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Ask Sam | 01.09.08

Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of questions from his readers.
Sam Smith at Bulls.com

Ask Sam | 01.09.09


The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.


I think we should trade Larry Hughes and Noah for Brad Miller and Shelden Williams. Both Hughes and Miller seem upset with their situations, Miller seemed to enjoy his time here. The contracts for those two are basically the same too and expire in 2010. Shelden is a high character guy who won't complain and Noah seems like he needs a change of scenery. Then I would trade Nocioni for Artest. The contracts are the same, but Artest is only for this year, while Nocioni has 4 or 5 more years due to an option. Artest didn't cause any problems here before and I think he would bring energy for the remainder of the season. Deng could handle the 4 spot for the remainder of the year due to his length. Freeing up salary with Artest could also be used towards Gordon or other FA's this offseason or the next. Could Paxson pull these off?

Phil

Sam: We've heard continued speculation about a Miller/Hughes deal since the Kings were at the United Center this week. Miller did a heck of a job if it was a showcase as his passing from the elbow and shooting were impressive. I have no doubt if the Kings would take Hughes the Bulls might drive him there, especially with Hinrich's imminent return. I know part of the Kings issue for dealing Miller would give time to Spencer Hawes, and I can appreciate that given the Kings aren't going anywhere. But what Hughes doesn't seem to understand is the more he complains about playing time, the more teams become hesitant and the more difficult it becomes for the Bulls to deal him. I believe he'd love to be out of Chicago by the time Hinrich is back to avoid any more issues. The Kings would want a sweetner, and they did like Noah in 2007. I don't see Miller staying with the Bulls beyond 2010 when his deal ends, so I'm not sure I'd give up young players just for a few wins. And then it would happen with the Bulls, a veteran not in the team's future taking minutes away from young guys. I think I'd look elsewhere for now because the Kings do ask a lot in deals. Though I do wonder what happened with Williams and that could be a community service since his wife, women's basketball star Candace Parker, is from Naperville and I think is having a baby. As for Artest, no, no, never. Been there, done that, avoided a disaster.

While watching the Bobcats beat the Celts tonight one of the commentators calling the game said that Larry Brown likes players with high basketball IQs. Which Bulls players, besides Rose, have high basketball IQs? I'm thinking that Noah and Thomas (and many other Bulls players) have low basketball IQs and that that partially accounts for their losing ways. How important is basketball IQ, let's say, versus athleticism or basketball skill level, etc?

Margaret

Sam: It so happens the best also are smart, so it obviously has something to do with excellence, if not greatness. One of the big surprises has been Joakim Noah even admitting he's still had trouble with the plays. And between us, the Bulls may have one of the most simple offenses in the game, a routine high pick and role or side pick and roll set on offense with little weak side action or the back door plays you see with some teams. My personal theory—though I have no proof—is Noah has some sort of attention deficit issue, which is not uncommon in very active people. Chris Kaman, for example, has talked about it openly. So called basketball IQ is vital because of the elements of a game with a clock. Being aware of time left and score are vital, so it does require some thinking. The problem isn't always players are dumb, but some athletes long have succeeded because they were just so much better because of their natural ability and didn't have to think much. But when you get to the NBA, you find many players of relatively equal skill and something like game awareness can separate you. With so many young players, it may seem the Bulls are farther away because it takes some time with young players. Nocioni is smart, but sometimes loses awareness because of his passion. Hinrich, likewise, is aware but sometimes gets caught up in the pace of the game and doesn't slow himself down. On the whole, this isn't one of the Bulls' major issues. A bit more talent would help.

Your last article mentioned the Charlotte Bobcats as a possible trading partner. How possible do you think a trade involving Emeka Okafor is? This trade can work: Chicago trades Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah, and Andres Nocioni for Emeka Okafor, Adam Morrison, Raymond Felton, and Nazr Mohamed.

Belal

Sam: I mentioned Okafor more as a point of discussion and as a team that is looking to make some moves given Larry Brown's desire to fit a roster to his liking. GM's continue to say they most want to move Gerald Wallace even with the trade of Jason Richardson. With Sean May likely not to play much more in his career due to bad knees, they need size and I doubt they'd move Okafor unless they got back a big time big man. I haven't been a huge fan of Okafor, especially given the size of his contract. I'd rather take a flier on the free agent market than assume his large deal.

