Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls
Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 6.24.2016
Sam Smith opens his mailbag after an eventful week for the BUlls
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By Sam Smith | 6.24.2016 | 1:10 p.m.
Not in your mock draft, but you said early on that you liked Valentine. I like the idea that we got a smart mature player who can also shoot with range. I'd much rather have a guy who knows how to play than some "athlete" who's never been coached because he can just out-run & out-jump everybody.
Valentine got about 8 assists/game last year. Do you think they'll play him at the point w/Jimmy at #2, or maybe at #2 w/ Jimmy moving to #3. I kind of like the idea of a long two-guard front, one a slasher & the other a shooter. Tough to match up.
Sam: I admit I liked Dejounte Murray for his flair and potential, but Valentine was an obvious pick I had previously acknowledged for being one of the top two or three players in the draft most NBA ready and attuned to the NBA game with a nice shooting touch. Can’t really go wrong with a player like that. It gives them the chance to move Jimmy to some small forward as he mostly defends forwards, anyway. And play those two with Grant in an interesting perimeter setup as all three have good size, can defend, switch pick and roll and shoot some, though Jimmy and Grant need to improve. A starting lineup with all three, perhaps Mirotic and Lopez could be interesting moving forward at some time next season if Grant comes on.
Hallaluyah! I had to share my joy with someone. And now you can stop defending him. He was poison.
Sam: So pro Rose trade? Rose had obviously become a polarizing figure in the community as I’ve received many emails extolling each side. Perhaps poison may have been a little strong, but that was the thing with Rose in the fierce emotions he stirred each way for a guy who didn’t say all that much and certainly didn’t act out. Yes, he said things many objected to even if I felt they often were misinterpreted, if misstated. Undisputable was that he was a league MVP and three-time All-Star, twice a starter, the most successful and decorated Bulls player since the end of the championship run in 1998. He supplied more great basketball times than anyone since, and perhaps more disappointment in Chicago for unachieved team potential that anyone since Gale Sayers and the ’69 Cubs.
As I’ve written many times, I might have ridden it out with Rose, but that’s also why no one lets me run a team. General managers always get something. Maybe you didn’t like the James Harden deal, but ownership made them do it and they felt they had to get something. It didn’t look good in the short run, as it may not if Rose has a good season next year, but it worked out on some level for the Thunder with Steven Adams coming in that draft and playing a huge role in the near upset of the Warriors. The Bulls get several moving parts in the deal, especially basically another No. 1 pick in Jerian Grant, who is a lot better than one season in New York, which is brutal for a rookie with the dysfunction and anger in that community and team. With the No. 1 Valentine this year and Portis, they’re forming the core of a younger and athletic group, and it’s probably time after giving the Rose/Noah group chance after chance. And don’t forget an athletic Jimmy Butler. The Knicks probably benefit in the short term, though with the larger risk as Rose is a free agent and perhaps Los Angeles calling after next season, which the Bulls probably understood. But it may well kick start the inevitable process for the Bulls, which had to start sometime after missing the playoffs.
I'm still mourning the loss of D. Rose and wondering about the news coverage the trade has received. Most of the national media treat it as a salary dump for the Bulls, with the main return asset being Lopez, but I would have thought the main asset for the Bulls was Jerian Grant. What's your take?
Sam: It’s a combination, though more the ability to get something for a player they feared would leave without compensation. The salaries offset, so there’s no financial incentive and, in fact, the Bulls took on more salary with Lopez’ long term deal. But it’s considered reasonable for a big man in this era.
For the Bulls. Love it. Lopez is an upgrade in every way over Noah, and Calderon could be bought out. Love the deal.
