Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 05.04.12
Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of e-mails from his readers
I feel bad for Rose. But I feel worse for the rest of the team — all the sacrifices they made and work they put in to give D-Rose time to heal and be ready to help them in the playoffs, all for nothing. Not that Rose is to blame; unless he was giving his middle finger to his yoga instructor all last summer, these are injuries that happen, and it’s no surprise that it was his knee, since injuries had already pinballed around from his back to his groin to his foot to his ankle this season. When one part of the body is hurt, another place picks up the stress of having to compensate. Rose needs to put everything into his rehab, as I’m sure he will, and keep his head up as he does it. But meanwhile, the rest of the gang, still here in the playoffs. I hope they glue their feet to the pedal and the pedal to the floor; I hope they have fun believing that they could, if they work hard and smart enough, still win. Sure, they have to compensate for the loss of Rose, but there’s no stress to it. A Bulls team without Rose can fail without repercussions. Rather than giving up, that should make them want to give all they can to winning. Noah might as well try to run the opposing bigs to their knees; why not? You’ll have all summer to breathe. Kyle Krover and Rip Hamilton might as well sharpen up and start shooting, and John Lucas III too, no one will hold any shot against them now. Taj and Deng can get ready to shut people down, Asik to hold his arms really high straight up in the air. They might as well give everything they've got. If they do it and lose, we’ll love them more for it. And if they happen to win (or at least beat Miami), well, that would really be something, wouldn’t it?
Sam: Did you get Thibs’ motivational speech? If not, that’s a good one.
It’s safe to say that Derrick Rose will miss the majority of next season. If Luol Deng delays wrist surgery until after the Olympics, he’ll likely miss a large chunk of the season too. Factor in the potential loss of either Omer or Taj due to salary cap restrictions, next year is not looking good. Is it possible that next year’s Bulls team won’t make the playoffs and are bound for the lottery?
Sam: It’s not that bad. I do think Rose will return sometime during next season, perhaps halfway through. This, though, comes with the medical expertise of someone who isn’t sure of the difference between an anterior cruciate and an interior room view. The issue then with Rose will be caution and conservatism. The Bulls have a history with this back to 1986 and Jordan’s broken foot and Noah’s plantar fasciitis a few years ago and minutes limitations. They usually go strictly with doctors’ recommendations, which, as we’ve seen, haven’t always worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. Though I do believe the emphasis will be on mistaking on the side of caution. After all, next season is the first of Rose’s five year extension. So I expect the severe minutes limitation working up to the playoffs, like with Jordan and Noah. But there will be so many voices with Rose so valuable to not only the Bulls but his business interests. I don’t know if Deng will need surgery. But you can be sure he’ll play in the Olympics given England gave he and his family shelter from the civil war in Sudan. His loyalty to them is unquestioned. And NBA teams are not allowed under penalty to even suggest to players not to participate. So, yes, it could be the guy behind the elephant for a circus trip for the Bulls next November. Given all that, like the Hawks without Al Horford, they should be able to hold onto a middle of the pack playoff spot and who knows as Deng and Rose return later in the season.
You can tell from your writings about Rose over the year what a fine person he is and a good all around guy. How will Rose handle this?
Sam: As well as anyone can would be my guess. I have not attempted to talk to him since the injury as I felt that would be inappropriate and unnecessary for media at this point. We all saw him at the United Center Tuesday. We can guess how he’s feeling. I know his doctors have asked him not to talk about his injury for now, and I can respect that. My sense being around him is he is a young man of faith. And while the initial shock was devastating to him, as could be expected, from everything I have heard he is preparing to put this in the larger picture of it being something he can recover from and that happens. He is a notoriously hard worker and very single minded. I expect he’ll put tremendous work into his rehabilitation and while there’ll be disappointment given his love for the game I also believe his sense of the world and his place will serve him well.
