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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 7.18.2016

Sam Smith looks at the Bulls summer moves and how they might fit in in a special Monday edition of Ask Sam

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By Sam Smith | 7.18.2016 | 11:20 a.m.

So younger and more athletic they say? Just trading one purgatory for another . I don't really see any method to the madness. A starting 5 of Rondo/Wade/Butler/Gibson/Lopez would've had a great shot at a title in 2008.

Josh Neukom

Sam: I understand that sentiment given what’s been said. But as boxing promoter Bob Arum once explained after being asked about contradicting himself at a press conference: Yesterday I was lying; today I’m telling the truth. They weren’t lying, but who really imagined, as I said, Wade would be available and interested. They wished they had him in 2003 when they were sure he was going to slip to No. 7 in the draft. But Wade did show bounce, health and a heck of a playoffs last season. And even if Wade picks up his option for next season, he has to be a draw for free agents with his presence and the Bulls still have room for a maximum free agent. I’m not saying they’re interested, and no offense intended, but would Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin or Chris Paul rather play with Dwyane Wade or Jerian Grant? Plus, LeBron will be a free agent after next season, and, hey can I start that one now: LeBron gets Cleveland its title; he’s now free to leave and rejoin his buddy Wade in Chicago where they could have gone in 2010 and now the Bulls have a young core and Butler to support them as they play out their careers in the biggest city they’ve played in. Wade and LeBron together again in a major media market. Hey, you can’t say no to anything in this NBA.

We can't wait much longer to hear your analysis of the Rondo signing which came as a bit of a surprise to me.

Guy Danilowitz

Sam: And then Dwyane Wade if you didn’t have surprise enough. On Rondo first: I wouldn’t have listed him as a possibility, I’ll admit that, but the biggest thing to me in all this is at least they aren’t tanking. I hate that and don’t believe in it with such young drafts these days as the 76ers made a mockery of the game. I’m not saying the Bulls were there, and with Jimmy Butler they couldn’t be. But Rondo’s is a one-year deal (with option)—Wade’s could be as well with his option and then maybe a LeBronesque going home letter to Sports Illustrated—and that leaves the 2017 free agency open as the Bulls were planning, anyway, with the departures of Rose, Noah and Gasol. I obviously preferred Rose, but you can see the issues and the desire for change all around. And it’s hard to dispute when those guys missed the playoffs. They had their last chance. I also think Rondo with now Wade gets Butler moving to the front court, where he is better suited and gets the ball out of his hands. Obviously, there’ll be some adjustment given Jimmy and Wade have been accustomed to playing with the ball a lot, but Jimmy moving up court like that gives the team a different dimension. It’s not development, obviously, which the Bulls have said, in effect, is not for them. It should make for a competitive season again and a week ago I could not see a playoff team. It’s at least coming into view.

I'm guessing the Bulls front office might be as surprised as everybody else about this off-season. Just days ago it seems Gar was stating the plan was to go younger and more athletic. I can only assume that they were not expecting to be serious players for Wade and Rondo at that time, but when the opportunity came along they couldn't resist.

It seems we are in for another season with big question marks around health and how certain players will mesh on the floor. Would you agree that Rondo, Wade, Butler is an odd trio in this era of 3pt shooting? If they start with Taj and Lopez that would have to be the worst 3pt shooting starting 5 in the league. Not much spacing there for Hoiberg's offense, not to mention you have a combo of players that are used to holding the ball as opposed to playing the up-tempo ball movement style that I thought Hoiberg preferred. That said I can't help but be very intrigued by this team, even if I will remain guarded about our chances for success. In that respect I think this offseason was a big success for Paxson and Forman.

With Dunleavy gone it would seem paramount that McDermott and Mirotic play big roles to give us some sort of threat from the perimeter. I look forward to watching those 2 players this year. Without these moves I don't think we were in the conversation in the East, so I suppose the worst thing that can happen is we wait 2 more years for these contracts to run out and then try to reload again.

