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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 11.02.2012

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

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.

Just curious if the Bulls had tried to get Harden before he went to Houston or if they could have put together a better deal than the Rockets did? He was always one of my favorite players and I always tried to think of scenarios how we could have gotten him.

Dustin Chaviano

Sam: My guess is they did try, as probably most of the GMs in the league did. The financial ramifications for the Bulls of taking on another player demanding a maximum deal with four players already with eight figure contracts was probably unrealistic under this new labor situation. Even the Lakers don’t have that and they are paying $90 million in luxury taxes. But mostly there was no way the Bulls could have approximated the package the Thunder got. That’s why Houston has been bad for so long: They’ve been accumulating draft picks and expiring deals for this purpose. If you are competing like the Bulls have been you are not in that position. With their pick this season, the Rockets, in effect, gave the Thunder two lottery picks (the Bulls have none and there is no guarantee the Charlotte pick in 2016 will be one) and $12 million of expiring salary for their budget. The Bulls had neither the picks nor the salary relief as you cannot amnesty a player once traded. They were never in the conversation no matter how much they could have wanted to be.

I was a bit surprised, having read your writing over the years, to read your take on the James Harden trade. You've always said that you win with stars, especially at playoff time. This has proven true with the Bulls. Though they had some great regular seasons with the "Baby Bulls" (Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich), not having a true star to go to with the game on the line (was fatal). So what happened? We got lucky in the lottery and now we have Derrick Rose, a true star who can carry a team. Derrick, plus a quality supporting cast, has been enough to get us to the conference finals. But what happened? We could not get past Miami, a team with three stars. You've been exploring in your writing, ever since then, ways for the Bulls to pull in another star. We hope it's going to be Mirotic. I'm still very optimistic about this team and the direction we're going. But the reality is, we are still "hoping" for a 2nd star to complement Rose.

OKC was in an enviable position! They had three stars, better yet, three very young stars who were sure to continue to improve! Three stars who got them to the Finals! Sure, Harden did not play great in the Finals, and that hurt his leverage in the contract talks he was having with Sam Presti.

But did you happen to watch the two series before that, with the Lakers, then with the Spurs? OKC could not be stopped, especially in crunch time. Not because they had two stars in Durant and Westbrook, but because they had three stars. When Westbrook went cold, or Durant was being shut down, they could run all the offense through Harden. He could create off the dribble, get his floaters or get to the free throw line pretty much whenever he wanted, and he is lethal from three point range. He made more 4th quarter free throws last year than anyone in the league. If that's not the definition of a star, I don't know what is. Your definition of a star for years has been a guy who can score on his own and win games for you in the playoffs. Harden can do that, and Harden did do that. And he's only 23! You said Joe Johnson would've been worth the max for the Bulls now you're saying Harden's not worth the max? I challenge you to ask any NBA executive whom they'd prefer to have at max money. I understand there are economics involved, and luxury tax, but what about championships? At the very least, they had a shot to get one this year. OKC was built to win this year, and they threw that away on draft picks and an expiring contract. As tough as it is to find stars in this league, and as crucial as stars are to winning in the playoffs, I can't believe the trade is not being slammed by you and the rest of the media.

Hawk Gates

Sam: You make a compelling case, and I guess my position was I didn’t expect the Thunder to make the trade as I would have kept him this season and tried to make a run as the Bulls did with Omer Asik and tried to figure it out later. The Bulls certainly could have dealt Asik last season in February. Yet, I’m also cognizant of the economics changing in the NBA. As David Stern said after the labor agreement was signed, it will be an era of player changing. I’m not a big advocate of paying luxury tax in a major way and draining your franchise. There is a bit of unlevel playing field in the NBA now despite the salary cap because of booming local TV deals like in Los Angeles, where the Lakers can pay $90 million in luxury tax and still make more money than the other franchises. It remains a bit like the Yankees in baseball in that sense. As you know, I like Harden and wrote about him glowingly all last season. But the Thunder picked its big three paying Ibaka along with Durant and Westbrook. Perhaps they shouldn’t have paid Ibaka, but you can’t win playing so small. And they did offer Westbrook $55 million, just $5 million less than the max. It is sounding a bit like he just wanted out of Oklahoma City to be “the man,” though he is male. Perhaps watching the Thunder play the question maybe should be why they didn’t trade Westbrook and keep Harden given he’s more a ball distributor than Westbrook and probably fits better with Durant. I’m generally not one to advocate teams should lose money by paying everyone what they want. You have to make decisions in this era with the new labor agreement. That was the whole point. When you don’t have any stars you can act goofy and overpay someone, like we saw, say, with Denver and Ty Lawson. Oklahoma City already was paying three guys more than $40 million and Kendrick Perkins another $9 million. They made a decision for the best future interests of the franchise, and I can accept that. It looks worse for them after Harden opened for Houston the way he did. But Kevin Martin is a good one year replacement with an expiring deal, and they have a good history of using the draft well. Thus I didn’t condemn them. My point was more about Harden walking away from being with a potential dynasty. Why not fault him more than the Thunder if it’s supposedly about winning? He’ll make $15 million next season. My guess is the Thunder doesn’t make that much annually.

