan going into the season was to play Gibson at backup center given the East plays so many small centers. It was tabled a bit when Gibson started slowly, but I think we’ve seen when Noah went out that Gibson certainly can play backup centers the way he played both Brook Lopez and Al Horford. Plus, Thibodeau doesn’t use guys who just showed up. Like Mike James last year. His offense and defense is based on season long repetition. So he doesn’t trust players coming from the D-league or who have been sitting around or in Europe. They won’t play. And it’s not like there’s much out there. There are plenty of teams playing small because they have no center. Miami just had to go for Chris Andersen, who was under suspicion in a child pornography case. He was never charged, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be with a team. The point is when you’ve been looking all season to add a center and it takes you four months and it’s Andersen you aren’t likely to add anyone who’ll give you more than Mohammed. That said, I would have played him some against the Pacers against the world’s second slowest man, Roy Hibbert. But it’s not like it would have changed the game, and given the minutes concerns, with injuries Noah and Deng have gotten time off and should be fine down the stretch.
Do you get the feeling a lot of people are looking past Indiana this year? They look like a team that saw what the Bulls were doing and sort of copied. I don't see them as quite there, but the only team that scares me more in the East for playoffs is Miami. George looks like he going to be the real deal. A whole lot of teams are probably kicking themselves now. How many teams could have moved into top ten for that one. People keep saying that they are missing their best player in Granger... that is not true anymore is it?
Sam: I do get the feeling as most of the mail I get involves the Bulls conference finals against Miami and how many games Miami could get. The Pacers are a little like the Bulls were in the mid to late 80’s looking toward Detroit, though the Bulls haven’t quite won anything. The Pistons were busy looking at Boston and the Bulls were this annoying little kid who kept wanting to tag along. Then they won the game. Despite the Bulls terrific play and season, there are few top teams this season more unstable for the long run given, especially Derrick Rose’s rehabilitation and it being still unknown when and if he will play and for how long. There are other injuries and a relatively short bench at times. The Pacers have been stable with few injuries and are due to get back Danny Granger soon. Assuming they don’t trade him (until this summer), that could be an issue with the emergence of Paul George. But I think Granger and George looks a lot better than George and Lance Stephenson. Plus, the Pacers don’t feel they have gotten the Bulls respect, like in that 2011 first round series and that game a year or so back when the Pacers won late in Chicago, were enthusiastic and felt the Bulls were complaining about their good fortune. They feel, although it isn’t true, the Bulls don’t take them seriously. It’s inspiring for them. And while the Bulls are 3-0 against the Knicks, the Knicks have way more scoring power. I think the Hawks, Celtics and Nets are done. But the Pacers and Knicks are going to be serious playoff teams whom the Bulls would go into the playoffs against as underdogs if they play them.
There's no question Bulls need more front court depth, attested by the recent struggle without Noah and Boozer along with ineffective Nazr. Would Denver be interested in taking Rip Hamilton plus a second round pick for Anthony Randolph and Mozgov who aren't seeing much action?
Sam: This would be the trade I most often get these days. I was getting a lot of J.J. Redick deals until Jimmy Butler emerged and with Belinelli there’s really little need. So it’s continued with the big man search. Sure, the Bulls could use some backup size, though it would have to be someone of a reasonably high level for Thibodeau to use this late in the season. But I really cannot find many cases in NBA history where a team in need was able to play it’s 13th and 14th men, players basically not being used, for a player of some value, which Mozgov is as at one time he was the guy who almost broke up the Carmelo Anthony deal when the Knicks initially didn’t want to give him up. It would take a first round pick or someone like Butler, and the Bulls never, ever, never have made a rental type trade as Mozgov is a free agent. Plus, given no one really knows whether Rose is returning and how he’ll be if and when he does, I cannot see the team making any substantial move given the uncertainty regarding Rose and how much his presence affects the team.
Why is Rip still on this team? He doesn't provide anything that Marco or Jimmy, given playing time, do not provide. He plays horrible defense, complains too much, and, for someone who's supposed to be a wily veteran, makes a lot of dumb decisions. Why don't the Bulls send him home a la J.R. Smith? Starting Marco or Jimmy and playing those two in combo at the 2-guard will make this team much better.
Sam: So, what’s your real opinion? Hamilton is the favorite to be traded among fans. But given his reasonably large salary, to make a salary cap match and buyout cost and some injuries make it highly unlikely there’d be any deal. I happen to disagree and think Hamilton mostly has had a good season. He’s been a great teammate, the rare veteran, All-Star and leading scorer on a championship team who has quietly and professionally accepted sitting late in games. Hamilton has been a great teammate and locker room influence. Plus, he’s been the third best three point shooter on the team and a very good, unselfish passer. Given his acceptance of a limited role I don’t see the Bulls as good in the playoffs without him. If you forget, in last season’s playoffs with all the injuries, Hamilton was one of the most effective Bulls, averaging 13.3 points and three assists in less than 30 minutes per game. He’s also been the team’s best free throw shooter.
The Bulls are missing Omer asik as thier back up center as far as I can tell, so is it possible for the Bulls to get a big man this summer like Timofey Mozgov?
Sam: To paraphrase Mark Jackson, “Momma, there’s that man again.” My guess is a month ago no one in Chicago had heard of him. Now he’s Bill Cartwright. I expect the Bulls to make a few changes this summer given they’ll have the smaller, non tax paying exception and still have the Korver trade exception. Though much depends on who they bring back given Belinelli, Robinson, Mohammed and Radmanovic are free agents and Hamilton as a buyout most likely to be exercised.
Nobody wants these Bulls to succeed more than I do... nobody. However, I'm concerned Coach Thibs may be going down the Scott Skiles path. Quite a few similarities: 1) maximum effort 2) intense practices 3) demand for perfection 4) discipline. Will he eventually lose his grip on our beloved Bullies? Understandably this team (as Gar puts it) are leaders, workers, etc. so they don't mirror the Baby Bulls of a few years ago (i.e. Ben Wallace). But I can't help but to worry. Factor in heavy minutes which management may not fully agree with along with some frustration over injuries, and this may be an issue in the near or distant future.
Sam: Let me see which values he’s pursuing are the bad ones: Trying hard? Working hard? Not accepting sloth? Good conduct? I love this view of coaches that either they don’t push hard enough and players quit or they push too hard and players quit. I do know Thibs likes his porridge just right. Everyone is different. Even fans. Scott’s a terrific, bright coach who’ll get hired again. But he tends to burn out. Given Thibs has watched film 18 hours each off day for 20 years I’m not worried about burnout. If you really want to see the Bulls succeed, though I do know of a few people who may want it more than you, you want Thibodeau as coach. If the players view those characteristics of Thibodeau inappropriate, then I’d say the Bulls need new players. I’m guessing they don’t, especially the ones who played for Vinny. Not because Vinny was a bad guy. But success is a lot more fun. It seems pretty clear Thibs knows how best to produce that, and I expect he’ll be here a long time.
Why doesn't Thibodeau rest his best players more often? The goal of the NBA season is to win the title, not to win as many meaningless regular season games as possible. How does running Luol and Noah into the ground bring them closer to a championship? Managing minutes seems to be Thibs only flaw as a head coach, and I hope Garpax steps in before they blow a chance at winning the east, which seems possible at this point.
Sam: Pssst, it’s not possible. OK, make it not likely to save me a few nyaah, nyaah, nyaahs just in case. I add this one because these drive Thibs nuts. We’ve debated this one endlessly and if you want Thibs as coach you have to accept the playing time. It’s what he believes in and what works. Everytime the Bulls lose I get a bunch of emails asking why he didn’t have Noah or Boozer in at some point. When they win, I get emails wanting Deng and Noah out of the game. I have yet to see the scientific study which shows the negative effect of 39 minutes instead of 37. But the issue should be moot now as Noah, Boozer and Deng have been out with injuries and thus getting plenty of rest.
Is there a way for you to check starter minutes vs. games missed for the top 8 teams and report to us on it? My bet is that the Bulls will be virtually no different than the other potential playoff rosters. A cursory check with radio and their well-meaning, yet contextually lacking, overwrought panic tells me they're blaming Thibs. Currently, the Clippers have 2 injured starters (Paul, Griffin) who were playing career low fourth quarter minutes, and the Spurs - lauded for resting key starters, have Duncan and Ginobili and Jackson out. Two of the last three playoff runs, the Spurs and Celtics had injured starters as well.
Sam: You mean players can get injured not playing big minutes? You might make that three with the Clippers with Crawford also hurt. Look, talk radio can be very entertaining and a nice source of debate. But it’s not where you generally go for expertise. I don’t believe they advertise that. They sell discussion and possibilities, and they really don’t much watch any other teams. So it’s difficult to get much perspective. Not getting injured is vital. Look, the Bulls don’t win six titles if Jordan and Pippen were getting hurt. The Thunder basically hasn’t had a major injury in three years. Similarly with Miami. But the Bulls also succeeded because Jordan and Pippen averaged almost 40 minutes per game in their primes. The same with Tim Duncan and Kobe. You win because your top players are able to play big minutes. The big minutes don’t necessarily cause injuries. I’ve never seen any evidence that 37 minutes keeps you healthy and 39 minutes doesn’t. But how long can you discuss the Bears’ offensive line?
When he finally cracks a smile for once he tries to cover it... gotta love Thib's intensity out there. But a game like Atlanta really makes me appreciate the coach we got because I dont think there is a better one in the league. I honestly feel like he could take any team in this league to at least the playoffs. It's about time his offensive system gets some more credit though. Along with the fact that the Bulls don't score a high amount of points that has everything to do with pace not how good youre scheme is. I don't think anyone would argue who has the best defensive gameplan in the league. Where would you rate him amongst coaches in terms of his offensive scheme?
Sam: Thibodeau’s specialty is preparation and a system of play. These things about offensive and defensive systems and schemes are somewhat overrated. Games come down to teams running a series of plays to get the best shots and then best position to deny stops. The team that does each the most wins. It’s the way coaches look at games. Not the big picture of imposing a philosophy on someone else or momentum and other vague terms. Thibodeau has hundreds of plays for offense and guidelines for where to be on defense, where to push the pick and roll for help, where to play an opponent to his weakest point. Thibs is a stat guy who breaks down every opponent player’s tendencies, i.e., where he shoots the best from, the lowest, etc. That’s what “Do Your Job” is all about. It’s not about doing it all the time, though Thibodeau believes it is one day possible (Shhhhh. It’s not). It’s about percentages, like blackjack. You see what cards have been played and then take your shot. Same with all coaches. You play percentages as much as you can, getting the players in position for good shots and hope they make them and then making it as tough as possible for the opponent to make his shots. Then you check the box score to see who won. That’s why you often see coaches checking the box score after the game in those media conferences. The coach is busy calling 100 plays. He doesn’t fully know what happened. Thibs just happens to do it better than most because he plans, works harder and is demanding and has players who respond. That’s the formula.
Do you think that Daequan Cook will have any sort of role with the Bulls? He has had some time to learn their system and practice.
Sam: Cinnamon? I know he hasn’t played much, which I think is the model for those suggesting the Bulls add players. Though he’s good in blowouts, like Thursday in Denver. Players who start late don’t generally get to play much in the Bulls system. But he could return next season as a reserve depending on the roster given the Bulls will have had a chance to see him in practice all season.
I'm [going to] go on record and say that Allen Iverson's playing days are over no matter what anyone says. I can't help but feel for the guy a little bit considering how much he has done to elevate the league and to see him going through the personal problems that he's been going through. Say what you want about the guy, but he was an absolute warrior out there and he knew what the fans were paying to see. Having turned down the D-League offer from the Mavs, would you harken to say that A.I.s best shot at landing a stable job is in a Scottie Pippen-esque 'Ambassador' role for the Sixers? Because I'm pretty sure that organization and its fans would love to have him around in some capacity.
Sam: I don’t see Iverson getting a playing opportunity as much as he’d like to go out on the court. But he burned too many bridges on his way out in Denver and Detroit and the 76ers and probably any team cannot afford that media distraction of his return no matter how much he says he’s changed. Doug Collins always said there’s nothing worse having on your team than a former star at the end of his career because they never forgot who they were. And we know who coaches the 76ers. The Bulls actually have been one of the better franchises this way with not only Pippen, but Bob Love and Sidney Green working in community relations. Of course, there’s John Paxson and the Bulls now have former assistant Johnny Bach scouting for them. It would be nice to see Iverson get a chance to be back with the franchise given he was so important to their success in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. You could see when he went to even Memphis and said he’d change. But he didn’t and they couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. It’s too difficult. With new ownership I do see the 76ers giving him an opportunity in some form. But knowing Iverson I could see him rejecting it as he clearly still hasn’t shaken the need to still play.
What do you predict for Marquis Teague over the following two seasons? Will he be next year's Butler who blossoms with more playing time?
Sam: I know a lot of fans are down on him, as many were on Omer and Jimmy. I’ve liked what I’ve seen in Teague in very little playing time. He’s more a scoring point guard and you can see him hesitating given Thibs obviously has told him to run the offense. He looks like he’ll be a good player.
What are the chances of Nate Robinson being on the team next year? Because I really really think he should be!
