Go To:
  • ALT+A Toggle Accessibility Menu
  • ALT+H Home
  • ALT+1 Navigation
  • ALT+2 Main Content
  • ALT+3 Footer

Ask Sam | 02.05.10

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

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 read a piece suggesting the Bulls should consider something along the lines of Hinrich + Tyrus + Jerome James for Ray Allen and filler. It was merely speculation, not a rumor, but it seems great for both teams. The Celts get younger, a second ball handler/defender, and Tyrus, who can give them some energy (maybe). In return, the Bulls get a monster expiring contract and in addition, Allen will help this year because he will space the floor for Rose and be able to knock down some open 3s. Think the Bulls are looking into something like this?

Jonathan Chester

Sam: This was the question du jour. Actually, it was for the week, but I’ll have to ask Noah to expand my French. There’s an old saying about investing or buying: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. OK, let’s see: The Bulls move Kirk Hinrich, who has played well, maybe John Salmons, whom they wouldn’t mind moving for cap room for the summer to sign a free agent, and Jerome James, who doesn’t play, or Tyrus Thomas, who has fallen behind a rookie in the rotation, and get not only so much cap room they have enough to sign a max free agent this summer and maybe someone else, plus they get a likely Hall of Fame shooting guard, one of the great shooters of all time in the NBA who still is shooting better than all the players you named even in one of his poorest season and averaging about 16 points, more than any of the guys the Celtics will be getting back. And Boston gives up its Big Three who won a championship for them in 2008 without even letting them try one last run and substantial cap room and money savings for a point guard who wouldn’t play ahead of Rondo. Yeah, that sure makes sense for them. Yes, the Celtics would like Hinrich. And they’ll give the Bulls Allen: Tony Allen. They might even throw in Brian Scalabrine to facilitate the deal if the Bulls also gave them a No. 1 draft pick.

I read a rumor that has Boston sending us Ray Allen for Hinrich and Salmons. Would the Celtics be crazy enough to do that deal? Please tell me this is legit.

Adam Schechner

Sam: It is not. It is a fiction made up by a writer, and in this internet world what happens is the writer for ESPN who made it up decided it looked good to him. He never as far as I know said it’s been discussed. If he did, it’s wrong. It hasn’t been. It’s interesting because I wondered if things might have changed when word initially came out that Paul Pierce had broken his leg and would be out for the season. Actually, I thought it was even less likely then that the Celts would make a short-term deal for someone like Hinrich who might help them make a last run with this group. If Pierce were out, and who knows what his health really is now given how much the Celts hide about injuries, you’d assume they’d deal Allen to break it up and go for young players and the future. So Pierce is due back soon and you figure that means they’ll make one more run with this group. The sense is they’ll want to keep Ray Allen and add a piece like Hinrich. I don’t see how it helps them to lose Ray Allen for someone like Hinrich, especially because Hinrich has a long deal and at his age doesn’t project in a rebuilding or really even as a starter for Boston. Plus, with that expiring deal and his skill Ray Allen might be the most valuable expiring deal in the NBA.

I've enjoyed your articles over the years, especially the trade scenarios, but they seem to be far and few between these days. Are you semi-retired now, or does the front office keep you tied up in a closet with a ball gag in your mouth? I'd like to hear your take on the current state of the team, and what possible trades could and should pull off before the deadline. Not only with the Bulls, but around the league too.

Michael Volpone

Sam: You are observant in that I have not offered as many. But I haven’t because I like to make them realistic. When I was doing more of that in previous years it was because I could see the Bulls did not have a true star and needed to make changes to get one. Now they do in Rose, and Noah is a vital piece you wouldn’t want to trade and even already some are saying he could be an All-Star now. Plus, this season has been more about next season, meaning it’s about being conservative to obtain cap room to go after a free agent. I mostly agree with the strategy, though I have suggested if you could get someone whom you want now I’d prefer that. I’ve mentioned scenarios for Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson, though I doubt either is being traded, and you’re probably right to wait and not give up anything and get one as a free agent after the season. I’ve offered scenarios for Carlos Boozer early in the season as a rental, and again with Paul Millsap playing well I’ve brought that up. But it’s also difficult to deal long contracts now because of the fear of a lockout in 2011 and so many teams trying to dump contracts for either 2010 free agency or so many teams now for sale or losing tens of millions of dollars annually. But I’ve got a few more to propose and have, so keep an eye on my Monday NBA column.