I think OKC handled the James Harden situation with brilliance. If he would have became a restricted free agent it would have created such a distraction for the team like Dwight [Howard] in Orlando and Carmelo [Anthony] in Denver. That being said, do you recall any situations other than those two in years past where players essentially forced themselves to be traded to a team of their choice?

John Lafoone

Sam: It’s happened plenty over the years, though not often as messy as it does these days. Kareem pushed himself out of Milwaukee. Barkley pushed himself out of Philadelphia, and that one was pretty bad. Wilt got himself out of Philadelphia (a pattern there). Oscar didn’t exactly push himself out of Cincinnati, but it was ugly at the end for such a great player. Hakeem tried to get out of Houston, but they eventually wore him down after months of recriminations. David Robinson one time didn’t say both please and thank you.

I noticed that the Kings let Hassan Whiteside go. Given his size (you can't teach height) and age do you think the Bulls brass might be interested in adding him to the roster?

Stan Ross

Sam: The Bulls will have the option of adding a player sometime after the third week of November. I think first it will depend on injuries. If everyone is healthy, I think they’re confident enough in their interior and might try for a perimeter scorer or defender.

Are the Bulls interested in taking Quentin Richardson or is it all rumors?

Shaun Chalmer

Sam: I suppose if his back is OK it is possible as three-point shooting has been a big weaknesses this far in the preseason and first game. Michael Redd is out there for that purpose as well along with Mickael Pietrus. But they’d have to be able to defend to stay on the court with Thibs.

Who could have seen this coming? Bulls are one game in and there is already talk about Deng’s and to a lesser extent Noah’s minutes. I did some checking around the league: Wednesday night Jrue Holliday played 41 minutes, Kobe played 38, Pau Gasol 40, Dwight Howard coming off a major injury on a 2nd game of a back to back played 41, and James Harden played 44. Not to mention on Tuesday Paul Pierce, and Rondo played 41 and 44 minutes, respectively. To be fair I know you have stated in the past that the minutes issue was a non-issue but why can’t people in town let this whole minutes thing go? Good players are going play a lot in close games are they not?

John Swank

Sam: Exactly. Derrick Rose’s minutes last season were very low when he got hurt. I’m not a big one for players wearing out, and less this season back to the regular schedule with more days off. And one thing fans don’t realize as much with the Bulls is they rarely scrimmage. So their practices, while long, tend to not be as draining as some teams’. I think Thibodeau does a good job with days off during the season. In the game he expects everyone to be ready to play at a high level, and for the most part the Bulls have a young team. Deng and Noah are both 27. Let the kids play! When Scottie Pippen was 27 he was averaging just under 40 minutes a game and he’d already had back surgery. I agree. Let’s stop pampering the people who are advertised as the greatest athletes in the world. Maybe someday a baseball pitcher will be allowed to pitch into the seventh inning without everyone checking the number of pitches, though it’s difficult to consider them athletes.

Who said the Bulls would not have a 20 point player? Boozer, Hamilton and Noah all went pretty close (Noah surpass it)! Maybe Noah will be that 20-10 post presence!

Rui Dias

Sam: Actually, I said that. Unfortunately, the Bulls won’t be playing the Kings that much more at home this season.

