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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 12.09.11

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.

Now I have heard a rumor that the Bulls have a proposed sign and trade with the Hawks sending Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver to the Hawks for the rights to sign Jamal Crawford. I was wondering if there was any truth to this rumor and was wondering if this allows the Bulls to keep their mid-level exemption and maybe use that towards guys such as J-Rich or Vince Carter?

Zach Eenigenburg

Sam: It is one possibility that has been discussed, which would be the right role for Jamal as sixth man and then getting a starting two guard who would be more athletic and a better defender, if not great, to match up against Dwyane Wade in the playoffs. Remember, this isn’t about winning regular season games. The Bulls have done that. Like in the late 1980’s, it’s about getting by Miami as those Bulls had to get by the Pistons. You do that by getting more athletic, having someone to defend Wade to go along with Deng on LeBron and having a threat the defense have to guard off Rose to give him more room. There are some benefits to that kind of move, but it does limit the Bulls financially in the future and it’s hard to see with that if you do have a second great player. But Richardson and Jamal continue to cast around, no matter what you hear about only worrying about winning, for more money. If they cannot secure that, the Bulls may be in play. It would mean a luxury tax appearance, at least until they go into amnesty for someone, probably Boozer at some point. But there are plenty of bidders and only so much the Bulls can offer at that point being over the salary cap.

Why would the bulls go after Jamal Crawford? I watched him play years ago for the bulls and don't believe he would be a fit with DRose, he has no defense and he doesn't have the best shot selection. I just didn't like him as a player because he never went hard to the basket. I think Afflalo would fit nicely with Thibs defensive scheme system. Btw, I saw Boozer at a gas station in Miami and I wanted to ream him a new one but I was stunned to see him pumping gas, so I just said hi and thanks for a great season, even though I wanted to tell him, "Really Booz, Tyler Hansbrough of the Pacers?

Juanita Secor

Sam: Now, that would have been cool. Sometimes you wonder if he hears that enough around the team. Maybe he does. Who knows? As for Jamal, that is the problem, and why paying him the $7 million or $8 million annually his agent is looking for is problematic. Although Thursday was an exciting free agent day, it’s not the last. And there are guys to trade. If you don’t have many moves in your pocket given financial considerations you better make the right one and not just make a fantasy move. It’s about team building, especially because you never can out star Miami. As I mentioned above, perhaps Jamal as a sixth man, but can you afford to pay that much long term for a reserve when Rose is becoming your fourth player with an eight figure salary next season. I assume the Bulls also took a big hit in the new revenue sharing formula, and the luxury tax kicks in big time penal in two seasons. So if you are spending now it would seem you really need someone who can fill your needs because who knows what the flexibility will be in the future.

Of the SGs that have been involved in rumors with the Bulls, who do you feel is an upgrade over Brewer. I would love to see Afflalo, Mayo, or Richardson come to the Bulls, but I really feel Brewer is a better SG than a lot of the names being floated around. People seem to have forgotten that despite Bogans starting, Brewer played the majority of minutes, especially late when the game is on the line. Is it really paying money to someone like Carter or McGrady to steal minutes from Brewer? Sure he's not the answer we need on offense, but defensively he's a stud.

Sean Kelly

Sam: It’s something of the backup quarterback syndrome. He’s the guy we haven’t seen. We know what the guy we have can do and it’s not enough since we didn’t win. Brewer has faults, as you note, especially on offense, like with his inability to finish very well at times. Yes, he’ll defend and work and fits well with the team and chemistry. But at this point it’s about getting a fulltime starting shooting guard and the Bulls believe they can do that. The point is to get better, and they insist they won’t do anything unless they do. So we’ll see.

Why do Bulls always take baby steps? They always seems reluctant to make major/bold moves. Sure they took a shot at last summer’s free agent. And came back with the consolation prize free agent Carlos Boozer. I feel like they had to take their shot at D. Wade, L. James, & C. Bosh. If they didn’t, they would’ve been crucified by fans, media and Derrick Rose himself for not willing to add additional pieces to get to championship level. I feel like last summer was just a show off to fans/media/D. Rose that they are committed to winning championship(s). Here we are again, this summer, Bulls management again has a chance at even bigger prized player in my eye: Dwight Howard. Once again, I don’t see the Bulls management being aggressive to acquire him. Dwight paired with Rose are unstoppable no matter if you throw big 3 of Miami or big 3 of New York, or big 3 of “I don’t care where”. But No, bulls will take baby step, play it safe and not make major move. They will use excuses (not reasons) such as salary cap, luxury tax and etc. Look if you are serious about championship, you do what it takes (e.g: Lakes). Bulls need to jump on the opportunity where Dwight Howard has shown interest on leaving his current team. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come very often.

