Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 11.29.2013
Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of emails from his readers
With the Cavs reportedly very interested in Deng and the Bulls with a very high chance of losing him for nothing after this season can you see GarPax pulling the trigger on a trade that sends Deng to the Cavs as a rental for Waiters? There’s a lot of DWade in Waiters’ game and he would no doubt excel on this team plus it gives us a #2 future scorer and a legit sg.
Sam: This is only the beginning. Because of the loss of Rose for the season and with fan and media hysteria that the Bulls should/will trade Luol Deng rather than potentially lose him as a free agent this summer (funny the Heat and Knicks aren’t rushing to trade LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony for the same reasons), the Bulls will be included in just about every trade scenario for the next three months. Oh no! “ESPN had a report…”, which is the sports media version of the dog ate my homework. Interesting reading, though. The Cavs have denied the report they are shopping Waiters, which, of course, means nothing as what else would they say. It makes sense they might as Waiters either beat up their best player, Kyrie Irving, in a team meeting, or tried to and was restrained. Which might make you hesitate some, anyway. And, yes, the Cavs could use a small forward. And, yes, if you were the Bulls, though I have said I’d retain Deng, you’d have to strongly consider a high lottery pick for a potential free agent. If it had any truth to it. Yes, it sounds like someone was playing with the ESPN trade machine again. If the Cavs GM isn’t in trouble, he certainly would be if he traded last year’s No. 4 pick in the draft and a productive player for a rental free agent who’d probably leave on the team after the season. Plus, there’s more than a $10 million difference in salary, meaning the Bulls would have to take on two and maybe three players, like Alonzo Gee and Earl Clark, both of whom have contracts for next season, basically making you the Cavs without their better young players. Then the Bulls would be stuck beyond this season with salaries. So then they maybe can’t bring over Nikola Mirotic and have to amnesty Boozer, anyway. All that for a player who may try to kill your best player? Right, only maybe. This is just the first shot across the trade bow. Yes, m’laddie, show your colors! Not having been in more than a row boat coming from New York City, who speaks nautical better than me? Anyway, my mail this week since the Rose injury mostly suggests there has been among Bulls watchers a shortage of antidepressants, available psychologists and shock therapy. So I’ll deal with some of the most prominent trade suggestions. And, yes, these were the ones that made the most sense.
My trade idea is Carlos Boozer, Bulls #1 this year, and the Charlotte pick to Philadelphia for Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young. Taking Boozer’s extra year would not be that painful plus they need salary ballast to meet NBA minimum team salary next year. I think they could do better if they split up Turner and Young but they tried to trade Turner for a #1 last year and were unsuccessful. They get two #1s in this trade. Bulls get Turner who can make plays with the dribble while Young seems to be a nice fit as a versatile forward. Thanks for listening; hope you don’t think this is too far off.
Sam: This one is pretty much opposite of what I get. Most fans want the Bulls to dump their veterans and get younger to develop with the notion this group has run its course, which is true in the long run and has logic to it. Turner is a name that comes up a lot and he is a restricted free agent and from Chicago, so probably would sign. But say the Bulls have a bad season or more injuries and miss the playoffs and the Charlotte pick is a lottery pick. So two lottery picks for two guys who generally get the 76ers 30-win seasons? That should help the security of Bulls management.
How about this trade: Hinrich and Deng for Bogut and Barnes? Perhaps with rights to Mirotic thrown in for Golden State, they'd be willing to make the move.
Sam: This one’s tough to make out. Why would Golden State take a chance on Deng, who can leave as a free agent in a few months, over Barnes, a high level young small forward on a rookie contract with three years to go? Then they give up their only center whom they love and believe is the final piece toward giving them a chance for a title for yet another free agent who could leave this summer and would have little chance of playing given the All-Star level guards they have. And, of course, the rights to a player who may not come to the NBA. Maybe this wasn’t one of the best, but it wasn’t the worst.
If Bulls can acquire Aldridge for Noah and one of the1st or 2nd year players and then trade Deng for Asik and throw in some guard from Houston, then the new look Bulls would have a front line of Boozer/Gibson, Asik at center and Aldridge playing the other forward spot. What a monster front line that would be.