Given massive luxury tax implications next year, it appears they amnesty Boozer after this season. That is a major hit to the Bulls short term competitiveness. If they go down this road I feel they have to commit to a refresh fully and move Luol Deng in a trade as well. It pains me to say it, because I am a huge fan of his all around game. But we know the realities of the new CBA, and especially if Boozer is gone, the Bulls simply don't have enough scoring to contend. And they would still be over the salary cap with few options to bring in a big time scorer. I think the Bulls may need to get aggressive and go after a risky but dynamic offensive player like Tyreke Evans. Sacramento has a glut of scoring guards, and are desperate for a real SF and strong veteran presence. Maybe Deng for Evans and Francisco Garcia. Money works. Bring Evans out of that dysfunction into a winning organization with proven leaders and believe that you can get the best out of him. He has not proven to be great playing off the ball, nor a good shooter. He would have to improve on that playing with Rose. He is also only 23 with room to grow. I think a core of Rose/Evans/Taj/Noah is a younger, more balanced, explosive group to build around with higher potential versus holding onto Deng.

Matt Maloney

Sam: We’ve had this Deng to Sacramento discussion for two years now, and nothing has come of it. Which suggests nothing is going to. With Evans now a restricted free agent the risk of anyone trading for him is high given he can get a large deal and you’d get nothing for him and find yourself chasing a wild match. So I doubt the Bulls would be interested at this point. His name comes up from fans often, though I don’t get the sense the Bulls are prepared to offer amnesty to Boozer and see him play elsewhere while still paying him $32 million not to play for them. Especially for a risky player like Evans, whom the Kings don’t seem to want. And they’ve been watching him for a few years. If Boozer puts up close to 20/10 this season without Rose do you think the Bulls cut him loose? Especially though Taj Gibson believes he can start he’s yet to show he can be a consistent scorer anywhere near the level of Boozer. I’m not sure what next season brings, though it seems likely Hamilton doesn’t return. The Bulls have the trade exception from the Korver deal and will have their own exception, which should net a decent player. The larger question may be is what happens after next season when Deng’s contract expires. He’s become a top 10 player at his position, an All-Star and the coach’s security blanket player. Plus he’ll only be 29. Are the Bulls going to allow him to get away? Yes, your suggestion answers that. But again that has been out there for two years with no action. The big question still remains what condition Derrick Rose returns in and when, and until that is determined my guess is the Bulls don’t do anything significant.

I am disappointed that the Bulls haven't put Luol Deng out front and center as the leader of the team pending Rose's return. He is the other All-Star and the guy that has been here for 9 seasons. Shouldn't they have to have someone who is viewed as their "captain"? Deng was key at the end of the Sacramento game even though nothing revolved around him. If he is put in the spotlight, he might be even better.

Brad Erens

Sam: I think Deng is a captain and seems the most valuable to the coach, who rarely takes him out of games. Deng isn’t that much a vocal leader and doesn’t have the one-on-one game to play to like a Rose. But what is most impressive about him is like in that Kings game when offense is going so badly for him, as it was, he never backed off and made some huge defensive, hustle and rebounding plays.

So Belinelli makes his first three-point attempt of the season, we’re up by three, the first quarter is about to end, and coach substitutes Jimmy for defense? Come on! Not that Belinelli will lose confidence all of a sudden, but how about letting him feel comfortable on the floor and build continuous momentum, especially after his pre-season offensive struggles?

Steve Condoretti

Sam: Thibs did have a quick hook, but when he does that he usually finds a way to praise the player the next day in the film session in sort of his motivational way. And thus far this sort of thing has worked. Belinelli hasn’t played for good teams and much coaching and leaning on him a bit early may be a good way of getting him to realize he can work harder as he’s likely never been asked to.

So teams don’t want to pay the luxury tax or pay a lot of luxury. To help me understand as a fan, where does that money go? I am assuming that money does not go to Uncle Sam (not you, but the us government). [Does it] pay part of Sterns check?

Alfredo Rivas

Sam: It is redistributed to teams under the salary cap in an effort, in theory, to level the competitive field given those teams then would have more money to go after players. But this change in recent years with the exploding value of local TV deals is changing things in an unexpected way since teams don’t share local TV. The Bulls are not in position to take advantage of that now with current long term TV contracts.

Other than the ability to hit big shots when needed I feel like this Bulls team has a legitimate shot at Miami this year. I can't think of another team that has size, speed and has four bigs with decent post games. What do you think?

Erik Fenton

Sam: That you are a very loyal fan. There have been some predictions that the Bulls can win 50 games, though most have them more like around .500. I believe they are better than that and I think I predicted 47 wins. Yes, Rose could return and be a star again, but no one expects or believes that is possible this season. I see the Bulls as a team that will steal a lot of regular season games given commitment, preparation, effort and coaching. But it’s difficult to project much playoff success. Though you never know, which makes it interesting. I know I’m anxious to see how the story ends.