I would like to know if Derrick Rose needs surgery to repair his torn ACL which I hope he doesn't can I some way donate one of my ligaments or hamstring to Derrick? I know it sounds weird but honestly he's my hero and my brother's hero I would like to say I did something like this in my life.
Sam: It’s a fine gesture and consideration, though I believe Derrick is covered on that one and likely will have surgery sometime in the next month when it is safer for the long term given the swelling and trauma. You could be an organ donor on your drivers’ license, which would be the sort of gesture I’m sure Derrick would appreciate.
Just looking ahead, anticipating Rose will be out for the early part of next season, what are your thoughts on acquiring Steve Nash? He still has a good year or two left in him. And with his experience, could influence Rose on how he can change his game if his athleticism wears off.
Sam: Steve Nash has been the most popular name I’ve heard suggested from fans in the interim. He’s one of the least likely to be a Bull. First of all, he’s said he wants to play three more seasons, which means a three-year contract. There isn’t a chance in the world the Bulls would give a point guard a three year deal when they expect Rose back next season at some point. Plus, Nash considers himself a starter, not a mentor. He wants to start at least the next two seasons, play like John Stockton did at the same age going maybe 28 to 30 minutes a game starting for three years. So that eliminates the Bulls. And if it didn’t, he wants to be paid as a free agent to match his production, which is well above a mid level exception. He made $11 million this season and isn’t looking for much of a cut. Even if the Bulls used the mid level, which I don’t see them doing, it would be for half that.
Now that I'm not quite as angry over D-Rose's injury, I'm left wondering what now for the Bulls, will they keep this group? Can we afford to pay Noah, Deng, Boozer, and D-Rose over $10 million a year? I mean if D-Rose doesn't come as great a player as we was before this torn ACL I can't see this Bulls as a title contender, middle of the pack in the east is much more likely. What do you think Gar/Pax will do? Is it too early to start rebulding? I still want Derrick as a Bull, just don't he will be able to carry the team as he once did?
Sam: It’s about faith now, as much for the Bulls as for Rose. If Rose believes he can return and will work toward that end — and I think he can at a high level if you see so many players as All-Stars after similar injuries — then the Bulls have to view it the same way. You have to wait. Look, if your star, and basically your only one, goes down, you have to ride it out. You don’t replace once in a generation type talents, which Rose is. Remember, the Bulls were unbelievably fortunate to get Rose with the ninth best lottery odds. He turned them into the contender they never were going to be with what they had. So they have to ride with him. He is going to remain the center piece of the franchise until he believes he cannot be. I’d view it now as a setback which can last a year.
I know the season is not over, but the roster needs some changes. We need a wing who can create and a post scorer. Do you trade Deng or Noah? They rely on Rose too much to score.
Sam: Again, I don’t see anything drastic occurring. Remember, the Bulls got to this point over several years of relatively building. Plus, they aren’t a franchise that makes dramatic moves. They work the edges well, so I think they’ll stay with the draft and monitor free agency for minimum or low salaried bargains and try to retain what they have as much as they can.
After Amar'e won the stupid award the other night, there is talk of him being traded. Would you trade Boozer for him?
Sam: No. Let me reemphasize, Never. Amar’e is as huge a risk as there is in the NBA given he is owed $63 million after this season with no insurance for debilitating injury, which the Bulls will get for Rose, for instance. That’s actual money and it does mean something. Plus, Amar’e’s (can you have two apostrophes in a name?) game has been suspect given an ever increasing number of major injuries. The Suns' medical staff, regarded as the league’s best, gave him three years at most and they let him go. Look, Boozer is productive and is healthy. He may not be what fans want, but he hasn’t been that for several years and it’s unrealistic to expect otherwise. What does it tell you that the Knicks would probably trade him for Omer?
Is Kirk a possible Rose replacement? He replaced a Bull once before in Jay Williams.
Sam: Yes, another familiar name, though a more reasonable one. Again, I expect Kirk to try to max out on dollars on his final deal and don’t see the Bulls as a bidder at that level. I expect, though, the Bulls will kick the tires and see if there is a chance. You never know. After all, he has made a lot of money and he loves to play golf at Arboretum in Buffalo Grove. Maybe that’s enough.