You stated it's best not to think about what this Bulls team [would] be like if the ping-pong balls hadn't bounced their way that lovely May evening in Jersey (what other kind of evening is there in Jersey?). I completely agree. However, your statement led me to muse about where the Bulls would have gone and I was hoping for your input. Would the Bulls have gone for Lopez? I imagine he would have still been available, though you can never tell since each team's perspective would have changed moving up a spot, and he would have definitely fit the Bulls' need for a big man as well as Paxons' affinity for solid citizens from big-time programs. I read all the time about how great the San Antonio way is and, while I agree, I try to figure out how many people had their careers made because David Robinson broke his foot in 1996. There's probably no Gregg Popovich, no Mike Brown, no Sam Presti, none of that. Heck, maybe we'd be waxing eloquent about the "Philly Way" with a team built around Iverson and Duncan.

Craig

Sam: Yes, better to be lucky, and we all know how Portland with Nike headquarters skipped over Michael Jordan in 1984. At that point, no one believed Lopez would fall that far. I think the Bulls were supposed to get ninth, so I think they would have taken him if he was there. And while we can see he'll be a good center, he's not a difference maker yet. With Hinrich getting hurt, it likely would have been a disastrous season. As I recall, I think the Bulls liked Anthony Randolph and might have picked him.

The fairly constant clamoring for David Lee makes me wonder if you read (ESPN's) Hollingers analysis on ESPN.com about how D'Antoni's system makes players look better than they really are, at least offensively, and none are ever as good once they leave a D'Antoni coached team. Basically, he is suggesting it is buyer be ware when it comes to acquiring D'Antoni coached players.

Robert

Sam: We all know numbers are somewhat inflated when teams score more, though this is hardly unique in the history of the NBA. I'm not a big stats guy for basketball because of the team nature of the game. It works better in baseball because it's a team sport played by individuals. Stat analysis is a good tool, but hardly all knowing. We've had Doug Moe and Paul Westhead teams scoring bigger than any D'Antoni team. You know players when you see them. We knew Joe Johnson was a player and he's done better since leaving D'Antoni. D'Antoni's system is reliant on a wing type power forward and that is usually the kind of player who benefits most with stats that don't reflect his actual worth: see Shawn Marion. Steve Nash was becoming a bigtime point guard in Dallas before the Suns stole him. Maybe he wouldn't have been two-time MVP, but he would have been elite the way he shoots and can run a team. Also, if Suns players looked so much better, the Suns might have gotten more in trades. Lee was putting up equivaent numbers in a postup set with Isiah Thomas. I love the D'Antoni coaching system and feel it makes teams better, though I don't think many lose sight of the players' abilities. What really skews players' worth is playing off the bench in the Finals. Those guys tend to be overrated because of team success.

If you could create an all-time all-defensive team, by position, what would it be? I'll also give you two utility guys on the bench. After some deliberation, here's mine:

PG: Gary Payton (in his prime, hellacious man-to-man...I recall once, he trapped Steve Kerr at halfcourt...and much to the Bulls coaches' disgust, he did it by himself! also terrific in passing lanes)
SG: Michael Jordan (maybe the best perimeter defender of all time)
C: Bill Russell (perfect last line of defense on this team)
SF: Scottie Pippen (maybe the most versatile defender in history)
PF: Hakeem Olajuwon (not really a PF, but it's my team, and he was agile enough to guard 4's)
Utility: Dennis Rodman (could guard the post and perimeter)
Utiility: Tim Duncan (terrific post defender and help defender)

Tony

Sam: Not bad, though I think Steve will tell you he wasn't hard to trap at halfcourt. Somehow I'd have to get Sloan or Van Lier in my backcourt, perhaps as a reserve, though I won't replace Jordan. Also, I'd have to consider Walt Frazier and Michael Cooper. Russell, yes, because that was his specialty, though no one ever was more intimidating than Wilt. He just didn't always play as hard because the game came so easy to him and he was so much better than everyone else. I'd move Duncan to starting four and two of my personal favorites, maybe for one game, were Gus Johnson from the old Baltimore Bullets and Maurice Lucas. Probably Pippen, though Bobby Jones would give him a run. It's a good subject for debate.