So the Trail Blazers off to their best start in years trade Aldridge off to his best start in his career for Noah, off to a tough start, and after the Trail Blazers acquired center Robin Lopez to support Aldridge, which has worked out obviously well. Then Noah is the Blazers perimeter shooting power forward? And Houston gives up a player they likely hope can fill a hole, like point guard or stretch forward, for a small forward with an expiring deal. I don’t see any holdup.
Would the Kings want Deng? They have Jimmer Fredette just taking up space on their bench. What about Deng and Teague and maybe a pick for Thornton and Fredette? Moves Butler to the sf. Giving you Hinrich, Thornton, Butler, Boozer, Noah. Fredette, Snell, Dunleavy, Gibson, Mohammed off the bench.
Sam: It’s tough to figure what the Kings are doing. Again, the obvious issue with Deng is the contract. A lot of teams would love to have Deng, who may be the most in demand free agent next summer as LeBron and Carmelo likely will stay with their teams and Kobe and Paul George already resigned. But no team can afford to give up that much for a player who could walk on them as well. The problem with a guy like Thornton is his huge contract for a guy who has been benched in Sacramento. It’s understandable as they want to play young guys. But he’s also making more than $8 million next season and is just an average shooting guard shooting 28 percent on threes this season and lower than Mike Dunleavy for his career. If you are stuck with that salary, it limits what you can do. Plus, the salaries come up short and you’d still have to add another player from a pretty poor roster.
I'm guessing GarPax elects to tank season. Trade Deng, Boozer, Dunleavy, Hinrich for expiring deals and hopefully a couple of picks but mainly to dump salary to avoid paying luxury tax. I only trade Noah if u can get something good in return. Then play Teague, Butler, Snell, Gibson and Mohammed and literally try to lose every game to try to get a top 6 pick in the draft and hope to get lucky and get a top 3 pick and take parker Wiggins or Randle. Team up that pick with Rose, Butler and Mirotic. U probably get the Charlotte pick this year too somewhere in the 11-20 range.
Sam: I actually think that could get them arrested. Of course, this is patently ridiculous as there aren’t teams with enough cap room to absorb those salaries even if they wanted to or give up expiring deals for, what, expiring deals and a big contract like Boozer’s in this era of extensive tax penalties. But there’s an actual issue here beyond the bizarre, unrealistic suggestion. Sport isn’t about just winning. And drunken parties. Sorry. It’s about competing and the values of the games. There isn’t a management or coaching staff not trying to win. But because you do not doesn’t label you a failure or loser. Teams also owe their best performance to their fans and to their league and to the game itself. To do any less is to cheat the institution, and it comes back to haunt you. Players do not want to be associated with organizations that accept failure, that quit on the game and their players. I have never sensed even in the worst Tim Floyd times the Bulls intended to do so. The Bulls talk about winning and positive culture all the time, and it’s also a culture of respect for the game. Sure, they could make a trade and might take a step back at some time. That’s part of the process. But you never, ever quit on a season or a team, especially when you have assembled players who are high level competitors like the Bulls have and a coach and staff who are committed to the best every game. You have made this pact with your fans and paying customers that you will do everything possible to not only put the best product on the court but make sure those players give everything they have toward success every game and deliver an excellent show. To accept anything less is a violation of trust with your community and cannot be tolerated. You go to plays to see great talent perform. They don’t have to win the show. The NBA has the greatest athletes in the world playing a unique game and performing some of the most amazing sports actions you’ll see anywhere. It’s why it’s always worth the price and effort no matter the score. Plus, there’s always a wonderful, unknown story that doesn’t come with a play. You never truly know the outcome. The unexpected happens and makes for wonderful drama. You don’t need to run around with a foam No. 1 finger to have enjoyed a wonderful event. I loved last season with the Bulls when they basically had no chance to win a title, and many others. What about fans from franchises that have never won titles? Should they expect less than complete effort? The Bulls even without Rose have a strong roster of high level, motivated, talented and committed players like Deng and Noah. To sell them out as well would be unfair. I am again looking forward to this season because I have no idea how it will end. But I’m confident these players will make a great effort and put on a good show, and good for them. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.
