Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 06.28.2013
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Hard to argue with adding shooters. Also, Gar and Pax have earned my trust with late round draft picks, probably the best in the league at finding real rotation player value late in the draft. I don’t know much about Snell, but from reading up on him seems to me like a Jimmy Butler body type, a natural ability to defend and a natural stroke. Always room on the roster for a plus defender/plus shooter. Send him to Thibs University and he should be playing 48 minutes in playoff games in no time! I definitely think the right play is to go for it this year with what we have and then next season you have the option to let Lu walk, amnesty Carlos, bring over Mirotic and explore free agency or a potential trade. I like the direction we are headed.
Sam: I think that’s the feeling and why I don’t expect much to occur. I think the Bulls believe given the field—with Miami taking a potential step back a bit with Wade’s knee problems and the age and uncertainty of the Nets even with their additions—the East is much wider open for several teams, the Bulls being one. And then everything will sort itself out. If the Bulls win or get to the Finals, then you bring everyone back, sign Deng, keep Boozer and are a title type team. If you don’t and have a slip up someone, then you know you’re not a title team and should be in position to make major changes. It’s a good spot to be in. Take one strong shot with the return of the former league MVP, thus giving yourself a solid season to gauge whether you are good enough and then being in a contract situation where you can easily get into free agency.
Why didn't the Bulls pick a big man? Dieng and Plumlee, and even Rudy Gobert were available. I know Gobert may have been a long term project but Deing and Plumlee are from great programs, which the Bulls love.
Sam: There were two pretty girls wanting to dance and the Bulls liked them both, but you have to choose in life. Rookies aren’t major pieces of your lineup, especially selections out of the lottery. You hope they develop quickly, like Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler did for the Bulls. So looking forward, you have to ask yourself toward the next two or three years what are your needs. The Bulls figured the way the NBA is going and the way their team is structured, shooting would be the most important. Nothing against the big men, though I suspect they liked Olynyk most among them. Maybe if he had slipped to No. 20, but a good shooter is never a mistake, especially for a team like the Bulls, who aren’t strong on three-point shooting. I felt they’d lean toward a big man, but I wasn’t surprised as I mentioned in my mock draft story the possibilities of Hardaway Jr. or Snell. Anybody else would have been a surprise. But you do guess and gamble a bit at No. 20 in the draft.
Why are the Bulls so high on Tony Snell? A similar player in shooting forward Reggie Bullock was still on the board when they took Snell and was regarded to be a much better defender and rebounder.
Sam: I think the Bulls saw the shooting guard position as the priority. The view is small forward is the more natural position for Jimmy Butler, so down the road it’s better to have someone potentially to come in as a shooting guard, which we know basically since Jordan left the Bulls have had all sorts of problems filling. I’ve gotten the most mail over the years about getting a shooting guard. After all, the Bulls went to the conference finals with Keith Bogans at the position, and basically haven’t had a better one since. Jimmy should serve fine for a while, but it’s a tougher position to fill than small forward. Snell is unusually good size at 6-7, which makes it even better.
I like the pick. Great size and length and solid NBA athlete (though not spectacular with only 36.5 max vertical). Most importantly, he looks like he can be a two-way player. Bulls need more shooters and this helps. Hopefully they can pick up a big in FA. Do you think Snell was picked to protect from Deng leaving after this year? I like Deng, but if he costs too much and leaves the Bulls, I like a Rose, Butler, Snell, Mirotic, Noah starting lineup – assuming Snell can progress like recent Bulls picks Butler and Gibson. He did play 3 years in college so that helps.
Sam: Not necessarily that the Bulls will lose Deng at some point. I guess if you were looking to be exact it would be some if they don’t retain Belinelli. Deng is a two-time All-Star. It’s way too much to suggest Snell is a replacement at No. 20 in the draft. Deng was the second ranked high school player to LeBron and a top 10 pick. As you wrote, Snell has size, can shoot and should be able to defend his position, which would be enough no matter who is on the team. As I’ve written many times, I believe the Bulls need to keep Deng this season and then he can make his decision as well, as the team. Nothing wrong with that.
One thing I see as a possibility with the Bulls drafting Snell, is that it could make them more confident in trading Deng. What do you think of a three way deal between the Lakers, Rockets, and Bulls? If Howard would agree to a sign and trade then I think this would work.
Sam: I blotted out the rest of the suggestion to concentrate on the Deng and Howard part. Howard has made it clear over the years he has no, none, nada interest in living, visiting or playing in Chicago. As for Deng, he is not, not, not being traded. How does anyone compare a low first round Snell pick to a two-time All-Star in Deng. And picked by the coaches, so no fluke. I like the Snell pick, but I wouldn’t depend on him all that much next season. He’ll be an NBA rotation player, though maybe not next season. The Bulls need Deng to be successful and unless someone makes some ridiculous offer, which is not likely, Deng will be a Bull next season. Plus, if the Bulls were to lose Deng in free agency after next season, which is part of the reason so many fans suggest trading him, they’ll have his money and be in position to be in free agency, which is unlike losing other players before and being over the cap. Deng is not going anywhere! Except back to London for the occasional vacation.