Where are all the Amare Stoudemire fans this year? Do you think they all would still rather have Amare than Boozer? What if the Bulls actually signed Stoudemire instead? Now the team would be without two of their top players for the first two months of the season.

Chris DeMay

Sam: As everyone was writing me two years ago, if only the Bulls could get Boozer instead of that broken down Stoudemire.

It's not often I am [legitimately] happy for a pro athlete to go from a couple million dollars a year to $8-$9 million a year, but in this case, how could a Bulls fan not be? [The] guy just busts his [butt] every day to max out his talent. [He] earned it the old fashioned way. From a Bulls perspective, I think this is a very good decision, it's another fairly high salary, but if anything it's probably underrated how many winning plays Taj Gibson makes on a nightly basis. [It] makes way more sense to spend this money on him and let Asik walk then the other way around. Taj continues to get better too. I think he can get his scoring avg. over 12-13 ppg if he gets the minutes I expect him to this season.

Michael Koltun

Sam: It’s good for Taj, and I’m glad he took the deal. I think he would have been a mess all season and it would have affected his play and the team. It’s a good model to guys. It’s also a lot of money. He’s probably a starting level player, though I’m not sure if top 15 at his position given the question regarding scoring. If it were between the two, I’d actually probably have gone for Omer. But given the way it transpired, I probably would have lost Omer as well. I wouldn’t have traded him last season because I did believe the Bulls could have beaten Miami because of their size. I still think Miami is vulnerable to a big team, though the Bulls aren’t as much now without Asik. I likely would have lost Asik with that $15 million backloaded loophole, which I expect the NBA to change in the next labor deal as it promotes losing players. The only way I could see having paid Omer at that point was to trade Noah, which I don’t think anyone wants to do. So the Bulls likely had to pay Taj one way or the other, and it probably worked out best for both as with the possibility looming of Mirotic in a few years Taj may remain in that sixth man role but also a good enough center backup.

Do [you] think Oklahoma City would trade Lamb to Bulls for the Bobcats pick?

Mike Kay

Sam: I don’t think so. But I also don’t think the Bulls would trade that pick for Lamb. I think they see it as a potential NBA lottery, the chance perhaps for a top three overall pick in the draft, a chance at a true star. Lamb looks like he’ll be a good player, but I don’t get the sense Oklahoma City is even planning on using him much this season. I think to include that pick in a deal now it would have to be someone they believe is of a potentially higher level. Though I also believe the Bulls value that pick more than other teams since if the Bobcats get lucky and make the playoffs or finish close by 2016 it just becomes a mid first round of low lottery pick. So there’s a bit too much uncertainty with it now.

[I am] happy that the Bulls won the opener, but there is going to be some games were the Bulls will lose leads in the 4th due to lack of guys who can take over the game. Do [you] agree?

Sergio Kalat

Sam: Absolutely. At least 30 times. I think Rose is out.

I was on the owners side during the lockout but in five years if players opt out of this current CBA and go on strike I will side with the players. Obviously the teams have plenty of money which was shown the past few days. When guys like Steph Curry gets $44 million, Jrue [Holiday] gets $41 million, Harden gets $80 million, Demar Derozen gets $41 million, Ty Lawson gets $44 million and owners say the NBA is hurting. Shut up. These are role players getting paid huge money. These are names that some casual NBA fans don't even know. C'mon. Only Taj's deal was normal. Harden deserved at least $50 million but $80?! C'mon. Jrue, Demar, Steph, Ty all deserved four-year $30-$34 million. Ridiculous.

Mike Sutera

Sam: Yes, but that’s likely what the Bulls also feared in trying to make a deal with Taj. As it’s been said, why do you have to be held to the decisions of your stupidest competitor? But that’s how sports works. There’s always one guy with money who wants a headline and to be liked by the fans for a few days. This is going to change some with the harsher luxury tax penalties, though the effects of the new local TV deals could offset that some. I don’t disagree, and mostly with a restricted free agent I prefer to let them find their market value and then see about matching. It is hard to believe that guys like the injured Curry and the midget Lawson would have gotten those kinds of deals on the open market. But aren’t labor lockouts always to protect owners from themselves? So it doesn’t look like the players have made out that badly, though.

