Ask Sam | Week of 07.19.10
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I heard according to sources Chris Paul doesn't want to stay with the Hornets anymore. He strongly believes the Hornets can't be contenders. Does he have the Bulls on his wish list of being traded to them?
Sam: I saw this coming months ago and have written about it for some time. It's not exactly at that level yet and with two more years left it's not like he's got a lot of leverage. Where's he going? Management with a new GM supposedly will make nice to him and try to persuade him to want to stay, though is he going to pout for two years and ruin his career? Teams have to begin to stand up. Look where it got Cleveland turning the franchise over to LeBron. But many around the league could see with ownership issues and a dysfunctional internal management that now has lost its last GM Paul would grow itchy. Many teams have seen this to the point the Hornets issued a press release a few months back saying they wouldn't trade him. Of course, then the GM was run out. Now may be the time to do something as his value is high as he can't be a free agent for two years and leave. He hasn't asked out officially, it doesn't seem. No, by the way, the Bulls are not interested. Derrick Rose is better. The Knicks are said to be his top destination, though that's usually media misinformation as LeBron showed what we know that no one really wants to be in New York. Plus, they have nothing to trade. What I'd watch is Orlando. They have peaked and need something of a shakeup to stay with Miami. They basically have one All Star in Dwight Howard and need another. They might be able to put together an appealing package. I know the concern of fans is another player looking for a super team pairing, but Paul doesn't have the leverage as he's not close to free agency and isn't in the LeBron/Wade level, anyway. If I were the Bulls I'd worry about a deal with Orlando, where someone might finally pass to Howard.
To make this team better, they need that Shaq or TMac for fuel. This isnt some rehab facility to make sure everyone is happy and team chemistry is good. It's the NBA. These guys will give the Bulls scoring and toughness (not tmac) so the Bulls should go after proven guys, rather than some 11th/12 man junkies. Who is taking the clutch shots down the stretch besides Derrick (who always misses and goes into overtime)? Brewer? Yea rite... Korver... nope. McGrady can handle the shots down the stretch and so can josh howard. Shaq boosts a frontline with noah and boozer. Stop with the chemistry stuff and think real
Sam: Well, I obviously haven't persuaded everyone. One of the big issues these days is all the fantasy leagues and some fans mistaking stats for team. Here's one of my favorite Shaq stories. When the Suns were talking about trading him at midseason, he went into a huge pout and decided if they didn't want him he didn't want them and for the next month he refused to dress in the locker room with the other players and went to a separate area to dress. That's the issue with these former stars and I understand. It's difficult, if not impossible, to accept going from star to minor bit player. Hardly anyone's ever done it successfully. Plus, when's the last time anyone saw McGrady make a big shot? Three years ago? And how quickly did the Cavs gets Shaq off the floor in the playoffs? I just hope the Bulls aren't fooled, but there are a lot of fans who believe they can adjust. I just don't see it.
With all this negative McGrady talk is it possible that McGrady knows that he is at the end of his career and has accepted this fact and is willing to go out there and prove everyone wrong that he is not a Prima Donna and will bust his ass to get a ring? I am all for the Bulls to keep things running as smooth as possible but it intrigues me to see if McGrady has anything left in the tank and I see it as a low risk high reward with signing him.
Sam: I have gotten a lot of emails like this which is what I call real people thinking. Over the years I've rarely run across NBA players who think like that. So the notion would be McGrady only cares for the Bulls and will take an unguaranteed contract out of gratitude and be on his best behavior and play five minutes a week if the Bulls ask and never say a word about it. Which basically would be opposite of everything he has done since coming into the NBA more than a decade ago. Of course, if every instinct he's had basically has been wrong, maybe it is time to try to opposite. As I wrote Thursday, I think on any level he'd be a detriment. But I also am quite sure he wants guaranteed money and he never hasn't been the story of any team he's been on. How exactly does that all change in one summer? People who know him well tell me his work ethic hasn't changed all that much from the self centered McGrady they've known. I suppose anyone is capable of an epiphany at any time and McGrady could have seen the light and realized this is his last chance and Chicago is nirvana. But you'd be gambling on what seems like a good thing and you'd have to ask yourself is it worth it for the now 12th man on your roster?