We shouldn't trade Deng. Besides,who else in this Bulls team is the definition of the our style of play other than Deng? He is the most selfless player in the league maybe, and is the guy that Thibs always leans upon,on both ends. What we should do is try to get Aldridge. He says he wants to play for Chicago, so we have to do something like Boozer, Butler (sadly!) and MAYBE picks (or Mirotic?), for Aldridge.This is good on both teams for a long-term. It make us contenders. We have the right tools to beat Miami here,Aldridge gets the chance to play with a true defensive center and a great coach,we basically have the same team that put on a good fight in the playoffs, add Rose and LMA to that. Trail Blazers get rid of their unhappy player,and get a solid 16/8 PF, and a great defensive wing, that has shown he can improve a lot in his offensive game. Also if they get picks/Mirotic, even better.
Sam: Yes, LaMarcus Aldridge. That was the trade of the week. Oh, poor baby may be sad. Raining too much in Portland, perhaps? Want to be in Chicago? Finally someone wants to come to the Bulls. Problem is he’s not a free agent, so he is not going anywhere. So, forget about Aldridge. There is zero chance. So what if a player decides he maybe wants to go to another team. Dwight Howard decides that every few weeks. You think every player is thrilled where he is all the time? It’s about leverage and situation. Aldridge has none having signed a long term extension through the 2014-15 season. He’s not going to stop playing and give back $15 million. He’s Portland’s top—and basically only—big man. So if they trade him it’s for your best big man, which would be Noah. They’re hardly taking a lesser player in Boozer and players at positions they have filled like Deng or Butler. Aldridge may well be traded. But the Trail Blazers likely could get Kevin Love, whom they do covet. I have heard in the wake of the Aldridge rumors teams began calling and the Trail Blazers were telling teams they’d want a starting center, one or two developing potential star players and No. 1 draft picks. Which basically means, Don’t call us again! I assume I’ll continue to get dozens of these through next season. But with two years left on his contract, the Trail Blazers are in no position where they have to take a deal. If Aldridge wants to get traded, he’ll play well next season and then when he’s a year away from free agency and if things have not straightened out, the team will begin to think about doing something. He and Love can be free agents at the same time, so I suspect their teams will monitor their situations this season and then consider offers and options.
You had Tim Hardaway Jr. going 10 picks higher in the draft than Tony Snell and yet they have similar games, though Snell has a slight size advantage. Why did the Bulls go with Snell over Hardaway?
Sam: I think the Bulls felt that though Hardaway may be more ready to play now, that Snell has a much higher ceiling and has better so called tools, as a better shooter and ballhandler. I think they believe Snell long term will be the better player, which seems a reasonable prediction. We get the chance to see if they are right, which is what the draft and personnel evaluation is about for everyone.
Guess it's not a surprise that Danny Ainge would pull the trigger on Trading KG and Pierce, but do you see the Nets flipping any of them as trading chips?
Sam: If they have to move much farther they’d need walkers and extra canes. Yes, we’ll make a lot of old man jokes like we did about the Knicks last season, and the Knicks did fade. No, it’s obvious what the Nets are up to, an embarrassingly rich owner with little regard for money making an ego run to get more attention in New York. The guy has learned the back pages of the tabloids quickly. If they can’t win a title, which he probably figures by now he can’t, at least he can win New York and taunt the Knicks all season. This used to be the Knicks, taking everyone’s bad, big name contracts with little regard for money. We’ll see if Dolan will get in the game, but with the Nets giving up three 1’s you can see this model will be their future. They will have impressive introductions, though.
So how rich is Mikhail Prokhorov anyway? According to my calculations he'll have a starting 5 making $90 Million combined! I guess that's like $20 to the average citizen for him. Seriously though, they've mortgaged their entire future to win now. It's the ultimate gamble and with Kidd as coach, I think it's going to blow up in their faces.
Sam: Filthy and stinking are mentioned. For the rich part. Not for the team yet, though let’s see if KG and Pierce begin to break down. Though all the names sound good, basketball generally doesn’t involve five guys scoring at the same time. They’ve got a lot of sorting out to do with that roster. It’s not being greeted quite yet with more than bad old age jokes.
What is the truth about the rumored deal with the Rockets to acquire Robinson? From what I read, I could never understand how this would benefit the Bulls taking on his $3.5 million salary. Is this now dead or a trade to be completed after July 10?
Sam: See, you understand, so why don’t these reporters? Perhaps the Bulls deepest position is power forward, where Deng also can play. Why exactly would they be willing to pay double or more in penalty tax for another undersized four? Of course they wouldn’t. Makes no sense. So how come these guys write it? Are they that stupid? I am the old guy so I can be cranky, but this I-have-a-Twitter-scoop-by-four-seconds journalism mentality these days produces all sorts of phony information like Deng traded to Washington while the Bulls were negotiating a long term extension for him. In the haste to put something up and claim credit, it apparently only takes someone to mention something. Often teams or agents simply make stuff up to feign more interest in their player/client. Some writers think about it and dismiss it; others write it because no one these days ever admits they got something wrong and the public seems fine not to call anyone on it. OK, that rant is over. There is and never has been any Bulls interest or discussion regarding Thomas Robinson. Why would there be when he’d cost them perhaps $7 million with tax penalties, probably never play and potentially mess up their free agency possibilities? Other than that I’m all in for the deal.