What do you think of Marshon Brooks and the chances the Bulls can pry him away from Brooklyn? I think he would fit great with the Bulls. I think he could be the James Harden of our team with a possibility to start games too. By the way, all the fans who want James Harden, forget it. He's not worth $15 million a year.

Alfredo Rivas

Sam: They’ve got Brooks for at least two more years at short money. They’re spending a fortune on what hardly seems like a title lineup and not destined for a long run. But I always wondered about the league allowing in an international billionaire whose money cannot be traced well. Who knows how they’ll pay players, though no one really sees them letting players get away.

I have two words: Delonte West.

Tim Gossett

Sam: I have one word.

You think the reported four-year $32 million offer for Taj was fair enough? I thought it was. I'm sure some moronic owner would offer twice that much for Taj next summer and the fans of that team will call him a bust because he'll avg 10 and 10 as a starter, but I dont think the Bulls low-balled him.

Rahul Chatterjee

Sam: Me, neither. If it were twice as much I would have told him to hold out. But he’d be taking a risk as there might not be that much money for a player like him in free agency. I think the Bulls were reasonable while also protecting themselves in the future to remain in position to add other players. It’s often what some fans forget, that if you pay someone too much now, especially with the restrictive salary cap rules, it limits what you can do in the future when perhaps a better opportunity comes up.

After watching the Heat beat the Celtics and hearing all of the accolades for Eric Spoelstra, what's your take on his impact coaching a team like the Bulls? Can you compare and contrast Spoelstra vs. Thibs?

Garry Veicht

Sam: They both are relatively inexperienced head coaches, though Thibs is way more experienced for two decades working his way around the NBA while Spoelstra is one of those Pat Riley acolytes who he’s so good at developing, like the Van Gundys and Randy Pfund. Thibs is held in higher regard given the defensive excellence of his Bulls teams and the Celtics while he was a sort of co-coach. Spoelstra was viewed merely as a Riley extension until winning last season and is finally getting some due as a result. Both are big with preparation and statistics, though Thibs would get the edge head to head for now. Though I suspect Thibs would trade his coach of the year award for Spoelstra’s title.

It's never too early to make a case for Joakim Noah being an All-Star: 6-12 from the field, 11-12 from the free throw line with with 23 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and an awesome 5 steals. When your center is getting five steals, I think he should be an All-Star.

Peter John Jimenez

Sam: I’m fairly sure if those are his averages in January he’s in. But, yes, it’s going to be tougher for Noah this year with the center designation taken out of the All-Star voting. It’s too bad as Howard is out of the East and Bynum has injury issues. Without injury and with more opportunities, I think Noah would have been a certainty under the old ballot. Now we’ll see. But he has a good chance if the Bulls have a good first half.

A few weeks ago I asked you about the Bulls needing another PG because Robinson wasn't getting the job done. Since then he has been very impresive. My question is, Should the Bulls start Robinson at the point and have Hinrich play the backup role for both guard spots? Bellineli doesn't seem to have it together yet and Hinrich would give them a quality backup at the 2.

Steve Schnakenberg

Sam: With Mohammed having some issues on defense, maybe they go with Noah for the second unit.

I noted your comment that Thibs is still working on the rotations. There was a patch in the 4th where he had Robinson, Butler, Deng, Booz, and Taj on the floor. I know you've talked a lot about the Taj/Booz small option, but what are your thoughts on Butler at the 2 (or is Deng the 2 in that lineup?). Also looked like less Nazr; is that what we can expect going forward or was it just the matchups with the Kings?

Dominic O'Donnell

Sam: I do, despite the preseason scoring, except less of Nazr given Thibs’ emphasis on defense. Though Nazr can score and there’ll be drought times I expect he’ll give him a look. With athletic twos and threes, perhaps we’ll see more of Jimmy Butler with Deng. Though I think Deng can play the best offensive perimeter player other than a point and that’s where I’d put him. I thought even though Hinrich was slowed somewhat with his groin problem that his defense was very good. He’ll be really important because he’s still one of the best point defenders in the league.