Sam: I actually don’t think there’s much chance, and the better Nate plays the less chance. Winning player of the week honors probably extended his career. Nate was almost out of the NBA before being picked up by the Bulls. And he’s had a terrific season, obviously. Many fans believe he should be in the Sixth Man conversation. If you said that before the season it would be a joke. But assuming Derrick is at full health next season, that’s at least 35 minutes and Hinrich moves to backup with a guaranteed deal and clearly favored by the coach. Nate becomes at best a fourth guard, and Thibs isn’t about to make Rose or Hinrich the shooting guard with Nate at the point for defensive reasons. You can’t afford to pay a fourth guard much, and more than that Nate will get some good offers and he won’t be able to turn them down. Much as John Lucas did even as Thibs wanted to keep him. Guys like Nate and Lucas have to take the best deal they can with limited careers. But Nate will never be as good anywhere else given he more than perhaps anyone desperately needs the discipline of a Thibodeau system.
I read you said that nobody does what basketball players do, and that they are the best athletes. While I would tend to agree, what about hockey players? Some of the Blackhawks players are pretty athletic.
Sam: Never seen one even try a dunk on skates. Ever seen one of those guys without in street clothes without their pads? They look more like those guys in the old Dockers commercials. Just without teeth. Since I wrote that, a bunch of guys from Australia wrote to say Australian rules football players are just as athletic if not more. I took a peek and I will say they look tougher than NFL players as they play without equipment. But the game looks more like an English soccer riot.
We will never pair a second star with D-Rose. The problem with acquiring a second first-tier player is the one thing that kept LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and Howard from coming to Chicago: Derrick Rose himself. With a star talent comes the star ego; every first-tier player in the league wants to be The Man (with the exception of Derrick, ironically). With how much Rose is loved in Chicago, no player could come to Chicago and be more beloved by fans than Rose, not even LeBron. So who exactly is coming to be Rose's sidekick? Better to try to win a championship with the Boozers, Noahs, and Dengs than to keep planning to clear cap space for this nameless second star who will never come.
Sam: Bargnani? Hey, No.1 overall pick. Yes, there are other ways to win. And it sure looks like this team with a fully healthy Rose — no, not this season — could play with and beat anyone in the East. And once you get there like the Pistons and Mavericks found out you can win. The other big issue is there aren’t that many truly great stars, and while you wouldn’t say Deng and Noah are, they are All-Stars. So’s David Lee. Who are you going to get? The formula is changing with the new finances and penal luxury taxes and this three-star thing probably is a thing of the past the way the Thunder off loaded James Harden. So you play defense, rebound, and have just enough scoring and hard playing, good character and that’s a formula as well.
I'm not trying to be funny, but when I see Joakim Noah wearing the le coq sportif shoes on the court, I cringe. Those shoes don't appear to give the support an NBA player needs over an 82-game season. His [plantar fasciitis] doesn't surprise me, unfortunately. I know Jo has an endorsement contract with them, but is it possible those are a contributor to his feet woes?
Sam: It’s been speculated for a few years, but he has worn them since he had it in 2011 and hasn’t seemed to have had a problem. I don’t believe the teams can tell players what shoes to wear as the players have that right in their contracts. And you’ve got to admit the rooster is cool, Joakim-esque.
Do you expect Rose’s shooting to be much better than last year? You’ve seen him shoot before games, how does his shot look? Korver seems like a class-act, for sure, and is a fantastic shooter. I know it was a salary issue that drove his departure, but he always seems a bit nostalgic when he talks about the Bulls. Any chance he comes back next year?
Sam: The belief is with all the shooting Rose has had to do while waiting for his knee to heal his shot should be much better. It’s always been better than he’s been given credit for, and you saw him improve his three point shooting. I expect certainly early in his return whenever that is he’ll be more spot up and less driving. As for Korver, again it all will depend on finances, both his and the Bulls. But he did like playing for Thibodeau and prefers the Midwest.
Why is LeBron never in the dunk contest?
Sam: I believe he can dunk. It’s not considered cool among the young stars of the game. It’s hardly only LeBron. Another reason the NBA was its greatest ever in the 80’s.
With the Kings in such flux due to their impending sale, what are the chances they are willing to get "less than average value" for Tyreke Evans? Everything I have read is they have no real intention of re-signing him, and he seems to want a max deal.
Sam: With the pending ownership change, the assumption is current management cannot make any changes. It’s been revealed new ownership has petitioned for a location change, and every indication is the sale will go through.
Do you feel the national media is making too big a fuss about the Heats inability to rebound? Come playoff time you are going to see LeBron playing power forward getting anything they need. The Bulls, Pacers only chance is if he gets tired from playing in the paint, that come the fourth quartery he misses a couple of shots.
Sam: Miami was 21st in rebounding in the regular season last year and played much smaller in the playoffs. Seemed to work for them, though it is an area where you can gain an edge on them since no one in the East, anyway, can match them at two, there and four.
