Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 07.12.2013
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Michael Jordan played for Washington Wizards. Brian Urlacher retired as a Bear. Kobe Bryant can be either. Would you think Lakers may want to trade him? This is his last year of his contract over $30 million. It is obvious that the Lakers cannot win this year with Kobe. It will be a more difficult decision for Lakers to extend or not extend Kobe's contract after this year. It does not look good for another super star will come to the Lakers and coexist with Bryant from Howard experiment. If he comes to the Bulls and stays relatively healthy, he has chances to win two more NBA titles that will be one more than Jordan's total. Can the Bulls trade for him?
Sam: I get this one from time to time based on a couple of Kobe flirtations with the Bulls over the years, and with his return from injury, free agency and the Lakers about to be rebuilding this should replace the amnesty Boozer questions late next winter. Kobe said the other day he wants to retire as a Laker, though not soon, and doesn’t see why he would take any pay cut from his $30 million salary for this season. Which is really why the Lakers are in big trouble. Coming off Achilles surgery, having played well beyond 50,000 minutes in his career, heading toward 36 the Lakers cannot pay him and build a team around him as now he needs to play with better players than himself. Many coaches will tell you the worst player to have around—yes, Jordan as a Wizard qualified—is the aging superstar as he never can accept not being the star even though he cannot be one anymore. Perhaps Tim Duncan is the exception. Certainly not Kobe. The Lakers need to let him go, but would they? Certainly no top player is going to the Lakers to play with an aging star unlikely to surrender the ball. So come July 2014 would the Lakers let him go and then Bryant perhaps to show them take a $5 million exception to play with a team like the Bulls and spread the court for Derrick Rose? I think we all know the answer to that one.
John Salmons may be amnestied. If he clears waivers would we be interested again?
Sam: Maybe with Tyrus Thomas and Ron Artest.
Are Bulls thinking about bringing another center and use Nazr in the Kurt Thomas' role or they feel Mohamed is Noah's backup and Gibson will fill that role when needed? I'm worried. I value Nazr's leadership and veteran presence but he is too slow and old to backup Noah on a regular basis. They didn't draft Dieng/Plumlee/Gobert and the centers' free agent pool are getting pretty dry (besides being pretty bad). I was thinking a Turiaf/Dalembert/Mozgov type to play defense and block some shots but all of them are either signed or will be signed by more than the minimum.
Sam: Well, those have been some of the names being looked at. Yes, it’s a weak field, but my sense is the Bulls still are trying to add a veteran center to backup Noah with Mohammed with spot duty, though he did well when called upon late last season. I suspect he’ll be in better shape and more ready to play more minutes this season. But they still seem to be holding a spot for one more big man.
I know the Bulls roster is all but set. However, we do still need another back up big man and I was wondering what is the likelihood the Bulls would look into Brandan Wright. He seems like a serviceable backup center/power forward that is relatively cheap considering he made less than a million last year.
Sam: The auditions continue, though he is less the defensive presence they’d like for that spot.
Do you think going after Cole Aldrich would be a good addition for the Bulls. Obviously as a back-up center. I know, he didn't play many minutes for the Kings in the 2012/13 season, but his stats per minute seems decent, and he could probably be picked up on a minimum contract?
He's also a solid defender (which is a must to get minutes on the court for the Bulls) who picks up boards at both ends of the floor.
Sam: He’s probably on the list, but you’d think they hope to do a bit better than a Kings reject. As we’ve seen from these names the list is getting pretty slim. If fans are actually suggesting they want Cole Aldrich it’s not a vital field. No, it doesn’t appear Greg Oden has any interest.
What's with Luol Deng asking for that 52 million dollar contract or something? Wouldn't that make him a bit overpaid.
Sam: There were some rumors recently of the Bulls and Deng in contract talks. Look, it’s an agent’s job always to feel out his player’s team about a new contract. It goes on constantly. The Bulls, as I’ve repeatedly suggested I believe these last few months, don’t intend to trade Deng. But the Bulls are in no position to be signing anyone to long term deals now. Next summer is a major free agency period and every team will be trying to be in position. It’s not about breaking down your team like in 2010. But the Bulls are among those who can be in position with expiring contracts. Perhaps they win the title next season and then extend everyone. That’s possible. Really. But if they don’t win, don’t they have to remain in position to have flexibility to try to improve? Of course. It’s why they’ll play it out this season, and I don’t believe Deng’s representatives are making any specific contracts demands at this time.