Dan Michler

Sam: I agree that they probably were serious about their plans, but as we know in the NBA you never say never. Wade leaving Miami may be the most shocking, if not most significant, move of the offseason. Remember when Wade in 2010 was publicly calling out the Bulls—he later recanted and apologized—for lacking loyalty compared to Miami. So this probably came as a shock to him even as it supposedly has been growing. Kobe gets $25 mil per; Dirk gets $20 mil per with neither competitive. You did that to accommodate Hassan Whiteside? We like to think management knows what it is doing, but the truth is few basically do. This is the universal plan: Get lucky to get a star and then hope you can sign players that will help him win before he bolts. It’s so in the NBA more than anywhere because of the value of one star. And that there are so few available. That’s why teams take chances at the top of the draft even though so many fail. Because you only have to hit once and why “high ceiling” are the magic words in scouting. It’s why it’s a lottery. The Bulls still are in that game for 2017 and this doesn’t change that. Fred always has said he coaches according to his talent and changed his system five times at Iowa State. He’ll have another chance. But also in this sort of move the Bulls announced to free agents they want to be players and in paying Wade when Miami wouldn’t. They have to have sent out an impressive message around the NBA. It doesn’t hurt to wound Miami like that. And it’s much easier to recruit top free agents when you are more competitive. The Bulls didn’t look like they were about to be a week or so ago. This suggests at least an intriguing 2016-17 season and perhaps an unusual reward for the summer of 2017 with Wade, Butler and Rondo. You’ll at least have to take notice.

Very smart by Riley. He knows they won't compete for a championship in Miami. With Whiteside,Dragic and Bosh... He can go for a star next summer, especially if Bosh can't play anymore. He's rebuilding. He's smart, knows what he's doing. I like this for the Bulls. My Bulls vs Knicks dream for the playoffs could happen. I won't believe it until it's official. I got tired of reading all the negative comments about Bulls management. It's a business first.

Victor Devaldvielso

Sam: We’ll see if they feel that way in Miami, but this has to be a tough one to swallow. I remember one of the Bulls big issues with free agency in post Jordan was the feeling among players was the Bulls drove Jordan out. They really didn’t, but it was viewed that way and top players, like Kevin Garnett, were critical. Wade clearly felt disrespected (the worst word for NBA players) and it’s not going to make Miami, even with the weather, that appealing for a while. It still seems incredible given Wade basically sentenced himself to a shorter career by dragging the Heat to the playoffs two seasons while they chopped up their roster to get LeBron, getting them LeBron and taking less money afterward. It’s happened. Oscar was pushed out of Cincinnati; but then they had to move to Kansas City. Barkley leaving sentenced the 76ers to years of mediocrity. But Bulls vs Knicks could be very cool; Bulls vs Cavs; Bulls vs Heat. Christmas Day now in Miami? It may be interim for the Bulls, but it should make for a much more intriguing season.

I guess better late than never. If this guy can get that guy to play team ball, and Jimmy flourishes at the three, we could really be on to something. Looks like I’m buying the NBA Package again, something that yesterday I was certain I would not do.

Jacob Snyder

Sam: No one ever knows if plans will work, eh General Custer. Jerry Krause had the right plan in 2001 with a pair of young, athletic seven footers as Ewing and that bunch of Eastern centers was fading away. He just had the wrong guys, as it turned out. There is much celebration now in Chicago about the great plan of the Chicago Cubs to be bad and then great, and then they lucked into the pitcher, Arietta, and the plan worked well. Mostly they don’t until you luck into someone special, especially in the NBA. So the Bulls can maintain their plan. They didn’t give up draft picks or their young players. We’ll discover if those players are who they think they are. They’ll still have financial wherewithal in free agency next summer to land a max salary free agent and more after that. In the meantime, they could be interesting and relevant. Which beats the 76ers’ model and lands you probably in the same place with the crapshoot that the draft lottery has become with the youngsters. Some can be great. Most take a lot of time. Why not?

