Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 05.25.12
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Jabari Parker goes on a two year Mormon mission. Parker comes back in time for the 2016 NBA draft, where the Bulls own the number 1 pick. Thank you, Tyrus! Bulls draft Parker. Ok, I'm going back to reality now. I have to clean the dishes.
Sam: Now, that’s a plan! Luck works a lot better than planning, for the most part. Consider if Seattle/Oklahoma City had the No. 1 pick and took Greg Oden, which they surely would have done. What if Rick Pitino got Tim Duncan when the Celtics had the best odds? Popovich might be coaching Louisville now. Maybe if the Bobcats win the lottery, he may plan that mission.
I know this might be a long shot, but why don't we trade up in the draft to get better at PF. I'm not talking about trading up for Anthony Davis, but there are some other great young PF in the draft like Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond and even Jared Sullinger.
Sam: Trading up in the draft is always extremely difficult as teams love to sell hope. It would probably take at least Noah and the Bulls pick. Which sets you back pretty far for next season. That, by the way, will be one of the bigger issues for the Bulls I addressed in last Monday’s NBA column: How seriously to compete next season and how soon Rose will return, both major unknowns. No matter how much fans want to blame Boozer, the Bulls strength is in the front court with Boozer, Gibson, Noah and Asik, whom they’ll almost certainly match on. Given the probability of not returning many of the bench guys, the Bulls are without a point guard and perimeter scoring. That’s where they have to look for now.
With an uncertain next season between the Rose injury, and whatever happens with Deng and the Olympics and contracts, Boozer etc. What do you think about signing Allen Iverson for 1 season? There is nothing I would love [more than] to see then the Bulls take all the time needed to bring D-Rose back at full health, and if that means losing him and Deng all next year so be it. I might be the last guy left who believes Iverson deserves another chance, but I truly believe he can contribute at a capacity that would help the Bulls through next season until Mr. Rose and Luol make it back. As a huge Bulls fan, and a huge Allen Iverson fan growing up, maybe its wishful thinking but I would love to see a happy ending to Allen Iverson's career and I think even after all thats gone on with him he deserves a chance.
Sam: I’m not as down on Iverson as I have been in recent years in basically dismissing any mention of him, like the rest of the NBA has done, obviously. Sometimes a near death experience can change you, and maybe Iverson has changed some and would accept some sort of minor role just to get back into the NBA as previously he would not. Position-wise, he’s not a need as he’s basically a scoring guard and not a facilitator, though I have seem him do it in limited times on the USA teams. Would he buy in? And is he worth the curiosity and distraction factor? Probably not. You saw with Gilbert Arenas while he wasn’t a problem in Memphis, being away from the game so long he was able to add so little and they barely ever played him. Plus, Iverson is the anti-teammate, an inveterate loner who routinely spent all night after games in casinos. Though, I guess, the Bulls managed with Rodman behaving similarly. I’d probably suggest otherwise as you are better off getting someone who might mesh with Rose when he returns. I remember the Bulls trying this with George Gervin when Jordan broke his foot and it was a disaster.
Sign and Trade Omer Asik to Portland for the lesser of their two lottery picks (#11 predicted) After the Oden bust they really are hurting for a true center. I love Omer's defense, but if we can spin him for a lottery pick then I'm all for it.
Sam: I know fans love the draft, but out of the top few picks you aren’t likely to get a player anywhere near the level of contribution Asik can bring. Who are all these great 10, 11, 12 picks of recent years? If Asik were in this draft he’d be top 10 for sure and maybe higher. Why would you want to trade a potential starting center for the next Tyler Hansbrough or Gerald Henderson?
Ivica Dukan was in Athens a few months ago where CSKA played Olympiacos. He was heavily scouting Shved and Papanikolaou and also had a talk with Kirilenko. The Bulls are interested in all 3 of them from what I heard. Kirilenko is also fond of the Bulls as he grew up a huge Bulls fan.