Trade Noah for an expiring + a projected lottery pick: I love Noah. And he is worth $40M through 2015. Just not to the Bulls. He’ll be past 30 by contract’s end and does have foot problems which have derailed many a big man’s career as he aged. Would a team like Utah – that has trouble signing free agents – be interested in an All-Star center for an expiring (Biedrins?)and a likely lottery pick? I think so.
Sam: The chances are miniscule of getting even a first round pick in this draft. Lottery pick? Maybe for Durant. This draft should produce some terrific players, but there is no LeBron or Durant, a player to turn your franchise around almost immediately. The problem is the media and fans are saying it is, so teams are basically being held hostage and no gm who wants to keep his job is daring to give up one of those picks. Players like Deng and Noah are valuable; they are All Stars. But they also are system players. If they weren’t, nobody would be suggesting trading them without Rose. They’re more valuable than most No. 1 picks. But the fans of all the lottery teams don’t think so. If you check the local media in those cities, all you see are stories about the lottery prospects. You can sell lottery picks to fans to sell tickets. You have a much harder time doing so with players not named LeBron.
Do you think the Bulls would make a play on a Jameer Nelson, Andre Miller or a point guard to fill in for Rose... kind of makes sense because they could help keep the Bulls relevant this year and it may not be a bad idea to let Rose play off a point guard going forward. Maybe not as much pressure on him.
Sam: I agree the Bulls could use another point guard. Finding one is the problem. I think the Magic would like to move Nelson, but he’s owed $8.6 million this season with a $2 million buyout for next season. Who are you giving up making that much? Gibson? Obviously as a young team playing it’s young players it has little interest in veterans and presumably will buy out Nelson after this season. I’m a big fan of Miller’s, but he makes almost $5 million, requiring losing a good player. Plus, he’s on the books for next season as well and the Bulls are trying to retain that flexibility for higher level players. I suspect Denver, a team with playoff aspirations, would probably ask for Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell or possibly Butler and Mike Dunleavy. That’s way too much to give up. As for Deng, they have small forward Gallinari coming back soon from surgery.
Do you think Chicago can be able to get Jabari Parker in the draft?
Sam: Obviously, all this talk of throwing the season is aimed at players like Chicago’s Parker. The way the college season has gone so far he’d be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. There’s a long way and draft workouts to go. But given a strong family background and not in desperate need for money and a bright kid at Duke, there’s been talk Parker could stay in school. It didn’t hurt Tim Duncan’s career to skip being the No. 1 overall pick two years in a row before he graduated. The NBA life isn’t that glamorous with the travel and relentless grind of the games. College is a pretty good deal, especially at a place like Duke. I’d advise my son to seriously consider staying in school for as long as he could. The money always is going to be there. Yes, I know, you could get hurt. But then why doesn’t everyone go to work at 16? Staying longer in college always makes you a better pro. A lot of players who came out of school early, like Kobe and LeBron, will be Hall of Famers. But you have a better chance with a more developed and mature game of truly reaching your potential. It’s tough to do so when you start at 18 or 19.
I think Deng would fit in great with the Clippers, but I don’t know what they can offer. The Bulls can probably get a late first round pick for Gibson.
Sam: While Deng is an excellent player, he’s exactly not what the Clippers would want. They have Jared Dudley at small forward, a player like Deng in some sense, though not nearly as good. He’s not a great athlete but a tough guy who will make shots but you don’t isolate to beat you off the dribble. Plus, with Paul and Griffin the Clippers have a big payroll and if anything are cutting back. Gibson’s 28, just coming into his prime and you are giving him away—assuming someone could absorb the salary or give you an expiring deal--for the No. 1 pick in 2015 or 2016? As you are not getting a 2014 pick, even late first, for a reserve player. What this overreaction also continues to fail to take into account is Rose by the prediction of every doctor should return as a high level, excellent player. Sure, he could be hurt again, and perhaps there’s a higher chance given he’s been hurt before. But with a player of that talent level you don’t allow him to play with a makeshift group of draft picks. Virtually every one of these blow-up-the-franchise suggestions I’ve gotten is based on low odds, luck of the draw and seems to me to build in perpetual failure for the franchise. But more than anything, I’m confident Rose will return as a terrific player and I’d hate to see the Bulls panic and surround Rose in his prime years with players who don’t give him a chance to reach his potential.