I'm completely at a loss over the Rondo/Wade signings. Aside from the whole "younger/more athletic" rhetoric, we trade away a guy with bad knees, who doesn't shoot well, that we owed $25mil for just one more season and then bring in one guy who can't shoot and one guy with bad knees (who's not much of a shooter himself) for two years, $75mil. We pretty much split Derrick's good and bad qualities into two players and paid them three times the money for twice as long. I'm usually one to at least wait and see, but how much better could they actually expect this team to be than last year's?

Matthew Hemphill

Sam:: Sometimes we get too attached to phrases. Though I guess Change worked for Obama and that was just a word. Everyone wants to be younger and more athletic. Especially me, and everyone else with me in line at Social Security. I don’t believe the Bulls have abandoned that notion any more or less than anyone else. Of course, the flip side of that is if you are serious you supposedly want veterans with playoff experience and All-Star credentials. I know the appeal of play the kids, like with baseball teams in late season until you see them for a few games and wonder when football starts. I like Valentine and Grant, but I honestly wasn’t thrilled about seeing them in major roles so soon. It suggested a very poor season. Of course as we always say here, if healthy, but Rondo has been healthy and you hope with Wade. He does work hard at it. The financial flexibility is there for the next two summers, and pretty soon with this crazy spending teams are going to be capped out and if you haven’t been crazy and have short term deals like with Rondo and Wade maybe you fall into someone great. Which other than younger and more athletic and experienced and professional is the only real plan than works. The Bulls seem to have left themselves in that position while also, you have to admit, making for what should at least be an interesting, intriguing and perhaps dramatic season.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on KD to GSW, and it's an excuse to give my own. I hate that he went to GSW. He has every right to leave OKC, he has every right to go wherever he wants; I get all that. But to leave to go to a team that you should have beaten and can beat next year, and a team that doesn't really need you? I just don't get that, and I don't get how anybody who watches basketball for competition can enjoy the GSW team. The next step in this process is GSW mauling CLE next year and LeBron then opts out of his contract with CLE and goes to GSW "in order to take the next step in his evolution." Would anybody enjoy that? It may sound silly, but that's basically where we are.

Alejandro Yegros

Sam: If it’s in the rules, sure. Who ever complains that Facebook or Apple got too many top executives and is too successful? OK, not exactly the ideal comparison, but the point is the players earned these rights through courts and bargaining over the years and in agreement with the owners. It’s his right as a player. I endorse that and overall I have no issues. We’ve seen so called super teams before and they’ve only been great for the league. The most parity in the NBA was in the 70s when eight different teams won titles. It was the worst decade in the NBA’s history when the league was in its biggest financial danger of franchises going out of business. The 80s with the Celtics/Lakers almost every year in the Finals was the greatest, and then the 90s with the Bulls domination. Greatness is great for sports.

It seems competition has given way to entitlement and that the best players are taking the easiest and most likely road to the Finals. It is said that only 2 things sell season tickets in the NBA-success and hope. Hope just died-for 28 teams.

Mike Freeman

Sam: In some respects, Durant is putting more pressure on himself because rarely do players go into a season where anything less than a championship means they are the problem. Hey, the Warriors won a title and were a minute away from a second without you. Not getting at least to the seventh game of the Finals is a failure not only for him, but perhaps which he caused for the team. How fair is it to play a season like that? Durant will be regularly accused, as LeBron James was, of being less than Jordan and Magic and Bird and Isiah. Be tough enough to beat the best. Don’t run to join them. I thought Durant would do so for one more season because with the acquisition of Victor Oladipo you can make the case the Thunder with Durant and Russell Westbrook have probably a better overall roster than Golden State. And they had a 3-1 lead in the conference finals over Golden State. Take one more shot. And bring a title to a city that never won one (the franchise began in Seattle, which won in 1979). (So by the way, no whining from Oklahoma City, which stole the franchise from Seattle with basically a plan to move despite hollow efforts to remain). Durant will be getting heck for that all season. But there were as many good reasons to move on.

One big one was San Francisco-Oklahoma City. People take offense when their home is less regarded. But have you ever been there? There is no there there, unlike Oakland, of which it was first said. Among American cities, San Francisco is as good as it gets for scenery, weather, food, culture, activities. Oklahoma City is as bad as it gets, an awful climate, a city center probably ranking last among all NBA cities in diversity and recreation, little or no culture or entertainment. It’s one of those good places to raise your kids things, though Durant is single. San Francisco is South Beach with class. And the Warriors are building a new, world class arena in San Francisco with a free spending and generous ownership. Then there’s the Westbrook thing. Though you’ll hear about all this love and respect Durant had for him, it was not so much from a basketball standpoint. Those who know Durant well know he was ready to get away from Westbrook and Westbrook’s manic, undisciplined game. It was becoming too much for Durant to endure Westbrook’s frenzy play after play. And the coaching change didn’t help. Durant was close to Scott Brooks, but accepted the change to Billy Donovan in hopes of having someone to corral Westbrook. But Donovan backed off as Brooks had. And then there may not be a better combination of team environment with coach than in Golden State.

The players are obviously unselfish and play with a joy rarely seen in sports. Steve Kerr is unique in both creating an enjoyable and workable atmosphere and also being able to hold players accountable, sort of a combination of the best of Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. To paraphrase the great Joakim Noah, we don’t see anyone coming to Oklahoma City for vacation. What’s wrong with being in one of the world’s great cities at the best time in your life? Especially when the working conditions and coworkers seem so much better? And if you were pretty sure you were going and maybe they wouldn’t have the financial wherewithal next year to do so, why pass up the chance when you have given Oklahoma City nine years and, perhaps, watched them give away your best chance to win a title when they traded away James Harden for future prospects? Sometimes there’s more to life than an NBA title. Actually, almost all the time.

The media seem to hate the Rondo signing. As you know, I like it. Why does the media always take the easy road out to protect their butts? Surely not everyone thinks Gar screwed this up too, do they?

Abe Rotbart

Sam: That darned media. I haven’t seen it condemned all that much. Of course, I also don’t have the internet. Well, at least one thing everyone can’t say anymore is the Bulls always are conservative and don’t do anything.

So....we got less shooting? I'm cautiously excited/curious about their plans. Think we can match or improve on last season's record?

Darren Rowe

Sam: I was pretty good at math, so I know three is more than two. I actually became an accountant before I went into journalism. Of course, perhaps I’m in journalism because I don’t value three over two quite that much. It’s good when you make those threes, but you have to make them. We know the Bulls aren’t going to threaten any Warriors records with Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler on the perimeter. Though I think Butler will come back a much better shooter because he knows everyone thinks he can’t. He’s like that. But Wade has made a pretty good career from mid range and I still believe if you get to the basket and can make a layup, heck, go for it rather than passing out for a three. It basically only works for Golden State. See: Houston Rockets. There are plenty of ways to succeed, and having good players is the best. Take what they can give you. The Bulls have several three-point shooters, and Rondo is pretty good finding those types of guys. So I’m not as concerned about the shooting. Better? Last year’s group, I still believe, healthier would have been the Cavs’ biggest problem. Rose matched Irving well, Love never did much against the Bulls and Gasol shot too well for them. It was a 50-win, second place team until it became a 42-win ninth place team. This roster should be a contending East team, which last season meant about 48 wins. If healthy.

Are you stunned?

Ryan Carpel

Sam: Probably just a bit more than the Bulls. It’s why the Bulls never went out to meet Wade. He came to them. Use me once for leverage, shame on you. Use me twice, shame on me. Someday we’ll find out what really drove this in Miami with Wade, though it certainly seems like simple jealousy and resentment like the rest of us. It may not make macro sense of a 34-year-old long after his best. Speaking of shame, shame on Miami for no matter what is said and it’s a business and all that and they offered a lot of money, you don’t do that to the player who made your franchise, Sure, the Heat was competitive with Hardaway and Mourning, but never truly seriously so. Taking less money often was mentioned with Wade, but he also let his body get beat up and career threatened for two years so they could get below the salary cap to get LeBron and Bosh, whom Wade attracted. Wade should have gotten the two-year Kobe deal as Miami isn’t going anywhere or attracting anyone anyway for now.

Please explain the Rondo signing. Coach Fred may face conflicting mandates from two players, one of whom insists that he “coach harder” while the other demands that he stop coaching altogether. It strikes me that asking Fred to coach Rondo is like signing Dennis Rodman to play for Vinnie Del Negro.

David Thompson

Sam:Vinny will take him and probably call him Kurt. Anyway, in a perverse way Fred could be an ideal coach for Rondo because Rondo is so head strong. Rondo has run afoul of coaches who are more demanding with towering egos and one-way communication. Fred is more open and welcoming and confident in himself that he’s not about to worry about appearances and dialogue. He knows the game and so do Rondo and Wade and I believe he’ll welcome their opinions. Remember, he spent much of last season begging the players to take ownership and make on court decisions. That group still was ingrained in the Thibodeau way. That group has moved on. I think Fred has been aching for a player like Rondo who has strong opinions about how to play and will be willing to discuss it watching film, a practice which Rondo is known to prefer with coaches.

I commend Forman and Paxson for their work this summer. Instead of taking on long term contracts with big money, they are taking intelligent & calculated risks with Rondo and Wade. If Rondo doesn't work out, we can let him go after 1 year. 2 years was the only way Wade would sign, so another understandable move there. Plus he can fill the emotional leader void left by Noah's departure. They are also not tying themselves down with unnecessarily long contracts - even Lopez and Butler's contracts are very attractive compared to the rest of the landscape. Question: Will the Bulls trade Taj? I assume Wade wouldn't want Taj traded as it would weaken the team. Yet the fact Plus he only has 1 year left in his contract, and Portis / Mirotic / Felicio developing, we cannot risk losing him for nothing. Which contending team do you think will take the flyer for a 1 year rental on him?

Abram Bachtiar

Sam:I think they’ll keep Gibson. After all, there is a level of competition now and he seems more valuable than perhaps a few weeks ago when it was youngs town. I don’t see any other major moves. They’ve got a few roster spots without Dunleavy and Calderon and I expect they’ll add a veteran point guard. There are some interesting ones out there. I think they’ll be in see-how-it-goes mode and you can always do something. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they extended Gibson at some point.

I remember when the Bulls wanted to draft Wade, but, of course, he went too early. They settled for Hinrich, who was very decent, but not Wade. Now they finally get Wade for more than they paid Rose last year. I can only, forget it. I really have no idea why the Bulls want Wade now. Maybe to assist in the development of their younger players? Who would have thought that the Bulls would cough up close to 40 mil for the likes of Rhondo and Wade. Is there any chance these two can gel with the young Bulls and produce a team that can compete with the better teams in the East?

William Kochneff

Sam: I’m not sure anyone can yet compete seriously with the Cavaliers, and Mike Dunleavy is a great pickup for them. By the way, good for the Bulls for not dumping Dunleavy somewhere and giving him a chance with a good team. It makes the Cavs better, but it also enhances your reputation around the league. Similarly with sending Rose to New York and I have since heard another, lesser location team had interest. The Pacers did a nice job this summer and got better. The Celtics some with Al Horford, who is good but not great. Not that the Bulls are necessarily better, but there’s no reason they cannot compete with those teams, who all are flawed in talent. Again, someone in the East could be third or 10th. Health usually determines that. Miami without a better roster had some incredible games against the Cavs last season because of Wade. That’s always going to be something to see. It was because of Rose and Noah, and should be again. Compete? Sure. Defeat? We’ll see. But it will be worth watching.