Sam: Lopez does give them a pathway post Noah, and it probably was time as well with Noah’s injuries as much as we love him and all he has meant to the franchise. With the team feeling free agents Gasol and Noah could wait into August to sign deals, the Bulls were in a tough position trying to figure the center spot. Lopez isn’t dynamic and can look awkward—even with a haircut--but he can defend and rebound and that’s probably what they want in a center for now. He’d be valuable in the free agent market for big men. Not unlike what Bogut does for the Warriors. And it was good enough for 73 wins for them. Perhaps even a larger factor, Lopez played all 82 games as a starter. Health is a lot of good fortune, but also history. The Bulls were getting old and as I wrote for Bulls.com Wednesday, management gave that team another year to show what they had after they also wanted a new coach as much as some would deny that and they missed the playoffs. Calderon is a place holder and can play some decent minutes. I’d keep him, and as I said Grant is the key. If he turns into a player it looks a lot better. No one knew how much of his old form or if Rose could regain. I feel he’ll be very good for the Knicks. But I’m not paying the $21.3 million if he isn’t. The Knicks were one of the few teams where with missing the playoffs the last three years they needed to take a big risk. So there obviously weren’t many suitors. But you win with stars, and Rose was a star. Will he be again? No one knows.
I'm depressed. Every time I look over at the Rose bobble-head sitting on my desk, I'm actually getting more sad. What is management's plan? Couldn't they just let Rose play out his last year? If he's not at the level they would like, they can decide then, right? Very sad day.
Sam: That obviously was a choice, but a risk they didn’t want to take. After all, if they wanted to get something it basically had to be now. You weren’t getting anything at the trade deadline, and then maybe Rose is hurt again. I guess they were done taking the chances. It’s all very disappointing as a Bulls fan, perhaps less for the deal than for what we saw and didn’t get to enjoy for long enough. Like a life cut down too soon. Rose had basketball skills basically unseen, and perhaps unimagined, in the history of the game. There was no doubt with his single minded focus and talent—to be MVP over LeBron in his prime—he was going to lead the Bulls to a title. I was convinced it was in 2012, and it ended, as we know, the first day of the playoffs. All that post-injury little team that could stuff was heartening, but we knew it had no chance at any form of ultimate triumph. It obviously was saddest for Rose to lose that unique ability, but also for us not to see and experience that brilliance and where it could lead. I do truly hope he’s an All-Star next season and the Knicks have a great season. It’s not a reflection on what the Bulls did other than it was time to start in a new direction and that had to start somewhere. It so happened to land on Rose.
All I need is a picture of you right now and photoshopping a jordan crying face over it. Your boy, your other son is outta here! That this is a awful trade. Yes I said it. Rose irritates me the way his passing game is so poor for a point guard but still the guy can play when healthy.
Well the rebuild has begun. Just hope Jimmy doesnt spit the dummy with all the further losing that is to come and demand a trade to join a super team.
Sam: True, I had a soft spot for Rose. I admired his talent as we all did, but also saw a guy who was more accountable than most players with the media. It often wasn’t portrayed that way because of the injuries and the long absences during that and a segment of media with only thorns to offer (I’ll be missing my rose references). But he basically always was there for media after games win or loss and straight forward whatever the circumstances. Perhaps not always as articulate as many would like, and a lot of media used that to condemn him avoiding what they knew was the actual meaning for preferring to play out their bitterness, but he did what he could. But I also understand that it was probably time for both parties as Derrick likely was ready for a change of scenery as well. Like Shaq when it was his time. My overall sense is the community’s Rose fatigue was at such a level that even if he goes on to do well the backlash won’t be that bad. But don’t hold me to that if the team doesn’t have a better season. You might try to hold the anti-Rose group to that, but they’ll always fall back on convenient repressed memory. And the usual response of it’s their job to make it better. Just ours to point out their failures.
Enjoy Jimmy wannabe Lebron lite running the asylum. I hope DRose lights us up for 40 and 10 and we get blown out.
Sam: So, not in favor?
Just curious, on a personal level, is it sad for you to see a guy like Rose go?
He seemed to be such a humble and grounded person. I have no personal ties to the man and really am just a leftover Bulls fan from the MJ days, but it breaks my heart a bit to think about what could've been if it weren't for some bad, bad luck to such a seemingly good kid.
