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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 03.29.2013

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.

Why can't the Bulls beat the Heat in the playoffs? I don't understand the saying Derrick Rose shouldn't play this season only because there is no way the Bulls can beat the Heat in a 7-game series. We could destroy them on the boards with Jo and Boozer. Bosh clearly just wants to just stand there and shoot mid-range jumpers all game. He got 4 rebounds on Wednesday without having to play against Joakim Noah. Boozer grabbed a rebound over two Heat players then made a layup that sealed the game. Can you please explain to me how the Bulls have no chance of beating the Heat this season with Rose.

Zachary Brega

Sam: Well, the Bulls are about to finish 15 to 20 games behind Miami in the standings. So that does mean something. Of course, upsets—when you basically have 15 to 20 fewer wins than the other team which is healthy when you are not—can happen. The Bulls have a fairly good record against Miami with Rose out both this season and last. When it’s a game between men there are always possibilities. What if Paxson didn’t hit that three against Phoenix? What if Jordan did strip Karl Malone and then hit the shot over (pushing off) Bryon Russell? What if Indiana got that late jump ball in the 1998 conference finals? What if Dennis Rodman was allowed to stay home and dry out for Game 6 back in Chicago in 1996 as he asked? So, yes, winning isn’t always dominating. It’s possible, but the team that has the MVP usually does better as the Bulls discovered in the 1990’s.

Well if Rose needed extra spurning on to get back onto the court surely it must come from tonight’s performance vs. the Heat! The fact that the Bulls can beat them with 3 starters out against a full strength Heat makes me think this team can win a championship this year! forget in 1-2-3 years time in a mini rebuild. Rose—come back and play a backup point guard role to get your fitness and strength back at 20mins a game and then come playoff time move into the starting lineup and explode my friend!

Andrew Brown

Sam: Rose’s rehabilitation is not about the competition no matter what his brother said. And it was one game in Chicago in which Miami didn’t play particularly well, especially with their role players. And still the Bulls had to make a pair of amazing plays down the stretch by Hinrich and Boozer to keep Miami from overtaking them with the pressure of that winning streak.

The Bulls/Heat game ended about ten minutes ago. How many emails have you already received 1) demanding that D Rose come back so that 2) the Bulls will win the whole thing this year?

Josh Sues

Sam: How’d you guess. It’s only Friday morning now, but I’m working on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: Four score, at least.

None of my fellow Bulls fans my age remember him, but was it just me or was Kirk Hinrich channeling Jerry Sloan last night? The LeBron take down move and the rip from Bosh late in the game were very #4-esque.

Rahul Chatterjee

Sam: I recall in Hinrich’s rookie year spending some time with him to write a story about the Bulls getting an athletic version of Sloan. Injuries, trades and such have at times interfered with the narrative. But if anyone thinks—and I got plenty of mail from fans upset that many, especially at ESPN do—Hinrich was too rough, they never saw Sloan and Van Lier play. Actually they couldn’t have as it seems obvious ESPN has banned all talk about anyone who played before they came on the air in 1979. But Hinrich would have made Jerry proud against Miami. I do get a load of mail about Hinrich’s poor shooting and what a mistake it was to bring him back, though I got less of it this week. Actually none.

If our Bulls go on to win a title in the next few years this game will have been a defining moment in their progress towards that goal. Carlos was great and so was Luol. I don't want to see anyone injured, but starting Jimmy Butler adds athleticism to our starting lineup that can make it tougher on a team like the Heat.

Doug Biker

Sam: That’s been the latest trending on Ask Sam, the Jimmy Butler to start to Most Improved to why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame yet. Like John Wall’s legendary status after scoring 47 the other day, maybe a few more games would help the sample. The point about the athleticism is significant as the Bulls often bring to mind the Providence Steamrollers with their offense. It’s nice to see someone catch a lob for a change, and Butler does draw contact. See, the refs don’t favor veterans all the time. If you are aggressive and attack, you’d get calls. I assume when Marco Belinelli returns he’ll be back starting, but Butler has finished plenty and come next season given Belinelli’s increasing value around the NBA and Richard Hamilton’s probable buyout Butler could be left standing for that shooting guard position.

Were those dirty fouls by Hinrich Gibson and Butler that LeBron was complaining about after the game? LeBron can't have it both ways if he's going to deliver those same hard hits.