Kevin Durant going to the Warriors is a disgrace to the competitive nature of sports. We’re talking about a top 3 player in the NBA leaving a great team in his prime to join the warriors, his biggest competition and roadblock to a title. He’s joining the same warriors team that he and Russ had on the ropes before they couldn’t close the deal. Why are athletes in recent years so quick to join forces instead of embracing the challenge that makes sports so great? Who lacks the competitive fire enough to not want revenge on the team that beat you? How can you not crave getting over the hump with the same core that’s been in place for the past 3-5 years instead of caving like KD is doing? I’m sorry, but for the life of me, I’ll never understand this one. This is the biggest cop out I’ve seen in as long as I can remember. At least when Lebron made the decision he did it because of the lack of support around him. The Thunder have the talent on hand to win a championship and KD just admitted to the world that he doesn’t have the confidence in himself to get his team over the hump. Gutless. I personally will root against KD winning a championship this year and that’s something I never thought I’d be able to say. I actually feel bad for him and his lack of belief in himself.

Kevin Loughlin

Sam: Durant, as I noted, is going to face this reaction other than among his peers. I don’t see it as uncompetitive or fearing losing as much as the other factors I’ve mentioned. But it also brings me to this zero sum game that sports has become. You win a title or you are a loser. It’s ridiculous because so many factors out of your control can determine the ultimate success, like injury or a missed shot or rebound, like in that Miami/Spurs series. We like to say in the NBA because of the length of the game and the series it’s less likely to see a fluke winner and the winner is the better team and players. But it also doesn’t mean you are a loser. Forget the famous players who never were on championship teams, like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone from this era. They were as committed and competitive; the luck and other factors weren’t on their side. I’d like to see capitalism as we know it and business measured as sports is. Do you feel like a loser and failure because your company wasn’t the most successful? Maybe it wasn’t you; maybe it was the other guy the bosses put in the wrong place or didn’t get. Did you ever want to take a job somewhere else that was better for your family or for your life style and leave a more successful company? We like to demand of our athletes a fantasy of pure competition that basically serves our need to be entertained and occupied. I understand and have been party to the myth with stories I’ve written over the years. But at the same time it’s important to understand there are factors that mean excellence without material success, that you cannot measure personal competitiveness and pride just by the scoreboard and the trophy case.

It’s another reason why players love playing for Gregg Popovich and why he is so good. Because he understands that if you give all you have and compete professionally, he accepts the result. He knew David Robinson was as great a competitor losing to Hakeem Olajuwon as he was defeating Patrick Ewing. Because he competed with all he had both times. Similarly with Durant. I have no doubt he’ll continue to be an elite, world class competitor and care as much as he ever did. Perhaps he was driven some by this demand that your career has to have a title for legitimacy. It’s not true. So maybe he was doing what the fans and media have demanded he do, which is chase that championship at the absolute expense of everything else and put himself in the best place to do so. It would be hard to argue he has a better chance to win a title had he stayed in Oklahoma City than with Golden State. So maybe he did what everyone really was demanding all along. Ewing basically stayed in one place throughout the prime of his career and is called by some a failure. So did he do the right thing? I’m sure there were many other factors driving Durant. But hardly that he’s not a great competitor.

An exciting and dramatic Bulls era has come to a close with the departures of Deng, Thibs, Hinrich, Rose, and Noah. Among the players from this era, whom do you see as having a possibility of returning in "retirement" to work with the organization in some capacity?

Alex Hartzler

Sam:OK, probably not Thibs. Time heals and all that. Pippen left on pretty awful terms and Horace Grant probably worse, and Horace is coming back this fall as an ambassador. It was a fun era and I wrote about it some this week in a tribute to Noah. The organization was pretty up front in saying they deserved a chance, but the injuries just proved too much, mostly for Rose but everyone else on some level. I can’t see Noah involved with a team after his career given his free spirited nature and charity work; similarly with Deng with his international involvement. I can see them doing ambassador work for the NBA as Grant has done the last decade. I can see Kirk back in some capacity as I think he could be a good coach and has always been a popular teammate anxious to help others and sacrifice. But that’s a while with four small kids. Probably not Nate, though.