The team is not thinking correctly, this is a golden opportunity. Trade Deng to Charlotte for Ben Gordon and Taylor. That accomplishes two things, Charlotte’s pick this year, and a lower cost replacement for Deng. Our record should head south as well which gives us two picks in what may become a deep draft.
This clears space for Mirotic since Ben's contract would be up and might leave enough room to go after a backup center or additional shooting.
Sam: I knew someone would figure out a way to bring back Ben. Putting together a lot of my mail, I think the consensus Bulls team for the community is Gordon, Nate Robinson, Malcolm Thomas, Andres Nocioni and Daequan Cook. OK, four of five. They’re not letting Ben back under any circumstances. Plus, they considered Taylor in that draft. So now they’re building with second rounders not playing much for Charlotte? Yes, I get the concept: Make Charlotte better to get their pick, 11 or lower, and the Bulls worse to get into the lottery to build your franchise with two low lottery picks, thus making the Bulls the first team since the 1980’s Jazz to build around picks in the teens. Yes, the Jazz lucked out with Stockton and Malone, though few make draft mistakes like that anymore.
I just spent 30 minutes on ESPN's NBA trade machine and there are several deals that could make sense for the Bulls and other teams without the Bulls having to take back long contracts.
1. Deng and Teague to Wizards for Porter, Vessely, Ariza (expiring)
2. Deng to Cavs for Bennett, Miles (expiring), Gee
3. Deng to Cavs for Waiters, Miles (expiring), Gee and add Felix to make salaries match
4. Deng to Bucks for Butler (expiring) and Antetokounmpo
5. Noah to Pistons for Drummond and Villanueva (expiring).
Sam: That’s 30 minutes of your life you’re never getting back. Obviously, the Drummond one is the most ridiculous given they’ve labeled him their hope for the future of the franchise. And I won’t ask why so many people are doing this. On hold for health care? Yes, I see the concept. Take the best young prospects and high lottery picks from teams who are unaware that Deng has an expiring deal and won’t be resigning with them. There is a chance they don’t have cable or watch TV. I’ve heard the Wizards one from fans a few times, and it does make some sense as Porter has been out all season. And the Wizards are anxious to do something this season. But they got badly burned cashing in No. 1 picks for players when they traded the rights to Ricky Rubio for Randy Foye and Mike Miller and I’m pretty sure they’re not doing that again as the new owner said they better not.
How about trade Deng, Nazr and Murphy to the Knicks for Shumpert & Bargnani? Bulls get a young, cheap, ball-handling (and defensively sound) two guard they can place next to Rose going forward, and upgrade their back-up centre. Knicks get an All-Star SF to greatly improve their title chances, their defense and their starting line-up, and keep a stretch four option, while (arguably) taking a minor hit at back-up centre.
Sam: Can’t go wrong taking Knicks players not named Carmelo. Wow, Bargnani on the books for more than $11 million a year. And while making way less than that, the Raptors tried for more than a year to trade him to the point the gm was saying so publicly. Then everyone made fun of the Knicks for that huge deal, which, of course, would cripple any Bulls chance of having flexibility next summer.
Just wondering since he's essentially third string in Denver, any chance the Bulls call and offer a second round pick for Nate? Anyone else similar they could trade for to cover Rose's absence?
Sam: Since it would require a salary match and since the Nuggets do use Nate and seem to like him and he’s scored in double figures the last five games I assume it would cost you at least Jimmy Butler or Tony Snell.
Do you think realistically they should try for Asik and Aaron Brooks for Deng and Boozer or maybe Shumpert and Stoudemire's expiring contract for Deng and/or Boozer?
Sam: Well, Stoudemire’s contract isn’t expiring and on the Houston deal you’re about $25 million short in matching contracts. But close.