Sam: Those who read me here and elsewhere know I’ve had a great fondness for Rose the player and person. What I appreciated most—even though I cannot ever say we were close as he didn’t have many friends outside the game—was the way not only he handled the brutal series of injuries, but on top of that the doubts about himself and his character, the condemnation of him personally about things he said more than he did. I never once--as I’ve seen many players strike back angrily at anyone in the media or public--despite what at times seemed like obvious attempts to bait him or embarrass and humiliate him for sport seen him respond in kind. I saw this with Sammy Sosa and he retreated completely. Rose never did. He would answer his meanest inquisitors in the media and community with the same respect he showed his most fawning admirers. It’s an admirable trait and showed the true nature of his character advanced from his critics. He was often naïve with the media and an innocent in many ways, really only dedicated to playing basketball.
All the accusations about a lack of commitment came, in my view, from a misunderstanding of what he was enduring in a near death experience of losing the things he loved the most, his ability to play basketball. I remember once time early in his career as he was becoming the best player. The team had lost and he had left the locker room early. I usually don’t do those things, but I caught up with him outside and said if he was the best player there was the obligation to be there when things went bad more than if they were good. He said he didn’t know. He then marched back in and did interviews until every reporter had asked every question. I saw him frequently leave the locker room and have reporters running late and ask them if they needed anything and then stop for another 10 minutes. He was the only star Bulls player since Jordan’s pre-1993 retirement who did media interviews before games. He retreated from media some the last few years as the condemnations and injuries grew, but he still remained accessible and friendly and never critical of anyone. I’ll miss that kid who only wanted to play the game.
It’s weird everyone was asking for a D Rose trade and he hates basketball (wont play even though he is healthy) etc...Now they miss him. Strange how social media makes everyone look bipolar/idiotic.Well it happened, even when everyone said it couldn't because of the contract/injuries etc...I think it was a sad, but necessary move. Rose was not going to stay in Chicago in 2017, it was obvious. They finally did what everyone wants teams to do that know their stars are walking - Get something back. Jerian Grant has potential and really may surprise people. When Rambis gave him time last year at the end he avg 15, 4 & 4. Hopefully that's a more realistic sign of a starting point to improve on. This was probably the best haul they were going to get, and they knew it had to be done. Fans will complain, people will say the front office ruined everything, but at the end of the day it was injuries to the entire team that derailed the Thibs era. It created friction between the FO trying to save their stars future while Thibs wanted to win now. Neither was wrong, but at the end of the day players play. They didn't get it done. People overlook this fact when spewing hate at the FO.
Sam: It’s the message of the internet era: Don’t respond or overreact to critics. Because there are way more now than there ever could be. And many more who can be heard who were mercifully silenced before. There used to be ethical standards for media in print and broadcast. When I started at The Tribune we received a journalism ethics guide regarding reporting and writing. Now newspapers hurl insults that were examples in there of what we shouldn’t do. Not that journalism was ever great, or well regarded. Thomas Jefferson said, “Men who read nothing at all are better off than men who read nothing but newspapers.” He didn’t believe women read much. Adlai Stevenson said journalists do not live by words alone but often have to eat them. Chicago journalism was famous 100 years ago for simply making up stories. Or as Nixon complained, he didn’t mind be examined by a microscope but they were using a proctoscope. Hey, I quoted Nixon!
The Bulls did what all organizations/corporations always have done and feel they have to do, as you say, don’t lose assets for nothing. Even if I always hated considering players as “assets.” But it is a business, as the players always remind us. It’s all healthy debate, which is fine. Disagreement isn’t accusation; it’s a fortunate American tradition. Then you make your decision and you will be judged on results no matter what you do. So you better do what you want to do because that’s what you have to live with. Heck, I think there were a half dozen bumper sticker and t-shirt worthy statements in there.
Its just sad to see Rose go. I've followed his career since his first game against the bucks... he created excitement for the bulls fans.... he gave the bulls a true superstar since MJ but its the reality that we cant go more further w/him being the focal point of the team. Too many frictions from his Family/Management plus the day to day health issues. We just cant get hostage from that situation again and again. Its time to move on... Same with Noah. We cant hold on to the past. I believed we had young guys that can strive big given the right playing time. Portis, Niko, Doug, Felicio... we just needed the change. Give the leadership to Butler and move forward.