Gorav Raheja

Sam: No. I’ve gotten probably the most mail on this one, which is such a relief as I get a break from having to read a few more views about Derrick having weapons of mass destruction. The fans seem most upset of late—and always—with some columns on the ESPN site suggesting the Bulls are goons. Kirk Hinrich? C’mon, he weighs about 175 pounds. He practically got knocked out when he tried to tie up LeBron, a very legal and encouraged play to avoid hard fouls. Actually, I commend LeBron. He was pissed off. He really cares. He wanted that streak. Badly. He didn’t like losing, and you could see in the post game interview he wasn’t planning to bring it up but was asked by a Miami TV reporter and had to gather himself a bit to offer his view, which sounded a bit like an excuse. I’m sure he really knew they weren’t flagrant fouls. But 10 minutes after a loss like that it’s tough not to lash out a bit. I do when lunch is late. It’s as human and normal as we see him. He’s also gotten used to players getting out of the way when he comes barreling in. I understand some guys. I understand on teams going nowhere. But I’ve seen it with Boston, too. I know he’s strong and it will leave a mark. But the Bulls got in front and didn’t give up the easy matador dunks. Good for them, finally, and I think it just showed how badly he wanted to win. And isn’t that what we always ask of these guys?

Great win for the Bulls and I agree with the flagrant on James and your analysis. But James should have been upset. Kirk Hinrich, one of the highest character guys in the NBA, turned himself into Mahorn, Laimbeer, Mason and McHale on Rambis, who'd have guessed that?. The idea that this is tough playoff basketball should have gone out with the Bad Boys and the Bad Knicks. Tough playoff basketball is when you yank the ball away from Bosh, when you rebound between Bosh and Battier and slam on James, when you get 17 rebounds, when you dive for a loose ball; it's not when you tackle or lower the shoulder into or knock down defenseless players to prevent scores. If anything, that's cowardice. And unsportsmanlike: Only in basketball do we laud the maiming of someone when he beats you on a play. We don't trip a guy rounding third on a homer, or clothesline a wide receiver about to score. But when Detroit maimed Jordan and when Chicago decks James, in both cases, when they get beaten, it's laudable? If you get beat, take the ball out of the basket, get it back on the other end, and play better D next time. Purposefully tackling a guy on a break is even less part of basketball than stepping in to draw a charge. In both cases: move your feet, as you rightly say. The only difference is that at full speed on the break the offensive player is more vulnerable. Which is really the bottom line: someone is going to get hurt. And then all the people who are lauding hard fouls, and no lay ups and "playoff basketball" will have nothing to complain about. This stuff only persists because so many people in the NBA culture still praise it. Baseball got rid of the beanballs as acceptable; football ditched the clothesline and even the head slap; basketball should do the same. We should reward skill and not mindless unathletic goonery. There's nothing praiseworthy about hitting or even grabbing a guy who has beaten you. If a guy beats you, he beats you, and a dunk may make the ESPN folks drool, but it's still the same 2 points as a 20 footer. Big deal.

Sheldon Hirsch

Sam: Well, obviously I don’t fully agree. I agree with the larger notion that violent actions are not a part of the game. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t watch hockey. They like to fight. With clothes and equipment on. How stupid is that? I know beating guys to a helpless pulp is a great American tradition and lately in that caged fighting that usually lasts about 11 seconds. But I also find it difficult to see how the fouls James complained about were flagrant or intention or could injure. The league didn’t change any, for one thing. Hinrich was trying to keep James up and James just ran him down. Butler and Gibson came together going for the ball. The NBA has done a good job cleaning this up. There’s nothing resembling the old Pistons and Knicks anymore. Though I appreciate your comments as I know from the address you are from Chicago and not a Heat spy, so, yes, Chicago does not speak with one biased voice. It’s why we love it here despite what the free agents think.

At the end of the game they had mentioned how the heat didn't shake the bulls hands and chalked it up to the streak ending. I can never recall the bulls shaking the heats hands while LeBron has been there, personally I love it. What started the no hand shaking? I can remember a tough loss in Miami and the camera panned to wade and LeBron who were standing there waiting for the bulls to come over but they just walked to the locker room and LeBron and wade shook their heads. Is there a personal distaste for the heat on the bulls or is it just a intense rivalry? Are there any other teams the bulls don't shake hands with?

