Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 02.22.2013
Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of emails from his readers
What are your thoughts on Reggie Rose's comments regarding the Bulls not putting anything around Derrick? I know nothing about Reggie Rose or his relationship with his brother. I'm curious if we should put any stock in what he's saying, or completely ignore it. Derrick has never made any comments remotely close to this in his entire Bulls career. I would assume he can't wait to get out there and compete with his teammates as soon as is reasonably possible, but maybe I'm wrong. One of the things fans love about Derrick is that he not only says all the right things, but also seems so genuine when he says it. If Reggie's comments don't reflect Derrick's thoughts at all, it must be frustrating for Derrick to see himself portrayed this way by his own family.
Sam: I assume you saw this released by Rose Thursday night:
“I have always felt that the Bulls organization’s goals have been the same as mine and that is to bring another championship to this city.”
Reggie also got it pretty good on the TNT halftime show during the Bulls blowout loss to the Heat from Charles Barkley, who said: “His brother needs to shut the hell up, number one. Listen man, I’m going to make one of the rules, when I’m king of the world — which is never gonna happen — hey man, we don’t care about your mom, your dad, your brothers and sisters. Stop tweeting. As Herm Edwards would say, ‘Don’t push send.’ Nobody cares what you think. If a reporter calls you, he wants you to say something bad about somebody else, so don’t be a damn idiot. Stop tweeting about coaches and players and stuff. Let the famous person be famous. You just shut the hell up.”
I think it was a surprise to everyone, and perhaps Reggie as well given the public and media reaction. There’s an old newspaper saying, “Don’t screw up on a slow news day.” You become the headline. Or the night of a blowout loss as it was for the Bulls to the Miami Heat Thursday. Everyone around knows how Derrick feels about his family, and his family did a great job in helping make him the person he is today. You have to give Reggie a lot of credit along with their mom. Reggie certainly would never do anything to hurt Derrick. Derrick’s story of hardship growing up and being taken care of and becoming the man he is has been a testament to that family that can be a model for so many more around the country. But no one is perfect and sometimes you have a bad day. Or say something to someone who is writing it down. Ever complain about where you work? But not to a reporter. You occasionally see stuff like this around the NBA, of family members saying something that might be embarrassing to the player out of passion or frustration or enthusiasm. It generally gets ignored, and I’d view his comments that way, more a loose moment with the media. It happens. I’m sure Derrick loves his brother, but as much as you may love a family member you don’t always have to think exactly the same. Maybe that's how Reggie Rose feels. That's OK. He's a fan, too. Sports is about debate and opinion. Would Derrick not return to play based on some pique about personnel decisions? Heck, he was playing with Tyrus, Lindsey Hunter, Anthony Roberson and Aaron Gray and you couldn't get him off the court. I don’t know what Derrick thinks, but we can only go with what he says and what he believes, and he always has said he loves his teammates and is inspired by the veterans. It was Derrick perhaps as much as anyone not pursuing other free agents in 2010, in part, because of his devotion to teammates. I haven’t gotten any sense Derrick has changed and have seen him and talked to him a fair amount the last month as he’s been around the team. The main reason the Bulls are not serious contenders this season — good, but flawed — is because Derrick is not playing. Not because the Bulls haven’t made any trades. Could they have won last season? I believe they could have. Deng and Noah are All-Stars selected by the coaches, and the Bulls made strong pitches to LeBron, Wade and Bosh in 2010. Did you want Dwight Howard? Well, they tried that, too, and Howard said Chicago wasn’t important enough for him. But I understand Reggie in a sense. We all want to be the GM. Seems like a fun job.
What do you make of Derrick’s brother Reggie and his criticism of the Bulls organization not doing enough? My opinion may not matter much but as a long time fan who follows the Bulls daily, I can’t agree with him at all. I hope Derrick will, though I doubt it, address his brother’s comments in one way or another.
Sam: It’s probably awkward for Derrick, certainly at this time. I guess you can say 29 organizations that don’t win aren’t doing enough, though some specific suggestions would have been helpful.