Sam: It’s a plan.
With Rose gone and Pau most likely too, who do the Bulls look to for scoring? I could easily see this team back in the lottery next year, especially given the lackluster FA class available.
Sam: Sure, and after all they missed the playoffs this season. But as Gar Forman suggested in the press conference it’s not an instant change, which also suggests the free agency under consideration is 2016 and 2017, the latter a stronger free agent class when the team will have more money available. Plus, there’s the LeBron getting older factor, the East not getting so great and with a few of the right pieces and perhaps a more conditioned, coordinated offense perhaps they step back into things in the next two years. Success isn’t built in a day even in Rome.
Was it smart to get rid of Rose? Yeah I think Jerian Grant looks pretty solid. I was actually hoping they’d get him in the draft a few years ago. Since he was related to Horace Grant. He looks like a hybrid guard a little pg/sg. Lopez spells the exit for noah now it would seem. Maybe not. Yikes would be crazy if all ex-bulls ended up knicks: gasol, noah, rose. .. Might happen.
Sam: Maybe Eddy Curry makes a comeback. These things these days get judged instantly, and the Knicks needing to do something before Carmelo’s useful life is over were in better position to take on the risk. There will be expectations on them now to make a top four run in the East, and we’ll see if they can. But the Bulls should have some interesting and intriguing new combinations to watch, and I like the possibilities with Butler, Valentine and Grant. Though with Rose and likely Gasol gone the scoring is going to be tough to replace. And Jimmy’s basically never been the guy teams double. It still was Rose last season. It’s not going to be easy for him whatever he felt about Rose. There’s some pain to come. But change always starts with that. It’s a change, and after last season mostly what I heard is a demand for change. Let’s see if those demanding it stay consistent and understand change doesn’t immediately equal improvement.
All things considered, I give the Bulls a B grade on that trade I think the Key was getting Grant. I thought the Bulls had their Eye on him last year until the Knicks drafted him. He was playing in a black hole with Carmelo hogging the Ball. I think he will be a big surprise to Bulls fans. br> br>
Sam: It’s what the Bulls hope. Like Forman said, it’s another No. 1 pick, so two from last year, another this year and if the Kings get a little better two more next year making it five in three years. Though based on draft night it didn’t even seem like Cousins figured that was possible. That’s how you build well without being the 76ers, which no one wants to see.
Biggest trade since Oakley for Cartwright, which I hated but turned out great? Artest for Jalen Rose which I loved but turned out bad? My gut is that I like this one but that scares me cause I'm wrong so much.
Sam: It’s a good point as it’s better to evaluate after a year, at least. The Knicks obviously win the day as the winner of every trade is who gets the best player. It’s Rose. Even as he is, he averaged almost as many points as the three Knicks combined. But they were healthier. Everyone gets judged by what happens later: Rose gets hurt Bulls win big, though no one wants that. The Bulls in their statements predicted a strong season for Rose, as we hope, really after all he’s been through. Let’s see what Hoiberg can do with this group. He also deserves a chance to show how he can coach without all the internal political issues and free agencies.
I can't say I am shocked, but I surely am sad. The kid was great, as a player and as a human being. I'll miss him in a Bulls uniform. That being said, if the trade makes sense for the Bulls, I don't fully understand it. Do the Bulls had indications that they would have lost Derrick in 2017 for nothing? Were they tired of his injuries? Do the relationships became so bad that they couldn't last one more year? Are the Bulls trying to lure Durant (good luck with that)?
For whatever reasons, egos seem to have taken the best of the team. I can't help but resent (a little) Joakim. When he was starting over Taj, he used to say that sacrifices had to made. I guess he found it harder to do it this year when he had to make them. Sure that it did not help neither. No to speak about Jimmy foolish behaviour with this leader stuff at times. That to say that if management's decisions have to be criticised, players should also take a look at themselves. I will definitely miss these years but I also want to thank the coaches, players and organisation, for the way they played the game.