If it was possible could the bulls trade for Marcus Camby? If so what would it take to make it happen? Could they do it without giving up their core group? To me they could give up all the players they got from the Clevland Cavilers for Ben Wallace and Joe Smith because the team was good 3 years before they came here.

Maurice

Trade? Did someone say trade? Yes, there was another minor one in the NBA Wednesday when the Nuggets moved Chucky Atkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Johan Petro and a No. 1 pick. I doubt the Nuggets could care less about Petro, but basically were paying the Thunder to take Atkins so the Nuggets could get below the luxury tax level.

That's one reason why it's going to be tricky for the Bulls to make a move this winter, though I still expect they will.

The Bulls are right up against the luxury tax and though the NBA allows teams to make deals within 25 percent, meaning you can take on 25 percent more salary than you give up, the Bulls—and a lot of teams—won't be doing that. So if you are spending time on those web site trade machines, the salaries better match exactly or most teams won't be making a deal. It's why it's questionable how many trades will be made.

With the pessimistic outlook for the national economy, almost every team is cutting back on payroll. It also should send a message to free agents, like it is to some extent in baseball with more short term deals. The general explanation for shedding salary is an effort to make a score in free agency either this summer or next. But the dual purpose is to prepare for a possible reduction in ticket revenues, which many teams expect when renewal requests go out, generally in February.

So GM'sare seeking out teams well under the salary cap, like Oklahoma City and Memphis, and effectively paying them to take salary. It's what the Spurs had to do and it cost them Luis Scola. Recently, the Grizzlies did that with Houston and Miami so those teams could stay under the tax and add Dikembe Mutombo and perhaps Alonzo Mourning again in Miami. The Thunder is loading up on No. 1 draft picks, reminiscent of the Bulls' plan in 2000 when they accumulated six draft picks, three firsts. But as the Bulls found out then, the players aren't always there.

The Thunder have a nice wing nucleus with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook. They have some players with longer deals of interest who may be traded, like Earl Watson and Nick Collison. But they'll likely be demanding more No. 1 picks. Expect way more rumors than activity. As for Camby, the Clippers insist they are keeping him. And it makes some sense to combine with the play of Zach Randolph. My guess is they'll want to move Chris Kaman given he has three more years left after this one. I get Kaman trade scenarios all the time. But he's been out and supposedly is out for some time now, and I wouldn't invest quite yet in a player with so many mysterious injuries and such a long contract.

I appreciate some of the proposals to acquire Brad Miller from Sacramento. However, I have to say that sending any of our young prospects is not cost effective nor prudent. That's especially true if Gooden is the primary trading piece. You don't send out salary relief AND prospects to acquire a guy like Miller. Kaman? Perhaps. Although, I would be hesitant. But, certainly not for Miller. He's a 32 year old rental, at best. And, remember: If you're going to trade Gooden for anyone you are seriously jeopardizing any chance to sign Ben Gordon next year because doing so would undoubtedly put us into luxury tax. So, if you are going to trade Gooden and take back salary, you better be darn sure the player coming back is an impact player for years to come. E.G., Chris Kaman.

Kenneth

Sam: Exactly, and that's why trading is not as easy as it seems from the fantasy league view. You have to have a long range plan, and the best I can see is to be able to compete in 2010 for free agents. So if the Kings would take Hughes close to straight up as a way of getting Hawes more time, I'd be on board. But it's folly to throw in young talent. There has been much criticism of Noah, but he has something the Bulls don't have much of (insert joke here). He's seven foot or thereabouts. This Bulls roster is unusually height challenged and I wouldn't be throwing him in on a deal so quickly, especially for a short term guy. This may require some patience, which isn't in long supply these days.

Ok so he was hated by the media but the chances of the Bulls winning the last three championships would have been a lot harder without Dennis Rodman. In his career over 13 rebounds per game average. 2 All-Star Games, 2 Defensive Player of the Year Award, 7 All-Defensive 1st Team, 6-Time Offensive Rebound Leader, 3-Time Defensive Rebound Leader, 4-Time Total Rebound Leader, 7-Time Rebound Per Game Leader, and gosh no how many time Drag Queen Per Game Leader. At 6-7, 210 lbs. he should not have been able to do what he did.

Was it his off the court antics that will keep him away from The Hall of Fame? He should be there, he deserves to be there.