Sam: I admit I read more about the Greek economy and how it might affect my 401(k) and understanding better why that country’s society keeps collapsing, though they seem to dress more conservatively than the last time they crumbled. If Kirilenko does return to the NBA, he will want more money, the kind the Russian owner of the Nets can hide in Siberian silver mines.
What’s the most insane aspect of the Magic considering Shaquille O’Neal for their GM position? No experience? No basketball insight? Little passion left for the game of basketball? He’s seen as a traitor in Orlando? Dwight Howard doesn’t want to be a Laker specifically because he doesn’t want to play in O’Neal’s shadow? Did I miss anything?
Sam: How upset the guys at TNT who destroyed their best basketball show must be about not having to fire Shaq... O’Neal put out a denial, though what brilliant thinking that had to be having one of the game’s laziest players as your head of basketball operations. And if you still watch that TNT show, you also know Shaq doesn’t know many of the players in the game. Maybe Dwight Howard was right all along about Orlando.
Given the situation with Derrick Rose, do you believe the Bulls would be better off trying to put together a package to land Eric Gordon from the Hornets? Since next year will not be a year we spend competing for a title, we could try and re-tool for 2013-14 season. You might have to involve other teams to make it work but a back court of Gordon and Rose would be pretty good and you probably will be able to keep either Deng or Noah.
Sam: That would be a pretty small backcourt. I assume you suggest trading Deng or Noah, which matches in money after a sign and trade. Though I’m not sure how this benefits the Hornets, whose greatest need is scoring. Gordon’s name comes up a lot, and the rumor all season that I made up about a year ago has been a deal with the Pacers for Danny Granger, though I’m not sure why they’d do that, either. But you also have to wonder with Gordon’s health and missing virtually all this season whether you can take a chance on him.
You know what Derrick Rose tearing his ACL means? It means we're about to witness one of the greatest 3 point shooting point guards in the history of the NBA. Because unlike the naive Bulls fans who believe Dr. Cole's fake optimism, I know he is not going to come back 100%. Not 2 years from now, not ever. So he will lose some speed and therefore lose the ease of creating his own shot slightly. Therefore he is going to have to rely on others getting him good shots. I think he'll work harder on his shot than ever and since he probably won't have the ability to create as well so he won't be able to jack up threes anytime he wants. He'll have to wait for more wide open opportunities which should raise his [percentage] greatly. I think he has a legit chance to shoot 45% from three point land. I can't wait to watch the sharpshooting D-Rose that I know is coming.
Sam: Well, that’s kind of a bummer, though you don’t seem so upset. I have more optimism than that, though not much medical knowledge. But there is something to what you say in perhaps less the medical evaluation than the Bulls when Rose does return have to stop relying on him so much for offense. They did too much and took advantage of who he had to be. Not to say they caused his injury, but the injury has to be a wakeup call that when Rose returns the team desperately needs another perimeter ballhandler, like the Pistons did for Isiah Thomas when they got Joe Dumars. That enhanced Thomas’ career and enabled the Pistons to win titles with Thomas scaling back his scoring to under 20 per game but able to summon up a big game on occasion. That should be the Rose we see when he is healthy again.
I'm not sure if the NBA works like the NFL at all as far as salary cap goes, but would it be possible, and can the Bulls restucture Rose's contract to pay him about half of what it will be? That will have the Bulls have about 10 million to use for free agents.
Sam: The NBA isn’t like the NFL in that the NBA discusses its physical play without making much impact and the NFL, at least until recently, works to incapacitate its players without ever mentioning it. Yes, cheap shot there. As for salaries, no, you cannot restructure or change contracts in the NBA. The issue for the Bulls will be whether they try to convince a league doctor Rose will miss the season and then they can get half his salary or a mid-level exception for a free agent. But given it will be all luxury tax, it would be another $15 million contract, which I doubt the Bulls would do as it would make them the biggest spending team in the NBA and without much chance to win with Rose out.
Can you provide details about the trade chips the Bulls own, emphasis on creative chips. Specifically, is there any trade value related to options on CJ, Brewer and Korver. If Bulls hold a 2012/13 option on a player, is that a trade chip, because they can use it to trade for a salary, then the team getting that player can NOT exercise and save themselves some cap space or tax space? Can you trade a player before you exercise the option? Is there a team that could get under the cap to chase a FA by "giving away" a player to Bulls? The way the Bulls gave away Hinrich before 2010 FA. Bottom line is the Bulls need to find themselves one really good upgrade to weather the Rose time off. And we'd all like those chips to not be Mirotic or the Charlotte pick.
Sam: That would put the Bulls out of chips and time to leave the table. The Bulls' so-called trade chips or assets, as they like to call them, are Mirotic, who’ll likely come in 2014-15 and that Charlotte pick which is a mid first rounder unless the Bobcats miss the playoffs in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Then it is an unprotected lottery pick in 2016. Those team option contracts for Watson, Korver and Brewer are potential so called chips because they can be traded. But you have to take back matching salary. And the main reason the Bulls would not keep them was cap and luxury tax reasons. If it wasn’t financial, they’d probably keep them, which hasn’t been determined yet. The Bulls cannot take a player like the Hinrich situation as they are over the cap. You can only do that if you are under. The Bulls don’t have much because they went for it. If Rose weren’t hurt they’d obviously be in the conference finals and perhaps Finals. And they dominated the Spurs when the teams played this season. But when you go for it you spend money and use your chips. The Bulls did. They don’t have much left other than what you’d want to keep for the future.
What do you think about the Bulls trading Deng to Memphis for Rudy Gay? That would give the Bulls a player who could create his own shot and could be a legit 2nd scorer when Rose comes back and the main scorer while he's out. Memphis in turn would get a great all around player with a lot of playoff experience who could continue to be the "glue" guy in Deng and he would probably mesh better with Randolph (since there's talk Gay and Randolph don't really get along).
Sam: I think the Grizzlies value Gay more highly than Deng, and though there is that so called chemistry issue with Randolph and Gay, the Grizzlies’ major need is perimeter shooting and scoring. And if they were going to give up Gay, whom they regard as their best talent, they’re not likely to for a guy who doesn’t score as much or shoot all that well from three point range.
Loving it that the Lakers are gone! Never want to see Kobe win more or as many titles than Michael. Anyway, where do the Lakers go from here? With Kobe going on 34 they have to go huge! I can see Howard being the only big piece they could add to turn them back into contenders. No point in them going after Deron as the guy is not a winner.
Sam: Yes, that latest unnamed report of Williams perhaps preferring the Lakers to the Mavs because the Mavs don’t have longevity with Dirk — hello! Kobe is almost 35 and has played more minutes. Anyway, the Lakers don’t have the cap room. Sign a trade for Bynum? Perhaps, but that’s the same issue Orlando would have. Bynum is going into his final season before becoming a free agent. Do you think Orlando is going to go through that with Bynum instead of Howard? As for the Nets, they do so many goofy things — their lottery pick for Gerald Wallace, whom they could have signed as a free agent this summer — that they could take anyone for a year.
It's obvious the Lakers need to make some changes. How about Gasol to Indy for Collison and West. LA finally fills their PG need (Sessions isn't the answer) and take a slight downgrade at PF and Indy gets an upgrade at PF and can deal one of their many young players they won't be able to afford after their rookie deal, anyway. Then the Lakers make their obvious Bynum for Howard trade and they end up with a starting 5 of Collison, Kobe, World Peace, West and Howard.
Sam: That might be something for both to ponder. I think Indiana has been overrated given their series against a weakened Miami team, and the Pacers have holes in their scoring. With Hill, I think they’d go for it, and that may be what Kobe is thinking in saying he has confidence Mitch Kupchak can come up with something. I don’t see Orlando taking Bynum, but if there’s talk they’d consider Shaq as GM it’s impossible to link Magic management with logic ever again.
If you can believe the report recently on NBA.com that Jeremy Lin is not interested in staying with the Knicks should the Bulls then take a shot at him? He's a restricted FA and I guess there are enough teams that might [want to] spend a lot of money on him, but with the potential loss of Watson, Brewer and/or Korver will the Bulls be in a position to make a legitimate offer?
Sam: I don’t expect the Bulls to make a full exception offer to anyone given it would be a luxury tax offer and cost double, meaning it would cost you $10 million a year for an eventual backup to Rose. I know fans only look at the basketball part, but this is the reality of the Bulls having four near maximum contracts to become the winningest team in the last two years. And this now being an era where it will be difficult to have more than two max deals. It’s like why people buy Hondas instead of a Mercedes. You could get financing on the Mercedes, but is it worth the extra cost? For most people, no. Same with the Bulls these days. Are these sorts of players worth the extra cost at a time your best player and the league MVP is out?
What a joke the NBA All-Defensive team is. For as good as people say this Chris Paul is, how does playing the passing lanes for steals merit an NBA All-Defensive first team award? Chris Paul gets beat like a drum by other PGs in this league somewhat routinely. Rondo and Deron must be laughing to themselves over this one.
Sam: Most of the criticism of the voting was Chandler as Defensive Player of the Year and Ibaka as first team all-defensive. The easy answer is the coaches vote for all-defensive and media votes for Defensive Player. I was with Chandler, though I don’t consider him that great. But I was down on Howard for his destructive behavior this season and didn’t feel he should have been rewarded. Ibaka is good, but with Defensive Player you tend to take in all around contribution and Ibaka has Kendrick Perkins. Chandler has Carmelo and Amar’e, arguably the two worst defenders at their positions. So while Chandler may not have done as much, he was alone without any help as his backcourt guys like Lin and Baron Davis were Route 66, allowing everyone down the lane. Chandler was running around covering for everyone and the Knicks’ defense was vastly better. I think that was the right vote for his impact in changing a culture. But you are right as I think the coaches voting is usually the least knowledgeable. Carlos Boozer for a top three vote. That says all you need to know. And coaches should know Paul is vastly overrated and a poor individual defender who makes steals playing the lanes and compromises the rest of your defense. You’ve seen in the playoffs guards constantly blowing by him, though he did get hurt late in the first round. Plus, the coaches missed on Iguodala not getting one of the two teams and he is, to me, the league’s best perimeter defender. Tony Allen? C’mon. He’s out on fouls half the time leading the league in dumb plays.
David West or Carlos Boozer?
Sam: West averaged 14.4 points and 8.9 rebounds in the playoffs. Boozer averaged 13.5 points and 9.8 rebounds. West allowed Dwyane Wade to penetrate relentlessly in Game 6 without helping much. In the regular season, West averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds while Boozer averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds. So?
Which of these former Bulls players, would make excellent coaches since Thibodeou messed up twice (first time, having a non-shooter Bogans start as SG and this time, having a cold Watson as point guard for injured Rose instead of a hot James).
Sam: Well, the Bulls are not replacing Thibodeau as he did good work despite the circumstances. They did, after all, lead the league in wins two straight years. The best from among that list would be Griffin and Myers, both very bright with the good basketball sense of guys who had to work hard to get there and stayed because of their work ethic and knowledge of the game.
Any chance the Bulls would have any interest in Lamar Odom?
Sam: No, and for likely many reasons. Money would be one. He’ll get a buyout from the Mavs, but some team will probably give him an exception of $5 million or so, which would put the Bulls out. The Bulls are fine inside, as I’ve mentioned, but you’d have to be careful with Odom who seemed to have some sort of mental breakdown last season, and the distraction that comes from his willingness to take on a second full time job (and all Ron Artest wanted to do as a Bulls rookie was work at Best Buy on Sundays for the employee discount) in a reality show with his faux celebrity wife. Dallas media was filled with her comments all last season, which often proved embarrassing to the team. Yes, even to Mark Cuban, if you can believe that.
Found an article about when Tim Duncan got injured in 2000. According to the article Duncan could have given it a go in the playoffs that year, but Popovich decided to shut him down against TD’s wishes. The move had short term consequences, as it not only lead to the Spurs get eliminated that year by the Suns, but it may have given the Lakers just the opportunity they need to get their dynasty off the ground. The Spurs in the end though ensured the well-being of their franchise player. They got Parker in that next draft, and things are still rolling for them. I brought it up because it will be situation that comes up with Bulls and Rose next year come playoff time. We still don’t know what would have happen to TD if he had played. Maybe he would have been ok and Spurs would have more titles. The way things worked out though, it is hard to argue the Spurs were wrong for sitting him. Do you think it is best for the Bulls to approach that way with Rose and shut him down for the year even if he can come back? Even against his wishes like it was with Duncan?
Sam: It’s a different situation as Duncan wasn’t out all season and got hurt late. Then they decided not to bring him back. Plus, Parker was a low first round pick (28) because the Spurs did have a good record that season with Duncan playing. But that will be the tough question next season. I think the Bulls are good enough without doing much of anything — and the East bad enough — to finish, say, sixth. OK, then you bring Rose back late in the season. You have a low seed, but with Rose and the East pretty weak you can really make a run. But to do so Rose would have to compete hard. Do you take that chance? How many minutes do you play him? You know he’s going to workout constantly and be in great shape. He’ll be running and jumping and likely look normal. What to do?
It seems everyone thinks SVG is such a great coach. He is a good coach but not great. I feel when he made the public comments about Howard wanted him fired it set off some major red flags. Do you think he shot himself in the foot for future coaching opportunities?
Sam: No. Sometimes Stan say things and if you are management, maybe you wince. He is the anti-politically correct. He’s a lot like Phil Jackson — though his brother Jeff would never say that — in that Stan doesn’t lie well, or much at all. Stan is a big “my way” guy, who’d make Sinatra proud. You get Stan, you have to know that. But he’ll make your team better and always be prepared and working. To me there are fewer than 10 coaches in the NBA today I’d hire who are currently working, and he’s one of them. My vague and perhaps incomplete list in no particular order includes Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Doug Collins, Tom Thibodeau, Rick Adelman, Rick Carlisle, Scott Skiles and maybe George Karl. There are some other good ones, but only a few excellent ones who’ll make a major difference for your team. I believe Stan does.
Both Wade and Bryant should skip the Olympic team. Totally unneeded. The backcourt of Paul, Williams, Westbrook, Harden and whomever else will still be the best 5 guards in the entire tournament. With James and Durant and whoever is in the backcourt, the USA will always have the 4 best guys on the floor, every game. Short of a USA-USSR hockey kind of thing, the only way they lose is to Spain, and only then if the Gasols dominate our depleted center corps. Right now it's Chandler alone (Love and Bosh and Griffin are not low post defensive answers); what if he gets hurt or in foul trouble? Davis may eventually be great but I wouldn't plan on him competing now. That's why, seems to me. the only important task for the team is to get Duncan, Garnett or even Kendrick Perkins to commit. Basically, they'd be needed solely for the Spain game, maybe 20 minutes to make sure the Gasols don't dominate; they can spend the rest of the time sight seeing and resting weary limbs.
Sam: I don’t really pay much attention to Olympic basketball. I thought the Dream Team in 1992 was a nice idea, but, OK, they were good. I don’t want to see it every time. I’d like to see new faces and a different team. I liked when the U.S. was underdogs. I don’t care if the USA team loses a basketball game. That can’t be a cause for a loss of national pride, can it? Our worth comes with multi millionaire NBA players winning an exhibition basketball tournament? Do I have to watch Michael Phelps swim again? Seen that. Anyway, if you are building a team — and rarely does USA Basketball or the U.S. Olympic committee take my suggestions as I pour a lot less money into it than the sneaker and fast food companies and their star endorsers — the U.S. is short on tall and you make a very valid point that I agree is being overlooked. Now, Bosh may not play along with Howard. And Spain also is going to have Ibaka. With the Gasols and Ibaka I’m not sure the U.S. could come up with anyone to match them. They should have Love, who’s a good international big man with his shot. Maybe we are sending the underdogs. So perhaps I might start watching again.