Sam: I imagine there were concerns of all, injuries, losing Rose for no compensation as sign and trade deals are unlikely anymore. And perhaps what you suggest as well. In essence, this group was together six years with no true success. Even this past season they were talking about a championship and didn’t even make the playoffs. When you fail to succeed that often with that much hope and expectation it becomes harder to live together. The simple answer of this guy didn’t like that guy and all that is an oversimplification, which remains a media specialty. It was on the players, as Forman said: We added Pau for another run, and it was on you to make it. Don’t blame the coach, old or new. You make the plays, and they didn’t. Because my neighbor wasn’t my friend isn’t an excuse. Generally teams signal to management when it is the end, and this team had done so with its season long showing and occasional fits of personal pique. So probably in some ways management had little choice. They made a calculation that Rose had a year left and Jimmy was under long term contract. Everyone else was untested or untried and they wanted to try them out. You can always trade Butler if you want later. You likely couldn’t trade Rose anymore in a few months, and then he may have been gone for good. So you make your move and begin to figure it out again.
It feels a bit like a death in the family today! All in all, probably the right move by the Bulls to get some value from him before his free agency came. Just curious, what is the mood of the fans in your mailbag? They seemed to have a love/hate relationship with Derrick, particularly since his ACL injury - but now the deed is done I wonder if the vitriol is still as strong?
Sam: As with every major decision, there’s a mix of feelings, exaggerated because of social media. Though given the lack of success for the team in recent years and especially because of missing the playoffs last season, the general community sense was sort of we wish he still was that Derrick Rose, but the team had to do something. OK, they did. So now they’re waiting to see how it works. No one should assume because those who said it was necessary will be as supportive if things don’t work out. I’ve always been one not to criticize a move that I recommended or supported. Yes, I am also hoping for sainthood. But not that soon, I hope.
My only comment about the trade is to say Thank You to Derrick Rose. Great talent, never embarrassed the Bulls, fought though injuries, tried to do what he could. Wasn’t always eloquent, kept family/friends to close, looked to the future. Huh, grew up here and adopted the Daley traits.
Sad end but probably needed. I hope he has success in NYC. I believe he will have a good year. Next man up!! Jimmy. it’s your turn.
Sam: And away we go!
How impressive was LeBron this postseason? Like Curry he didn't shoot well in Game 7, but unlike Curry he was able to dominate in other ways. That block gave me goosebumps. This one feels more important for his legacy than the 2 in Miami. I do half-expect the Cavs to have a bit of a hangover next season. 7 straight trips to the Finals for LeBron has to take a toll. I think he'll need more help from his teammates.
Sam: Yes and no on LeBron; the numbers were overwhelming, but they got into this predicament, as Jordan would say, because LeBron was so passive in the first four, passing off every time he got into the lane and never challenging the defense. In 5 and 6 he went at the basket, which opens the court for teammates and without Irving would not have won. Then LeBron in 7 went back to his passive offensive play a lot, but—and credit to the Cavs—the Warriors got anxious searching out threes, panicking a bit seeing that great season going down, stop trusting teammates and looking for the so called hero ball shots. On defense, Green beat LeBron for a lot of stuff because LeBron kept playing the lanes for those sorts of blocks, which I know tv makes a lot of. So his defense, at times. looked better than it was. He was terrific because he always is, but I thought Irving, at least in this Finals, was as important. But good for LeBron because without the win the media would have been unfairly condemning him. It was probably also the first time in James’ career that the consensus rooting interest was for him. The Warriors in their preening, mouth guard sucking ways were becoming a bit insufferable, especially the groin kicking Draymond Green, whose suspension in Game 5—which was unfortunate, if deserved—probably turned around the series for the Cavaliers. If also with James and Kyrie Irving have 40-ish games to get back in the series. James had suddenly been turned into a sympathetic figure and Cleveland breaks a title drought. Americans love that as with the Boston Red Sox a few years back and perhaps the Chicago Cubs this season.