Adam

Sam: You make some reasonable points, though I don't see Dennis ever getting into the Hall of Fame, nor would I endorse it. He was hardly hated by the media as he was the media's favorite play toy and often would go out to clubs with reporters, which Dennis knew only enhanced his publicity opportunities. His rebounding run with the Pistons and Spurs was remarkable. But I'd demur on his role with the Bulls. I felt it could have been filled by any hard working power forward by then given his age and lack of jumping ability. Sure, he made a show of some episodes with Karl Malone, but Dennis missed 45 games those first two seasons with the Bulls and the Bulls has a better record when he didn't play than when he did. He also personally undermined the Spurs chances for a title with his playoff behavior involving Madonna and refusing to play at times. There are too many deserving players not in the Hall of Fame that I'd be loath to include someone like Rodman, not because of his publicity seeking ways, but as much the way he undermined as many teams as he supported with his behavior. And his game was too limited for me the way he mocked the offensive side. If there was a role player's hall of fame, I'd vote him in. His game was too one dimensional, though valuable.

I've had my ups and downs about Tyrus and obviously, right now I'm up. One thing I've always noticed about Tyrus is that when he is on the court that man gives 100 percent. He might be incredibly immature off of the court or even sitting on the bench but when he steps on the court he brings it hard. He makes stupid mistakes but he is young and I think he just plays way to fast. Tryus is never going to be KG, Duncan, Brand, Bosh, Horford or even LaMarcus Aldridge but he can be a 13-8-2 guy if he plays 30 minutes. His post man on man defense is pathetic but his help side defense is good and he's one legit guy the other team has to worry about when they throw something up there in the paint. If Bulls fans can accept that this is what Tryus is, he falls into a role as a solid contributor on a good team.

Brian

Sam: There's been this huge ambivalence about Tyrus, the hope that he'll be a great player and the disappointment he's not there all the time. He clearly struggled with Skiles, and he did come into the NBA very immature. He's been much better to deal with this season and I think more coachable. The Bulls had hoped he'd be like Amare Stoudemire, which isn't going to happen, as we can see. For someone so athletic, it's surprising to see how clumsy his offensive moves are. But he has a decent shooting stroke and is starting to regularly play the help side defense that is impressive. But there's one issue to consider long term: What is he? I've always felt when you draft you need players who can identify a position. Is Tyrus a power forward or small forward? Probably a power forward because he's best around the basket. But he's weak for that spot and perhaps a bit small. You get the sense he'd prefer to be a small forward, but he definitely can't guard that position or shoot well enough with range. So you need a big center with him and given Noah doesn't have offensive post moves, either, that's a problem to play both together. Gooden really is a four, so if he plays, where does Tyrus play? For right now, it's developing some consistency from Tyrus, which has been a positive.

I am getting a little bit more worried about the Bulls as the season goes along. Especially after they got dropped by the T'Wolves at home by 10 points (and made Kevin Love look like an All-Star in the process). The Bulls are starting to slide out of the playoff picture whereas earlier in the season it seemed inevitable they'd snatch up the 7th or 8th playoff spot. I know they are rebuilding around Rose—and from all I've seen this season he seems like the real deal and I'm glad Pax took him over Beasley—but don't you think it would be a good move to get a player or two that could help them into the playoffs this season? I mean they probably won't get a high pick in the draft lottery anyway and I just feel that playoff experience for Derrick would be very valuable this season and remember MJ went to the playoffs for several years in a row before accomplishing much. I know the organization is trying to find out who to keep and who to dump, but I feel that playing Thabo and Noah and Tyrus and Aaron Gray is really hurting their chances because they are all so inconsistent and Aaron Gray could be the slowest person in the history of BBall (he was slow against college competition at Pitt too). And with the injuries to Hinrich and Deng, it seems the Bulls could use a boost now and not later because, although the bottom of the Eastern Conference is weak, the Bulls might be out of the picture by the trading deadline with more losses like the one against Minnesota. Or is this season basically going down as a lost cause/rebuilding year?

Josh

Sam: Lots easier said than done. My guess is if they begin making moves it will be toward clearing cap space for 2009 or 2010, and then they'd be in lesser position to make the playoffs. I agree making the playoffs would be good and would help Rose in maturing that much more quickly, though it seems to me he's coming along very fast. Actually, I think the Bulls have done reasonably well in treading water with so many guys out and they'll have some nice depth and fresh legs when Deng and Hinrich return and they'll probably have a better chance of making the playoffs in the seventh or eighth spot if they don't make any moves this season. It's not a wasted season if you begin to put in places the pieces to move forward.