Brent Sylvester

Sam: I’m not sure when the post game hand shake thing not only started but became so important. And especially when you still don’t get a juice box and Ho Ho’s. The NBA has become some sort of a fraternity, a view I saw generally started by guys like Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, who basically hate everyone but believe in this secret handshake fraternity thing. They seemed to get that going, though it is a relief from the post game prayer sessions we saw a few years back. I may have told this story before, but it’s my favorite as Anthony Mason, one of the worst thugs ever, was calling players together on the court for one of these prayer circles. Alvin Gentry was then an interim, I think with Miami or Detroit. He was walking off distracted after the game when Mason asked him to join. Gentry politely excused himself. Mason cursed him out. I never once ever shook the hand of someone who beat me in any game. You play the game as a sportsman. The NBA often has it wrong. Players like Garnett say hideous, ugly stuff to one another all game. And then you should shake their hand after they beat you? Some guys like to wave to a friend or former teammate, say hello. That’s fine. No problem. But you have to shake hands? It’s most laughable in hockey where they seem to try to maim one another for hours. And then you should congratulate someone for doing that? I liked Miami walking off like that and the Bulls as well. That’s sportsmanship, to me.

Let’s see… Now Rose isn’t mentally or physically tough. He has no heart, and no leadership skills. He no longer cares about the Bulls. He’d rather sit home and change diapers than play basketball. He’s like a stranger to us now… No wait… we just need to get Rose 10-15 games before the playoffs. Then he will be at 75-80%, and we’ll beat the Heat in the playoffs with our size. (LeBron? LeBron who??) Man, Derrick sure has changed while he couldn’t play. I used to think the world of him, but since he’s not on my TV to entertain me 3 nights a week… and he didn’t follow my completely made-up time-table for his return… I’ve decided that he’s weak, selfish, immature and lazy. Now, watch his amazing transformation back to a hero after his first dunk of the 2013-14 season…

Art Alenik

Sam: As Tiger Woods' new ad states, “Winning takes care of everything.” It’s the gestation period of many a sports fan: Until the next time I can raise my foam No. 1 finger.

Personally, I’d like to see Rose play since there is no greater chance that he can reinjure the knee at this point. (unless there is a setback, or something specifically wrong with his knee that’s out of the ordinary, but there has never been anything stated outside of normal soreness.) Just get out there a few minutes and see how it feels. Shut it down if it’s too sore, or the hamstrings are strained. Nobody expects the pre-injury Rose this year anyway. Just run the offense and try to hit your shots. Regardless of the injury, I’d like to see him reduce the crazy shots in the lane where he’s off balance and floating out of bounds. I think it’s a PR nightmare if the reports are that he’s medically cleared and looking strong in practice – playing 5-on-5 for 5 weeks now. If he’s not coming back, the team should say that he’s had a set back or make up some injury. Teams make stuff up all the time. You need to protect Rose, especially after Reggie’s ignorant comments. His teammates are giving it their all and Rose is just saying something like, “whatever dude, it is what it is… I’ll come back when I’m 110% even if I can help the team if I’m 95%. I’ve been practicing at full speed for 5 weeks now and I’ll continue to do so for another 5 weeks and just watch my team lose in the 1st round of the playoffs.” That’s what the fans are seeing and it does not look good.

Robert A. Mestjian

Sam: First of all, there are an awful lot of physicians and orthopedic specialists out there that don’t have the greatest credentials. It was always, as I’ve emphasized, eight to 12 months until Rose can play limited minutes. So he’s 10 months and a bit more removed from that. I know you have cancer. But you look fine. Stop your worrying and concern. By the way, I feel good. Why is this also a p.r. nightmare for the Bulls. They’ve never said anything but when Rose is ready he’ll play. Media outlets mentioned February and March and cleared to play; not the team. So they owe an explanation based on nothing they said other than when Rose is ready he’ll play and not sooner? Though that is pretty Nixonian to make up a lie when you don’t have to and you can only have problems if you are found out lying even though you never had to say anything.

You mentioned some things that players deal with and go thru that us fans never really think about. I admit I have emailed as well asking why the heck Rose is not back out there yet and I think my issue is that he's saying he's not coming back until he's 110%. I then think about all the players out there playing thru pain and busting their butts at 70% or 80% but they're still out there trying to help their team win. I know Rose is all about winning but in this instance it seems like he cares more about how he'll look than how much his team needs him. You probably disagree but I'm sure u can see where I'm coming from.