LeBron doesn’t finish at the basket as strongly anymore. Yes, with power but not with explosiveness like he once did. You could see it all season, though the view often was he’s cruising to the playoffs. So LeBron went more toward his “play the right way” game of drawing attention and passing. It may be the right way for normal basketball players, but not LeBron. Stars have to exert themselves offensively in the Finals, and LeBron wasn’t. He’d get to the paint and pass to J.R. Smith or Richard Jefferson for a three. C’mon. He wasn’t making himself enough of a threat. He finally realized the losing nature of that strategy in Game 5 and he and Irving each scored 41 points as he looked to the basket instead of other human objects. He kept it up in Game 6 as Irving faded some, but Irving’s presence was vital. He became the teammate to save LeBron as Dwyane Wade was at times. Irving, after all, made the big three at the end of Game 7. Heck, LeBron barely rattled in that second free throw to make the difference at the end.
Maybe the rush to get to 73 finally took its toll on the Warriors. After all, the Warriors’ star, Stephen Curry, is slightly built and did have knee issues that kept him out earlier in the playoffs. He isn’t the dominant physical figure like Michael Jordan. Maybe the longer playoffs and having to come back the way they did against Oklahoma City sapped them. Remember, it was Klay Thompson with that amazing Game 6 back in Oklahoma City who saved them. As the playoffs progressed, it was Thompson who was the splashier brother. They got the worst performance of the year from Harrison Barnes the last three games, Bogut was gone and Curry perhaps was feeling the pressure to save them. But America has a standard: Winning and losing. LeBron’s the winner again and this one is being celebrated nationally for maybe the first time. Good for him.
Just finished watching The Finals - 95-96 Jordan Bulls are still the record/best one year champion team ever!
Sam: That Bulls team also goes down in history for having won a game on June 16 and the latest in June the ’16 Warriors won a game was June 10. So how can you even compare the two seasons?
While watching the game on wed, the sentiment among some was a warriors finals loss is a (jordan era) bulls win. But then, a lebron loss also proves jordan is better. Now, i get it, in the fantasy world of sport fandom, its fun to root for some and against others, pretend heroes and villains (well, lambere was pretty real) - after all, for most people, nothing really changes about their lives if the team from their city wins. It doesnt actually makes us better then cleveland if jordan is better the lebron. I used to tell kids when i was sports camp counselor that a soccer game loss doesnt make you a bad person, just as a win doesnt make you any better. Its just pretend.
Sam: How dare you! Sports mirrors life, we are told. Though there are not many places where you can hold a finger aloft with impunity. Jordan and the Bulls are better because that’s our story and we are sticking to it no matter who wins. After all, as you note, doesn’t that make us superior? And what would a day be without enjoying the failure of someone else, another great American tradition. Without Bulls games for so long I also get cranky.
The center position seems to be in transition for the Bulls. If Gasol and Noah decide to move on, can the Bulls get by with Gibson as their starting center? A lot of teams are fielding small ball lineups these days, but the Bulls could be awfully thin up front with a big man rotation of Gibson, Niko, Portis and Felicio. Is that group strong enough even if they added a mid-tier FA?
Sam: Gibson can play there some and will, but as we saw with Bogut out even the sultans of small ball needed some size and rebounding in the end. So hello Robin Lopez. I think given the timing of things it’s pretty uncertain whether the Bulls can sign either Gasol or Noah. Felicio is a nice addition and I think will be a strong backup.
Do you see Jimmy Butler playing power forward next season? Imagine having Doug, Holiday, Rose, Taj and Jimmy closing out games. That's one heck of a small ball line-up. Actually, Doug and Jimmy can both play four even for at least 5 minutes a game: enough to swing games in their favor.
Sam: Small ball is done! Well, it only has one in a row. The Bulls have several holes, but power forward isn’t one. Mike Dunleavy now probably is best suited to be a power forward given the way the position has evolved. Maybe even McDermott, too. And then there’s Portis, Mirotic, Gibson. It’s power forward mania. The small ball things sounds fun, but you need amazing, natural passers and ball movers, which hasn’t been a Bulls specialty. Though better now with Valentine and Grant. Rebounding still matters a lot. Look how effective Tristan Thompson was against the Warriors. You can do small ball when you have Curry and Thompson. Most teams don’t. Jimmy would be ideal at small forward if the Bulls can find a shooting guard.