Trade Deng and Hinrich to Houston for Asik and Lin. I think this is actually a feasible scenario that helps both teams. The Rockets get needed defenders and potentially two starters with great leadership in Deng and Hinrich. Asik wasn’t fitting with Howard and while Lin has some value as a bench scorer he’s still overpaid slightly. The Rockets then have the option of resigning or letting both walk in FA so I think the flexibility and team fit would be great selling points for them. The Bulls get a guy in Lin who could really boost his trade value with more minutes and he could fill the badly needed void as an additional scorer who can create his own shot. Asik is obviously one of the best defensive centers in the league and fits Thibs’s system and approach while providing insurance for Jo. The other bonus for the Bulls is that we get Asik and Lin for more than one year should we decide to use them in an effort to win, or simply to trade them without getting nothing (unlike what we are faced with if Deng opts to go elsewhere in the offseason).
Sam: Of course, based on their back loaded contracts you have to pay Asik and Lin a combined $30 million next season. Even Mikhail Prohorov is laughing at you for reckless spending. And Houston potentially ends up with nothing by taking on two players who are unrestricted free agents. So basically they give away their entire free agency class of 2012 they considered one of the best in franchise history.
Bulls send Deng and Jimmy Butler to Detroit for Greg Monroe and expiring contract of Charlie Villanuava. The Bulls then send Joakim Noah to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan. Detroit would have a solid starting 5 of Drummond, Smith, Deng, Butler and Jennings. Toronto has been rumored to be looking to deal players since they got a new GM and may like the idea of Jonas Valanciunas and Noah inside.
Sam: Boom! The reason there have been rumors about DeRozan is because he’s got a long, large contract, though he’s a high level scorer. I sense, though, they are not looking to deal him. There’s some logic to Monroe for Deng given Josh Smith should be playing power forward. But that’s a heck of a gamble for the Pistons given Deng is an unrestricted free agent. Though I think Toronto would much rather give you Rudy Gay and his humongous contract. What I don’t fully understand is why you can’t move forward with players like Butler and Noah, the latter just 28 and the only All-Star of the players you want to acquire. You may have just seen Noah absolutely dominate Monroe in the Bulls win Wednesday and Monroe say afterward it’s tough for him to play against Noah. And Noah’s not even playing his best now. Plus, what gets forgotten regarding Deng is not only how well he’s played and not yet 30, but depending on the market, who knows what he’ll ask for in salary and there are sign and trades and all sorts of options. Most teams don’t trade now since they either like what they have or have accepted who they are. After the season, you pretty much have everyone involved in deals. Why limit yourself to dealing with the four or five teams who might want to do something now.
Could you see a trade involving Noah? Wouldn't they need a big in return for him? Would a trade with the Thunder for Adams, Lamb and cap filler be considered?
Sam: Obviously, the money is not close and couldn’t be done. The Thunder clearly is one of the more frugal operations given they gave up James Harden so easily. They are not taking on eight figure contracts and seem thrilled with Adams. I think if you’d take Kendrick Perkins they’d drive him here.
The Bulls would trade away Taj Gibson and Luol Deng and take back Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. The Pelicans would trade away Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon and get back Luol Deng and Omer Asik. The Rockets would trade away Omer Asik and get back Taj Gibson.
Sam: Let me see if I have this right: The Bulls, who are anxiously awaiting stretch four Nikola Mirotic, are trading for stretch four Ryan Anderson, who’ll make about twice as much, and Eric Gordon, who’s missed 123 games in the last three seasons because of knee problems? So they can have a small backcourt with Gordon and Rose, Mirotic probably stays in Europe given the Bulls will have given away his position and the Rockets, who are looking for a stretch four or a point guard, cash in for a post, inside four in Gibson? But that should help the Pelicans pass both the Bulls and Rockets in the coming seasons.
Any chance the Bulls amnesty Rose after the season? Playing 50 games over the past 3 years proves that the Bulls will never be able to build around him. With him missing the rest of the season the window on this championship run has closed. Why amnesty Boozer with one season remaining when you can get out from Rose's contract?
Sam: That’s all, folks!