I was disappointed to read Reggie Rose's comments to ESPN Chicago today, in which he slammed the Bulls for standing pat at the trading deadline and said that this inactivity could be a "big factor" in Derrick's motivation to return to the court this season. Granted that Reggie stated he was not speaking for his brother. But he is Derrick's manager, and as such his comments reflect poorly on his client. They are also profoundly ungrateful to the Bulls, who in my view have gone above and beyond in shielding Derrick from pressure to return, and in giving him the privacy to recover. Moreover, they are an insult to Rose's teammates, who are hanging tough without Derrick and doing their best to give him something to return to. Between Adidas marketing the heck out of Derrick's return, and -- via some of Derrick's comments last week and Reggie's this week -- the vague whiff of entitlement starting to come from the Rose camp, increasingly it seems that the only party that will emerge from all this with its dignity intact is the Bulls organization and players. I want to believe that Derrick is still a team-first guy in the middle of all of this, and that his brother is talking out of hand. It's hard not to feel that the Bulls deserve at least that.
Sam: I will say it sounded uncharacteristic of Reggie, who I don’t know well but always has been genial and a likeable guy. Again, I’ve gotten not the slightest indication Derrick is any different than he ever has been. You know the two best words when dealing with a family member: Apology accepted. Of course it could be something sinister. Like Woody Allen once said, “When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action. They rented out my room.” Maybe they want to rent out Derrick’s room.
After hearing about Reggie Rose's comments I think the Bulls may have a problem. First if you read between the lines, I wonder if this has something to do with Derick's health? Is this just posturing, because Rose isn't going to be back this season? I personally think that is the best situation for everyone, but could this just be a preemptive strike to the insane backlash from fans? The fact that these comments come from his brother and manager, I wonder if they are seeing something that leads them to believe Rose isn't going to be the player he once was. I can't imagine that his brother would leak these comments for no reason. Second it's now obvious that Rose has other people in his camp that aren't happy with what the Bulls have done to bring talent in. I think a lot of the fans including myself agree. I understand that there is little they can do, because of the salary cap, but they better get creative soon. Can you imagine what the fans will say if Rose walks in a few years? I think at this point it's very clear that LeBron is going to rule this decade. Players like Rose are either going to have to join a team that has the cap space, and can afford to bring in superstars, or hope that the Bulls can get it done.
Sam: That perhaps is the biggest issue with Reggie’s comments that so many will read so much into what may be just a guy blowing off some steam. There seems no way seeing Derrick shoot around and run before games at this point you would seem to be able to make a comment on his future playing ability. Plus, all the reviews from the closed practices have been pretty upbeat. Not playing is another issue and the Bulls always have said they’ll err on the side of caution given Rose’s age and the future. Which is he signed a maximum deal to stay with the Bulls and they could have cap room in two years. The problem is what player are you going to get? Who are these great free agents? Josh Smith? Al Jefferson? Yes, that’s the top of the field. Rose is tied to the Bulls until the 2017-18 season, and it’s the same issue why Kobe can’t go anywhere. Kobe makes $30 million from the Lakers. If you pay him, then how can you add anyone else? Same with Rose. He’ll make $21.3 million in 2016-17. OK, say he wanted to leave. Then the other team likely couldn’t afford any other players in order to sign him. The way the luxury tax penalties are designed to level the playing field and keep teams from loading up on stars, the movement of top star players will become less and less in the future years. Unless they want to give up $10 million to $15 million per year.
Given the trade deadline ended with a thud, I was contemplating (good for the soul). I keep hearing that the Bulls need one more All-Star to surround Rose. Well, when he returns, the Bulls will have 3. Two of whom were selected by the coaches (more reliable that the fans, i.e. Garnett). They also have a top 5 certainly a top 10 power forward. Which new All-Star are we going to get? I don't see a trade-their All-Star for Teague, Butler and Radmanovic. Not fair but that's life. So we have Rose, Deng and Noah. They have James, Wade and Bosh, or Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka. Or Duncan, Parker and Ginobelli. Other than James and Durant, I like the Bulls chances. But James and Durant aren't going anywhere so I think that the Bulls are cap locked and player locked. I give the Bulls credit for putting together a great team. 2014 will be interesting but in the meantime, put on the big boy pants and go play. Did I miss something?
Sam: I’ll get you Reggie Rose’s number. You can call him.
I was just wondering what Rose and his people would say if he decides to sit out the year and the Bulls go on to win a title without him?
Sam: Congratulations and oops. I’m not optimistic they’ll have to worry about that, though. Certainly, Thursday’s game with Miami gave little confidence to those seeing the Bulls succeeding without Derrick.
I don't get all the vitriol directed towards James. Yes he was arrogant, and yes he spurned the Bulls three years ago. But he genuinely seems like a nice person, and isn't really a dirty player. If anything all that anger should be directed at Wade, who's unlikeable to say the least.