Billy Habibi

Sam: Who calculates these percentages anyway? When I have the flu I can’t tell if I’m 85 percent. I will say for the benefit of all athletes you cannot be 110 percent. So if Rose is trying to get there he probably will have to retire. And what about that Danny Granger? Why does he have to have surgery? Can’t he wait like Kobe? If it were me, I’d rather come back at close to full health when I can play a full game and not get into that limited minutes routine, which, by the way, cost the jobs of the only two Bulls coaches who had to work with players under those conditions (Stan Albeck with Jordan and Vinny Del Negro with Noah). Won’t you just love to see the Bulls closing the gap in a playoff game and then Thibodeau taking out Rose for Nate Robinson with four minutes left? That’s one thing.

I’ve been 50/50 all season about Rose playing. I never—based on what I’d heard—thought he’d be back before mid-March and only 50/50 after that. I still think he could return, but if it were me I’d prefer to return when I could go full out. Anyone who has played at any level of sports understands playing at a limited level is frustrating to you and often detrimental to your teammates. When Rose believes he can help I assume he will play.

I'm tired of hearing this Derrick Rose will he or won't he play? The Bulls should shut him down he isn't going to make a difference in the playoffs; his game will be rusty and he has no confidence at all, so why are they constantly saying "it's when he's ready." I had the ACL injury in high school, it took ten months before i was cleared and it took awhile before my confidence came back and the soreness to subside; but i was back playing normally at the cusp of one year, so wouldn't it be wise for Thibs and Forman to go to him now and say shut it down? Because I believe it's causing a distraction to the team so that they can prepare for the playoffs without him instead of them looking over their shoulder wondering if he's returning.

Ken Allen

Sam: This is why I think the Bulls have been consistent in this. They have said from the start it’s up to Rose and how he feels and when he’s ready. So why then tell him he can’t play. Obviously, they want to make sure on the physical part about the repair of the ligaments. Then it’s the rehab and workouts and training. But in the end they said a year ago only Rose could truly know and he’d let them know. So they have remained true to what they have said and done from Day 1. It’s everyone else who is distracted. And though it was only one game, and there were other guys out, it’s hard to make the case the way the Bulls have played of late they have this big weight of indecision and uncertainty hanging over them.

I'm glad that Rose has been taking his time in his rehab, but one thing I have found odd is that he doesn't sit on the bench with his team even though he's at most of the games now. I realize that there was a reason for this earlier in the season when his knee was still healing and when it may have just been mentally too hard for him to watch the game and not be able to play, but at this point, when he's seemingly days or weeks away from returning why isn't he on the bench supporting the team? Most injured players sit on the bench, heck even Andrew Bynum sits with the Sixers and he allegedly hates basketball has never even suited up for the team.

Farhan Arshad

Sam: This is back to whatever he does someone is going to be mad. So he’s done it right and listened to no one but himself. He sat on the bench one game down in Indiana, I recall. And the media went nuts. Reporters were demanding comments from the team; what did it mean? Was it a sign? Was his jacket buttoned? Was that a signal to someone. Rose laughed about it, but he realized that would make him a distraction to the team. So he backed off again. And, see, he gets criticized for it and looked at as less than that knucklehead Andrew Bynum? It’s amazing how quickly those MVP chants turn into some other acronyms.

After long read blogs, commentaries and news about Rose the past month, after All-Star I have to say I've been mad, frustrated and sad about him not coming back in time to be a part of the group in the playoffs. Now that I've moan a lot I realize that finally Rose act like a 24 year old. We were all amazed by his play and ability to change the game of the Bulls that we forgot that basically he's just a kid. And this injury shows that... and we really can't blame him for act like a 24 year old. Only that explains before the Blazers' game Derrick saying he might be ready to play the next game but only God knows. I think someone older should say to Rose that the best way to handle this is not to say much. Saying he might be ready to play the next game is getting the expectations too high when then he might not play this season... and it’s obvious now that he will not play this season.