Given the series of injuries this season, do you think the Bulls are better off sitting Rose all next season? Even if the doctors say he's OK to play mid-way through (9 months from now)? If I were Bulls' management I'd have to seriously contemplate it to let him get his body right and also learn how his body will respond after the injury. He might not be able to do what he has in the past, but I believe that he's a rare breed of athlete who has the drive to be the best, even if that means changing his game — becoming a better shooter, post player, etc. I'm not saying that the Bulls should tank a season, but being realistic about the 2012-13 season and beyond getting a higher draft pick and a more fully healed Rose should only help them down the road.
Sam: That would get us back to the Jordan accusation of 1985-86. It wasn’t true because the doctors did tell the Bulls Jordan ran a 10 percent chance of ending his career. Jordan, of course, saw that as 90 percent positive and was willing to bet. He was playing pickup ball back in North Carolina without the Bulls knowing during his rehab. But consider the Spurs when David Robinson got hurt. They basically tanked the season and got Tim Duncan, enabling them to extend for almost a decade after Robinson. Is one lost year worth that? Why play for fourth with, say, Nash or Hinrich, if you have a shot at a star in the next lottery. And then there’s Mirotic in maybe 2015 and maybe the Bobcats No. 1 in 2016. It is something that makes you think. Sit out Rose, sit out Deng, maybe trade someone like Boozer for a draft pick and then push everything toward 2013-14. I don’t believe the Bulls will given, like Jordan, Rose will want to play. And it was a thrill to see Jordan in the 1986 playoffs with fresh legs get that 63 points. But the Bulls were swept in three and took a few more years to win a playoff round. But what if the Bulls hadn’t let Jordan back and gotten into the lottery. They ended up with Brad Sellers in that draft, which didn’t go that well. That was the notorious drug draft with Len Bias, Chris Washburn, William Bedford and Roy Tarpley in the lottery. But there also was Brad Daugherty and Ron Harper just before the Bulls picked Sellers. Harper then and Jordan would have been something to see.
Reasons #23, 24 and 25 why I like Doug Collins: He was the first one to go to Derrick Rose when Derrick got hurt, and he was waving for the Bulls trainers to come help as soon as he realized how serious the injury was. Collins' a competitor, but he also appreciates that players are people, and when someone's hurt, you forget about competing and help them out. His remarks to the media about the impact to the NBA of having Derrick go out, about Derrick's personal qualities, and his texts to Bulls management to the same effect. I very much appreciate his perspective on what the NBA is, what/who it needs to help sustain its appeal, and that it in no way diminishes him or his authority over the 76ers for him to express his personal appreciation for an opposing player. The way he didn't let any of his personal regard for Derrick and regret over the way Derrick's season ended temper his game plan for Tuesday's game. Yes, he appreciates that it's awful how Derrick's season ended, but he used Derrick's absence to great advantage in his game plan. When it's time to play the game, you play to win, and Collins set aside any sympathy he felt for Derrick's situation to do his job. Thibs would love to have coached Collins the player.
Sam: I saw you were from Downstate (Chicago geographical arrogance), so I’m sure you are proud of Doug’s roots as well. Doug has grown tremendously since he came to the Bulls in the mid-1980’s, a young man who still, as he since has said, regretted not being a player because of a serious knee injury like Derrick’s. Medical treatment is much better now, fortunately for the Bulls and Derrick. Doug’s been a great help to me over the years in studying the game and learning about people, and I have great regard for him. He’s one of the best coaches the NBA has known and a great ambassador for the game given his expertise and humanity.
Do the Bulls have a lottery pick in the 2012 draft?
Sam: No matter how many times I answer it, there remains much confusion over the Tyrus Thomas trade pick. The Bulls this season have the No. 29 pick in the first round as they won a coin flip with the Spurs after having the same record. They get the Charlotte No. 1 the next time the Bobcats make the playoffs. They also could get it if it’s not top 10 or 12 in the next few years. In order words, if it’s at the bottom of the lottery, at No. 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14 depending on the season. If they don’t have it by 2016, they get it in that season without exception.
I guess it's good we didn't trade the Charlotte pick. I can't think of an elite NBA player who plays like Rose who was able to recover and regain his old form after an injury like that. Is there the possibility of placing an amnesty on him within the next few years to get that huge contract off the books so the Bulls can get back to rebuilding again? What a shame.
Sam: I think the loss will be, if there is one, that we may never see that spectacular, explosive high-flying Rose who basically was unknown to the NBA. So if the loss is to see just an All-Star point guard again, which there is no reason Rose cannot be, then there are worse things. Plus, Rose already had began to change his game. He shot more floaters, was working on a post game until all the injuries, improved his shot and remains a good passer. You better get used to him. I think he’ll be around quite a while.
What is the possibility of the Bulls pursuing free agent Deron Williams? Would Deron be open to coming to the Bulls and would he be a good fit? (I'm thinking with Boozer, Kolver and Brewer being former team mates and the Bulls being a championship contender, this should be an easy sale.) I guess most importantly do the Bull's have the money and willingness to pay?
Sam: Forget any big name, big money free agent. This is about the salary cap and luxury tax as well. Technically, the Bulls do not even have the ability under the rules to pursue Williams, given they are not far enough under the salary cap. And, no, not even if they amnesty Boozer. Now, here’s the other part of the equation. It has been mentioned at times over the years the Bulls would explore the luxury tax for players if they were on the verge or it could be the step to a title. Without Rose, it would be difficult to make the case they are close to a title, so why go into the luxury tax? Plus, the new labor deal makes the luxury tax more penal. It doubles and then triples as you go in. So it’s better to hold off. If you went in next season to try to play for third or fourth, then you might not be in position to do so when Rose is back. So I don’t see anything major regarding free agency.
Why is Mark Aguire not in the Hall of Fame? I would think that based on his College and Pro career he would garner some consideration. Having watched basketball since the early 80's it is funny how much of an influence SportsCenter has had on player selections. I still cannot beleive Rodman got in, at least as quick as he did.
Sam: I think you have a good point and Mark has a legitimate case, especially because he was on two Pistons championship teams and Adrian Dantley, whom you might say was a similar player, is in and didn’t play for any champions. Bob McAdoo is while Bernard King is not. They’re all similar sort of big time scorers. And they’re deserving. Of course, Dantley was traded for Aguirre and felt he should have. But that another issue. Mark was one of the league’s premier scorers in the league in Dallas and a great college player, though ultimately spectacularly unsuccessful with what should have been great DePaul teams. But there’s a lot of politics involved, and Mark was involved in a lot of controversies over the years which suggested his lack of cooperation and defiance of convention. I think Dick Motta did a lot to poison his image around the NBA with a negative campaign against Mark in Dallas. Rodman has those years of all-defense, which legitimizes him. But Mark is a worthy and deserving candidate and should get in eventually.
I hope our Bulls fans watched the Clippers vs Memphis game. This should explain why Rose was still in the game. 12 point leads with a 1:30 on the clock in a playoff game is not safe. That is the bottom line. Bulls up by 25 different story. Rose makes that shot and does not get hurt another different story. I dis-like when fans questioning plays like this.
Sam: Yes, that helps explain it, though it’s been a 50/50 issue in my mail. I think most of the coaches around the NBA would have done it similarly, though there are some who would have been conservative because of previous injuries. I think Thibodeau generally is absolved. After all, he’s without a new contract still and who’s winning percentage does it hurt? You can be sure Thibodeau understands the value of Rose to everyone and he’d be the last guy who’d want to endanger him. Even if he didn’t like him, and he loves him.