Is Matt Barnes a better fit for the Bulls than T-Mac?
Sam: Yes. Of course, so is Dalibor Bagaric. Barnes was the kind of tough guy I'd like and have mentioned, though I think the larger issue is Barnes is a three and the Bulls have Deng and Korver and still James Johnson and don't have the minutes there for another three, which is what McGrady would play on some level as well as even those who are fans of a McGrady signing cannot seriously believe he could chase around two guards like Wade, Joe Johnson and Ray Allen. Barnes is going to the Lakers, it seems. Plus, Thibodeau is a defensive minded guy and though I haven't asked him I'd find it hard to believe he'd want a guy dragging his leg like McGrady as part of his new defense.
Been liking the additions and formation of a Team for the Bulls (not counting TMac obviously). Wondering what our identity is going to be though? A running team (don't know what kind of offense Thibs is going to have)? A young team (continued lack of calls from the refs)? A defensive team (Hope so with Thibs on board)? If a tough defensive team, I think Kobe has the right idea = go after people that don't back down or get intimidated (Bell, Barnes, Artest). That could be one way to counter the Heat. I was really hoping we got Bell as that would give us that tough defensive personality. I was hoping we kept Brad Miller for that reason as he doesn't back down and get intimidated and he's big. Brewer brings that which is good. Getting an identity established is a key.
Sam: I like guys with an edge as well and why I also was pushing for Bell, but Brewer is a good younger option. Noah has shown to have an edge, and though quiet, Rose isn't going to back down. And now Kurt Thomas is a legit enforcer type. But I see a team the fans will like with uptempo play and defensive hustle, which is another reason I don't want those ancient plodders like Shaq and McGrady. I think given the roster and the development of the second unit with James Johnson having a role that way I can see a reserve unit coming in off the bench flying and putting pressure on teams and running and defending aggressively. I think the Bulls have the personnel to do that and think they should get fairer treatment from the officials with veterans like Boozer and Rose and Noah having gained reputations in the league and Rose likely on the USA team.
I see that the Bulls added Kurt Thomas to back up Noah. Is losing Brad Miller and gaining Thomas a wash?
Sam: Yes, I see them pretty similar as players, but, in truth, I'd rather have Thomas for a bit over $1 million for one year than Miller with at least two guaranteed seasons at $5 million. Though Miller did some good stuff with the Bulls, he was no more efficient than Thomas. In the long view, it's probably a better move for the Bulls regarding future flexibility.
Why not go after Shannon Brown if they want another guard?
Sam: Yes, he is winning the contest among fans for the most mentioned perimeter player not named McGrady. The Lakers made a good signing with Barnes, so maybe they can't afford Brown. My guess is he's looking for more money than he can get at this point, and sometimes those guys overplay their hands rights out of the NBA and to Europe, like Pargo did a few years back.
Now that the Bulls have signed the 10th or 11th man we pretty much have the rotation set (barring near-certain disaster should we sign T-Mac). Let's assume that all the game-changing free agent signings are behind us. The key is now Coach Thibodeau (whose hiring I was happy with) and how well he can get them to play at their best, right? Or is there any other major factor such as Joakim's plantar fasciitis? What does Thibodeau need to do to bring success to a team that is mostly new players? Even though he's a renowned defensive coach, he has a lot of good role players on his team who have potential to do well offensively, depending on the system. So does Thibodeau have the offensive schemes to get the best out of players like C.J. Watson and Omer Asik?