Rui Dias

Sam: Yes, there’s the part about media and fans clamoring for Rose to speak and explain himself, and then when he did the predictable response of why. But perhaps lost in some of your comments is the point we often fail or refuse to make about these players: They are kids. Making a lot of money doesn’t make you savvy and media wise and mature. I don’t argue with anyone’s personal religious beliefs. I don’t feel it’s a public issue, but some players like to invoke their religion. Mentioning the God part got Rose some abuse. Yes, it likely would have been better for the talk radio circuit had he avoided that particular usage. But that’s how he felt. He also at 24 and admittedly a shy kid who doesn’t talk a lot isn’t the most perfect public speaker. Try having to explain your behavior and decisions at that age and having it debated. And it’s not like the system that runs these kids out of school so quickly helps. On many levels given where so many come from it’s amazing they do as well with media and public relations as they do. Sometimes they say not the best thing. How could they!

The number of absolutely mind-numbingly asinine emails regarding Derrick that appear in your Ask Sam columns are really depressing. Still, among friends, talking to people randomly on the CTA, at bars, customers who come to the store I work at, etc. etc. it just doesn't seem like those emails are representative of how the vast majority of Chicagoans feel about Rose. I have to request that you simply stop publishing those emails, or no more than one a week. I hope you deny those unrepresentative fools a platform.

Ahmed Basharat

Sam: I guess your friends and acquaintances don’t write me. Ask them if they have the internet.

Were you a fan of the TV show "Happy Days," because this whole Derrick Rose watch reminds me of the episode when Fonzie jumped his motorcycle over a row of garbage cans and then crashed into a fried chicken stand, messing up his leg. Even after the doctor said he was medically fine and should have been walking, he just sat on Mrs. C's couch and let people wait on him. The Cunninghams asked him when he was going to get off their couch and walk again, and he answered, "I'll walk… whenever." He didn't want to walk until he could do it with cool. At the risk of being called a "nerd" (as Fonzie's doctor was), that seems eeriely similar to what's happening with Derrick: medically cleared, a protective group shielding him, saying "Take all the time you need, can we get you anything?" he wants to be 110% before he plays again, and when asked about a timetable he gives a response of "Only God knows when." In Fonzie's case it took the threat of one of his girlfriends going out with Potsie to get Fonzie off the couch and on his feet.

Chris Feldman

Sam: I really don’t have an answer, but I did feel it was important for my readers to be able to ponder this important analogy and the classical ramifications given it’s existential reality.

Ok, I am getting so sick and tired of hearing that Rose is "gutless", "heartless", or a "coward" for not playing this season. Really? After all this guy has done, not only for our team but for our city, it is sad to see fans turn against him so easily. I mean has Chicago fans turned into Philly fans? This kid gets injured in a way that some athletes never recover from, and now he is not mentally unstable because he's not ready to come back. This makes me sick. I mean Derrick Rose has earned much more than this, and to say these things about him, makes no sense. Now, watch, all these fans who are hating on Rose will forget this ever happened, and will be saying he's our savior when he comes back.

Christian Boblink

Sam: Hey, one of Ahmed’s friends got a computer.

I think one avenue the Bulls should strongly consider this offseason is trying to move Deng for a mid lottery pick on draft night IF they can get Victor Oladipo. I have been watching Indiana games all year, and this kid really is tailor-made for Thibs and the Bulls. His athleticism, defense, competitiveness and offensive efficiency are beyond elite. And his outside shooting abilities are on the rise. A Rose-Oladipo-Butler trio could be a force defensively and in transition with their speed and athleticism. The Bulls would also get significant cap relief for next year and beyond, even if they had to take back a small contract to make the deal work. This would allow them to bring back Belinelli as well. If you add Mirotic after next season to go with Noah and Taj in the front court, you have a young and promising supporting cast for DRose. I love Deng, but the Bulls have to suspect that they will not be resigning him after next year. He will be heading into free agency at age 29, and possibly coming off a 3rd straight All-Star season. They have Jimmy Butler waiting in the wings.

Matt Maloney

Sam: I thought Jimmy was to be the shooting guard? Oddly enough despite the terrific game Deng played against Miami, there’s been a spike to me of these get rid of Deng scenarios. Someone told me it was suggested on the ESPN halftime show. There will be a tough decision to make regarding Deng as he will be a free agent after next season, a decision both for the Bulls and Deng. But trading him is highly unlikely. Not only given his importance to the team and he’s a two time All-Star (I still get all these crazy emails to trade for O.J. Mayo, who never will be an All-Star), but with his expiring contract Deng has little value because he can walk on a team after a season. Plus with the new labor deal, there is a huge premium on draft picks because you can have them relatively cheap for at least four years. Even with this being a poor draft you won’t see many No. 1’s traded, and not likely into cap room, which the Bulls would have to do for your wild scenario to work.