Sam: No point starting on Wade for no real reason. But fans are fans, whatever that means. LeBron is clearly the best player in the game and a joy to watch that sort of brilliance. I’d just as soon watch him now as any player in the game. He’s accessible to media, generally polite and cooperative and a positive image for the NBA. He doesn’t play dirty, cheap shot or try to humiliate anyone, opponents or officials. But as the saying goes if you pay your money you can boo if you want. It’s too bad if you don’t appreciate this great player.
Can you explain why on earth Sacramento would trade a promising rookie for a bag of bolts?
Sam: Sure sounds like they’re moving now. It’s a financial move, saving the team about $4 million. Perhaps the biggest reason there was so little trading deadline activity is teams can’t quite figure the ramifications of the new labor deal. So better to be conservative now and see how it breaks down. The Kings have a starting power forward in Jason Thompson, and Robinson wasn’t exactly dominating. They probably made the wrong pick, so given new ownership whoever that may be probably would like to play with its toy the way it wants better to have more financial flexibility. And it’s not like the any Kings’ move changes the balance of power. Though in getting Patrick Patterson, a former teammate, maybe it’s just to get someone who DeMarcus Cousins will speak with.
Why didn't the Bulls make a trade at the trade deadline? Such as J.J. Redick?
Sam: There really wasn’t that much available. And Orlando got three players; the Bulls were not in position to give up three players, including a 2011 first rounder in Tobias Harris. Plus as for Redick, it was hard to see with Belinelli and Hamilton how much he’d play and that he was any better than Belinelli. Redick’s a good shooting guard, and I think he’ll help Milwaukee. But not an elite player. In fact, Hinrich is shooting better on threes this season than Redick and Belinelli and Hamilton are much better passers. I’m glad the Bulls kept Hamilton; he’ll be valuable in the playoffs and you can see how when Wade was against him Thursday Wade did nothing. The reality is with the uncertainty surrounding Rose for this season you cannot afford to vastly change your roster. There are other seasons after this one.
Mark Cuban told Howard Stern that Raef LaFrentz was his worst acquisition. How about Erik Dampier? Evan Eschmeyer?
Sam: And Dampier for the same money he could have kept Steve Nash after saying the center position was more vital. Yes, Donald Trump could be an NBA owner, too.
With the amount of quality point guards in the NBA right now (Paul, Rondo, Westbrook, Parker,Jennings, Williams, etc.) and a lot of up-and-coming guys at the position (Jrue Holiday, Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry), does this in a way diminish the value of Derrick Rose at all? Especially considering the style of Rose's play and the long-term question marks around his ability to stay healthy as predominantly a driver/slasher? The angle I'm coming at is the Win Verses Replacement stat they use in baseball. For example, a really good first baseman might not have quite as high of a WAR as a really good second baseman b/c there are so many good first baseman and so few good second baseman. My concern is that three years from now Rose will still be a really good player, but just kind of considered one of many really good point guards in the league, but not someone who stands out from the pack.
Sam: First of all, those crazy stats are for guys who love math and hate the game. Derrick Rose means wins, and it doesn’t matter how you get them. The number of quality players hardly seems an issue. In the NBA in this era, it just means more the way the game has evolved to the perimeter for several reasons: Big kids like LeBron James and Kevin Durant become shooters and athletes. Thirty years ago they’d have been told to stand under the basket. Now they tell the coach to do that and shag balls. Plus, the NBA has tweaked the rules to enhance movement on the perimeter and eliminate hand checking, which benefits point guard play and enables them to look better in this era. We don’t know how Rose will look when he returns from injury, but when he left he was the best point guard in the NBA and a rare, scoring point guard MVP. If he returns with the same physical abilities, he’ll be the best point guard again. If you remember, he dominated Chris Paul and Deron Williams every time the teams played and so freaked out Rondo and Jennings they could barely contain their anger.
It's obvious Kyrie Irving is going to be an incredible player. But do you think he will be a star? Say along the lines of Derrick Rose? D-Rose took his teams to the playoffs twice before the coaching/roster change. Kyrie won't do that. Is that just because the talent surrounding D-Rose is better? Or do you think Kyrie could do the same thing with a little better talent?