Congrats to the Cavs and the City of Cleveland for winning a Championship !! It’s been a long dry spell. I think with the Cavs winning it all this year will make the 2017 NBA free agent market even better. My reason is because obviously, Lebron will return to Cleveland to defend the title next season. But, If the Cavs are unable to defend the Title, it will open Lebron up to leaving Cleveland again. This time he’s free to leave without owing the fans anything by making good on his promise this year. That move will stir up the free agent pot in 2017 the more.
Sam: To go where? No, not a Bulls pursuit again! No, LeBron now is officially a Cleveland civic institution, a sort of 1985 Chicago Bears version. He and that team will be celebrated in Cleveland for decades and it’s not like anywhere even makes sense for LeBron. He is slowing despite the great Finals stats and the coronation this week that not only is he better than Jordan, but Ali, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe and Zeus.
One obvious question is what will happen with Kevin Love. He had a decent Game 7 finish, but it doesn’t make sense to keep a max player who is asked to do so little and obviously isn’t a great fit. Even if they say for now they will. I hate to even mention this because I don’t see anything that makes sense with the Cavs, but I have heard Love listed to Chicago among teams he’d like to play for if he were to be traded. Everyone will deny there is such a list, but I have heard it from a few people who speak with Love. The Bulls aren’t trading Jimmy Butler, and I wouldn’t trade Butler for Love, anyway. I’ve always had Love way overrated given you don’t have to double him and he doesn’t beat you off the dribble and is a poor defender and not athletic. Plus, power forward is loaded. That sounds worse than he is. He rebounds well, is a terrific shooter and passer. I see him eventually in Boston; maybe the Lakers, as I’ve heard that one for a few seasons. The Cavs could use some size and perhaps some shooting. The Bulls have some shooting, but not enough to warrant for Love and no real size. I guess given they won you can bring them all back, but you figure now Irving has earned his place and a little shakeup is always good for a champion going forward.
LeBron’s retiring in Cleveland. He’s more popular now than ever and it seems to me he’s not about to risk that, especially at an age when he won’t be able to dominate like before. Plus, no one runs a franchise like he does with the Cavs after what he did for them in the wake of their horrible behavior when he left. I’m sure he’s never let anyone forget, and you can only imagine how they’ll spend the rest of their lives making it up to him, and even more so now as he did deliver the grail.
How will our bulls ever compete at that level? We need more talent.
Sam: Doesn’t everybody. As teams found out in the 90s—though you probably didn’t feel as badly for them—was it’s tough to beat the best guy. No one in the West could beat Magic, though there was a sneak through here and there. The Bulls had a shot last year; things happen. So maybe now’s not a bad time with LeBron having one or three really good years left to recoup a bit and then put things together.
LeBron James is finally 'King' of his hometown. Cleveland needed to lift off their shoulders, the burden of never seeing a championship. You have the Cleveland Browns, and other sports teams in Cleveland that have never seen a championship, and yet you see Golden State win 73 games, and literally gloat about the fact it's a record better than the Bulls, then have the nerve to compare themselves to the '95 Bulls, which included none other than Steve Kerr himself. No, I'm glad Golden State lost in that respect.
Sam: On a related note, the Bulls had their shot last year and blew it. That’s why they changed. I know there was a load of Thibs nostalgia last year because of the disappointing season. But remember, the Bulls under Thibodeau lost to LeBron three times in five years. It wasn’t Thibs’ fault, nor the blame to him. He’s a good coach, and he’ll be a better one with the Timberwolves in his second job. But at some point when it keeps not working you have to try something else. And then give that something else a chance.
The players despite how they played last season came out of the 2015 playoffs practically begging for something else that wasn’t such a slow offensive game with a limited rotation. And then they played like they wanted it to be that way. The Bulls had their best shot since Rose’s 2012 injury in Thibs’ last season. They probably were at their best in 2011 but still lost in five. Then in 2015 the Cavs were without Kevin Love and Rose was controlling Kyrie Irving. But the Bulls fell victim to some of the same issues with the lack of depth being used, the lack of changes as the same players kept going extended minutes. Even Ty Lue in these Finals benched regulars he’d been using, like Channing Frye and Love quite a bit. Steve Kerr always does that. It was a Bulls team in position in 2015, ahead 2-1 and it seemed to basically collapse. That group with that coach had its chance; so changes began, first the coach and soon the players. That’s what happens when you go for it over a six or seven-year stretch and don’t make it.
But you don’t keep the same group and leader. It takes longer to change the roster, but it becomes a process. What’s that Einstein definition of insanity about trying the same thing again and expecting different results? That’s what the process of change has been about. It’s inevitable when you don’t ultimately succeed and it has to start with someone. Going back to what almost worked and felt better is not the answer, even if it’s difficult for all of us on various levels to accept change and loss. You have to endure some tough times when you move forward like that. Last season was one part and we’ll see where it goes from here. But trying the same way to beat LeBron wasn’t working.
The written reports and limited viewing seemed to place Bairstow as a good practice player and teammate but with little upside. His back issues late last year were described as serious and possibly career ending. Apparently Dinwiddie is an OK sub. Salaries were similar. What was Detroit’s motivation?
Sam: I’m not fully sure, though Stan Van Gundy is one of the better guys and I wouldn’t be surprised if he just wanted to give Dinwiddie a chance. It became obvious the second round pick wasn’t fitting in with the Pistons and teams will do that. It looks like a good pickup for the Bulls in the replace Aaron Brooks sense of a young player who actually had some of his best moments as a pro against the Bulls. Two of his five double digit scoring games of his two years with the Pistons were against the Bulls, both in 2014-15. Of course, there goes 40 percent of his best production. He had some injury issues in college, but was mostly in the D-league for the Pistons. It looks like they’re just giving him a chance. It’s really a god practice for an organization and can get you the benefit of the doubt with players when they hear that you’re not after the last little thing you can get out of them. The Bulls obviously need backup point guard help with E’Twaun Moore a free agent and Brooks likely gone. He’s a big guard and worth a look for not much cost and a chance for him to show something. Kind of a rare feel good situation. Bairstow is a good guy but really had nowhere to play for the Bulls with power forward their deepest position.
I found myself in the awkward position of rooting for the Cavs these past couple weeks, and I felt a jolt of elation when they pulled off the miracle upset last night with a third straight win. This morning, the vast army of self-appointed basketball cognoscenti who have been assuring us that the Western Conference is vastly superior to the Eastern Conference, have busied themselves with statistical analysis of the Warriors' collapse in the final four minutes of the third game in a row they got beat. I don't imagine any of them will look up from their digital tedium to confess that they pretty much had their heads up their butts all year...so, I'll say it for them. The conferences are pretty equal, and they usually are. That petty nonsense aside, it was a great, great series and kudos to LeBron and the the Cavs.
Sam: Good point. Obviously, the East has LeBron, which makes a difference, but the East had Michael and that mattered. The East has now won three of the last five championships and six of the last 13. Plus, four different East teams have won in that period, the same as in the West. For all the ridiculous talk over recent years of reseeding for the playoffs, it’s as it always has been. It’s serendipity. Sometimes the East dominates and sometimes the West. Perhaps the West is better at the top, but the East now is deeper and again lays claim to the best player. Put it this way, no East team ever has gagged up a 3-1 lead in the Finals and no East team that won 70 games has not also won a championship. Sort of embarrassing to even have to watch Western Conference teams make a mess on themselves in the Finals.
While I like Curry, I feel some vindication for LeBron, who is a much more complete player (and probably should have been MVP this year). The big question in my mind is whether LeBron learned what it takes from this experience. His game definitely changed for the better when his back was up against the wall. Will he come away from this understanding what happened? Will he play with more effort and 'heart' on any given night? Or at least when his team needs him to? We can only wait and see.
Sam: Based on what I’ve read lately in our journalism-only-considers-the-last-thing-it-saw world, Jordan, Wilt, Russell, Bird and Kareem will need to win eight more titles each to reach Lebron's level.