Sam: Obviously, health is an issue, but it is with every team. If Wade or LeBron gets hurt, you can forget Miami, too. I believe Thibodeau will bring a solid defensive system of play, which is his specialty, something, as they say, to hang your hat on. That was what was most missing with Del Negro as the Bulls would change almost daily on how to play the pick and roll or different sets. Players need something to fall back on (push the screen/roll middle or side, but every time), and Thibodeau is good at that. On offense, I believe the key will be transition play. Virtually everyone the Bulls have now is best in transition and the Bulls edge on teams like Miami and Boston would be to play that way. Thibodeau has been involved in every scheme in his career and I believe the fast paced play will be a priority and I hope he pushes for that as much as possible. But that the Bulls also have someone to drop it to inside in Boozer is what makes them better than before, potentially.
I have been a Bulls fan since the 1969-70 season, and I wish I could be as enthusiastic as everyone else. I just don't see a championship team. The Bulls made the most of a bad situation when the big three signed with the Heat. However, who is the go to guy when a game comes down to the final shot? There is no Jordon or Pippen on this team or for that matter, a Bob Love or Chet Walker. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I'm not. Could we be just good enough where we will never be in a position to draft a game changer? We need a player who is an offensive force and who will consistently give us 20 plus points a game. Rose is a very good player, but his outside shot is inconsistent. Boozer is an undersized power forward. Korver can hit the three, but do you really want him to be the one shooting that pressure shot? Also, Korver and Boozer are each on their third team and no championships. Depressed in LA.
Sam: Most seem to be depressed in L.A., and we never understand with no winter. Is it because of Lindsey Lohan? No one is saying anything about a championship at this point. And it's not like I heard Kobe talking about one a few years back. The point is to get better and the Bulls have. I've talked about maybe 50 wins and depending on what other moves teams make maybe third or fourth in the East, perhaps second with some luck and good health. It's not play for a championship or nothing. You should know better with the early 70's Bulls, who never made it out of the East. Rose is going to be better than Love or Walker, and few have as high regard for those guys as I do. And he's going to be better than Pippen ever was. Noah is a more productive center already than any Bulls championship of 70's team had. Plus he and Rose are growing. You improve and keep playing and you never know what will happen. Boozer is a 20 point scorer most of his career and Rose already has averaged 20. It's a heck of a start.
I found some statistical evidence that the Bulls are going to be a hard team to beat next year. Although I'm not huge into statistics because I know that they don't always do a good job of measuring player performance, I found some very intriguing stats on 82games.com. The PER or Player Efficiency Rating is a statistic that takes most major statistical categories, throws them in a blender, and spits out a number between 1 and 35 that measures the value of every player. By itself, this number doesn't mean much, but when you compare the PER of a player against the opponent they are facing, it's an interesting way to measure their success. Basically, it tells us how a player performs statistically on average against their opponent throughout the season. The following numbers are how our starters did on average against their opponents last year: Deng's 18.1 to opponent's 14.8, Rose's 20.7 to 15.1, Noah's 20.6 to 17.5, Gibson's 15.5 to 18.8, and Hinrich's 13 to 16. Only two of our starters were outperformed statistically (Hinrich and Gibson) and they were replaced this off-season by Boozer and Brewer. Boozer out performed his opponents: 24.2 to 18.9 while Brewer outperformed his as well: 14.2 to 12.9. The significance in all this madness is that we are now the only team besides the Celtics that have all five of our starters outperforming their opponents in PER. The Lakers came close but Fisher was outdone during the regular season by his opponents. I don't know if you like statistics Sam, but it looks to me like we're in business to make a run at the title.
Sam: Can you call that guy in L.A. and get him off the ledge?
What's your take on former Phoenix forward Louis Amundson? Seems like he was a decent role player for them last year. He seems to fit the "mold" that the Bulls are looking for in terms of hustle and energy. He might not be very tall at 6'9" but he makes up for it with his energy, which you've been saying is what you want out of your reserves. Do you think the Bulls have any interest in signing him?
Sam: I've gotten a few emails like this and haven't heard his name from the Bulls, which doesn't mean they haven't had interest. I know fans like him and he a was one of those guys like Scalabrine in Boston fans chanted for when he came in. I'm always leery of those guys who become fan pets as they seem to have little real skill. Though it would be fun to yell, "Loooooooooo."
What were your thoughts on James Johnson during summer league? Do you think he could be the number 2 guy at the SG or SF positions, or do they need to find someone else?
Sam: I don't think he's ready for the responsibility of that position. I think it's going to be tough for him as the Bulls have a chance to be contenders and he doesn't look yet like he has a spot to play. This is a big year for him and if he doesn't advance or get enough of a chance I could see the Bulls not picking up his option.
Looking back on the free agency, Portland have had one of the more quiet periods in the NBA, do you believe that they believe they are ready (with a healthy Greg Oden) to be a major play off contender?
Sam: I did think Portland could get more involved with all of their so called assets, but they had an internal mess with firing their GM and there's a question of how they'll go. I think they're kind of stuck as Roy and Aldridge, their two best, are good but not great players. Yes, they're hoping more now than betting on Oden and this has to be a big year for him or they could be making some big moves to change things, or, at least, should.
I enjoyed watching three summer league players (namely Samardo Samuels, Morris Almond, and John Lucas III) in particular and I was wondering if you think that Lucas and Almond might stick? I know Samuels signed with the Cavs, unfortunately.
Sam: Rarely do Summer League players who are free agents stick. They'll usually go to Europe if they do well as there's more money than NBA minimums. Also, if they want to stay they might then pick another team for training camp where they might have a better shot. The Bulls still need a two, but my guess is they add one of the veterans and summer league was more to see if James Johnson could play two.
Do you think Miami (now they have Z, Haslem back, Mike Miller) can have a better record than the famous 72-10?
Sam: Given their combined trio haul of 21 seasons played and one championship, somehow I don't think they have the guy there to drive them. The Bulls seem safe for some time.
Now that the Heat is the hated team in the NBA, do you think that the 3 Am-egos will continue to get the star treatment on foul calls? Heat fans may need to prepare for three-hour games now to let them shoot all of their free throws, and four hours for the TNT games.
Sam: I've heard this wondered about at times. And that it has been is going to have everyone watching. And it's much harder to sneak up on someone with the lights on.
Anyone who signs with Warriors are doomed to be injured. They draft that kid (Udoh) and he gets hurt. They sign Lee and he dislocates his finger and it could be a tendon issue. Don't go work for them you may get a nasty paper cut.
Sam: I think it may be due to the wine and cheese diet required of all Bay Area residents.
Shaq at 5
McGrady at 3
Penny at 2
Iverson at 1
Who plays the 4 and why aren't the Clippers already on this?
Sam: Karl Malone? Kwame? Sheed probably would be ideal. I'll call Vinny.
I read the Bulls will work out T-mac this week. Yuck. I can't believe we would stoop this low, I will never forget 2000.
Sam: I'll reprint a few of these, but this was the big question of the day and the response was about 50/50. I'm in the 50 that says if you get McGrady, you can forget about 50 wins. In fact, if the Bulls are serious at all about McGrady — and I have no idea if they are — they run the risk of undoing all the good they have done in a very good summer of free agency. I like the team they've put together and think there are a lot of positives, assuming the Utah guys remain healthy. Adding McGrady would, as I say again, be a disaster. To me it would suggest a sudden lack of understanding of team play and chemistry. I believe most of the pro-McGrady email I get is from fantasy fans who believe he can still be some sort of scorer. He hasn't, for one thing, played defense since he left Toronto. Plus, even at his best, he played half court, which is contrary to the strengths the team has. He's had a history of not working out very hard, or at all, and being the prima donna. He's been a loser, never even taking a team beyond the first round of the playoffs. And when he almost did with Orlando and they were up 3-1 on Detroit, he famously said, "I guess I'm in the second round." It's always been I, I, I with McGrady. He never shuts up and while the media loves him because of that, you don't want a reserve bench player at best being some sort of spokesman for the team.
Houston eventually got rid of him because he was telling the media before team officials his health issues and when or whether he'd play or not. It would seem astonishing to me that an organization like the Bulls would take on a guy like that. And as you say after he walked out on them 10 years ago when they needed him and he basically had previously committed. And now you reward a guy like that by saving him from the scrap heap? A young team on the rise like the Bulls can never take a chance on faded stars like Shaq, Iverson and McGrady because they have too much difficulty accepting what they have become, so they become massive internal disruptions. Shaq's last two teams both got worse when he joined them. Coincidence? We saw how Iverson took down the Pistons and then Grizzlies. And what Denver did once Iverson left.
I believe the Bulls have the chance to have a good thing going. They're up to adding a 10th or 11th man at this point. They have the makings of an aggressive, hustling backup unit. Is McGrady going to add to that and accept being an 11th man who may play once or twice a week? Who's he playing ahead of? Deng? Korver? Brewer? You don't want a washed up veteran for that 10th or 11th spot. You want someone grateful to be in the NBA who'll come flying off the bench and do whatever he can. Those players are not scorers at that point down the bench but role players to get a loose ball or offensive rebound, kill some time to give the regulars rest. That's not Tracy McGrady. And the last we saw of him last season with the Knicks his knee still was bad and no one knew when or if he could play. And with their roster they don't want him back. Shouldn't that be a hint?
I see McGrady is going to be working out with the Bulls. Although I still think he could pump out some production, he's not worth it. I'd much rather have Josh Howard. Any interest in him? or Rasual Butler? Roger Mason?
Sam: Those are more the kind of names that make sense, though I've heard Howard after knee surgery may not be ready to play until midseason, and guys coming back from that surgery usually take a year. So I'd forget about him. But there remain some good possibilities.
We should sign Mcgrady; he's a free option, if he is recovered he's the X man to get us over the hump. Otherwise we are no better team than when we had Gordon, Thomas, Nocioni, Hinrich and etc.
Sam: So, not everyone agrees with me. I'm usually cautious until I see guys play together and until we get closer to the season, but I like what the Bulls have done. Sure, LeBron or Wade would have been better because they are legitimate star talents, but this roster is the most balanced in a decade with finally some inside punch from an efficient scorer in Boozer if not the classic big four. Of course, that Bulls team was verging on 50 wins and this one should as well or do even better.
I am very curious to know where you think Shaq will be playing this coming season, if anywhere. Specifically, what do you make of the idea that Shaq could swallow his pride and finish his career as a Laker? My opinion is that there is no way that Shaq would play for the Lakers again even if they wanted him, which they never will.
Sam: Yes, I get a lot of 'Get Shaq' emails as well, though this is more reasoned. You can guess I'm no fan of adding Shaq as well for the same reasons as McGrady. It should be a tip off the teams that had Shaq don't want him back. The Suns had to dump him or Steve Nash would not have re-signed. I don't know, but I can see a grand circle return to Orlando like Iverson did with Philly, though that didn't work so well. Shaq's had this feud of late with Dwight Howard as the big guy (Shaq) is oh so sensitive. But perhaps Orlando takes a shot and then can move Gortat, for whom they could get something to replace Matt Barnes. Kobe and Wade are not having him back. And Penny wants to return, too. Nah, forget that.
What do you think the chances of acquiring Rudy Fernandez? I've heard Knicks are trying hard to pursue him and I've heard he might not even return to the NBA next season.
Sam: That's the other big question I've been getting. I'd like to take a shot at Fernandez, though he didn't look good when Roy was hurt in the playoffs. Still, it finally seems Portland will move him, but I've heard they've turned down lottery picks for him. I hear they're still asking quite a bit and don't think it would be worth giving up, say, Gibson and a first.
So I hear a lot of people saying something like "The Bulls will be much improved, but now they have put themselves in NBA purgatory, where you are a decent team but not elite, and are stuck here for years." My response has been that I think they underestimate Rose becoming one of the five best in the game, and that the Bulls supporting cast is good enough to win a championship in a couple years as Rose progresses.
Sam: It is difficult to project for most, and if we all could we'd be much better gamblers. This reminds me of the late 80's and early 90's before the Bulls won. They were coming, but couldn't get by the Pistons. If you go back you'll find Chicago wasn't so sure it ever would happen and there was this same feeling about never going beyond a 50-some win level. I can't remember whom, but I remember a column in the Sun Times when I was covering the team then that said during one of those playoff defeats that Jordan never could lead the Bulls to a title and the Bulls as constituted with the likes of Pippen, Grant and Cartwright could never win a championship and would soon be passed by the next hot thing. It wasn't a unique opinion. But I agree on Rose and see him coming faster than many can imagine and in two years I believe he'll be better than Wade, and maybe even Kobe and then depending on who the Bulls add by then things could be a lot different. It's why the failure to get LeBron, in my view, wasn't so devastating. The Bulls have their LeBron in Rose, and if not quite as talented likely a better potential finisher and pressure player.
I have been following your dailies on Bulls.com. Since I seem to be a little more excited than you are about our acquisitions, here is where I think we should go for our final moves: first, Roger Mason should be the next pick up even if we have to use the remainder of the money. That would make our guard rotation very solid from 1-4. Secondly, we should give (gulp) Kwame Brown the last spot at 13. He is a big body who can perform well in a well defined role. I believe that Thibodeau can do that for him. By the way wasn't Kurt Thomas on the Knicks with Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier?
Sam: I think you're mistaking Kurt for Hawthorne Wingo, though about the same production. Yes, I have been a bit cavalier about the bottom of the roster additions, but I had mentioned Watson before and liked both of them, C.J. or Earl. C.J. is a better shooter, so it's a nice addition, I think. My view generally is you can pick among 10 guys at those positions and find positives and negatives. Once you have a solid eight or nine, your roster is pretty much set. Look, if Rose goes out or Noah you don't replace guys like that no matter who is your backup. Same now for Boozer. So I'm OK with anyone who plays hard and doesn't have a reputation to live up to. I'd much rather take hungry D-League guys than the star names. But if you can get veterans like Mason, Shannon Brown or Eddie House or even Theo Ratliff, assuming you are not counting his age yet by the rings around his body, I'd say you are doing OK.
Why do most people still rate Orlando high (in the top four) for next season, even higher than Atlanta, considering:
- Dwight Howard cannot make free throws to save his life
- Vince Carter & Rashard Lewis are another year older
- When their jumpshots aren't falling, teams just "hack-a-Howard" and they're done
- Boston beat them last year by challenging their shots and hack a Howard, and teams will use this same strategy.
- They lost Matt Barnes, overpaid for Redick, and over the cap which would prevent them from improving via free agency I can't see the Magic higher than 5th — Heat 1st, Hawks/Celtics/Bulls taking 2nd/3rd/4th in whatever order, then Magic. That's even assuming Skiles do not overachieve as his Bucks are now healthy and more stable.
Sam: I have been among those counting the Heat and Magic one/two, but I've been reassessing as well. They may have some moves left given some extra pieces like Bass, so it's still early. But I do think they took a step back and some holes were exposed in the playoffs. But more so, I think Barnes was a bit of a glue guy for them, but mostly the guy holding it together has been Stan Van Gundy and I can see both sides tiring of one another. I have Van Gundy as one of the league's best coaches and I can see him having come close to the end of his run with this group. It seems Howard is not responding and has gotten caught up in seeing himself too much as a cartoon figure. We know Vince has a history of not doing much in the playoffs and seeing his teams slide. Jameer Nelson gets beaten badly, which, I assume, is why they got Duhon, but who'd guarding him? And now something will be expected of Redick, and I don't think he has it in him. So, yes, I can see the Magic moving back into the pack with the Bulls and Hawks at their level. The Celtics showed they can ease off and still have playoff success. I'd be reluctant to say the Bulls can move all the way up to second, but it also would not be a huge surprise with good health.
Look at this team. They really look good on paper and with a few more additions look out NBA, here comes Chicago! We Bull fans are really into this coming year, we are reviving the Jordan/Pippen era! Am I dreaming or what? I like Ronnie Brewer (his focus [on] defense) and CJ Watson (people need to see him on youtube scoring his 40 pt game of last year for Golden State), their additions to this Chicago team will be a surprise. Chicago management has outdone themselves so far, or are they just lucky? This team could be the Chicago Dream Team!
Sam: I'm not quite that enthusiastic, but I'm sure the Bulls appreciate your excitement. I do think they are better and have the most balanced team they've had since the championship years. There's still a few spots to fill with a big man and another shooter, but I do see an intriguing season worth embracing assuming good health.
I really like what the Bulls are doing A.J. (After James.) The additions of Boozer, Korver, Brewer are solid. I also like the thought of adding Eddie House. What are your thoughts of adding Shaq to this team? Would it make us a title contender?
Sam: You don't hear House mentioned much, but he is that streak kind of shooter who could come cheap. The problem is he is small and not much of a defender, and Watson is small and you don't want your bench all undersized. As for Shaq, I get plenty of such emails and you cannot imagine what a disaster that would be. Is it any hint that there isn't much interest around the league? The stories you hear after he's left teams are brutal, of sulking about playing time, complaining, disrupting things with his outsized personality so things revolve around him. He'd be the last type of player you'd want with a new coach and several new players trying to fit together. If Miami doesn't want him back that should tell you something.
I'm finding it very hard to see anything positive in the NBA right now. Wade just made some stupid comment about how Miami won't lose and compared the team to being as big as the World Trade Center collapse. After seeing these guys dressed like slobs throughout this whole process and now bragging about the fact that they colluded to create this super team, I don't know if I care anymore. I am also starting to wonder if the NBA has become the WWF. You mentioned in an article that we would watch because we want to see this team lose. After the circus that these kids put on, I don't know if I can stomach watching any of it. I want to be happy for the Bulls, but I see the moves that they made are just going to hurt the team in the future. If the Knicks pull off Anthony and Paul, where does that leave Chicago? Stuck with Deng, Korver and Boozer and some long contracts they can't get rid of. I guess we have to try and see the silver lining, but honestly it's hard to see it under a giant pile of vomit.
Sam: This is what you call balance. Actually, I get more positive emails about what the Bulls did in the offseason and enthusiastic about the season, if not quite to the level of the aforementioned email. I'd say the ratio is about 70/30 positive for now and that's why I ran two positive ones to start, but we know once the season begins it all will be about wins and losses. As I've written, I only see Miami and Orlando basically better, but not unbeatable, especially because the Heat's big men look small to me. Magloire and Anthony? Jermaine O'Neal outplayed them both by a lot last season. It's tough to see if they made the Finals how they'd even compete with the Lakers' size. They are no lock to come out of the East, though they'll win a lot of games. At least it should give you a team you can be excited about hating.
