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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 5.30.2014

Every Friday, Sam Smith of opens his Ask Sam mailbag and responds to the latest round of emails from his readers

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I love Noah. Love him. But he's also almost 30. Love is five years younger, and a better player. If you can get Love for Noah, why not?

Alejandro Yegros

Sam: I have heard this curious suggestion a few times, including when I was on a local radio show recently. Why exactly would Love want to be in Chicago without Noah and uncertain about the return of Derrick Rose? Then he’d spend all next season saying he’s looking to go to a team with a chance to win.

Why do we never hear a Carmelo Anthony or a Kevin Love say that they want to play for the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich? The Lakers always comes up, and now with these two we have heard rumors about them wanting to come to Chicago. But why doesn’t anybody say that they want to be traded or consider signing a deal with the Spurs? They have maybe the best coach and maybe the best system to play in and a deep roster. If winning is what you really want you should go to San Antonio.

Emil Kollstrom

Sam: It’s a valid point and the closest one of the big names that ever came up was when they went after Jason Kidd when they didn’t think Tony Parker was good enough. Sometimes the moves that fail are your best. They’ve been viewed as a frugal franchise that generally needs to remain out of the luxury tax, so big time names tend to look away. It’s not a good excuse and tells you a lot also about what players mean when they say they want to win. It means they want to be successful while also making the most money they can. It’s why Carmelo Anthony isn’t leaving New York. There’s an occasional case where a player takes less money, but rarely ever a big name player. And, no, the Miami guys didn’t sacrifice much. With state tax breaks and LeBron and Bosh getting sign and trades in the end, the money was about the same or close. Maybe Carmelo gives the Knicks a $5 million break to cover himself, but he’s not going somewhere for $40 million less. Plus, there are no slam dunks out there for him, and certainly not in major markets, where he wants to be. Guys don’t take risks and also give up tens of millions. As for Minnesota, there’s no real urgency to deal Love. Sure, he can walk on them. But to get the big money and extra year he’ll need a sign and trade. Do you believe a team just giving up rotation players and draft picks in a sign and trade won’t do that in the summer of 2015? It was Oklahoma City’s mistake in the Harden trade that may have cost them a title. Unless someone dumps a huge package on Minnesota, it probably makes sense for them to be patient.

I've been reading too many rumors. [Is it] true that the Kings want to move the 8th pick for an established player (the rumor is Kevin Love)?

Patrick Ross

Sam: I actually could see that given their owner’s seemingly overwhelming desire to make the playoffs now. It would work for the Bulls—other than losing the chance at Love—as the Kings would improve and the Bulls would get their first round pick as long as it’s not top 10. It would obviously be a risk for the Kings, but they took a similar one years ago when they traded for Chris Webber and he said he wanted out right away. But he resurrected his career and came to love Sacramento and lead them to their best run since leaving Cincinnati. Maybe that happens for Love with DeMarcus Cousins, who needs a great player near him. If I were Minnesota, I’d take No. 8, Ben McLemore and Jason Thompson and fill out salaries. Then Rudy Gay opts in and with Love, Gay and Cousins with Isaiah Thomas that would be a heck of an interesting Western Conference team. The owner is obviously willing to spend and they could add a reserve or two. If Love wants to be with a winner that might be a heck of a chance.

What would you say about coach Brooks allowing rookie Steven Adams to play at the crucial time against well experienced Spurs? I know coach Thibs is great but do you think he would have allowed rookie to play at that crucial juncture? Perkins is veteran and good defender. We hear same thing that Thibs like playing veterans over rookie. I am not at all biased or think thats wrong but it is good to give young player opportunity to know what they can do.