After yet another loss I was wondering if you thought that anyone on the current roster would start for any team that is over .500. I do not think so. I also wonder why the Bulls do not suspend Noah like Riley did to Walker a while back for poor conditioning. I do not think he will ever get good as he seems to not have a feel for the speed and power of the pro game (hand checking guards at the circle!?!... the endless moving picks!?!). However as he is paid to be ready to go I think I'd do everything to put a fire under him. I also think after three years the Thabo experiment is a flop. Again the speed of the game seems to allude him. I suspect that Tyrus' physical gifts will allow him to play at this level but not the other two. So what the heck kinda team is this to put on the floor? Makes me long for Wilbur Holland , Scott May, Mickey Johnson, Norm and Artis (with hammer Jack and Mengie and Olllie Johnson and Leon Benbow coming off the bench). I do not see this getting better even for next year.

Rob

Sam: Have faith. Really, Leon Benbow? Though that team with Artis, Mickey Johnson and Holland had the 77 champion Blazers beaten. Bill Walton always said that was the toughest team they played. Actually, I still don't see where Thabo has gotten a full chance and would like to see more regular play and see him shoot more. I'd also like to see a bit more of the Hughes attitude in him of not accepting being jerked around. I don't mean to be like Hughes, but you've got to stand up and fight for yourself sometimes. We all know in the workplace, the guy who lets himself get picked on and passed over continues to be. I know a lot of people are down on Deng, but he's a legit NBA starter. Hinrich would be on many teams and Gordon on some and certainly sixth man on even the best. The Bulls' biggest issue now is just that, a lack of NBA caliber size. I think that's why I get so much mail on Kaman and Okafor. I think people see the perimeter players and wonder what it would be like with one big man who could defend the post a bit and make a move and draw some inside attention.

I'm a brazilian Chicago Bulls fan. Should the Bulls try to steal Anderson Varejao from the Cavs? I believe the brazilian forward is doing for the Cavs what we expected Noah to do for the Bulls: bring energy, play with a lot of heart, rebound, defend, take charges and take proud for all of that. I know he's a undersized "big" man, he's not a scorer and he's not the answer for all our problems, but I believe he would be a nice piece in our team. With Varejao, Noce and Rose, at least we would play with more heart. He's also young, so he can be a part of the Bulls' future. And Varejao and the Cavs don't seen much interested in each other. Do you think Anderson Varejao would be too expensive for what he can bring to the Bulls?

George

Sam: Perhaps not too expensive, though you described the issue. The Bulls have tried that and still come up lacking. Yes, Varejao has been more effective than Noah thus far. But he plays too much the same kind of game and the Bulls could use a more well rounded big man. It seems like despite the holdout and bad feelings from last season, Varejao may well return to the Cavs given their good chance to get to the Finals this season.

I first want to preface this by saying that I think Ben Gordon is one of the most prolific scorers in Bulls history. I think he's underappreciated by the organization and even the fans sometimes. Re-signing him this summer is a must. With that said, he can't be a starting SG for a championship-caliber team. He simply cannot guard opposing two guards, and Rose isn't the Hinrich-type defender who can switch with Ben on defensive assignments.

He's having a career year, but our team defense has been truly awful. I'm afraid moving him back to the 6th man role would make him want to leave the team. Why can't his agent, or Paxson, or Vinny pull Ben aside and explain how valuable he being a 6th man can be to the team and to his career.

Think about it. If he becomes a permanent 6th man, he'll still get his minutes and shots, and he'll win the award nearly every year. He would enter the record books for winning the award so many times. He would win it so many times that they would probably re-name the trophy after him. He'd make a name for himself for being a legendary 6th man and who knows, with a championship or two, the role may punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame or, at the very least, to the UC rafters.

James

Sam: Now you know why it's so difficult to be a general manager. You know what's right for the player. And he doesn't. You can believe the Bulls have explained this to Ben, virtually begged him to understand for several years. Skiles talked to him about this as well. Ben is stubborn and confident. He's decided what's best for him and doesn't want to hear anything else. He's doing it his way, and we'll all find out soon whether he was right. But trust me, the Bulls and Ben and his representatives have had this conversation many times.