For years, you've made a similar point to the one you made about Harden: why are players so willing to sacrifice winning and quality of life for 'a few extra' million a year? I don't get that critique, and it strikes me of the odd tendency in this country to often criticize players for behaviors that they then think are perfectly legitimate, or even admirable, when owners do it. Sometimes fans complain about Reinsdorf's spendthrift ways and I've read you repeatedly defend him by saying, essentially, that the NBA is a business, and if it were our money, we'd act the same as JR. Why is it different for players, or why not go after Reinsdorf more for not being willing [to spend] a few million of his enormous profits for better teams? NBA owners do everything in their power to increasingly limit a player's ability to ever earn their market value. If I were a player, when I get that rare chance, I'd think long and hard about being willing to 'sacrifice.' I happen to agree with you when you defend Reinsdorf for being so finance-oriented (I may think he could do without a few extra million, but hey, it's his money), and I'd use the same argument to defend the Hardens and Gordons.

Alejandro Yegros

Sam: If you thought the owners wanted every last dollar, forget the luxury tax. Everyone would be at 85 percent of the salary cap, or around a $50 million payroll. I think the owners generally make more sacrifices for winning, though some players do. Harden didn’t, though I have heard some say he wanted a leading role and not to come off the bench, which is another issue and a lifestyle issue. If that’s the life you want, that’s different. But the players keep saying they’d do anything for winning. Harden was. I’m fine with a player going for a maximum deal. My point is more if it’s a great place and a great lifestyle, then I don’t understand leaving for the extra money when you can sign for maybe $60 million. It’s different years ago when players didn’t make enough to support them for the rest of their lives. I’m fairly certain inflation now never catches up with $50 million or $60 million. Even after taxes. I’m not criticizing players as much as questioning why when you have a great job and great life is it worth changing for more money. It’s probably partly me. I’ve almost always changed jobs for the environment, the situation and the work. I know that’s what’s most satisfying. Nobody really cares how much you make. And it doesn’t really make you happy. If it did, why would we see so many former players coming back to be relatively low paid assistants or TV analysts? Most clearly don’t need the money. It’s the place that drives your passion that truly makes you a success. And in sports it always seemed to me if you were in a winning environment life was much better.

One thing that's been hard about being a Bulls fan as of late is how other major market teams — Clippers, Lakers, Celtics, Heat — all don't seem to use the whole luxury tax complaint when it comes to acquiring valuable pieces to their teams. They all do the requisite financial acrobatics to pick up quality players for both their starting lineups and benches, while we remain steadfast in where we are expecting our coach to perform miracles with guys like Belinelli and Radmanovic. I realize there is a financial aspect to the game (is there any other aspect with Chicago owners?) but doesn't the Bulls organization worry about the reputation of the organization with players around the league? They take their time signing one of the best coaches we've ever had, and haven't really shown any willingness to maneuver and negotiate to keep guys like Brewer and Korver who significantly contributed, and don't do much in terms of new players unless they're blue light special guys. Who's going to want to come here when the Bulls finally decide to go after free agents and high caliber players? I hope Gar/Pax are ready for a situation that smacks of dating: nobody is going to tell you why they won't go out with you, not the real reason at least. And the Bulls are going to get a lot of excuses in the future like "I'm washing my hair," or "I always wanted to be near South beach" when the real problem is they're becoming known (have been) for being cheapskates.

Marcus Nikokiris

Sam: I get these angry fan rants from time to time. They make sense other than when exposed to actual events. Yes, we know free agents have traditionally passed on the Bulls. But it’s not like they’ve gone to New York, either. They went to Miami in a one-time only event and often end up with the Lakers. So who are all these teams you mention? The Thunder dumping James Harden? The Celtics lost Ray Allen. The Bulls have the league’s sixth highest payroll this season ahead of the Knicks, Clippers, Celtics and Mavs, for example. They have four players on the roster making eight-figure salaries. No one has more and only Brooklyn has as many. Mark Cuban had a title team and broke it up to make a bid for free agents which failed as well. And unlike the Bulls he didn’t even spend his money. The Bulls hardly are perfect in their largesse, though they seem in large company to me. As an aside, I have an unrelated theory about this. I’ve read there’s a presidential election coming up. One guy says he’s a businessman who says the biggest problem is too much spending and he’d cut back and make a profit or break even. The other guy says you need to spend and risk a debt to take care of the angst of the people. So extrapolating from this, it sounds to me like fans should all be voting Democratic and not for the business guy who thinks spending is the problem. Just a thought. Anyway, with Rose hurt the priority was to get a point guard. They got perhaps the best on the market for them in Hinrich, which required not only going into the luxury tax but moving the reserves from last season in order to do so. You can debate the players they added and how much they paid them. Not everyone agrees. Excuses? You mean all those girls turning me down weren’t washing their hair?

What do you think? Leave a comment below: