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Ask Sam | Week of 05.24.10

Sam Smith opens his mailbag daily Monday-Friday 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.

It seems like David Stern has been a bit quick to hand out penalties (and issue warnings) to the teams for tampering. Do you think the NBA should institute a rule that players can also be fined or even suspended for “tampering”? (I’m assuming that there isn’t one in place already.) The players talk openly about other players and teams with no penalty. I think their talk has just as much impact on the other teams and players as something said by ownership/management. A GM risks a hefty fine if he says something like “Of course we would love to have LeBron on our team, just like every other team in the NBA.” But players can talk about getting together to discuss their free agency plans and discuss their impressions about teams (well-informed and based in fact or not).

Chris Duignan

Sam: It’s certainly the question of the day, and GM Gar Forman responded here on Bulls.com Thursday. I suspect the league will have to take a look. I’m told the league does include players in the no tampering policy, though the league is still considering where to draw the line and how to judge it, given players are friends with one another and you’d be naïve to believe they don’t discuss their futures. And they should. I have no problem with Wade, James, Johnson, Bosh, etc., meeting and talking about the future, given they long have said they would. How could you prevent them from doing so? Plus, you’d assume they would, and as I said, they should. I consult my closest friends when I’m considering a job change. The issue with Wade at this unusual time is he directly attacked another franchise that is one of the few main competitors to his franchise, in effect, trying to discourage players from coming to the Bulls. I agree it’s much worse than an owner mentioning LeBron’s name. What I think will or should happen is Wade will be disciplined for actions not in the best interests of the NBA as players should not be attacking other franchises no matter the circumstances.

What do you make of Dwayne Wade’s comments regarding the loyalty of the Bulls organization to its players? John Paxson is the VP of Operations. Randy Brown and Pete Meyers are assistants. Stacey King does TV and Bill Wennington does radio. Bill Cartwright got a head-coaching job with the team for a while. Pippen writes articles on the team's website. Just because Jordan wanted to own a team and the Bulls aren't for sale, does that make them not a loyal organization?

Adam Schechner

Sam: I took it as something of a positive for the Bulls, that Wade was worried the Bulls are in better position than the Heat to get a top free agent and he’s worried he’ll be doomed to a career of first round playoff exits. I guess it’s the American way to demean your competitors.

I have met Wade (and his two boys) and have sat with him at lunch via a business connection. I sat next to his high school coach on the floor at a Bulls game. It turned out that the coach played high school basketball at Leo with my uncle (my mothers brother) who was an all catholic player at Leo. Wade came over to him and said hi. He then shook my hand. I have always had respect for him. Very clean cut and represented himself well. This was very insulting and below the belt. As a home grown loyal Chicagoan and Bulls fan, it will be hard to think of him in the same light again. Maybe there is a little jealousy that A) Derrick Rose is unbelievable and has taken the NBA by storm with endorsements and Jersey sales. He is also a homegrown product and adored by fans here. B) He was never picked by the Bulls.

Dan Abdo

Sam: Actually, this is a great teaching lesson and opportunity, as people like to say. I’ve been around these pro athletes and celebrities for three decades, almost four if you count my time in the mid-70s covering politics in Washington, D.C., the White House and Congress. This is what I tell people and what I’ve have learned about celebrities and sports stars: Appreciate them for what they do, not who they are. They have wonderful gifts and are a joy to watch. Their abilities are matchless. But don’t expect that much of them beyond that. There are some and you can be surprised. I’ve enjoyed my time with pro athletes and find very few whom I do not like or who don’t treat you well. But you cannot expect them to be held to your personal or moral standard. Even with your friends or neighbors. People rarely are what they seem and you never fully know someone unless you live with them. Wade’s always been easy to deal with, mostly cooperative and reasonable. But you hear around the NBA things like, “He’s gone Hollywood,” whatever that means. The point is don’t mistake some chance meetings or hearing them in an interview for whom they are.

After reading Wade's questioning of loyalty of the Chicago Bulls' organization, I have to wonder if he has no clue what has been occurring over the past decade. I mean, Bill Cartwright was named head coach as a result of his playing career. John Paxson was named General Manager. Staci King is the TV commentator for Bulls games. Scottie Pippen was given a very nice sign and trade deal that Reinsdorf and Krause didn't have to. Then Pippen was given a lucrative two year contract to finish his career with the Bulls. And the second year was graciously bought out. And now Pippen writes on the Bulls. (Also, hasn't he also been asked to be an assistant coach as well?) There's a statue of Michael Jordan outside the stadium! Lets not forget the $66 million in salary over his last two years. This could go on for a while with all the other former players involved with the organization over the years. I hope this perception is not shared by other free agents, because its quite laughable. I don't remember management ever publically bashing former players, no matter what they say, especially Pippen. I'd say Reinsdorf might be one of the most loyal owners in all of sports. Not sure what the Heat have done for Glen Rice, Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Eddie Jones, Shaq, and Stan Van Gundy that would be viewed overly loyal. I guess Reinsdorf should have given away majority shares to MJ.

Kris Dahlberg

Sam: Yes, they ran from poor Tim as fast as they could when he made his controversial comments a few years back. That’s well said. I wrote about this on Bulls.com Thursday afternoon with some comments from Gar. It was sad to see someone like Dwyane Wade reduce himself to such pettiness. I’d certainly hope he wasn’t put up to it by the Heat. Then again, I like to play fair, and that’s not welcomed as much as you’d like these days with the screaming that goes on in politics and the cable TV stations. Far be it for me to get personal as Wade did. But you have to wonder about the loyalty of an organization that when we look back will probably say wasted the best two years—and prime age seasons—of Wade’s playing career getting worse to maybe get better in the future. No great player ever has played for an organization that spent two of the player’s prime seasons purposely getting worse. Is that loyalty? I guess Dwyane Wade believes it is.

How do you feel about Dwyane Wade statement about the Bulls organization on how they treated Jordan and Pippen? I think Wade is out his mind.

Andrew Marshall

Sam: Let’s say I find it disappointing and lacking of knowledge for someone who claims to know about Chicago and the Bulls. As they said on the Seinfeld show, “People, they’re the worst.”

So now Dwayne is off-handed saying the Bulls organization is not loyal and therefore not attractive to him, and he will preach this to the others when they have their “Sunday Supper” together this summer. How bad will this be for the Bulls? LeBron stays in Cleveland, as management follows his every wish, making Mike Brown the scapegoat, ala VDN (not that I am a big fan of Mike Brown).Bosh goes to the Lakers for Bynum. Amare goes to Miami with Wade. Dirk is in Dallas no matter what. The Knicks re-sign Lee and overpay, and max out Joe Johnson – a typical move see Allan Houston at the end of his career. That leaves The Bulls the Clippers and the Nets with all this money and no-one significant to add as I don’t consider the two-timer often injured Boozer a significant candidate.

David Weiner

Sam: You must only have wrong sides of the bed. Or be a Chicago sports fan. Though, actually Cleveland, as I hear Ozzie wrote on an autograph this week that LeBron was leaving Cleveland. Cool, if it’s true. The key with the Wade comments is the agents know otherwise as they’ve dealt with the Bulls over the years and generally gotten overpaid for free agents: Ben Wallace, Ron Mercer, Eddie Robinson. I don’t know what will happen or if the Bulls will get the big score, but I truly believe the Bulls will get someone good and get better and have a pretty good team next season. OK, can you now come in off the ledge?

I've hardly heard anything about Kevin McHale in the Bulls' coaching search. I know he doesn't have the greatest record as a coach, but he is a Hall-of-Famer and three-time NBA Champion. That has to count for something, right? Plus he was known to be a tough and scrappy player and can pass that spirit on to this already scrappy Bulls team. Do you think McHale's championship experiences and Hall of Fame status can benefit this team, or is he not really a good fit for the Bulls organization?

Gabriel de Jesus

Sam: I don’t know for sure, but it’s easy to assume the Bulls talked to McHale when they all were in Minnesota, where he lives and said was at the draft combine last week. McHale has said openly he’s interested, and you might be interested given I thought he did a very good job as coach in his two interim sessions. But he always has complained about the grind of NBA travel through an entire season and I think a team would wonder how dedicated he would be given he doesn’t like that lifestyle.

What about Reggie Theus for coach? Why doesn’t his name ever come up? I didn’t follow the Kings all that closely, but they always seemed to play hard under him. Even without much talent (.250 w/ Theus that year, .190 w/o). Aggies were 6-24 the year before he started, 16-14 his first year, and 25-9 his second year (with a tournament appearance). He’s got a history with the franchise as one of its best players. Also, when he had that moustache he looked a little like Lando Calrissian.

Brad Hergott

Sam: Yeah, Reggie loved the Billy Dee Williams comparisons. His name doesn’t come up because it would be like a return to Vinny. Though Reggie did coach the Kings two seasons, he’s hardly the hardened NBA veteran coach and one of his big issues with the Kings was getting a feel and fix on the pro game as coach. Yes, he’s been on the bench in Minnesota. But so is Bill Laimbeer, so I count that as a negative. This is too important a hire to experiment again. Reggie would be another experiment to see if it might work.

I know anyone who shaves their eyebrows is pretty weird, but what about Mike Woodson for consideration as Bulls head coach?

Christian Boblink

Sam: Given the only play I ever saw the Hawks run was an isolation with everyone else standing around his hiring would suggest the Bulls feel Vinny’s offense was too sophisticated for them to understand.

If MIN drafts Demarcus Cousins, would you trade Deng & Gibson to MIN for Al Jefferson?

Jason Quaid

Sam: Probably, but from what I’ve heard—and this could change or there could be a trade—Minnesota is down on Cousins given his curious background and behavior. Last I heard they would not take him, but things change closer to the draft. Although Jefferson had a bad season and doesn’t look like he can jump anymore, if you could retain your cap space and a post player you’d have to look at it. Though the general feeling is if they trade one it will be Love.

An analyst on nba tv recently said Rondo was the best point guard in the nba. While Rondo may be having an excellent playoffs I wouldn't go that far. While he has been solid throughout, his best playoff games came agianst Cavs which seemed to have a tough time with PG penetration in the Bulls series too. Put a healthy Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, or Deron Williams on the celtics and they are in the just as good of a position as they are now. Put Rondo on the Bulls in place of Rose and they don't make the playoffs, put him on Jazz in place Williams and they don't get past the 1st round.

John Swank

Sam: This is the problem with watching the TV analysis of the playoffs. What they are watching is the best thing ever because they are watching it. It’s why the most knowledgeable people usually don’t get those jobs. I’m quite sure you never heard Doug Collins say that. And given the last few games against the Magic I don’t think you are hearing that anymore nor will you hear it again. Rondo is a high level player, but he’s not nearly in the top five in the league in point guards and I might name 10 I’d rather have. Ask NBA GMs and you’ll always hear Nash, Paul, Williams and Rose ahead. Probably John Wall by next season. How about Westbrook? Devin Harris if they have a better season. Aaron Brooks? Chauncey Billups? And there are some guys like Jennings, Flynn and Stephen Curry. Put them with three All Stars. Rondo is very good, but what this nonsense shows you and should show players more is the value of winning. If Rondo were on the Timberwolves, you’d never hear his name. And he wouldn’t be good enough to make them a playoff team.

Who is the leader in the locker room? My guess would be Noah since he seems to be the heart and soul of the team, but I know that older veterans i.e. Kirk Hinrich or Hakeem Warrick-type usually fit the bill. Also, do you know who the Bulls are targeting as a coach?

Carey Miller

Sam: Yes, Noah is a dynamic figure, but this is an unusual team given that Rose and Noah really don’t need someone pushing them. But Hinrich in recent years has become much more vocal internally. Actually, it’s a very self-motivated team, so I don’t see the strong need for a coach who will so called hold players accountable. I think you saw from the close of the season they played hard no matter what was going on around them.

I know everyone is talking about LeBron, but Dirk Nowitzki is expected to opt out of his contract to become a free agent. Where does Dirk fit in the Bulls FA fantasy list? He's a great PF scorer who shoots threes, can work down low, rebounds, a great free throw shooter, and gives the Bulls size to match the Lakers in the NBA Finals! (ok, maybe got carried away with that last one) But really, where does he rank?

Grego Venegas

Sam: I don’t think he’s very high on anyone’s list given he’s 32 and not generally regarded as much of a defender. You know Mark Cuban isn’t going to agree to any sign and trade. I assume what’s going on is Cuban has worked out with Dirk that Dirk will opt out and then get a somewhat larger contract under the wire this summer before new collective bargaining agreement comes in next summer or later. Plus, assuming Dirk can continue putting up with Cuban’s meddling ownership, Cuban will try to add talent and spend and he probably has as good a chance in Dallas as most anywhere else teams have cap room. I can’t see the Bulls going for a player that old with Noah and Rose so young.

Let's say the Lakers win the championship and in turn don't look to execute a sign & trade for Bosh, preferring to keep their team intact. We factor in the Suns losing in the Western Conference Finals and assume that Amare would choose to leave. We say that there's a 50/50 chance that LeBron bolts Cleveland (I think we could reasonably agree to that). We consider the Hawks abysmal performance vs. the Magic. Now given all these reasonable assumptions/scenarios, would you still advocate committing to Joe Johnson on July 1st? I recall you supporting that move as Johnson seems a pretty safe bet to take on a big contract from the Bulls should they offer, but given the recent developments, you'd think that Bosh would be a safer guy to commit to (I hate to say 'commit to LeBron' because we know that if you don't land him, you may be up a certain creek w/o a paddle). Has your stance changed any recently, especially considering Johnson may not command a max salary?

Arman Fathi

Sam: It is the toughest question the Bulls face. Do you make a run at LeBron knowing you have maybe a one in four shot and while you wait for him to do his tour you lose your shot at Johnson and maybe Bosh as well? It seems the Bulls are stuck now and are expected to make a big pitch to LeBron—I assume they will—and take their chances. I prefer the safer bet and am more the place and show player. I’d want to give LeBron 24 to 48 hours to decide, but doubt given his position he’d agree to anything like that. I believe he wants the full courtship. I believe the goal of the summer is to get better. The fantasy, of course, is to get the big prize, but I never do well in the lottery or even with the door prizes or at the carnival. I prefer coming home with something. I’d probably try to decide between Bosh and Johnson as my best shot and go there and forget LeBron unless he let me know I was the favorite or 1A. But I assume the Bulls make a big pitch for LeBron—like everyone else—and if they fail then look at trades, maybe someone like Al Jefferson or Monta Ellis or Richard Hamilton or David West. But I don’t believe it will be another all or nothing summer.

As a Chicago native and life-long Bulls fan, I still feel that Dwayne Wade would be the best fit and would have the biggest impact out of all the free agents out there this summer. There's been a lot of speculation about LeBron coming to Chi-town, but I haven't heard much talk about Wade lately.

Ben Papakyriakou

Sam: You haven’t—and this is a moving target—because the latest consensus is Wade is the most likely of the free agents to stay with his team. The reason is generally because it is more than basketball. Wade is involved in several law suits, the ugliest a bitter divorce with his wife in Chicago with his kids. Wade is seeking custody of the kids. The results are several. One is because Wade is 28 and involved in about to split up his finances and with a history of injuries and hard falls. So he, perhaps as much as any free agent, wants the full six-year deal with the extra year and $30 million total on the deal. Miami isn’t about to do a sign-and-trade with anyone to accommodate Wade. They’ve made that pretty clear. Plus, Wade seemingly likes life in South Florida and wants to stay. Less talked about is because of this divorce case Wade may have to wait until well into the summer because he may not want to sign a new contract while he’s still officially married and could be still involved with community property. So it would be difficult for any team to wait for him to sign, as it could be several months into free agency. He’s not going anywhere.

Does Bill Cartwright ever want a head coaching gig again? I was wondering how all these assistants keep getting interviews and he doesn't.

Mike Sutera

Sam: It’s a good question. The NBA works in funny ways. Bill would like and deserves another shot and should, even based on what he’s done with the Suns with the likes of Robin Lopez and Amar’e Stoudemire, as they’re a much more physical and defensive team thanks to his work with the big guys. He didn’t get much chance once John Paxson replaced Jerry Krause, as new GMs generally want their own coach. Bill’s hoarse voice is something of an issue, given the surgery he had from being hit in the throat multiple times as a player. But he can be heard clearly enough and he’s way more qualified and knowledgeable than many of the guys getting interviews as well as jobs. As I often note, life and basketball aren’t fair. Bill not getting an interview is unfair. But it’s their ball and they decide whom to give it to.

A while ago there was a lot of talk that the suns wouldn't give Stoudamire a max contract. now I've been watching him play during the play-offs (the only time I can watch basketball in Europe ) I think he's at least as deserving of a max deal as many of the other potential candidates. do you think the suns are pigheaded enough to let him go for nothing, and if they do, what are the odd's he we could get him to play next to Rose, Noah and (fingers crossed) James? I like him at least as much as Bosh and Joe Johnson's age worries me slightly as it gives a smaller window of opportunity.

Kris Tofferkortsen

Sam: Stoudemire agrees with you, I assume. It was interesting to hear Stoudemire say after the Suns came back from 0-2 that his staying was still 50-50. No sentimentalist, clearly. The issue transcends basketball. You’d say with Hill and Nash older players and to maintain the rest of Nash’s career you assume they’d want to keep the young guy. But the owner did what a lot of us did and bought something at the top of the market. He paid some $400 million for the franchise, which isn’t likely worth nearly that much anymore, and they’ve taken losses. They may not be able to afford a max deal. The response, though, is how could they afford to let him go? Wouldn’t they even be worse off and lose so much ticket revenue? So it will be a rumor filled draft period and beyond for the Suns. They’ve brought along several good pieces with their bench and Robin Lopez, so perhaps they can parley Stoudemire into some good pieces. It will be a mystery. As for the Bulls, because of his lax defensive play you saw in the first two games against the Lakers and questions about his microfracture almost five years ago and everyone’s belief you’d have to deal with that again at some point, I suspect he’s behind Bosh, Boozer and Lee on the Bulls' power forward wish list.

Who says no first? Deng, Gibson and the 17th pick for Brand and the 2nd pick? Gives the Sixers a outside shooter Deng, A PF who can run Gibson. The Bulls get low post scoring and Turner to replace Deng.

Jim Harlan

Sam: I thought we’d moved past Elton. Besides his injuries in recent years and drop in productions, he’s never been a low post scorer. He’s more face up and became a threat when he could step out and make that 16 footer. The Bulls will make a strong pitch for Bosh, I believe, and then perhaps Boozer next in line. As for the 76ers, new coach Doug Collins is thrilled with the possibility of pairing Evan Turner with Jrue Holiday. There’s no truth to this talk of the 76ers giving up the pick to dump Brand. Doug will get a lot more out of Brand playing him at center, playing small and fast with Iguodala back to slashing and every one of those pull up threes he takes putting him back on the bench until he stops. I think he’ll be a comeback player/most improved type for next season.

I often hear Avery Johnson as a possible head coach of the Bulls. Wasn't there a player revolt in Dallas several years ago when he was the coach there? If that is correct, how could the Bulls even consider him in their search?

Wayne Trainor

Sam: I don’t believe he is a serious candidate, which may be why he keeps mentioning LeBron James going to places like New Jersey. Avery did a good job with Dallas. He got them to the Finals and gave them a toughness they never had. But he’s a bit of a know-it-all and talker who wears out players. He’s made inquiries about being a coach with personnel control, which won’t happen in Chicago. He’s also got something of a reputation as a controlling guy who won’t open the game up for the players, which the Bulls need with Rose and Noah. I honestly don’t know how the Bulls are leaning as this search is getting a bit too mysterious for me.

At Gar’s press conference when he dismissed Vinny, I thought he said that the next coach of the Chicago Bulls would have head coaching experience. So why are we even looking at Thibodeau?

Jo Ann Ross

Sam: I wish the Bulls were looking at Thibodeau harder. I think the point he was trying to make was not another Vinny, which may have raised questions more about someone like Elston Turner, though he does have some assistant experience. Thibodeau has worked almost like Phil Johnson with Jerry Sloan as a co-coach at times because of his knowledge of the defensive system. I took Gar’s comments to mean he’d go with more of an experienced basketball guy with a deep knowledge of the game, which is the case with someone like Thibodeau, who has worked with numerous top coaches and had plenty of successful teams. Just because you’ve had a job also doesn’t mean you are better. It’s who you are what you can do. But it’s beginning to look like Thibodeau may sign with the Hornets.

I wrote you before about how Gar dragging his feet in the coaching search could hurt his chances at hiring the best candidates. That best candidate is Tom Thibodeau, and he has been offered the job by the Hornets. How did the Hornets get to interview him, and why did the Bulls not ask for permission too? I hope Tom doesn't take it, but it feels like D'Antoni a little. What are the Bulls waiting for here?

Ryan Schlanser

Sam: I understood what he was trying to do, which was narrow the field and not go through the two months revolving door of two years ago. But I agree Thibodeau is one of the top candidates and it would be a mistake to let him walk away without a serious effort. I’ve had him No. 2 on my list after Mo Cheeks. That is assuming no Phil Jackson, which Phil seems to have eliminated again. I believe Thibodeau would rather have the Bulls’ job, given the current and potential talent and the major market. But he needs to be a head coach and cannot afford to bypass his first real opportunity. The Bulls need to make an aggressive move toward Thibodeau now, as he fulfills a lot of what they talked about of having a defined system, especially on defense, being knowledgeable and a dedicated worker who has wide support from respected people around the NBA, like Doc Rivers and Jeff Van Gundy. He would be a great hire.

I am not a Bull's fan, but I notice your assessment of Noah's way too generous. I understand Rose can be one of the best point guards. But Noah seems like Charles Oakley to me. In other words, Chicago has only One good player, not two. They are far from being an elite team. They probably are not gonna make it to playoff if they are in the West. In my opinion, they need Bosh, and one more elite player to compete in the high level. 
What about trading Noah and a few existing players for Bosh and also go after someone like Joe Johnson?

John Lee

Sam: Noah is not an All-Star, I agree. That will change if the Bulls are a high level team. But if you were to give up Noah, you’d spend your next season trying to get someone like him. I know the Bulls have held onto their players too long previously, but I see Noah as a keeper, given his rare traits of leadership, hustle and rebounding. Bosh is a poor defender who could become average, at best. That core would be too offensive and the game is way more than that.

I am not as familiar with the everyday occurrences of the NBA behind the scenes, but correct me if I'm wrong in assessing that when an ESPN reporter cites "back channels" as a credible source in his columns ... does that mean that he is completely speculating with a total lack of a credible source, and is too ashamed to simply write: "So I just came back from Imagination Land, and I really want to get this rumor going, and need to invent a source, soooo, Phil is talking to the Bulls." I mean, where exactly are the back channels in the NBA? Is that like the Unkown Regions in wrestling when they announce a mysterious character? I keep picturing this leaky hallway beneath the Berto Center and a guy in a dark trench coat talking to a dark silhouette going: "Pssstt ... tell Phil to leave the beach house and two seven foot centers in a team with Kobe and come back to Chicago ... Yes I realize that he won six championships here already and would have to win at least seven and FOURpeat just to live up to his old expectations but whatever ... let him know --- wait ... did you hear that noise? ... I just hope it wasn't a hidden ESPN reporter listening in to our conversation."

Roddy Enrique

Sam: Glad I’m not the only one who can’t believe what’s going on. This is getting embarrassing, though today’s media seems incapable of being embarrassed. I do know a lot about this knowing Phil better than most and having longtime connections with the Bulls. As Phil himself said Tuesday for at least the third time he has no interest in reliving that part of his life. Sorry. I’m quite sure the Bulls or anyone on their behalf has not made an entreaty toward Phil. You cannot imagine how seriously everyone is taking tampering with the league threatening millions of dollars in fines. Is Phil using something like that as a negotiating ploy with the Lakers? I know Phil personally would never do anything like that. This all refers to the ESPN story Tuesday saying these so called “back channel” sources reported Bulls and Jackson contact and Jackson’s interest. It created a one day news cycle hysteria. So the internet won. Faith in news media never has been strong, so this is not new. People want to trust what they read no matter how often they are disappointed. But everyone likes a good fable, and often it’s a lot more fun than reality. It’s one thing to suggest it; another thing to portray it as fact. Though sometimes good reporters are forced to write stuff stronger by editors desperate for attention for their product in a more competitive environment. The unfortunate part for those of us who actually like basketball is the way it’s taken away from some terrific conference finals games the last few days.

I noticed you didn't write, tweet, blog, or whatever else it is you do to communicate nowadays about the great NBA draft combine. From what I saw on TV, my main questions was, "Why is there an NBA draft combine?" Is it just a way for 50 year-old guys in nylon track warmups to have a central location to schmooze their way back into the league as an assistant quality control coach?

I can't think of any other reason for it, since I'm not really sure what you'll find out about a guy watching him do a rebounding drill that you don't already know from watching him in game action. It's not like the NFL, where it matters how often you can lift 225 or whether you run the 40 in 4.4 or 4.7.

Craig Berry

Sam: Which is exactly why I didn't write anything. Plus, I was upset the media was barred from even watching those stupid drills as if there were some secret. So I personally boycotted it. It basically was set up so team officials could eat expensive meals on expense account budgets in Chicago. Not bad for the local economy, so I'm OK with that.

I hear a lot of people saying Xavier Henry or James Anderson would be the best pick for the Bulls (by that stage of the draft) but if he's still available, which he likely will be, don't you think Hassan Whiteside would be the best fit, as the Bulls already have plenty of players playing in Henry and Anderson's positions, and still no true center ( as we saw in the Cavs series, when Noah couldn't really match up with Shaq), such as Whiteside.

Omri Ambalo

Sam: The majority of draft emails I get from fans favor a shooting guard or wing, and I understand given the lack of shooting depth for the team last season. I get a lot of mentions for Jordan Crawford, Dominique Jones and Paul George. But I don’t think you have a rookie that low moving into the lineup as a shooter. Whiteside is a bit on the raw side, so I’m not fully sure, but I think size is the priority and I’d want a big guy if I can get one.

I was wondering if the Bulls have any interest in JJ Redick. He seems to be a hard worker and a great shooter. I think the Bulls need a shooter so Rose can kick it out when the D packs the lane.

Dan Wetter

Sam: I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. There’s been all sorts of speculation about big free agent names, and we know who they are. But I see the Bulls filling in around whomever they get—and I believe they’ll get one of the top guys—with veterans who are underappreciated and somewhat less expensive, perhaps someone like Redick. Once thought a bust, he’s proven he can make open, deep shots and I can see him interested in a bigger market where there may be more need for his skills than in the perimeter loaded Magic.

Why don't the Bulls try to hire Mike Brown?

Erwin St. Rose

Sam: Let's say that wouldn't be a great tactic to try to attract LeBron James.

Why all the talk of Phil Jackson to Cleveland, but no mention of a reunion in Chicago?

Ryan M. Grace

Sam: There was plenty when Vinny was fired, and I even recall writing in my column a few weeks back those ever present sources around LeBron saying he likes the triangle offense. Cleveland's the latest, so they get to round up the usual suspects, as Capt. Renault said in Casablanca. Phil's not quite usual, but seems like it with him being mentioned for the Nets, the Bulls and now the Cavs assuming he leaves the Lakers and the greatest life style any coach in NBA history. Oh, and I've already seen speculated the Knicks would fire Mike D'Antoni if Phil went there.

Now comes ESPN's latest with these so-called "back channel" sources of the Bulls contacting Phil. That’s tampering, for one thing, so I doubt it happened. This was the same writer who started that whole Vinny furor in December saying Vinny would be fired within 48 hours… unless he wasn't.

It's only six weeks to go to free agency. I know the speculation is fun, and no one has to tell me. Yes, everyone assumes at some point if you are looking for a coach and the NBA's top coach is in his final contract season you will try to get a sense of what he might do. But I still cannot see Phil no matter who comes to the Bulls to give up the greatest lifestyle in sports—multimillion dollar home on the beach close to his grandkids, going with the owner's daughter who once posed in Playboy, coaching a championship team with arguably the game's best player and one of its best centers and perhaps "only" making $6 million to do so from $12 million now—to come back to the Midwest and its winters at a time you've had health problems related to getting around. Would you? After all, what can you do with the extra money after making maybe $50 million in the last several years? Have you seen how Phil dresses?


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