I am a Bulls fan from Australia, a country that has produced a couple of good bulls players ok in reality only one Luke Longley because I don't think many people in America consider Chris Anstey and Luke Schenscher as great players but all things considered they at least played pro hoops. I’m actually very surprised at the anger that is being directed at Rose and how long his rehab is taking the reality is i think he is on track and I believe that the Bulls are doing the right thing by holding him back in fact for the long term benefit for both parties. In Australia we play football which is known as AFL, the amount of top line AFL players who have knee reconstructions is phenomenal to the point that it is a 12 month layoff and then when the player comes back it normally another year before they are back to full skill level if they are lucky. The reality for both parties it would be best if Rose sat out this season and came back next season because to do it now could be very damaging physically and mentally.
Sam: I believe the malice is beginning to recede as Rose makes a few appearances and speaks more and those who were so angry finally are getting their medications back in balance.
I know Thibs loves Deng. But I do not see Gar giving Deng a market level extension in line with what Iguodala received. And I don't see Deng taking a discount. So instead of letting him walk next off season I believe they trade him. What about trading for Rudy Gay? Not a good defender, but can create own shot. And LeBron can't guard Rose and Gay at the same time. Yes Gay makes a lot the next two seasons. So you may need to include Hinrich’s contract in the deal.
Sam: Trade Deng also seems like it will be a constant for the next year. My sense is the Bulls have no plans to trade Deng at all and have not had any, that they believe with this group they have a shot this coming season and don’t want to change anything major. If it doesn’t work out, then everything is on the table. Which is why someone like Gay makes no sense because then you are hamstrung after this season with that large contract and limited ability to make a creative move if you haven’t won. Reading the need to move Deng to get something is wrong this season because even if the Bulls were to lose Deng in free agency next summer, they’d potentially fall so far below the cap they could replace him with another free agent. All signs have indicated they’d like to keep him long term. But everything will depend on this coming season. If the Bulls have a flameout season of any sort, like a first round playoff loss, I’d say the only one then safe would be Derrick Rose.
Whatever happened with Deng's wrist injury. Is he having surgery on it this summer?
Sam: Much like with Kobe who had a similar injury, it appears to have healed enough to avoid any procedure and Deng doesn’t seem to have any surgery recommended.
I love Lou. One of the best perimeter defenders in the league. One of the best all around small forwards today. Never complains. Always does his job and then some. So what do you think about a Deng sign-and-trade next off season for Josh Smith? I could see his defensive intensity and athleticism fitting well in Chicago, and that lets us amnesty Carlos. Detroit is going to have to pick two out of Smith, Drummond and Monroe once Drummond develops more fully. (I can't see any of them happily coming off the bench at that point, and no one wants to see Josh Smith starting at small forward--except Josh Smith.) A true small forward could be nice for Detroit.
Sam: So after Smith flops in Detroit you’d like to have him? Interesting. As the player most booed by his home fans every time he shot the ball, I doubt if the Bulls are looking to make a major move next summer he’d be part of it. Lu, by the way, appreciates your support.
Who were the Bulls offering in a sign and trade for Ellis?
Sam: I think me, which probably is why it didn’t go anywhere. No, there never were any discussions with the Bulls involving Ellis. Though I assume you heard it from a league source.
Have you heard anything about the interest around the league in Nate Robinson? The longer we go, the more it seems possible that he might sign with the Bulls for the minimum again.
Sam: It should tell you something that even after the wonderful season Nate had that with all the players signed he’s still without a team. I expect him to eventually get picked up, but I don’t see that it would be with the Bulls even for a minimum as they seem pretty committed to giving Teague a chance and Nate doesn’t see himself as a fifth guard playing once every two weeks.
Any chance the Bulls could get Metta at vet min?
Sam: So you’ve got a pyromaniac in your family and you find him out and get him out of the building. Do you then invite him back and give him matches? The Bulls got lucky the first time Artest didn’t burn down their franchise as he did with the Pacers. They won’t be taking that risk again.
Is there a possibility that the Chicago Bulls are trying to get LaMarcus Aldridge without giving up Noah or getting Kevin Love in 2014?
Sam: Oh yeah, Aldridge and Love, too. We’ve got a year of that one coming. Aldridge replaced Love in Bulls fans’ most wanted with rumors Aldridge wants to play for the Bulls. I haven’t heard that Love does, and what you hear regarding Love is he’ll wind up back in Los Angeles at some point with the Lakers as he was a UCLA student for a year. There isn’t the slightest chance if Aldridge were available, which Portland insists he definitely is not, that the Bulls could make a trade for him that wouldn’t include Noah. And then the Bulls would be the Trail Blazers without a center as the issue Portland has had with Aldridge is he refuses to play center or even be called a center and is regarded as a casual rebounder. I don’t see any scenarios that involve either being in Chicago next season.
With the signing of Al Jefferson in Charlotte, did our 2016 Charlotte unprotected 1st round pick lose value?
Sam: Maybe with the release of Tyrus. The 2014 draft should go a long way toward determining whether the Bobcats will make any sort of move up the lottery ladder or even toward the playoffs. We’ll know better in a year. Jefferson is just chasing money for now.
Thoughts on the Bulls offseason so far? I personally love the moves they have made.
1) Who besides the Bulls got a 24yr old PG that happens to be former league MVP?
2) Dunleavy is a underrated signing, He's great shooter and willing defender
3) I was originally shocked when Snell was taken at 20, but after watching some video I love the pick. He's basically a Jimmy Butler clone minus a few pounds and a better shooter, that can play the 2 or the 3.(I heard that he'll get some time at PG during the summer league?) I also think he can play right away due to his ability as a defender and it's a plus he played for a demanding coach (Alford) in college so his transition should be fairly smooth.
4) I think Murphy will make the team as second rounder
5) The Bulls have had a plan in place and stuck to the plan that gives them flexibility in 2014.
Sam: Yes, I agree it’s been a solid, if unspectacular, offseason in addressing some needs, though they could use that extra big man still. Stability wins and they are bringing back their core group again, which is another positive. Adding that point guard/MVP does seem like the best move, though.
With Howard deciding to go to Houston, it appears that the Mavericks chances of turning into a contender again went with him. Do you think they would consider parting with Dirk to start rebuilding now? Would they take Deng, Taj Gibson, Teague and the Bobcat’s future pick for Nowitzki? The Bulls could have a starting lineup of Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Nowitzki and Noah with Boozer, Hinrich, Muhammad and Snell coming off the bench. The Bulls could take their shot with that lineup and if it fails, they would have Dirk’s contact coming off the books and have the option of amnestying Boozer to create almost $30 million in cap space.
Sam: Dallas probably should consider doing something with Dirk, though they’d hardly do that with Deng a free agent. I have left out all the Boozer for Dirk emails I’ve gotten. There’s virtually no chance Mark Cuban will trade Dirk as he’s still convinced they can get a team around Dirk. I probably wouldn’t want him anymore at 35 and with two straight seasons of knee problems now. I know all these crazy scenarios are fun, but the Bulls do have a good chance with the team they have. No guarantee, sure, but they should get one more shot after all the injuries.
Any chance the Bulls could swing a trade for Asik? Would the original poison pill aspect of the contract still apply after his season in Houston?
Sam: The Bulls did get a bad break on that as the backloaded year is wiped out now by the Rockets having him. He is owed $8 million a year for everyone’s books. With Howard’s signing, it’s obvious they’ll move Omer at some point even as they say no now, surely to maintain his value. The Rockets could use a shooter, a stretch four and maybe a point guard. The Bulls aren’t strong in those areas for trade and after Omer’s season and the shortage of top big men, the Rockets will be looking for a high level near All Star starter. Since Omer doesn’t want to be a backup in Houston why would he want to be in Chicago?
Not sure it this would work but in theory would you if you were the Bulls GM try the following: acquire Asik from the Rockets now that they have Dwight and want to trade Asik. Then trade Noah, who we all love, for Aldridge. Might need to add some things but the starting lineup would be good. Asik, Aldridge, Deng, Jimmy and DRose.
Sam: As I said, I don’t see any way the Bulls would have the pieces to make a deal for Asik. So it’s just fantasy speculation stuff. That was the question previously last year: Trade Noah and keep Asik? I still believe the Bulls prefer Noah given what he provides all around and with leadership and wouldn’t consider moving him unless they were to get some huge offer of superstars. Though, as I wrote, for this season I believe the Bulls take a strong shot with whom they have. I like Aldridge, but as I’ve written before, in seven years as the leader or co leader of the team he’s never been out of the first round and missed the playoffs four of seven times.
Until the Bulls brass can pull off a trade for a #2 star, there will be no championship in Chicago. As great as Michael was, he couldn't have done it without Scotty and supporting cast. They can't keep waiting for a Wish that a free agent will bring Derrick another star. Derricks not 6'6" and built like Jordan. They have a team of good players but not enough to get over the hump. I relate the present day to the Chet Walker, Bob Love, Jerry Sloan, Stormin Norman and Boerwinkle. All -stars that go out and bust their butts ,but at the end can't get over the hump. Very frustrating as a fan. Until they can pull off a Kevin Love type trade(not Dwight crybaby Howard) will they be able to be a force.
Sam: So if The Spurs made one free throw in the last minute of Game 6 would Miami have to trade for Love? Is Wade still a superstar? Bosh? I know the certainty of sports in that you win or you are a loser, which is a naïve simplicity. That 70’s Bulls team was good enough to be a champion. They just weren’t. They didn’t need anyone else. They missed two shots in the 1975 conference finals Game 6 toward the end that meant the difference in a title. Did it make Sloan or Van Lier or Walker or Love any less players? You are not a loser if you don’t win a title. Sometimes it just doesn’t bounce right for you. The Bulls have been good enough to win until this past season; they didn’t. Would Carmelo Anthony make a difference? Kevin Love never even has been in a playoff game in five years in the NBA. You put together a team that is good enough to get there, which the Bulls have done with Rose. Then you hope you get a few breaks, a lucky shot here and there. It’s why the season does matter because it’s the journey to a title. Was Shaq a star when he won with Wade? Hardly. Is Pau Gasol a superstar? He won a title with Kobe. Rose is an MVP and Noah and Deng are reigning all stars and have been all-league defenders. Isn’t that a lot of stars? Who has more?
Why not sign Tyrus Thomas. And, trade boozer and Teague for Ben Gordon. Those two were good on the Bulls. Might be enough for us to win a championship. Then just start Gibson.
Sam: I believe they were thinking about it, but the failure to get back Eddie Robinson and Jerome Williams seems to have paralyzed management into inaction and depression.
Any particular reason why Marco Belinelli chose the Spurs (or why the Bulls decided not to go with him)? From the reports it seems like he signed pretty much the same contract (2 years, $6 million) that Dunleavy signed with Chicago.
Sam: It basically came down to as Dunleavy revealed at his media session when he signed that the Bulls apparently decided he was a better fit for the team and pursued him from the first day of free agency. The thinking, I believe, is with his shooting and good size he’s a better fit with Derrick Rose, which is what the personnel decisions for this season are all about.
Maybe it's just me but I feel like the Miami Heat team has such a polarizing effect on basketball fans. I don't think I've seen this much scrutiny on an NBA championship team ever, even with the Phil Jackson coached Lakers. That being said, can you shed some historical perspective and comparison with this current Heat team vs. the 90's Bulls as to how the overall NBA fan community perceived them?
Sam: This Heat group is analyzed and psychoanalyzed more, in large part, because of the change in media with 24-hour sports news (the Bulls had it, but not to this level with social media) and more of a sensational level of coverage in this era. There’s so much less depth and more instant reporting that requires constant and changing storylines. With the Heat versus the Bulls of the 90’s the obvious difference was Jordan was the league’s most popular player, brilliantly marketed when he came to the NBA as your kid next door but with talent. LeBron the way he came without the protection of college and the hype machine created an ambivalence even as he arrived. Then, obviously, the ill-conceived departure from Cleveland created a villain, unfairly as we are mostly coming to see. In league history, I’d say the only great team despised like the current Heat was the 60’s Celtics, who created NBA arrogance. It’s pretty amazing to consider the level of taunting that goes on now. But it was nothing compared with what Boston did when general manager Red Auerbach actually lit up victory cigars before games were over to declare a win. Bill Russell was an angry, uncooperative star who never signed autographs and was as unapproachable as anyone in sports. They won and they were great, but no one rubbed opponents’ noses in it like them in an era when trash talking was frowned upon. Like today’s Heat, they always made a great Finals because you always had someone to root against.
How about that Howard deal from last season:
Lakers got: Dwight, Duhon, Clark
Sixers got Bynum, JRich
Nuggets got Andrea Iggy
Magic got Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Al Harrington. Aaron Afflalo
Who won that deal?
Lakers/Sixers/Nuggets left with nothing while Magic laughing.
Sam: Turns out the Magic was the winner. Which is why GMs always say to wait a year to analyze a deal or a draft. Which has long been my suggestion that all Twitter posts should be held for one year until people have a chance to come to their senses.
What are you going to do with yourself if Tyrus Thomas and Aaron Gray are both out of the league next year?
Sam: Say it ain’t so, Joe.