Rahim Gilani

Sam: I'm not sure how you know that. I suspect they are involved as much as anyone at this point as I haven’t seen Howard traded quite yet. Last season, I didn’t write about blowing up your team for Anthony because I don’t believe you can win with him. With Howard it’s a different story, which is why I wrote last week about acquiring Howard. I'm not covering for them, but if you really want to make a deal, like playing cards, you don't show your hand. Do you think they put out press releases to tell their players they are trying to trade them? Watch what happens with Boston this season with all their players knowing they’ve been trying to get rid of them. Remember what happened to the Bulls the season the Kobe rumors came up. They collapsed. These guys are bothered by this stuff no matter what they might say. It doesn’t make sense for the Bulls now if they are pursuing Howard to let anyone know. These rumors you read about on the internet generally come from agents trying to promote their clients, teams trying to bluff someone else into making a deal or outright speculations. That doesn’t apply with Howard, so I don’t suspect you’ll hear much. Nor should you if the Bulls are in play. But this may come down to Howard and if he says he won’t resign in Chicago, it doesn’t matter what the Bulls might offer. That’s what the Lakers are counting on. Or perhaps were with the http://blogs.bulls.com/2011/12/so-where-are-chris-paul-and-dwight-howard-going/">Chris Paul veto.

Just reading your article on the Bulls trying to get Howard....and I've heard and seen before from comments from him and other players that they don't want to go to Chicago because of the cold. What a bunch of BS! I mean they spend most of their time in a heated gym and 50% of the time they are on the road away from Chicago. Then come the off season Rose goes and lives in LA himself doesn't he to hang and workout. So why on earth does Chicago keep getting pinged with this pathetic excuse!? Todays game...they all want to go to LA or New York cause they are the franchises with money and who'll always spend money. Build super teams and hopefully win a championship without each player having to do too much to earn it. Joke! Howard is soooo going to LA and everyone knows it.

Andrew Brown

Sam: It’s been the bane of the Bulls since Jordan left. I understood more in 2000 when the team was stripped down like it was and Jordan was basically badmouthing the Bulls around the league and Tim Floyd was the coach. But that is long past and hardly any issue anymore. Now, everyone bad mouths Jordan running a team. I still don’t fully get it as Chicago is an amazingly supportive media market for a major city. You see this love lavished on the 1985 Bears players, many of whom appeared to be real jerks. Dennis Rodman couldn’t have been more loved here after they ran him out of San Antonio and nobody would touch him. Day 1 here fans were giving him standing ovations. After being here, players love Chicago. The franchise treats players amazingly well, which I see on the road from not only the routine first class travel and hotels but meals everywhere even as they still get per diem money for food. Traveling masseuses, cooks, meals brought to your home if you need. Yet, the Bulls can barely get sniffs from free agents. If LeBron came to Chicago he’d have his championship by now and wouldn’t be a villain. He picked the wrong place if he wanted to win, but we know that is hooey for guys like him. Maybe that’s what Second City is all about, perennially second in the hearts of all basketball Americans. Yes, Kukoc wanted to come here.

Here you go again suggesting that we give up all of those players for D. Howard. When are we going to learn that gutting a team for one player just does not work. We should just find a good SG and go from there. Noah is more than a good player, the fans really like him. I think you need to rethink your scenario for the Bulls acquiring Howard. And by the way, should we bring Kirk back just because he has a house in the suburbs of Chicago?

Mattie Bland

Sam: So wait, you don’t like my suggestions? I’m getting a vibe. As always, I just try to present possibilities since I told Luol I wouldn’t suggest the team trade him again. But it’s no slight for Howard, right? Yes, I do understand the down side, and it could be substantial not only giving up the core of a 62-win team—which I noted—but that great penetrators like Rose are limited when they play with low post guys with no outside shooting ability. It’s why Kobe didn’t truly emerge until leaving Shaq, though they won, and why Michael never wanted to play with a great center. Though it still rests with whether Howard would resign or extend. If not, forget it. As for Kirk, with all the foreclosures, wouldn’t it help Chicago if there’s one fewer empty home?