Mihir Patel

Sam: When Omer Asik was a rookie in the 2011 playoffs, he was a rotation regular and averaging about 15 minutes per game in the conference finals against Miami when he was hurt in Game 3, played briefly in Game 4 and then was out for the rest of the series. It seems Jimmy Butler has come pretty far as a low rated rookie playing for Thibodeau. I think Thibodeau has shown he’ll play who has earned playing time. Under Thibs, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah became All-Stars. They’d been in the NBA a combined nine seasons before Thibodeau became coach with zero All-Star appearances.

Donald Sterling being declared incompetent clears way for sale to Ballmer. Wow!

Mike Queensworst

Sam: Phil Jackson’s worst nightmare? Forget the Thibodeau trade scenarios. Now can we expect a Doc Rivers and Blake Griffin rumor for Phil and Carmelo? Well, Phil always said never say never in the NBA. It’s Phil’s dream scenario for the L.A. NBA team to be sold to the guy who was going to put him in charge of his franchise. And now Phil is in New York. Who could have seen this coming? Not only the man who never sold anything selling the Clippers (a Lakers’ sale with the death of Jerry Buss seemed more possible), but for maybe four times what the franchise was valued at a year ago. And not only that the franchise that was considered for decades the worst run in sports and the least successful being sold for more than any franchise ever. Yes, only in America! I know the values of franchises with the Bucks’ sale at $550 million are exploding and it would seem you cannot make a profit at that price. But we never see inflation in housing or salaries or purchases. Obviously, this is a rich guy who just wants his possession. And frankly, what better way to get attention and exposure than by owning a pro sports team? Though you better be careful what you say to your (girl) friends. That’s an entire new issue with a new core of owners coming in Detroit and Milwaukee and other places who are buying franchises to make them their toys and many made their money through various investment practices and you better study math — didn’t they say no math — and get a job broadcasting on TV if you want to be a coach. Perhaps there is equity in all this with all the possibilities of social media and new TV contracts to sell sports products in all sorts of ways I’d never be able to figure out. There are many ironies in all this, obviously, if Donald Sterling’s actions produce the most profitable sale in league history. But what must Jackson be thinking now after apparently having exhausted all possibilities and then agreeing to settle 3,000 miles away from home and his fiancé to be back involved in the NBA. And are the Knicks and Clippers about to talk trade?

Would [it] be possible [for] the Bulls [to get] both Paul Gasol and Paul Pierce in free agency?

Alexandre Rayel

Sam: I suppose, though they’d need oxygen on the sidelines. Talk about your veteran experience. It’s feasible, but unlikely as I suspect Pau would want too much money. But Pau would be my choice to get if it were one as he would be an ideal complement with Noah and the Bulls greatest needs are outside shooting and another big man. If the Bulls could talk Pau into taking less money to be back in title contention, which he could be in the Eastern Conference, that would be a heck of an option other than the Anthony/Love fantasies. I also don’t see how Pau could believe he could be with a contender with the Lakers, especially in the Western Conference. I think Pierce eventually returns to Boston.

Because of money and their "Me First" attitude I don't believe that the Bulls will be able to get Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love. The Bulls biggest need is a wing that can shoot and create his own shot so I was wondering any chance the Bulls can make a trade for Orlando's Aaron Affalo?

Tom Choi

Sam: It continues to be unfortunate that other teams besides the Bulls feel they should have success as well. The Magic have gone several years now rebuilding and messing around with young players. You don’t get to keep your job long doing that. It’s time for them to make a move, which would seem to suggest it’s why they need to hang onto Afflalo. He can opt out after next season, but making $7.5 million may choose not to. The Magic has loads of kids and picks. It’s tough to see what veterans the Bulls have to give up that would make sense for them.

[In] regards to Joel Embiid, I'd bet my money that he goes number 1. I was at Bill Self's camp a few weeks ago and he was pretty adamant that Embiid was the most gifted and highest IQ player he'd ever coached and that it was no comparison between him and Wiggins as to who should be drafted first. Assuming that Wiggins and Parker are relatively close in value, this should be an obvious sign to who the clear cut #1 is. That plus the fact that Serge Ibaka just dramatically proved his worth in addition to how dominating big men can be in playoff basketball. My money is on Embiid. Especially for a team like Cleveland who already has Kyrie Irving, so a "face of the franchise" is not going to tempt them to go with the more attractive offensive wing players.