ESPN wrote today in their "most-likely" to be traded insider column that if the Bulls can move salmons and kirk, they'd be able to make a pitch to Lebron AND Bosh. They then ask if we can imagine a team of bron, bosh, drose, deng, and noah. Obviously, my head was spinning. Bill Simmons even tweeted a made-up three way trade involving the Bulls, celtics, and sacremento that included deng with a followup tweet saying Bulls management should be trying for a super-team that included bron, bosh, AND joe johnson. CHI gets R.Allen/House expirings (2010 cap space!); SAC gets Deng + T.Allen/Scal exp's; BOS gets K.Martin, Nocioni + Hinrich. Who says no? When I regained consciousness, I remembered all the times our old friend sam smith has written that clearing enough space for even ONE max guy will be really tough. Now, I trust you over those sensationalistic national guys. You're the Voice of Reason here. Forget the odds of actually woo-ing one of these big names to the house that michael built. What are the odds the Bulls can even clear enough cap space for one or two or three max deals?

Jack Murphy

Sam: And to think I was the guy everyone used to yell at for all those speculative trades. I still enjoy them, though, as I said, I always practiced reason and sensibility, even if many doubted that. No one knows the exact cap number for next summer as it’s based on this season’s revenue. Most have been using $53 million. Most have been using $16 million or $16.5 million for one max deal. Which means you have to have committed payroll for 2010-11 at, say, $37 million or less for one max free agent, and then at $21 million or less for two max free agents. Three would mean you’d basically have no one on your roster but nine Aaron Grays. So let’s look at who will be here: Rose $5.55 million, Noah $3.13 million, Gibson, $1.12 million, Johnson (good luck dealing that) $1.71 million. That’s $11.5 million. Unless you trade your draft pick, that’s on your cap. We’ll say $1.5 million. Now you’re up to $13 million. Your roster also always has to have 12 spots occupied. So if you don’t have players, you put in what’s called “cap holds’ at about $500,000 each. You deduct them as you add players and insert their salary. So with four players, you have eight cap holds worth a total of about $4 million. Now you’re up to $17 million. Currently, the Bulls have Deng, Hinrich, Tyrus and Salmons at a combined $32 million. So, they have to move one to get below and then could renounce Tyrus. That would be enough for one free agent. So they’d also have to move Deng and Hinrich for expiring deals to get to two free agents. So it is technically possible. The reality is the majority of teams now are trying to shed contracts for both the 2010 free agency and the pending new labor deal in 2011, which should change the maximum amounts and lengths of contracts. So virtually no one is taking on long term deals, especially for expiring deals. Say you wanted to take the risk the Cavs won’t reach the Finals and LeBron will leave and Bosh won’t join Wade in Miami or go somewhere else and you can get teams to take three big contracts for next season and beyond. You’d obviously give up this season and could lose 10 in a row. And then how great do you look for free agents as a destination with 32 wins? And if those guys don’t come, now you bring in the likes of David Lee and Anthony Morrow to join Derrick Rose and it’s Ron Mercer/2000 all over again, a bad team being rebuffed. And now you’re the Knicks. And how long does Rose stick around? I’m guessing the reality is the Bulls have a chance to move one expiring deal for not much to get enough for one max contract and then hope they are good enough to still draw interest. Boston, by the way, in that deal, would have a payroll of $100 million or more in 2011-12, paying probably a $50 million or $75 million luxury tax with Kevin Garnett with artificial knees by then and probably be bankrupt.

Not too sure how familiar you are with Bill Simmons, but he seems to be a some what intelligent guy who follows the NBA closely. Anyway, here is what he just posted on his Twitter account: If I'm running the Bulls, my goal is a 2011 superteam (Noah, Bosh, LeBron, Rose, Joe Johnson). Gotta move Hinrich/Deng. I know you have addressed this general idea a couple of times, but what are your thoughts on this stuff? Obviously this "superteam" idea is a little ridiculous, but the idea of getting at least 2 of them? Even if they come out of it for the most part empty handed, they can still rebuild around Rose. A team of Rose, Deng, Gordon, Hinrich, Thomas, and Noah was never going to win a championship anyway.

James Knebel

Sam: He’s getting into my columns a lot now. He’s stolen my trade gimmick. I do find it interesting he’s become so interested in improving the Bulls. I’m sure the Bulls are grateful. Actually, I’m pleased that someone over at ESPN finally has a passion for the NBA. They have all these long football and baseball TV shows and do so little real depth on the NBA. So maybe they’ll move him to TV. He’s a funny guy with a passion for the NBA, but as far as I can tell—and I think he prides himself on that—he’s more a fan and fantasy guy and doesn’t do any real reporting or talk to guys around the NBA. I know you can be smart without doing that, and dumb even when you do that, as evidenced by a lot of stuff you read from “experts.” It would be a fun team to cover, but I cannot see any realistic scenario that both has multiples of those players coming to the Bulls and the Bulls able to provide the space to make it possible. But I guess it is fun to stop dreaming, and when you do you only wake up to reality, which isn’t always as much fun.