Been reading your entries regarding the Bulls going after Dwight Howard. Personally, I don’t see any way that he is traded to Chicago. Sure, our pieces are the most ready to help a team now, but we can’t offer the same cap relief as a team like the Nets, our picks are going to be much higher in the draft, so no real value there, and our one useful pick isn’t eligible until 4 years from now. The worst thing that the Magic could do is trade for guys like Noah, Deng, Gibson/Asik that will guarantee that they are in the playoffs, but don’t allow you the flexibility to improve in any major way. Teams can’t afford to be like the Hawks……you’re much better making a deal for a young big, cap space and loads of picks. Get bad and give yourself a chance at drafting early in the draft each year.

Kevin Loughlin

Sam: Yes, I do understand that philosophy and teams have tried it, but when you try it without a star, like Wade or Kobe, it’s tough to put together. I don’t think with a new arena and a small market the Magic want to go for a stripped down rebuilding. Part of that is that while you like to build through the draft, it’s tough now because the best players come out as freshman and aren’t ready for the NBA unless you get a superstar. The Cavs have cashed it and have two lottery picks and it hardly looks like they have the kinds of players you can build much with. Young and flexible doesn’t necessarily translate to success as the 2000 Bulls discovered. But, yes, the Magic could go that way and you could understand.

I was wondering if you have heard anything about Richardson yet? I know you think he will get more than the mid-level from Orlando. I have been surprised though that Richardson is pretty much the only high level free agent that I haven't heard anything about in terms of contact with any team, not just the Bulls.

Matt Maloney

Sam: It has been more quiet regarding him. The Bulls remain interested and have had plenty of contact. He just wants lots more money than they have to offer under the rules.

So Butler is going to the clippers for some odd reason.. I thought he wanted to Win.

Juvenal Pimentel

Sam: Gambling at Rick’s. Shocked, I’m shocked. NBA free agents talking about winning and then going for the last dollar. Shocked, I tell you.

I just heard the Heat have agreed to a deal with Shane Battier. I don’t quite understand how they plan on starting him since he’s a 2/3 and that is their only real position of strength. However, it does provide them with depth they didn’t possess last year, and further augments their already-tough perimeter defense. Does this signing raise the alert level at Bulls HQ?

Dan Frystak

Sam: That was the issue with him and the Bulls. I believe the Bulls saw him as the reserve player he now is. Good player, smart, great guy, but not athletic, 33 years old, and no longer a starter. You don’t spend your money on another guy like you have. You need to upgrade, and the Bulls need a starter. I assume Battier fills in for the injured Mike Miller. They need size and a point, so I’m not exactly upset if I’m the Bulls. Frankly, it’s a fairly goofy signing, it seems. Bulls fans should breathe a sigh of relief they forgot to go for a center or point guard. Ooops. Eddy Curry? Yes, it’s always possible, but he’s broken a lot of hearts, including his own.

My theory is the bulls might be better off if Charlotte makes the playoffs this year and the Bulls get their pick. If they get a pick just out of the lottery in a VERY deep draft vs. waiting until possibly 2016 and hoping for a high lottery pick but maybe ending up with a lower one in a possibly mediocre draft. I know Thibs doesn't love young guys but could pair a strong player with DRose at low cost next year or a strong trade chip. I know it is a long shot for Charlotte but I am hoping they surprise.

Chas Helpler

Sam: Thibs likes to correct me about his regard for youth in his support for Rajon Rondo, a youth in Boston. But if Charlotte makes the playoffs, I think the most surprised person in the NBA will be Michael Jordan.

What does it look like for the end of the Bulls bench? The guy’s that Chicago loves, but aren’t regular rotation players such as Brian Scalabrine or even Kurt Thomas?

Mike Chapman

Sam: Yes, they are possible, as well as old flame John Lucas. Thibs is a big one on guys who enhance the chemistry over those who enhance the scoreboard for the end of the bench. But the Bulls are better off than most teams in this regard with at least 10 players returning from last year’s team, the same system, the same coach and strong locker room chemistry. With the compressed season, the big issue will be lack of practice time, so it will be more difficult for teams that add multiple players or major additions to the starting lineup as well as new coaches. That might serve to offset some the Bulls rugged road start.