The question came of why Rose was still in with 80 seconds to go. Personally i believe its because Thib's saw this as a chance to really silence any doubts that rose was rusty and incapable, especially since he was just a rebound and assist away from a triple double. I know he's openly said that he doesn't care about those sorts of things but for rose to come to have a triple double on his the first game in the playoffs would have been phenomenal, not only for him to get a little more confidence in his play but also to send a strong statement to Phily. Was that a contributing factor why Thib's kept him in?
Sam: Thibs is good, but I strongly doubt Derrick’s numbers or sending any sort of message occurred to him at any point in the game. What he saw was a 20-some point lead down to 12 and thinking about sitting on the bench in Houston and watching Tracy McGrady score 13 points in the last 37 seconds to beat the Spurs. As I’ve written earlier this season and last, Thibs brought that up when he was coaching in Boston as an assistant and to anyone who ever asks. He’s seen it happen and has been consistent in that he’ll never give up a game like that. He’s not that difficult to figure out.
I have to respectfully disagree that Thibs holds no fault in derrick's injury or that "players getting hurt is part of the game" as thibs said. Not that players getting hurt isn't part of the game, but to me it was no shocker that the left acl went. This was not a freak injury, this was a worn down left knee joint from overcompensating for a right groin and ankle. Typically, thibs, and many others in the sporting world, can't see the forest for the trees. I watched that game start to finish, and I'm saying Philly was beat even when they were (barely) threatening a late come back, they werent gonna get it. Rose could (if not should) have been watching and resting, preparing for a long playoff haul. Thibs seems to always been worried bout the next play, which is mostly how you want your coach to be, but you'd also like them to be able to step back from the next play for a second, and maybe think about the next few games.
Sam: Yes, that has been the other half. I’ll say my mail has been pretty evenly divided among those who say Thibs was doing what any coach would do in the playoffs and those saying given Rose’s season he should have been more careful. My feeling is that’s generally been a second guess as I can say among everyone who I talked to around the Bulls no one was thinking at that point why Rose was playing. The 76ers beat writer sitting next to me asked, but this is what we’ve seen for two years from Thibodeau and he is consistent. If Rose couldn’t play a full game, I assume there would have been one of those minutes limitations. I guess you could also say if the team had closed the game in the fourth when they should when they were up by more than 20 Rose would have been out. As Thibodeau accused reporters, they work backward. He was saying, as is often true with media and fans, they see what occurred and then ask why you didn’t do it differently. It’s sort of what’s been going on in the presidential election. There’s a guy who has to make decisions without benefit of the knowing the results and everyone else.
After the confirmation of Rose's season ending torn ACL, I immediately thought of Adidas and Nike. Adidas' top two basketball guys in Rose and Howard are lost to season ending injuries. I looked up Iman Shumpert and turns out, he is also Adidas. Then Jason Petrie. He mocked Rose for signing with Adidas and not Nike. This may now be more than just a game, but business.
Sam: That was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard after a player was injured, and especially like that. It’s like saying after the Kennedy assassination he deserved it for riding in a convertible. It was amazing to hear that given how Chicago has embraced Nike for so many years. And when it’s been a national embarrassment for years the way Nike treats people in poor countries with low pay and sweat shop conditions. And how many Nikes have you bought and not felt gouged? Perhaps Derrick made a social decision as well to avoid wearing those shoes. If so, I applaud that. As for the sneakers, I see plenty of healthy players wearing them. And didn’t Jordan break his foot in Nikes practically as soon as he started his career?
I think Thibs decision to leave Rose in the game was the least important factor in Rose's injury. It was a non-contact injury. I have a background in biomechanics and kinesiology, and I can tell you that Rose simply doesn't move properly. He has no foundation for safe movement. Combined with the compressed season, lack of recovery time, and poor conditioning due to the injuries he suffered all year... the problem was compounded. This was bound to happen. Thoughts?
Sam: I’ll defer to your knowledge. I’m better with adjectives.