You have to love Dwight Howard about David Lee elbowing him in the mouth: "I will remember this game. I will remember that shot. He said he wasn't trying to do it. You can look at the play and see it for yourself. I will take care of it later." When he hurts twice Derrick Rose in two dirty plays he was supposed to be the "Iron Man" (and I am quoting). So where is mister tough guy nowadays?

Ali Hill

Sam: Everyone knows Dwight’s sort of a talker so that I heard even his teammates were rolling their eyes and laughing. Yes, he was quoted them on two hits the NBA badly didn’t reconsider as flagrant fouls that could have led to serious injury saying you take your chances. But as we’ve seen by now with Howard he’s pretty much the fool.

I am so tired of Bulls fans criticizing Carlos Boozer. This guy gives us a solid four who scores and rebounds at a very high level for the minutes he gets. I checked the NBA site and he was tied with Noah for 9th in the league for double-doubles. There are just a handful of perfect players in the league who have no faults. Boozer is among the best after that elite level. He is a near All-Star teaming with MVP Rose, and All-Stars Deng and Noah to give the Bulls the kind of team-wide quality it takes to win a championship. What do fans think-everyone on the team is going to the Hall of Fame?

John Heakin

Sam: After he pushed Bosh out of the way for that big putback against Miami Wednesday I think fans want his amnesty put off another week.

Ben Gordon's contract negation problems are well documented as is his struggles since leaving the Bulls. That said, Gordon once proved to be an elite three-point shooter, a top 6th man, and played a major role for a top defensive team despite being a limited defender. Gordon was always regarded as being a really hard-worker, and my guess is that his time with Detroit and Charlotte has made him appreciate Chicago more. If the Bobcats were to buy out his contract, would the Bulls be interested in signing him on the cheap? Keep in mind, at one point the Bulls were willing to commit over $40 million to him.

Farhan Arshad

Sam: Yes, the Bulls probably thank goodness every day Ben turned down that initial $50 million offer. Perhaps he can regain some form that he once had. I hope he does.I like Ben a lot. But he seems to have lost a lot, and it will never be with the Bulls given Thibodeau doesn’t like small shooting guards and Ben and his people left with some pretty ugly comments about the Bulls. Ben attests to that grass is not greener thing, and we all could have told him they barely have any grass in Michigan given their weather.

I just heard Stacey King say it, and I've noticed it for a while. When Thibs calls a play and Nate Robninson is running point sometimes it seems like he flat out disregards his coach. When Nate scores Thibs and I tend not to care as much. But what kinds of consequences or rapport does this set between coaches and players in the NBA? Is it a cockiness type of thing? I imagine most players, Nate included, have faith in Thibs' vision on the court.

Mark Pingul

Sam: Nate, yes, can be challenging to coach, which is why he pretty much changes teams every season. And it’s not that Nate is a bad guy or coach killer or any such thing. He just doesn’t have a great attention span and with all the noise and surrounding distraction he—and he’s not alone about this as Dennis Rodman was a classic case—can lose track of the current assignment. So he shoots. Hey, it might go in. He’s fun, but did you hear Thibs after the Miami game praising just about everyone and then searching for the right words regarding Robinson. Thibs uses him a lot, so he hardly doesn’t respect or regard him. But Nate can be frustrating, if no real fault of his own or no actual intention to be difficult or a distraction. But he certainly is entertaining.

What would you say the chances are of the Bulls going into the playoffs with a fully healthy lineup with Rose, Rip, Deng, Boozer, and Noah alone with Taj and Butler?

Drew Corbett

Sam: Based on history or hoping also to hit the power ball?

I appreciate what Thibs has been able to do with this team and with this frenzy surrounding D-Rose's injury/return. I also would like to acknowledge how much I've seen Noah develop into one of the top big men and defenders in the league, that being said changes need to happen for the Bulls to win a championship. The move needs to be about adding the second scorer to alleviate the scoring ease on D-Rose. Noah, Rose, Butler, Gibson seem to be the core the Bulls should move forward with. Is Mirotic really the answer? Has a European player ever been the answer? My first desire would be to figure out a way to convince Kevin Love to go to Chicago. I've also been intrigued with Derrick Williams from Minnesota. Jeff Green has also been an interesting player. I hope the Bulls are considering these options.