I pictured you at home sitting on your couch with no shirt on eating full blocks of cheese and "decompressing" summer of George style. No matter now because both you and the Bulls are back! My question is about the asylum comment you made regarding Wilson Chandler and a possible return to the nba. What are the chances of this happening, and further what are the chances the Bulls would make a play for him? I also hear JR Smith would like to bring his crazy back home, but would hope the NBA would block that at all costs.

Ron Goldberg

Sam: I did feel I was decomposing at times. The Bulls have liked Chandler, but as a restricted free agent and Denver with a void roster and the Bulls with only the exception there would seem little or no chance they could get a player like that. I’m not sure the exact rules if he can return at the end of the China season in March, though Denver maintains his rights. I assume J.R. is sentenced to a work camp before too long.

If Chaucey Billups is an amnesty casualty with the Knicks, would he be a good pickup for the Bulls instead of getting a 2 guard?

Terrence Wells

Sam: He’d have to go through the new waiver system first for under the cap teams, though I see his agent already is putting our veiled threats he wouldn’t report. If he were to pass through everyone and become a free agent, I assume he’d go where he could be the starting point guard, like in Miami or the Lakers now that they don’t get Chris Paul.

I hope that Tyson Chandler now that he is paid dogs it.

Mike Sutera

Sam: Well, I don’t wish him ill as he is a nice guy, though he may be the most fortunate player ever. He was a near bust underachiever with the Bulls when his contract ended, the 76ers went nuts and overpaid Samuel Dalembert and the Bulls in losing Eddy Curry felt they had to keep and thus pay Chandler. And since Chandler’s meager statistics were actually better than Dalembert’s pathetic ones, the Bulls got caught up in paying Chandler $62 million, a bit more than Dalembert. The Bulls were able to move him and he broke down. The Thunder even traded for him and the deal was rejected for health reasons and Chandler returned to the Hornets. Yes, they’ve been through this before and Chris Paul has seen it. So Chandler heals, gets on the champion Mavs, who interestingly with Mark Cuban didn’t want to pay him now, and falls into a weak free agent market and gets almost a $15 million annual deal to play in New York City and now more than $100 million in career salary, about what Michael Jordan made, and Chandler has career averages of seven points and six rebounds. The only time he averaged over eight rebounds was with the Bulls. He averaged in double figures scoring three times, and not recently. So what was that lockout all about? But Tyson won’t quit playing as long as he’s physically able. He should help the Knicks, though I still see them well behind the Bulls and Heat as they have no backcourt. With Chandler, they obviously are not going to trade Amar’e Stoudemire for Dwight Howard. So this is what they waited four years to do? Isiah Thomas couldn’t have done this?

With superstars following the money to different cities like what LeBron, Pujols, and CP3, what are the chances that D-Rose does the same? I am a huge fan of his and it would be devastating to say the least to the city if he does leave. He seems he wants to stay but if another teams offers more money would he follow everyone else's footsteps and ditch Chicago? What happened to playing the game for the game itself and not the money it brings. Seems Chicago should start the the "Stay in Chicago" campaign.

Eric Capiz

Sam: I wouldn’t presume to say what Derrick is thinking or wants to do, but his actions have made it clear in not chasing around with the other stars of the game that he is more like Jordan and Magic and Russell in the belief that if you are good enough you can figure a way to win and don’t have to run off for help. Derrick is from Chicago, he likes playing where his mom and family can watch, doesn’t seem bothered by playing at home and can make by far the most money resigning with the Bulls. Plus, the Bulls’ planning has been what they can do to build around Derrick. I see no reason why he’d leave, especially because he is a fan of Chicago, unlike most potential free agents.

I read Boozer has lost weight...is that a good sign for a PF? Was that really the problem? It would seem to me to have been more of a Grinch heart is too small to play D thing rather than a weight issue. There's a reason desire starts with a D...because D is all about desire. I seriously hope he watched some tape from the playoffs and so how hard his teammates were working defensively while he was a revolving door.

Marc Brauer

Sam: Since you’re quick with the D’s we know what grade you gave him. Boozer is becoming this season’s Deng, or previous Chandler/Curry, the guy fans want so much more from. At least Boozer has acknowledged that he’d heard and is aware. It doesn’t matter what players say when they come in and how they look. It’s what they do. Everyone is terrific in spring training, even Adam Dunn. The larger issue with Boozer always has been health, which was not positive when the Bulls signed him. Then he was hurt early and late, which doesn’t bode well as guys who get hurt seem to continue to get hurt, like Mike Miller. But Thibodeau has used the hook late on Boozer and I expect that again if he isn’t performing. He says it will be different this time, and he did come back big time in Utah after similar criticism. So we’ll see.