Is this the 1st time in the history of the NBA that one team has 4 out of the top 15 players in the league? Also, all those 4 players are arguably the best at their position, worst case scenario the second best. I don't think that has ever been done, not even in the Bill Russell Celtics.

Jay Ernani

Sam: It’s rare, I agree, especially the part with consecutive MVP winners in their primes. There was Russell and Cousy together as back to back MVPs along with Bill Sharman, Tom Heinsohn and original Sixth Man Frank Ramsey, and in an eight-team league probably a higher percentage of the best talent than the Warriors. The 1967 76ers had Wilt in his prime with Hall of Famers Hal Greer and Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham off the bench. The 1977 76ers were set up similarly with the addition of George McGinnis to Dr. J. and Darryl Dawkins, then a potential super center, and with All-Star Doug Collins. They later added Moses Malone to finally win. And there was the 1986 Celtics with three top 50 players in Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish and Hall of Famers Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton off the bench. Those 1977 76ers didn’t win until Moses came as they had to deal with a healthy Walton and then Magic/Kareem/Worthy and Bird/Parish/McHale. And you ask why the 80s was the greatest NBA decade? Heck, the ’73 Knicks had six Hall of Famers in a style similar to the current Warriors with movement and shooting without dominant inside play. They didn’t have the league’s best record that season, which Boston did. This NBA with 30 teams is obviously watered down from previous eras and certainly what gives the Warriors an edge is what stars are left end up getting distributed while the Warriors coalesce around their foursome. I don’t think they are unbeatable. Curry and Durant have had previous serious health issues, their size defensively isn’t great, but that there is so much curiosity about four players like that together, to me, makes it good for the game. And not unprecedented. There have been other times, as well, this didn’t work ultimately. Malone and Payton were obviously older with the 2004 Lakers; there was Havlicek’s injury with the 1973 Celtics or Russell hurt against the Hawks in 1958. Not that this Warriors team won’t be great and great to play with and watch. But I can see one issue like LeBron had going to Miami. You’ve got three big time scorers and four unselfish players and sometimes there’s too much deferring. Durant is accustomed to his partner not deferring. Will he or Curry look to pass too much? Thompson also to be hospitable to their new teammate. Plus, the rebounding always has been an issue for them. They’ll have some things to work out, too. We’ll be watching for sure.

Just watched Chi vs Dallas. Dinwiddie is a keeper, he makes everyone playing with him better. With Dinwiddie on the floor Grant had 8 assists and he had 5 as Grant appeared to be quite comfortable at small forward. Denzel didn't have to work too hard and found his comfort zone in the spacing that they created. Felicio works well and gets better every game, he sort of knows his limitations and is quite coachable and teachable. No one notices but Portis creates his own shots and put himself in position to rebound. This is the best group of baby Bulls we have ever had.

June Penwit

Sam: Hey, they're young and athletic! Look, everyone likes and wants young and athletic. But not completely. The irony is as great as the Spurs have been, critics every season say they're not young and athletic enough. I think that was the Bulls' point. They have some young and athletic players, players worth developing. Athletic also is a moving target. Portis is athletic, but how much.It's tough to be as athletic as Blake Griffin. The positive about the moves they made was they took on veterans with age, but at the same time they didn't give up their draft picks or their young players to do so while maintaining enough cap room to pursue free agents. But I think they also realized, and I agree, those guys despite this summer domination weren't good enough to get into a real NBA season and carry that forward. When you put young players in that position, the pressure, responsibility and losses could set them back. They Bulls make themselves more relevant this season while giving these kids who do have some possibilities the chance to improve with some cover. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?