This has been one of the most painful season ever. Not because it hurts Bulls chances of winning, but because it happened to a good guy. Which do you think is a sadder story, Jason Williams motorcycle accident of Derrick Rose out for the playoffs?
Sam: That’s like choosing between parents who died. They are both very sad, though Derrick does have a better chance of resuming his career at a high level. Jay had little chance and it was amazing he returned at all, as he did briefly, when even that night we were hearing he would lose his leg. Derrick’s injury probably hurts us all a bit more, given he is from Chicago and so passionately embraced and so much more was expected of him than Williams given Rose’s superior talent. There were no smiles with either.
I’m as sad as the next guy about what happened to Derrick, but while i was reading articles and blogs about his injury and couldnt help but smile from all the support hes getting from non-Bulls fans. Its quite amazing how someone could be receiving such genuine get well wishes from fans whose teams who have been getting scorched by d rose the last couple year. If lebron tore an acl the basketball world would probably rejoice, but with rose everyone seems to be mourning even if their teams chances just got better. I dont know what is it about this kid but hes truly something special, a once in a lifetime kind of player and i just pray that i get to watch him again, whenever that may be. Do u recall fans from across basketball genuinely feeling sad about jordan getting hurt early in his career?
Sam: Some of what you expressed is the reason in that Rose has this special ability we’ve probably never seen before, and like something beautiful and rare, we want to enjoy it for as long a we can. So I think there is that potential sense of loss from beyond Chicago. I will say I disagree about LeBron. No matter how you feel about him, he’s a very special player and I think we’d all be sad not to be able to see him as well. I know I would be. I do enjoy watching him. He truly is a special talent as well. As for Jordan, there wasn’t quite that outpouring yet because it was so early in his career and all he’s accomplished was the Rookie of the Year. Rose was MVP and already one of the top five players in the league with substantial playoff experience. Jordan was not considered at that level yet. Also, Jordan’s injury, a break, was not looked at as anything that could change his game, as this injury is for Derrick.
April 28, 2012 joins the ranks of October 6, 1993 (MJ's first retirement) and October 14, 2003 (Bartman) as some of the darkest dates in recent Chicago sports history. After his countless precautionary DNP's throughout the regular season, this horrific outcome truly adds insult to injury (pun intended). After the heart-wrenching, season-ending collapse the Bulls endured in Game 5 of last's year's Eastern Conference Finals, I needed a few weeks to overcome the pain as a devastated fan. However, before long I was already looking forward to the following season. This go-round, the season is still perhaps far from over, and yet I fear we will watch our team die a slow and painful demise to a once-inferior mediocre team, whether it be the 76'ers, Hawks, or Celtics...or, imagine if they still make the Conference Finals yet lose to Miami (what could have been!). Unlike last year's disappointment, I wish to forego the rest of this year's playoffs, the entire off-season, and the next 82-game regular season schedule. It all seems arbitrary now. What will it matter if the Bulls notch yet another best-record in the league if it can dissipate so easily? I don't have the patience to sit through more meaningless games against Charlotte, Sacramento, or Minnesota over six long months, only to return to the spot we felt so confident in less than twenty-four hours ago. The Cubs are a disgrace. The Bears will ultimately disappoint. These Bulls were our only legitimate shot at a title in 2012. It sucks being a Chicago sports fan right now.
Sam: Like Latka Gravas said as Vic Ferrari in the classic sitcom Taxi after his friends said they hated his new identity, ”Hard to get happy after that one.”
I took my 8 year old to the Bulls-heat game in Miami 10 days ago. ( her first game). With 4 minutes left and the Bulls down by 10, Jade said "this is over, they can't score 10 points." I said to Jade, that is why we need Rose. He can create offense and then the other team doubles on him creating open looks for Kyle Korver. Korver cant create open shots. Without Rose, their aren't so many open looks.
Since my 8 year old figured out this issue, what will be Thibs solution to the offense?
Sam: Is Jade busy?