Now that the Spurs are going to release Richard Jefferson how about Bulls signing him? If so do you think he can be a good fit? Can he play SG for the Bulls?

  Tom Choi

Sam: He’s a small forward, and hasn’t been a very good one after two tries with the Spurs. His three point shooting has gotten better, and he is athletic. If he comes cheaply, sure, you could take a look, though I suspect someone picks him up in the waiver process as he’s not done.

The notion among many seems to be that the Bulls have maxed themselves out given their current talent level. I can certainly see why people think that given the effort the Bulls had to play with, especially on defense to be successful. However, while the Bulls may maxed themselves out from an on court effort standpoint I can see some individual/team development and improvement (such as Noah’s/Boozer’s team defense, Boozer individual defense, better free throw shooting as a team, etc) that can still be made. Assuming no big roster changes occur how much room for improvement for the Bulls is there? Do they have room to get better or have they pretty much maxed out already?

John Swank

Sam: Yes, the assumption is not only you can’t go farther with that talent, but how the heck did they even do that? But they are counting on Boozer. I know, uh oh. Actually, better health as Boozer missed a month plus and Noah, who was playing great and never was the same after that hand surgery, missing two months. I think they are hoping Noah returns to that strong double/double form he never got back to after the surgery, So, we’ll see. Though another shooter would help.

If Kevin Martin is traded to the Hornets is there any kind of scenario where the Bulls can make a deal for him? And I thought the NBA wanted to get away from the whole cant beat em join em teams?

Terrence Wells

Sam: As we know now, the trade was rejected by the league, and good. As I wrote Monday, owners were furious about the Paul stuff as they own the team and with the Board of Governors meeting Thursday to approve the labor deal I assume Stern heard it good and that he might be next out the door. After all, he talked the owners into buying the team and now they’re going to subsidize the Lakers and take away the Hornets only attraction and who exactly was going to buy that team with the mess of horrible contracts the team was taking on? Plus, who knows what Lamar Kardashian would have done with the next reality show in New Orleans.

I heard Nate Robinson is going to get bought out by OKC. Any chance the Bulls would pick him up?

Stanley Ross

Sam: Yes, I assume if he fell on the ice in front of the Berto Center. And then try to find out if he escaped from a hospital.

Why isn't anybody talking about Andre Igoudala joining the Bulls and playing the SG position? The Bulls need an impact player at the SG position who will be able to help Rose deep into the playoffs. AI is young, a great defender, has a solid offensive game, and was fifth in the league in assists last year! On top of all that, AI has publicly voiced his desire to be traded to another team.

Tim Leung

Sam: He doesn’t shoot quite that well, but he is the prototype athlete you want. It so happens he plays for the 76ers on a long contract, makes about $14 million and is considered their best player. So if you don’t trade the 76ers your best player for him, then maybe your second best of Deng or Noah. I don’t think the Bulls will do that. Forget it, Doug Collins’ son coaches at Duke. They’re not taking Boozer, who by the way, most fans have in almost every trade scenario. Stop it! He’s not going anywhere.

So after postponing the start of the season by 2 months, the NBA, in its infinite wisdom, decides that it's better to pack more conference games into a short calendar than let all teams travel to each arena? Now, instead of being able to see Durant, Kobe, and Griffin come to the UC, Bulls fans will have to wait until next year and instead be stuck watching teams like the Raptors and Nets come in twice this year. Yet another example of how the NBA takes its fans for granted. They easily could have scheduled a season that fans would have liked better than the 82 game grind, but instead decided to take away something that fans look forward to every year.

William Kaffenberger

Sam: Yes, it’s not a great schedule for fans with so many prime teams not coming to Chicago. But just about every city is screaming about that and it could be worse. Like in the small market places, like Charlotte, which even in its own division gets Miami three times while the Bulls get them, the Knicks and Celtics four times. At least the Bulls at home get all the good Eastern teams the max number of times. It should be enough for a shortened schedule.

The Bulls should sign Iverson because he's willing to accept a veteran minimum salary and he's still able to get you scoring. Also, he has made it clear that he is willing to come off the bench. He is Allen Iverson!

Dedrick Grandstaff

Sam: What, Brett Favre isn’t available?