Anthony Reyes

Sam: Parents understand this stuff. You buy your kid a new toy and the only one he wants is the one he doesn’t have. Derrick Williams and Jeff Green will never be as good as Luol Deng and probably not Boozer. Kevin Love, of course, is under contract until at least 2015. He’s not going anywhere and you’d think he owes Minnesota something just basically having taken off this season with his own mystery injury. Sure, get rid of the All Stars to take on two guys, one who was considered a draft bust two months ago and the other whom the Thunder gave up on and then had major heart surgery and is a wildly inconsistent player who still often plays off the bench. Sounds like a plan.

Houston looks good but needs additional pieces to be a contender. How about sending Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose there? Would that be enough to win a championship? My point is that James Harden was to be had and the Bulls missed it again. Wouldn't Oklahoma have taken Noah instead of Martin? John Paxson has to be replaced so that Rose's talent will not be wasted. Didn't the Bears just do that? It is time for a change.

Debang Liu

Sam: So the Bulls lose the league MVP all season, have to blow up their bench in order to get a point guard replacement due to the new labor rules and still are in the middle of the Eastern race and, yes, get rid of management? This, I know, is based on, Hey, I want James Harden. He is great. I assume the Bulls would love to have him. Durant and Westbrook, too. The reality, of course, is for one thing Oklahoma City traded Harden because they couldn’t afford him. They couldn’t afford to pay him $12 million, they said. So then pay it to Noah when they have a center and All Star level shot blocker in Ibaka? Plus, the starting bid given the financial concerns was two lottery picks. The Rockets have been missing the playoffs the last three years to build up draft picks for something like this; the Bulls have been playing for a title. Houston has lottery picks by being bad; the Bulls have none by being good. So the Bulls can’t get Harden? OK, fire management. Though I do think OKC may have taken Deng, Butler, Gibson and Rose.

With the improved production from the SG position with Marco and Jimmy playing as well as they have, do you think that they try to go for one in the draft, or do they look for another big man? I don't think either pick would play next season for Thibs, but who would be good fill-ins from this draft?

Ian Murphy

Sam: Well, Belinelli could get an offer out of their reach and why it will be difficult to handicap the Bulls draft is I think they can use every position but point guard given they have Marcus Teague waiting as well.

With the Bulls recent hard times, is it maybe better for them to fall out of playoff contention for long term ability and financial flexibility? I say this as the team will probably look very different yet again next season. A higher draft pick could be a trade piece and prep for long term being a great team.

Kevin Franzen

Sam: I think they have clinched a playoff spot with the 76ers and Raptors and whoever else there is in free fall. But nobody misses the playoffs to get a 13th or 14th pick. On purpose. Unless you miss the James Johnsons of this world.

I heard Ric Bucher make some comments on Chicago radio about Bulls targeting a shooting power foward, but he doesn’t want to give the name up. Is that Love or Aldridge?

Omar DeJesus

Sam: He’s probably talking about Aldridge, who I’ve heard has expressed some internal views about perhaps leaving what appears to be a rebuilding sort of situation. But given he has a long term contract and is their best player I assume the Trailblazers would want the Bulls player with the long term contract who is their best player, that being Rose. I assume the Bulls are targeting every All Star player they can, but I don’t hear that the Trailblazers are giving him up so easily.

I'm resigned to the fact that the Bulls are going to slot into a #5-7 seed in the East. I'm looking at the potential playoff matchups and what would be most beneficial for the Bulls. Do you really perceive a large difference between facing Brooklyn, Indy, or New York? So, please pass the word on to Thibs that we need to lay in the weeds a little over these last 14 games.

Dan Michler

Sam: There’s a better chance of Thibs endorsing weed than laying in some by giving up a game, yet a possession. I think of that group, the Nets are the most vulnerable. The Pacers are the tougher defensive team who play like the Bulls, and that series would be brutal. The Knicks can explode on you with their scorers, whom the Bulls could have trouble matching. But given the Bulls season, the uncertainty regarding Rose and the constant injuries, I doubt they are looking past anyone with the notion of staying in sixth or seventh to avoid Miami until the conference finals. Winning a round would be an accomplishment after last season.

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