Sam: He’s a bit different than Derrick in style of play given Derrick’s unprecedented explosion. But Kyrie looks like he’ll be every bit the star. His late game scoring and incredible shooting, which is better than Rose’s, shows a big time player. If Varejao hadn’t gotten hurt again they might be competing for a playoff spot. And, remember, Derrick’s first Bulls team snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season playing .500 ball. I hope Derrick returns to have some great duels with Irving, who if he stays healthy probably will be the best Duke pro player ever.
Just wanting to understand something. Why do people consistently say its 100% essential Derrick have another "superstar" playing with him in order to make this team a "realistic" championship contender? As far as I can tell logically speaking, wouldn't one think the team that has a solid star with efficient role players in every slot be the better option? I simply just refuse to by into the hype, I know a team doesn't need multiple super stars I feel like its just a precedent set that gets into some of the mentally ill equipped players minds and really could degenerate their game. The proof is in the pudding, and Bulls have had the best record in the league 2 seasons straight proving their formula can work, albeit the counter argument can be pushed due to Miami winning a ring. However, I can not help but put an asterisk next to that win because of, well lets be honest if Rose didn't get injured that would have been an epic series that we very well may have won.
Sam: And I will add this was written before Reggie’s comments. Yes, that’s been the notion with the Heat’s 2010 free agency. But you see the formula not working out exactly as planned with the Lakers. There are many ways to win, and you can win without even one star, like the Pistons did in 2004. Parker and Ginobili were hardly considered stars, and the Spurs won three titles with them. Miami’s 2006 team won with Wade and a very average Shaq. And the 2011 Mavs won with Jason Terry their second best player. You generally need one star, and the Bulls have him in Rose. As long as Derrick is able to play at the level he did they’ll have a chance every season. Plus, with the new labor deal that old three-star formula will start to be extinct as you saw the Thunder offload James Harden and the Grizzlies drop Rudy Gay in salary moves.
Where do you draw the line between PED's and things like "plasma-rich platelet therapy," which Deron Williams just underwent and Kobe Bryant also a few years ago. I mean, you're injecting a substance that your body naturally produces to help an injury heal faster. When athletes do this with testosterone, it's considered an unfair advantage, but isn't platelet rich therapy basically doing the same thing? Wasn't even approved in U.S. until recently.
Sam: I’ll admit it never has made much sense to me, though I was never very good in science and continue to have serious issues with my daughter’s middle school science homework. I think none of the sports establishment really understands this either, but if you can punish someone it makes it look like you might.
Wilt, Russell, Kareem, Hakeem, David Robinson and Shaq... throughout the ages they were plenty of centers that made it really hard to play under the rim. We see some highlights of Jordan and he was really small against all those guys. Kareem, Hakeem, David Robinson, Pat Ewing even Shaq of late. Even Kobe had to play against Shaq or David Robinson. Now we have what? LeBron now has to face Kevin Garnett as the best center in the league? A guy that LeBron might be taller and stronger? The best center of today is a goofy guy that is worst then everyone say, Dwight Howard or Tyson Chandler? A guy that made is first All-Star game this year? Chris Bosh plays at center now. We have Serge Ibaka playing at center. Bargnani is a center. Not hard to be a tough guy in this league. I might be a center. OK maybe not, but I'm taller then Nate Robinson! Maybe I can be. LeBron is really good, really is. Do you think the guy could have these stats [playing in] the 80's?
Sam: LeBron would be a star in any era, but it’s also why it’s not accurate, if fun, to compare players from different eras. The great ones always figure it out, and I’m sure Mikan would be dominant in this era as well. LeBron back then, though, may have been a bit more like Magic with his mentality a distributor as much when he came into the league. Michael and Kobe were scorers. But 40 years ago, it might have been different for LeBron as they wouldn’t have let him handle the ball because he is so big.
I just spent a few minutes looking at Wilt Chamberlain highlights. I'm completely sold on him now. Looking at the coverage of Dwight Howard, you would think he would have all these skills. Dwight is completely unrefined on the offensive end comparatively. What a waste of talent. I was in junior high school when Wilt died and I remember I used to watch SportsCenter before the bus came every morning. Wilt's death was like the 8th thing they showed after some highlights. Looking back now, isn't that disrespectful to someone who had as much of an impact as he did (lane widening, where you can release your free throw, 100 pts in a game, etc.)? Was it because of his reputation with women or was he controversial in any other way?