Just watched the Cavs-Heat game. Wade is the Heat's best perimeter defender. Lebron probably is the Cavs'. Lebron has no trouble switching onto Wade if need be, but Wade can't check Lebron because he's 6'3" whereas Lebron's 6'9". My thought is: if you want to compete in the East for the next ten years, I mean make the finals and all that, you have to have a perimeter defender who can lockdown Lebron .Who in the East has that? The Heat sure don't. The Celtics do, but Pierce is so old. Same with Toronto and Turk. The Hawks with Smith/Harrison/Joe Johnson sure. What about the Bulls? Is Lu an all-Defensive team pick? Maybe not. But he can defend and match Lebron for size and Lebron's not likely to explode for 50 on him. 27, sure, but not 50. Furthermore, the Bulls are a team built on solid, team-first players who won't make an All-Star team (except D.Rose) but will play at a high level. If Wade is serious about a title, he'll come to Chicago. Even if the Heat can sign Bosh, they won't be able to compete with the Cavs. Not if they don't have a perimeter guy who can check Lebron. The Bulls can. The only way for anyone but the Cavs to reach the Finals for the next five years (at least) is if D.Wade comes to Chicago.??

Chris Corlew

Sam: Perhaps you can advise Wade of this. I believe that’s the Bulls’ hope, and the way the Heat is in decline and Wade maybe having a feeling of betrayal from Pat Riley, many I talk to around the NBA are now feeling that Wade would/should/could leave just because he’s so fed up with the way Miami has wasted his last two years in his prime. Though no one around Chicago likes to say this, there are no matchups for LeBron, which is why in the end if he gets those titles he may be viewed as the best ever. Jordan, after all, could be guarded in the sense you had someone in size to match him. There’s no one ever who’s in size who’s played basketball who can match LeBron. He’s the size of Karl Malone. He’s just a remarkable physical specimen, like nothing we’ve ever seen. I recall last season LeBron having back to back 40 point nights on the Bulls. Maybe a younger Artest who’s physical could disrupt him some, but there’s no one in the game today who can play him. It will be intriguing to know Wade’s thought process.

The more i hear about (trades), the more i think we're better off where we're at right now. It looks like Dwayne, and Lebron aren't going anywhere, and even if they do it wont be the windy city. Even though Bosh won't stay in Toronto i still think the chances of him coming to chicago are slim. I originally liked the idea of Amare coming here....but the more i think about it, the more it doesnt make sense. Even though the Bulls are young, it seems everyone meshes perfectly. And i know in order for us to pull a big free agent we're going to have to relieve some cap space, but who can we get rid of without affecting the team? I think kirk hinrich is very underappreciated as a bull. Do you think the Bulls are playing well enough now to just make a few minor deals and not break up the chemistry?

Russell Denton

Sam: I got a few like this when the Bulls were winning those five straight out west. I haven’t gotten many this week. You can never make the mistake of thinking too much of a winning streak or a losing streak when you are a .500 team. Or not a championship contender. The Bulls made that mistake once. They won’t make it again. They overvalued what they had a few years back when they won 49 games and made the second round of the playoffs. They looked at good players and felt they were All-Stars and were reluctant to make moves. The result was another rebuilding, or getting lucky with Derrick Rose. They know they aren’t good enough now and don’t have enough talent and I believe they are open to many moves and should be.

I really don't understand why you keep saying Kirk Hinrich would cost the Lakers, in effect, $18 million. I understand that it would if they were to add his salary without getting rid of any salary, but obviously they would be sending out salary in making that deal. If the deal that made the most sense was completed (Morrison, Farmar, Mbenga [$8, 163, 580 in total salary] for Hinrich [$9.5 million,] wouldn't that be only a difference of $1.3 million in salary (and prorated at that, so cut that in half) and then another $1.3 million in luxury tax.? So, wouldn't Kirk only cost them an extra $2 million this season? And with Fisher expiring at the end of the year and the Lakers then filling that starting spot with Kirk, it doesn't seem like it would cost them that much next year either. I just don't think the $18 million figure accurately represents the chances of a trade occurring. Or am I missing something?

Greg Feltes

Sam: You are missing a little, and I can be a bit high as there is that cost of money formula as the Lakers will have to add a point guard after all their point guard contracts for Fisher and Farmar expire. The point is Kirk makes $9 million next year, and as the Lakers are in the luxury tax that doubles to $18 million. They have Brown under contract as their backup point, so you figure they bring back, say, Fisher for $2 million or $3 million. Then the cost for someone like Hinrich is $18 million less $4 million or $6 million, but at least $12 million. It’s still an extraordinary expenditure for a player who wouldn’t be among their five best players. Everything I’ve heard about the Lakers has been around trying to dump the contract of Walton or Vujacic and pick up a cheap point guard.

I was looking at the roster from the championship teams the six years the Bulls won. Since I only followed the last two (I was too young the years before) I will direct my question to them. Is it just me or that roster was really weak for a championship team? I mean, other than Jordan and Pippen everyone else was a one dimensional player, or not even that! Harper was a good defender, Kerr could shoot, Kukoc was a good scorer, Rodman was a great rebounder e defender and Longley must have been the worst starting center ever to win a championship! And on top of that the bench was terrible! Scott Burrell? Jud Buechler? Bill Wennington? And honestly as much as I like Pippen I think he would have never been considered a great player if he didn't play with MJ. All that makes me admire MJ even more every time I think of it.

Andre Klun

Sam: I happen to agree, though it’s often heresy to mention it in Chicago and I always read so called experts who call the 95-96 Bulls the greatest ever. They had the best record ever, but the competition had fallen to woefully limited levels. The 90’s were a declining era for the NBA in talent, and the Knicks-Rockets and Rockets-Magic series in ‘94 and ‘95 demonstrate that. I’ve always thought the first three championship teams all were better than any of the last three, primarily because Jordan and Pippen were younger and playing at so much higher a level. Jordan didn’t have anywhere near the explosiveness when he returned in 1995. He was smart and tough and still the best in the game, but Iverson could cross him over. No one could in 91 or 92. Cartwright was far better than Longley and Grant was way better than Rodman, who was a circus act and well past his high athletic ability when the Bulls got him. How come if he was so great he could barely even play in the NBA after he left the Bulls? Pippen was a shadow of himself and could barely jump after leaving the Bulls. Jordan was magnificent and dragged along a team to amazing heights against less than amazing competition. For pure talent and ability, everyone including Jordan and Pippen was way better in 91 and 92.

Why isn't there more talk about the Bulls going after Camby? Couldn't we package jerome james and a valuable piece such as kirk, ty, or salmons for him? We could end up with the same larger expiring deal that jerome james is, except a high level player in camby, while shedding salary to get us where we need to be for summer 2010.

Doug Levin

Sam: There’s not more talk because Camby is one of the most sought after players in the league, an all defensive player with a $9 million expiring deal. Let’s see Kirk, Salmons, Tyrus? The Clippers are said to be looking at the likes of someone like Rudy Gay if they even decide to deal Camby. They believe they could get a near All-Star level starter given Camby’s value with the expiring deal. Short of that they’d keep the expiring contract and then have enough to make a free agent a max offer given they can get so far under the cap. So they’re going to take the guys the Bulls would need to move to get under the cap so then they wouldn’t be under the cap and in competition with the Bulls for LeBron or Bosh or Wade or Joe Johnson? And with Blake Griffin, Camby, Baron Davis, Eric Gordon—and in L.A.-- and the guys who beat the Bulls Tuesday, the Clippers believe they will be a serious destination for top free agents. Yeah, better to get a backup three like Salmons and forget all that.

Why aren’t we seriously looking at D. Lee??? Dude is a stud and I personally think he will be better than Amare. He can score inside and out, is a rebounding machine (him and Noah, wow), plays D and never takes a play off. I believe he and Noah would be a very formidable front court. Also, you can probably get him cheaper then Amare which would give us more flexibility to add other pieces.

Ramon Morales

Sam: I assume the Bulls are, though more for this summer in case they strike out on the big names. I am not quite the fan you are. He’s OK, but hasn’t done much to affect winning in his career, is smallish for his position, doesn’t jump much and isn’t a very good defender. He does run a good pick and roll and has learned to shoot a short jumper. He’d be OK with Noah as he could step out and shoot, but I’ve never seen him impact the game much. You want those kinds of players if you can get them. If you can’t, you go for someone like Lee. There’s no point to giving up players to get him now as you can sign him after the season without it costing you anything.

Trade/free agent chatter going around now has the Bulls as a legit contender to pick up one of the max players. A select few in the media have even gone so far as to begin wagering that either Lebron or Wade ends up in Chicago this summer. But it feels far more likely that we'll end up with Bosh or Joe Johnson (and won't they get mauled by the public if they don't end up with one of these four?!). Discussing this with my father, he raised the issue of a thin frontcourt if we have to give up Thomas and MIller for salary cap reasons and pick up a guard. I think Johnson is a better option than Bosh, but how do you see going with a guard in that situation affecting the interior defense off the bench? I looked at the standings and noticed that Bosh's Raptors have a better record than the Bulls. What does that do to the likelihood of a Bosh trade before the deadline? With the team rising in the standings do they think they can convince him to stay?

Greg Malen

Sam: They may not be able to convince him to stay, but I also doubt they’ll trade him. I doubt any of the bigger names are dealt, though Stoudemire remains possible, I’d say. Maybe Kevin Martin. The reason, in part, is the White Sox experience, the so called White Flag trade. When you do that—and I wasn’t that opposed at the time as I didn’t think much of the players they were dealing and didn’t think they could win—it can stay with you for years and haunt your franchise. It’s awfully tough to pull the trigger in the NBA on your best player, even if you think you will lose him, when you still have a chance to do something. The Grizzlies have come back some, but they were ridiculed for the Pau trade and alienated their fan base for several years. You try to run it out, maybe get lucky in the playoffs and maybe the guy stays. If not you tried and it’s not like you gave up. Your fans hate that the most, so I cannot see Bosh or Joe Johnson or any of those big guys really being given away.

As a Bulls fan living in Phoenix I am somewhat alarmed at the talk I've heard from Chicago about the Bulls trading for Stoudemire, unless it is simply for an expiring contract. I can tell you that the opinion that hardcore Suns fans I know have of Stoudemire is nothing like the aura he seems to have among some fans around the league. I know Suns fans who just hate him and would take anything to get him off the team. One friend told me he will spend some time during a game just focusing on Stoudemire. What he sees is a guy who doesn't play defense, doesn't get rebounds, just floats around showing little interest or effort. At some point he will get the ball, do some monster dunk, strut around like Superman for a few moments, then go back to showing little effort or interest. And this is a player who is about to become a free agent. And then there are the injuries.

Bill Kopta

Sam: Like a lot of pretty girls (and handsome boys), often it looks better from afar. Until, say, you are living together. I know local fans can get upset with a top player when the team disappoints, as the Suns have in recent years, and overreact. But it seems to me a huge risk to take on Stoudemire given his injuries and passive play when he’s not dunking. It’s probably why the Suns aren’t getting offered much. It’s a tough decision for them, and I assume if they don’t get a good offer they have to keep him and worry about it later.

Can you tell me what's going on with T-Mac, is he working out? getting into a solid game form? Second question is this: if this trade actually happens, and T-Mac wants to stay here.Can we still bring another superstar next year?

Ori Anshel

Sam: Oh, yeah, McGrady. He’s still out there, actually here. He’s basically been in Chicago for a year now rehabbing and working out. He could have come here in 2000 when he stood up the city in free agency. Would his life have been better? Would the Bulls have been better? Would Tim Floyd still be coach? Nah. Though he says he’ll be able to play, no one really expects it. McGrady will try to prove himself after this season and likely sign a small or short term contract, so it wouldn’t much affect anyone’s free agency. I doubt the Bulls have any interest in McGrady, and I think the Rockets are overvaluing his $22 million expiring deal. They think they can parlay it into someone like Bosh or Iguodala at the trade deadline, and I don’t see it. Maybe they let it expire and try to make a bid for Bosh, which is said to be their hope. For now, McGrady’s ability to play at all remains a mystery.

With Chris Paul out for a month or two, do you see the Hornets ready to unload? I think David West would be a great addition for a team looking for playoff success. Also, I couldn't help but noticing that Kevin Durant is unbelievably good. I know LeBron is seemingly running away with the MVP race, but is it possible Durant is more valuable to the potentially-playoff-bound Thunder?

Vinnie Duber

Sam: The Hornets remain in everyone’s sights now because they clearly are done for the season without Paul and have financial issues. But they make some trades you never can figure, like taking on all that money for Okafor. A lot of teams will feel it’s open season on West now, though if I were them I’d insist you take Okafor. As for Durant, just being mentioned with LeBron is remarkable and tearing the hearts out of everyone in Portland. When I was at summer league, I quoted some gms saying Durant could be as good and it seemed a shock then. It doesn’t now, but with Kobe’s litany of injuries and the Cavs so hot, LeBron will run away with the MVP vote. You have to be with a team with a much better record than the Thunder to get serious consideration.

I just watched the last bit of the Bulls-pacers eastern conference finals game 7, which I think has to be my favorite MJ game of all time. If Rik Smits had controlled that jump ball like he should have and cut the Bulls' dynasty short, what would the negative impact on MJ's legacy be like? 'm sure he'd still be considered the greatest, but it's something that would always be brought up, right?

Jack Murphy

Sam: Larry Bird, then Pacers coach, still talks about that as the turning point and believes to this day had they gotten the ball they would have won. It is an interesting question regarding Jordan as a big part of the mystique was the invincibility: When he had to win he did. That seems to separate him. Had the Bulls lost one of those titles or in that case not made it to the Finals, and the way Jordan’s career ended in Washington, I don’t think there would be such unanimity on him being the ultimate greatest in the game.

Do you know anything about Omer Asik joining the team after the season? From what I hear, which is not much, he is a decent center with some ability.

Daniel George

Sam: I’m told he’ll be with the team next season and I know the Bulls are high on him. I need to see someone actually play first to agree, and he’s had two major injuries in the last two years, so he hasn’t played much. That isn’t a great sign, but neither was said to be injuries that would impact his career. I’ve talked to some international scouts who’ve said nice things about him as a big guy who runs the court well and can defend, which sounds like a good backup center. But we’ll see as the Bulls history with international players hasn’t been stunning.

Who is there to question Vinny's decision to Start Taj over Thomas? Thomas loses his starting spot to a rookie because of injury.... yet when said rookie misses two straight practices and has been having foot problems he still starts over a healthy Thomas. BTW, Thomas had more points and rebounds in less minutes. There is something to this situation other than the 5 game winning streak.

Jon Tranz

Sam: Yes, there is. Vinny wants Tyrus to earn is way back into the starting lineup with defense, aggressive play and running the floor and competing regularly and he doesn’t believe Tyrus has or tries all that much. As for the 9 and 9, he made a third of that in the last two minutes in garbage time. It’s not great for Tyrus’ value if the team is looking to trade him, but I can understand Vinny’s position. He’s fighting for his job as well and wins, and Taj gives him an effort all the time and he knows what he can count on. Tyrus is way more talented and way more capable than Gibson of huge games, scoring, blocking shots and rebounding. But as we’ve seen for years here you don’t get it from Tyrus on any regular basis. A coach has to go with whom he trusts and whom he can count on. The test of a real NBA regular is consistency and giving the team something you can count on every game. You never know what Tyrus will do, when he will feel like playing and what attitude he’ll come out with. If Tyrus could be the Tyrus we saw when he first came back from injury in late December, even for every other game, I have no doubt Vinny would be starting him. Vinny is trying to win as many games as he can and not holding any grudges that will hurt him. Trust me. He wants Tyrus to succeed even more than Tyrus wants for himself. Taj has given him a better chance to win games, and still does. That said, I would have started Tyrus Wednesday in Philadelphia because Taj was a bad matchup for Elton Brand, who was much stronger. You have to play size against Brand to have success, and the Bulls should have used Noah or gone with Tyrus if you wanted Noah on Dalembert. It wouldn’t have to be a demotion, but maybe you see how Tyrus responds. He’ll get more time now, I assume, with Noah out until the All-Star break and Taj with his own plantar fasciitis. I am not opposed to taking a look at Tyrus back starting, but Tyrus wears out coaches, as we saw with Skiles.

Until you've actually had plantar fasciitis, it's hard to relate to just how painful the injury can be. I got a bad case of it. If I even moved my foot I'd get a painful twinge. I went to a podiatrist and he stuck a 4" needle right through my heel and gave me a cortisone shot and told me to stay off my feet as much as I could for two weeks. It worked! The reason I relate all this to you is because the best cure (aside from staying off your feet of course), for plantar fasciitis is to have custom made orthodics for your shoes. It doesn't matter if they are basketball shoes or not. You see, most peoples legs are not exactly the same length, and that causes a slight (usually indistinguishable), gate in your walk/run that leads to the injury. While I would hope that the Bulls doctors know this, it's still worth mentioning next time you're around the locker room.

Jack Lucas

Sam: I rarely offer medical advice other than when I start a conversation with something like, “Did you hear and the doctor and the nurse…” The Bulls have a top medical staff and I’m quite sure they have covered every eventuality. They actually have given me informal advice several times, mostly to the extent that I should sit more. The Bulls have shut down Noah now until after the All-Star break, so hopefully he has as much good fortune as you did.

Do you think Jay Williams would have become a really good player? I was just looking back at his numbers, and they are awful. But I thought I remembered him looking really good, guess that is my hazy memory? I did remember the triple double against Jason Kidd though.

Michael Koltun

Sam: It’s a good what if. He didn’t have a very good rookie season, though that was an awful team badly coached. So he really didn’t get a fair look. He had some issues relating coming from Duke, where some of their players come in thinking their laundry doesn’t smell. The biggest issue was his shooting, which was poor. He looked better than Rondo, but not as good as Rose. It looked like he could improve, and he did have that triple double against Kidd. So there was something there. He probably would not have been as good as the No.2 overall pick, but certainly would have been a solid NBA player if not for the motorcycle accident. It hurt the Bulls because at the least point guards are valuable and he would have been worth something in trade.

I was wondering if you think that Rose or the Bulls will use his All-Star weekend appearance as a recruiting trip, not openly of course. But do you think guys like Bosh, D-Wade & LeBron may be feeling out Rose in the locker room and during the game that weekend to get to know him better as a person and see if he could be the guy that they might want to play with? Also, not sure if this is far fetched or even legal, but do you think the Bulls will say anything to Derrick in terms of how to act around these guys or to say anything to them?

Phil McGovern

Sam: I am quite sure the Bulls will not—nor should they—give Rose any advice or instructions. The players know who Rose is from summer games and camps and shoe company trips and they watch games as well. It’s good for the Bulls to have someone there as it helps legitimize the franchise as one with serious talent. Beyond that, you just hope he returns not too tired for the rest of the season and not committed to any Mark Cuban game shows.

I was thinking about Isiah's Pistons as a team built around a star point guard and if that would be a good guide in how the Bulls should build a team around Rose and noticed some similarities between the old Piston teams and the current Bulls team. Obviously Rose is the centerpiece point guard just like Isiah was. Hinrich is a good defender that can also fill in at point guard though a bit undersized for a shooting guard, just like Dumars, though not as good a shooter. Brad Miller is the not too athletic though crafty center that can hit an outside shot similar to Laimbeer. Joakim Noah is a shot blocking, rebounding center like John Salley. Tyrus Thomas is the wild card that can have a big impact on a game like Rodman though Thomas has more offense and Rodman more defense. Gibson is the workman power forward like Mahorn. Comparing Deng to Aguire or Dantley would be a stretch as they all had very different games and Pargo at best has been an under powered Microwave. The biggest differences is the Piston team's rough play and they were a much better perimeter shooting team though this Bulls team is much more athletic and still has room to improve. Do you think the 80's Pistons is a good formula for building around Rose? Have Paxson or Forman considered it?

David Yuen

Sam: I have mentioned Isiah in a comparison to Rose before, and though people around here like to dislike Isiah, he was a truly great player and winner. The comparisons pretty much end there as Dumars was a Hall of Famer, Rodman was the league’s best rebounder and Defensive Player of the Year, Aguirre and Dantley were some of the biggest scorers in the history of the game and Laimbeer was just starting his career and not ending it. The comparison is trying to win built around a point guard, which happened only with Isiah and Magic. But they both had Hall of Fame running mates. That’s what this summer is supposed to be about.

I have been following most all Bulls games this season and I noticed that coach Del Negro is very conservative. When Noah or any other starters gets into foul trouble. He tends to have them sit on the bench for long time. My example would be last night's game when our coach started with second unit and allowed Hornets to come back. If a player like Noah gets fouled out, let him foul out! It beats him sitting on the bench and not playing. O.K. Noah is not 100% so I can understand but what about Derrick Rose, Luol Deng our best players? We have a young team, young players so theoratically they could play all 48 minutes right?

Andy Choi

Sam: Well, guys can’t play 48 minutes and Vinny doesn’t do much different than most coaches. I know fans like to see the best players in all the time, but you need to use your bench. Sometimes I’ll disagree with Vinny for taking out a guy who has just gone hot when Vinny clearly had in mind a certain time to remove him. Look, Phil Jackson always would take Michael out to open the fourth quarters even when the Bulls were down. Sometimes Vinny needs to balance which scorers he has out as the Bulls don’t have many. But the Bulls regulars get no shortage of playing time. The way things are going with Noah and Gibson and Miller and their health, I suspect we’ll be seeing more reserves in the coming games.

My biggest All-Star beef was Pau Gasol getting chosen over Andrew Bynum after missing so many games in the beginning of the season. Would the NBA consider expanding their All-Star roster to 15 players instead of the standard 12? The league has been expanded to seven additional teams since 1987, but the All-Star roster still remains at 12 players, meaning that qualifying for a spot in today’s era is even tougher. If the league expands to 15 players, technically speaking, that would mean that each team could have an opportunity to represent one player. If there was an increase, wouldn’t this be more fair to the players and to the fans?

Richard Yang

Sam: Actually, sometimes it’s hard to find 12 guys who deserve to be All-Stars. There’s no reason to have more than 12 because it is a game of sorts and you can’t play more guys than that, or even that many. Often, the guys at the end of bench in the All-Star game are All-Stars who got there on the coattails of someone because they were on a winning team, like Mo Williams last year. How about some of these former All-Stars from the 2000’s; Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Sam Cassell, Antoine Walker, Brad Miller, Dale Davis and Antonio Davis. Nice players, but no reason to expand the team and take the next level down.

Can the Bulls make an arrangement with John Salmones for him to opt out of his contract and then resign him to a long term deal? (This is Chicago and that is how things are done.) Give them the change to sign a make player and then resign him as a back 2-3.

Jim Harlan

Sam: Buy out Salmons for say, half, is one option with the notion he can sign a new deal with some team and make at least the $3 mil he gives up or maybe more. You cannot do prearranged deals and if you get caught there are multi million dollar penalties and loss of multiple draft picks. I doubt the Bulls would risk it.

Not liking Aaron Gray taking shots at us. We gave him opportunities. Whenever Noah was hurt we gave him his minutes and then he would get hurt He should be thanking us that for the last 3 years we gave him a roster spot.

Mike Sutera

Sam: Yes, no good deed goes unpunished, eh. He refers to Gray saying when the Bulls were in New Orleans last week that he never got a chance in Chicago and would show he can play now and was glad he could do it for another team. He’s been with the Hornets four games. They played him in one six minutes and he got three fouls. They made their statement as well. He’s not an NBA player. Maybe he could be, but he has the worst attitude of so called white stiffs I’ve ever seen. There’s always been this joke around the NBA that teams keep these big white guys at the end of the bench to have a white guy on the roster. It’s nonsense, but most of these guys are useful for certain matchups, to give fouls and contribute some. Gray always saw himself as Bill Walton. His attitude was miserable. He’d yell at coaches about not playing, and you look at him three years later and he’s still not in shape. Take a guy like Marc Gasol, who changed his body and became a productive player. Last summer, the Bulls had Illinois’ James Augustine on their summer league roster. I lobbied for his signing, writing he’d fit well with the style players they had. But the Bulls felt they owed another shot to Gray and given his size he’d help. So this is how he repays them with cheap shots on the way out. Tells you all you need to know about the guy. You’ll notice the Bulls only said nice things about him after the trade.

Suppose Salmons does not opt out, and the Bulls want to keep Kirk. Could the following transaction work: (I will use Lebron as my example.) The Bulls come up short of being able to offer a max contract by, let's say, about $3 million. So they offer Lebron a one year contract for the most they can give. Then, the Bulls, Lebron, or you take out a $100 (give or take a few million) insurance policy. If Lebron gets hurt and cannot perform, he collects. No harm, no foul. If he makes it through the year, Salmons is off the books, they now can offer James the max as their own player which would amount to, what? an extra $30 million, given he is their player.

Bob Goodheart

Sam: Technically, I believe you could, and taking out an insurance policy for a sixth year (signing another team’s free agent allows you a max five years while the players own team can give six years) is an option teams have who want to assure a player he’ll get a sixth year, though the premium would go on the cap. The reality is no one wants to go anywhere that much that they’d leave over $100 million guaranteed on the table like that. Yes, because it’s LeBron the team would follow through or he’d have plenty of market. But good luck trying to persuade someone to take an insurance policy you might have to litigate to pay off versus a guaranteed deal.

I assume you get your flu shot every year since I don't think you've missed any games with the flu. Why do so many athletes, not just in basketball, get the flu ? I would think flu shots would be mandatory. Did Kirk, Salmons and Rose get their flu shots this year ?

Dave Berkebile

Sam: They said it was more a food poisoning thing, but players do get a lot of colds and flu, seemingly more than the general population. I think some is from all the travel, as easy as it is on charters, and all the late nights, not always because of late games. They are in their low 20s and when you are you tend to enjoy the evenings when you can. Also, I have noticed over the years when traveling with players or being around them in winter, hardly any wear coats. They always are out in sweat suits no matter where they are, and no one really tells them to button up. Or at least put on a hat!

If Kirk wants to stay and the Bulls want to keep him while having the funds to sign a premier free agent, do the rules allow Kirk and the Bulls to renegotiate his contract so that his cap number for next year will be lower? Perhaps some change in the pay out and/or extending the contract another year or two.??

Mike Mezey

Sam: Kirk would like to stay. Not that much. You can accept a buyout to lower your salary and the team’s cap number. You cannot renegotiate down in the NBA.

Let's say the Bulls continue this surge and Houston and Memphis continue to decline. Is Vinny all of sudden a coach of the year candidate? If he actually won, wouldn't there be a pressure to extend him?

Lloyd Morris

Sam: I obviously got this email after the five game winning streak. So two games later a lot has changed. And now with physical questions about Noah and Gibson, who knows. But had the Bulls come out of that streak and then won right into the All-Star break, Vinny would have become a legit candidate. He’s gotten a lot of support from fellow coaches and there’s a chance many of the national media members who were ridiculing him and demanding he be fired would have felt some guilt and given him votes. It certainly would be interesting, though Vinny has a guaranteed contract for next season. The Hawks made the second round of the playoffs last season and they didn’t extend Mike Woodson even though the team improved every season under him. Finances are changing dramatically with coaches and I don’t believe we are going to be seeing any extensions for anyone.