You've mentioned a couple of times that Caron Butler is unhappy in Washington and may welcome a trade. Is there any sort of reasonable package the bulls might put together to get him? You said the Wizards might be interested in Hughes, so maybe a deal built around the two of them? Maybe we can take some bad contracts from them like Songaila and Etan Thomas and give them Gooden along with Hughes? That would give us a good second banana for rose in Butler and it would put the Wizards in a much better position to be under the cap in 2010 to see if anyone wants to come play with Arenas and Jamison. A run and gun kind of lineup of Rose, Gordon, Butler, Deng, and either Noah or Tyrus seems pretty good to me, and if we can get Kaman or a real center for Hinrich or Nocioni then all the better. Is there anything there?

Kevin

Sam: Butler has proven a better player than I thought he would be given some knee injuries he's had. But the Wizards are about done for the season and it makes little sense now for them to break it up. The Wizards are convinced they need to give it one run with their big three, so it's more likely they'll just wait out the season. Only if Butler demands a deal could anything potentially happen. As for Hughes, they were only interested early in the season when they still thought they might be able to do something until Arenas returned. That's over with.

First, I do not understand why chicago's fans hate Noah so much? Has he ate their soup? But he wasn't suppose to be a superstar, very far from it. This is only is second year and, if he hasn't be professional at times, he works and try to do his best. What about his teammates? They are not even able to be respected in this league.

jean jacques

Sam: Jambalaya! Just an old Seinfeld Soup Nazi reference. Sorry. Noah has been an interesting story because to me he's the poster child for doing it the wrong way. It's so easy to be liked by the public and media, especially in Chicago, which isn't generally the toughest media market. Hustle and say a few words. Noah was supposed to be only a hustler, so that should have worked. Though even his own talk of being out of shape still has hurt him. He also overreacted to some innocent media incidents and actually imposed a media boycott of his own for part of last season and made a point not to speak with English speaking reporters. I speak at the NBA rookie orientation at times, and my one message in the media talk is this will be the best years of your life, so don't mess it up by getting into petty fights with the media. Spend 10 minutes a day being pleasant and no one will ever bother you. Athletes know Chicagoans want to embrace their sports heroes. Noah, for whatever reason, couldn't have been more remote and cold when he came, declining to answer the most mundane inquiries. You can pull that off if you are a great player. If you play great, no one can say anything. If you don't, and the team loses as well, then you become a target. Noah made himself one for no reason I can figure out since all the Bulls people were saying how great it would be to have him around because he had interests in so many topics other than basketball. I hope for his own sake he loosens up and can enjoy the rest of his career.

Who wins in one on one, Wilt or MJ, and why?

Scott

Sam: Wilt. It's a big man's game, in the end, at least when you compare great ones. Michael always took it seriously. If Wilt did, and that was his biggest issue with the basketball aficionados, he'd back Michael in and dunk every time. Michael would have to get the ball and make every jumper to win. I don't think Wilt would miss once he got the ball. Of course, Michael might not miss.

You proposed, quite a few times, that the Bulls should go for Dwyane Wade in 2010. It would be great to bring a player of Wade's caliber but is he the real answer to our team? Both Wade and Rose are players who must have the ball in their hands to be successfull. Since Wade will be the undisputed star in the team, do you think that it will affect Rose's game? At the same time, the problem in the paint will remain unsolved. We will remain a perimeter oriented team. I was wondering whether it would be better to pursue Amare or Bosh in order to establish an inside/outside game at last.

George

Sam: It's great to have a top big man, but there's two reasons I've focused on Wade. One is I believe he's the most gettable, as it were. I think he would like to return to his native Chicago and make that his base. Of all the potential free agents, I think he's the most likely to find Chicago appealing. And no matter what position they play, stars find a way. You put stars together no matter their skills and it will work. Rose is the kind of player who would be ideal because he has a sense of what's needed of him and doesn't need to be in the spotlight. And then if you have Wade and Rose, I would think some big man will want to come your way. That would be my plan No. 1.