Can you please explain why there are so many fans that want to trade Deng for Tyreke Evans and trade Mirotic, Teague, and the Charolette pick for numerous other scorers it just seems really stupid to me to trade away the core of our future for a something that may not work plus people are saying Deng is overrated and shouldn't even be on the team anymore; it is really annoying.
Sam: To Lu as well. As I’ve speculated, I don’t see Deng being traded. And I sense the Mirotic rights and 2016 pick are as untouchable as you can get without being able to trade for a big time All-Star. Forman was making fun of me the other day for wanting to trade it a few years ago for Courtney Lee or Rudy Fernandez. It’s obviously looking better now as Charlotte joins the club trying to save itself in the 2014 draft. I understand the issue as I’m there myself a lot: The only title you can win is the one you’re playing for now. So go for this one. Plus, we do have a shorter attention society than ever now given all the social media. For now, Bulls management—and we agree—seems to be looking at a one-year plan and then based on how that does this season going from there with either some major changes or major extensions and young additions.
The draft was very entertaining with lots of surprises. This year more so than any in recent memory there seemed to be quite a few undrafted players that could be solid bench players. Do you expect the Bulls to pursue any of them? (Myck Kabongo, CJ Leslie, Seth Curry) Of local interest Jackie Carmichael from Illinois State had a nice pre-draft buzz yet went unpicked. Any idea where he may end up?
Sam: I’m not sure the Bulls’ summer league team plans, but I heard they have in a pretty good group with some former NBA players and high level D-league guys to go with their rookies and Marquis Teague.
When Phil Jackson was coaching the Bulls, it seemed like he used his bench a lot more than Thibs. I mean guys like John Salley even played in the Finals. Do you think that it hurts this Bulls team that Thibs doesn't play many of his players, and that rotation gets even smaller during the playoffs? And how were guys like John Salley, James Edwards and even Dennis Rodman (in the beginning) accepted by Bulls fans since they played on the hated Bad Bay Pistons teams? I would never like a Heat player such as Battier, Cole etc on the Bulls.
Sam: I think Thibs gets a bad rap on this. I think he started Marquis Teague one game. Thibs uses his bench extensively. Yes, they’ve had injuries and he’s had to. But guys have constantly developed under Thibs and his staff, like Jimmy and Omer and Nate and John Lucas and Brewer and Belinelli and it would be hard to do if not being used. As for the Heat guys, I’m quite sure every Bulls fan would take LeBron as they wanted to in 2010 and then Wade, though not so much anymore. As Jerry Seinfeld famously said, we are rooting for the laundry. Quick, spell the name of a Blackhawks player.
The story of this draft is just the beginning of the story of the next draft. Philly and Boston are clearly tanking to get in the lottery next season. 2013-14 season is gonna be a race to the bottom of the standings rather than a race to championship.
Sam: You can add Charlotte, Milwaukee, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, Atlanta and the Lakers to the race. It’s the 1984 season all over again with the dump-the-season contest to get Hakeem Olajuwon and to a lesser extent this shooting guard Bulls general manager Rod Thorn said wasn’t going to turn your team around, Michael Jordan.
Lamb is still a project and now the Thunder add Goodwin?
Sam: I guess if you have the real big loser category you have to go with the Thunder, who parlayed James Harden into a bunch of low level role players who may not even stay long in the NBA. Everyone makes a big mistake at one time or another. It happens. They’re a good organization. The Thunder with Westbrook back is still very good. But they’ll look back on that like the Spurs do on Game 6.
It seems pretty universally accepted that if we can re-sign Belinelli we should. So realistically given his performance last year, and our salary issues as a team, what do you think the Bulls can/should offer Belinelli and where do you think that will stack up vs. other teams offers?
Sam: The issue with Belinelli is not about paying luxury tax, which the Bulls will, but the length of a deal. If the Bulls were to go multiple years it could knock them out of free agency after next season if things don’t progress well during the season. Then is it worth it to have retained a backup shooting guard and lost your chance for a major free agent? It’s obviously a balance, and perhaps the Bulls will go for the years. It will depend on how these things always go, i.e., the player’s market. But the Bulls, nevertheless, should be a strong player to retain Belinelli.
I disagree with those who think this Finals series was great. It had 7 games, which always helps I suppose. However, only games 1, 6 and 7 were competitive. The other 4 games were like regular season games in February. I know every series has some lopsided stinkers, but, until the end, this series was nothing but them.
Sam: Pop’s with you on that. Actually, I think it was beloved because people got to root against LeBron seven times.