Sam: It’s more the short term memory of this media era. They don’t have film or tape or whatever they call it now to show pictures and hardly anyone producing the shows ever saw these guys play. I know a lot of the old guys resent all the attention to some players today in historic terms. There’s maybe no other front court player other than LeBron today who was better than Elgin Baylor. Ever seen a clip of him on TV? But the world has a short memory, not just in sports. You do what you can in your era, enjoy it as much as you can and then accept that it’s someone else’s turn. And then maybe someday they’ll make a movie and people will remember what you did, like with Lincoln.
I only saw the last couple of years for Wilt. Today you see tall players moving around like he did, but with none of the authority. My grandpa knew the Babe. Great players of the time would shut up and otherwise stop what they were doing to watch the Babe take BP. There's a grass-roots people's measure of sheer dominance. On the playground where you spent time as a kid, how often did you hear the stinging rebuttal to a missed swing from the heels "...who do you think you are? Babe Ruth?" I heard that one plenty and it was three or more generations of players removed from the Babe's time. On playgrounds where I played, quite a few people wanted to be Wilt. Me? I was maybe Leon Benbow or Bobby Weiss.
Sam: Be like Mike as well. Perhaps that’s the best way to separate Michael from LeBron and Kobe and the rest for now. Be like Mike was perhaps more than a bouncy song and clever commercial. Players for years imitated Jordan’s dress, style and play. Perhaps they one day will for LeBron or Kobe, but not yet.
I have one regret in my life... my brother bought me two tickets to see the Lakers play the Bulls in the winter of 1974 as a Christmas present. The game was some time in the spring, and I decided to go on a weekend religious trip of fun and folly in the snow in Wisconsin to Lutherdale, in hopes of scoring with another middle school girl at that time. I figured Wilt would understand, as my priorities were aligned with his. Anyway, I didn't get lucky and my brother took my other brother and they watched a great game. As you remember, the Bulls would always lose to the Lakers in the conference finals and couldn't get passed the Lakers with that those great Bull players of that era. When they finally beat them, they let their guard down and lost to Golden state, which eventually won the Championship that year. So, I never got to see Wilt live in person for a game. He was great to watch on TV, but I regret not seeing him play at the Stadium. What did I miss?
Sam: A fun weekend, though I did hear Wilt hooked up with that girl later.
I was reading Bulls forum on realgm and I found a topic that Coach Thibs hasn't yet sign his extension yet. I know it is ridiculous and I shouldn't even waste time to ask you, but I guess I will still ask you.
Sam: It’s a mere bag of shells, as Ralph Kramden once said in the Honeymooners. We in Brooklyn considered that a piece of resistance. It’s technically true. These things get agreed to, and then lawyers spend a year on it. Many sports contracts work that way. It’s a non-story, story. Thibs is anxious to have his contract and the Bulls are happy he agreed. If you know Thibs, once he makes a deal it doesn’t have to be written down. His word is his deal.
Do you see any parallels between '86 Jordan and '13 Rose? Both with major injuries (foot/ACL), both with dominant East competition (Celtics/Heat), both putting on muscle after relying on pure athleticism early in their careers...should we expect 63 points from D-Rose in round 1?
Sam: And being swept? We know the coach isn’t being fired and Derrick isn’t passing to Mike Smrek, Jawann Oldham or David Greenwood. Actually, Michael didn’t pass to the them, either.
So he’s dunking, he’s not dunking. Oh wait he’s dunking, but not straight-line dunking. He’s playing 5-on-5, no wait he’s not, oh now he is again. He’s taking contact, but not full contact, wait now it’s full anticipated contact. Why does none of this seem to sync up? We finally figured it out, and it makes total sense why rumors about this comeback are all cloudy: It’s a smokescreen. Derrick is shy. He’s not LeBron or Dwight – he doesn’t want a media or even fan circus surrounding all of this. He knows his coming back will be a huge deal. And if he says ‘I’m coming back Thursday against the Heat’, fans would go nuts, there would be unlimited local coverage, and TNT would throw a parade. I would bet all I have he’s coming back this year, and soon. But when he does, I get a feeling no one will know until they see him in the layup line before that game. The misinformation, half-truths, and whispers, it’s all to confuse the public and divert focus so the poor kid can do what he has to do, without all the hoopla. Then someday pretty soon, seemingly out of nowhere, we’ll all be watching a game and say ‘holy moly is that Derrick in the layup line?
Sam: Works for me, though I heard he is dunking his donuts.