Why are the Bulls teeter-tottering with the idea of resigning Ben Gordon? Are they blind? We have had a small backcourt for several years and its gotten us nowhere. We need a tall shooting guard who can defend. Ben Gordon is a huge defensive liabilty. Everyone talks about how he scores 20+ a game but nobody references the fact that he gives up 20+ a game. That to me is a wash. I feel that we need to try acquire a shooting guard that has the ability to play defense and score solid points. Overall I think this need needs a facelift. I like Deng, if he can stay away from injuries and I like Rose, but thats it. What is the possibility of us seeing a trade before the deadline?

Eric

Sam: That is the issue with Ben. He's not the classic shooting guard, obviously, but he gets those 20 points. And it's not like the Bulls have a lot of other places to go for them without him. Thus it's why I don't believe they've fully made up their minds yet about what they are going to do or even want to do regarding Ben after this season. After all, Hughes isn't an option to move forward with and Hinrich isn't your classic shooting guard. And if they do make a deal, Hinrich is probably their most valuable piece to get something, and then you'd still need a backup point. So you can't be too quick to move him. I've said all along I see the Bulls doing something, but I wouldn't be shocked if they didn't and elected to wait until summer when there's more maneuverability with the draft.

Hope your New Year's Eve went well and was arrest-free. I read on a Sacramento site NOT involving Brad Miller for once. The particulars:

Sacramento gets:
G Larry Hughes
F/C Joakim Noah

Chicago gets:
C Spencer Hawes
F Sheldon Williams
F Kenny Thomas

Do you think this holds any water? Apparently Sacramento's GM has always been a fan of Noah's. Hawes is a decent low post scorer, but he seems to be too similar to Gray. Williams and Thomas would be cap fillers that come off the books quickly. Not so sure if this would be the best deal for the Bulls, it would be nice to move Hughes and Noah only if Noah continues being a pain behind the scenes.

Josh

Sam: Wishing everyone an arrest free New Year. Sounds like a replacement for auld lang syne. This essentially is Noah for Hawes. I think the Bulls probably would trade out Thomas for Hughes. But I doubt they'd go for Hawes given his injury history which was a red flag before that draft. I believe they were convinced then he'd have issues and as he's been in and out of the lineup his two seasons, it doesn't seem they were mistaken.

What is Tyrus wearing on his top front teeth these days? From my TV, it looks like it might be a Bulls logo across his front two teeth, but I don't understand why. It looks too small to be a mouth guard.

Cameron

Sam: Actually, it is a mouthpiece, but one with color. Though that's a heck of an idea for the Bulls logo and I'll suggest it to Tyrus. Maybe Hughes and Noah as well.

Is it true that Omer Asik (Bulls 2nd round pick) has been hanging around the Berto Center lately after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in July which resulted in him having to sit out the Turkish league season? What is the latest you have heard regarding Omer's injury and future potential?

Kevin

Sam: He did have a knee injury and wasn't able to play. But he has been around the Berto Center of late working with the team's strength coaches. The Bulls tell me they really like him and think he'll be a surprise and impressive. We can only hope.

I know that you've already brought up the possiblitiy of Dalembert. I read in an ESPN chat today that Philly would do anything to get rid of Dalembert's contract. Can't we just trade Hughes for Dalembert straight-up?

Jason

Sam: That would stretch the meaning of the word anything. Plus, why do you think they may want to get rid of him? Because he is making eight figures and can't score eight points? I don't quite see that as the answer to many Bulls issues.

I heard a rumor circulating that Noce was quoted last night after the loss as saying, "I don't fit in with this team anymore." Is there any truth to this? And if so, how long before he gets the boot? In my opinion, Nocioni and Rose are the only two (maybe Drew Gooden) who look like they want to be out there every night.

Blake

Sam: I checked later about the game you referred to and couldn't find out anything for sure. I was told Noce had only spoken with international reporters after that game. But you do get the sense this season Noce is a guy suffering burnout with the Bulls. He's been unusually frustrated with the team's play and his own and last week engaged in that little oral dustup with Noah. He's been frustrated often in postgame comments. These tend to be classic signs of burnout, and I know I felt some myself in my last months at the tribune when the frustration would boil over and it was tough keeping it in. Noce is a valuable player and one in demand around the league. He and the Bulls may have run their course, though I'd hate to see him leave as in addition to his spirited play he's one of the friendliest players on the team and always makes a point to say hello to people while many of the guys just walk on by. Plus, he's got a wonderfully puckish sense of humor and would be missed in the locker room.