Why wasn't Butler selected for the All-Star Weekend festivities with 1st and 2nd year players?
Sam: Playing time, really. He hadn’t played that much this season until Deng went out, and last season he rarely played so wasn’t selected to the freshman group. You pretty much get invited again if you played as a rookie. So Butler was a long shot. But people around the NBA have noticed how well he’s played, which is just as significant for him.
With the emergence of Jimmy Butler, a lot of fans have been wanting Butler to finish games at the SG position when Derrick comes back. My opinion is that Kirk Hinrich should finish games at the SG position. If I remember correctly, teams were blitzing Derrick Rose in the playoffs and we needed another ball handler on the court. Not only can Kirk defend SG, but he is the secondary ball handler we've been lacking with Rose on the floor. What are your thoughts on who should finish games at the SG position?
Sam: It’s a good point, but Thibodeau likes shooters on the court for spacing late. He used Korver a lot the last few seasons and Belinelli often now. Jimmy’s issue will be to improve his shooting since teams are playing off him. He’s strong and quick and still has been able to make plays. But he needs to space the court more to be a viable shooting guard option. But I think he can and will.
There is much talk about a trade for a center or more reliable and productive big than Radmanovic. I unfortunately don’t see the Bulls making a trade for Mozgov or Anthony Randolph for example but would someone like Malcolm Thomas who played very well for the Bulls during the summer league be of any interest? He has just parted ways with the team in Israel he was with this season and I loved his explosiveness and energy he brought to every game he played in during the summer. He’s available, cheap and a familiar option.
Sam: Uh oh. You’re going to get Bulls fans going again. The issue is he’s maybe 6-7 or 6-8 with little offensive ability, sort of a poor man’s Taj. I don’t see what issues he’d actually address. But everyone did love his hustle and aggressiveness.
How long do you think Jimmy Butler will be with the Bulls? He's my favorite NBA player EVER and if he left the Bulls I don't know what I would do.
Sam: Ever! Michael? The Bulls have team options on Jimmy through the 2014-15 season and then would be a restricted free agent. So the Bulls could match an offer. I’d say it’s safe to buy his jersey.
Did you happen to catch any clips of the "Scallenge," where Brian Scalabrine went 1-on-1 against a few above-average Joes, and completely dominated them on offense and defense? It was a nice reminder that even "bad" NBA players are awesomely skilled, even if we never get to see it in game. With that in mind, did you ever witness any hidden skills by Ben Wallace, or was he just as bad on offense during games as he was in practice? And do you think, if both players were in their primes, that Brian Scalabrine could've beaten Ben Wallace 1-on-1?
Sam: I know Scal would dominate him at the line. I’ve seen Scal do that at clinics where guys who may have chanted his name at the United Center talk about playing him and he absolutely dominates them, dunking in their face. You have no idea how talented NBA players are. I know it’s Michael. But I saw him do this amazing thing with guys who were small college players or some level like that. Everyone would want to play him and he’d reluctantly agree and say to 11. Then the game was he scores 11 and they only have to get off 11 shots. They couldn’t. Jordan would block one shot after the next and easily score his 11 before they’d get off one or two shots. My suggestion was I’d just try to count to 11. Darned if he’d beat me, too.
With so many people counting the days when Rose comes back, can you re-hash how Michael Jordan looked when he came back from playing baseball and how missing 3/4 of the season doesn't mean you could come back playing at the high level that you once could?
Sam: Well, Michael did score 63 in a playoff game. It was a much different situation given Michael’s was a broken foot and not with the instability of the knee like an ACL. The larger issue was Stan Albeck being asked to limit Michael’s playing time. Stan was as good a guy as you’d ever find in the NBA. But it became a disaster of clashing wills with he and the team and Michael and led to Stan’s dismissal. It’s an almost impossible situation with your star. That could be a bigger issue. Michael actually was playing pickup ball unbeknownst to the Bulls back in North Caroline before his return. You can’t compare anyone to Jordan.
Regarding the "best athletes in the world...” If that's the case, then why was the greatest basketball player who ever lived no more than mediocre minor league baseball player?
Sam: Because he was an athlete, not a baseball player. But though many made fun of him he wasn’t bad. He played double A, which is pretty good baseball, and hit .202 with 17 doubles and 30 steals. In the fall league later he hit about .260. After a year in pro ball doing that is pretty darned good. I believe he would have made the majors on merit with a reasonable minor league stay of a few years. Heck, I’m sure he would have outplayed Adam Dunn in the 2011 season.
Do you think it would really be beneficial for Rose to go into D-League as he recovers?
Sam: It certainly would help attendance for the Iowa Energy.