Kenny Lim

Sam: You hear this all the time from pro scouts about Embiid, that there are so few big men and he’s an amazing athlete and has the famous highest ceiling in the draft and the biggest impact player. I’d be a bit concerned given his health, and when big men have issues it’s usually not isolated. I can see the Cavs taking Embiid given I think the plan remains to get LeBron at some point and return him to small forward. If I had No. 1 I’d take Parker. He’s a sure shot no way he misses and a basketball player, strong character, a competitor, everything you’d want in a player. The reason why so many GMs do a bad job is they always want this big hit to win an award and impress their buddies. What you should do is find basketball players who are going to be a success. Parker is. There’s no doubt. So what if someone else does well? Maybe Embiid becomes great. But Parker is going to be great as well. Who cares if the other guy does well. As long as you do. And whomever picks Parker will be doing very well. Parker is way better than Wiggins.

I just read an article saying that Darren Collison will opt out of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. Do you think the Bulls will or should pursue him in free agency? If he is willing to come off the bench, he would be a great back up for Derrick.

Kevin E. Perez

Sam: I assume he opted out for a chance to start. If the Bulls are spending big free agent money it’s not going to be on a backup point guard.

Do the Bulls have any chance to get their hands on Doug McDermott in this year's draft? I guess not because he will likely be drafted in 8-10 range. Is there a chance the Bulls could transform their 2 first round picks to move up to the 10th pick? I think Doug would fit perfectly in the Bulls System as a Korver-like guy, as a 3 point shooter.

Jerry Becker

Sam: The short answer is no. I hear all this stuff of who’s he going to guard. But given he’s a basketball player, a shooter and mature I don’t see him going lower than eight and could go higher. There’s little chance in this draft of getting into the top 10 unless you are giving up a starter not named Boozer.

Anthony Morrow opting out. Very interesting name.

Mike Sutera

Sam: He’s been one of the better shooting guards for a long time. Certainly sounds like the sort of player the Bulls have been looking for.

With all this yapping about shooting guards and forwards I think the Bulls are going to need bigs. I think Rose and Butler starting with Hinrich & Snell off the bench will be fine. Dunleavy and Mirotic should be fine at shooting forward. As Boozer leaves the Bulls need a power forward, not to replace Carlos but to replace Taj coming off the bench. Plus I think they need someone that can play more quality minutes than Nazr has behind Joakim.

Michael Arndt

Sam: Mirotic is a power forward, though a shooter as well. But yes they do need a backup center. One issue is there really are none in the draft, but they should be able to pick up a Kurt Thomas-like journeyman to back up Noah.

What are NBA rules for a player blowing in an opponents ear? Could that warrant a technical or delay of game penalty? Have you seen anyone like Lance Stephenson before? He's one of a kind.

Gorav Raheja

Sam: He’s not one of a kind. He’s J.R. Smith, who was untying opponents’ shoes this season among other bizarre acts. Larry Bird, really alone, nurtured and protected and promoted Stephenson for three years when no one wanted him around. He’s one of those renegade players who end up at Cincinnati, which has an open door for a lot of questionable character guys. His stupid antics with LeBron in Game 5 were an embarrassment, especially for a franchise that has prided itself on basketball professionalism in Indiana. Stephenson as a free agent is going to cost some general manager his job as the rumors in Indiana have long been he’s been the focus of causing the dysfunction that overwhelmed the team late this season. LeBron James=Good guy. Lance Stephenson=Bad guy.

Do you think the Bulls will talk with Thabo Sefolosha? I think Thibs will love him.

Melbert Tizon

Sam: I think they might ask him if he’s heard of where they can find some good shooters.