I'm still bothered by the "3 big-egos" free agency fiasco. Dwyane Wade totally disgusts me. He is one slick, arrogant, deceitful and manipulative phony. As you know, Bosh accidentally blurted out that he and Wade and bron had talked about signing with the Heat "for months" prior to their "decisions". [Given] this I feel really angry about Mr. phony baloney Wade coming to [Chicago] twice and acting all sincere about possibly playing here. Phony baloney Wade's visits here and to New York were part of a deliberate strategy of misdirection; heightening suspense and drama; and stealing the strategies of the Bulls and Knicks. I just don't believe Wade managed to pull off the greatest free agency coup in the history of pro sports all by himself without [inside] info. and direction from within the Heat organization. I know that General Managers can't tamper [with], or entice, players on other teams but does the NBA prohibit tampering by proxy? I believe Wade was fed lines (he sounded too polished at times) and was given a strategy. For instance, where the hell did Wade's non-contextual statement about the Bulls not being good to their former players come from? It sounded fishy to me, like it had been something conjured up for him to say. I mean it wasn't even true! He's a relatively young player referring to ancient history!. I suspect the Heat probably gave Wade helpful and persuasive info. to help him sell the Heat to Bosh and [LeBron] (perhaps even morsels such as 'your friends can fly with the team!' or 'your friends will get court side seats!' or 'your friends will get great jobs!' I'd really love to see a copy of Wade's cell phone calls and texts.
Sam: It does have some foul odor to it as Wade's comments mentioning the World Trade Center does suggest, as we've long known, he's not one of the sharper knives in the drawer. After all, those commercials are acting, lines written by others and multiple efforts to get it right and sounding sincere. I do think it was mostly a perfect storm, one time thing that's not likely to be duplicated since there aren't many more stars left in the NBA. Chris Paul's not going to play with a broken down Amar'e Stoudemire in New York in two years. The key was LeBron being someone other than who we were led to believe he was. As I've written, I don't condemn him as others do for not being up to being the stand alone star, and I don't mean having to do it by himself as there have been a load of great star trios in history. The great Russell Celtics were a seven some, after all. I always think leagues prosper with a great team to hate, like the Yankees, old Dallas Cowboys and the American Idol judges.
Question for Mike: Are you sure that if you looked up in 1992 after 7 years not winning and saw starters, Joe Wolf and Olden Polynice instead of Grant and Pippen, a team over the cap and without any ascendant young players or trading chips that you'd feel the same way about Bird and Magic? Take your lumps indefinitely, end up as Ewing? The MJ-Bird-Magic troika is way different from LJ-Wade-Bosh. The former were real rivals and disliked each other early on. They had to go through each other to win; they had epic playoff battles under their belts. The latter 3 have had no competitive rivalry. None of them has met in the playoffs. Two are on terrible teams. No one has to defeat the other to win a title. Just because you are a great player does not mean you are a rival and have to go through every other player in the league. If Olajuwon and Hardaway were FAs and wanted to come to Chicago, would you have refused them? It's not so straightforward as it seems, is it?
Sam: It never is, but anger and passion are so much more fun. Jordan did ask for players often, but, true it never was other transcendent stars. But he wanted All-Stars, like Walter Davis and Buck Williams. The point is well taken given there were brutal battles over the years, though you do indict the three by noting that after seven years in the league their meetings have meant little. I guess that is one big difference in the league today. There wasn't all this hugging and post game prayer sessions. LeBron was mad in 2009. Good for him. I never thought that was the issue. The issue was when he blew off the media (public), which Michael, Magic, Larry, etc., never did. You learn to stand up after a loss as well as a win and that was LeBron's issue, not that he didn't shake hands. That shaking hands and hugging stuff after games is a joke. You should want to beat the heck out of the other guy and not like it when you don't. If there is a conspiracy I'd worry about today it is the way guys seem to take it a bit easy on one another. Well, many. Not Kobe, for sure. Which is why I'm looking forward to this Miami trio because there is an undercurrent of resentment around the NBA about it. We'll see if it produces real 80's type competition again when Isiah would bite you and McHale would arm bar you and Oakley and Mahorn were rolling over tables. I have no doubt Jordan would have gladly teamed with Olajuwon, though I know then he intensely disliked Magic and didn't much regard Bird that highly. It is easier to say how great we used to be in the good 'ol days, which were never quite as great as we remember.
Remember around the LeBron decision time, when you had hundreds of people looking at you for reassurance that LeBron was going to sign with us? I'd really love some reassurance that the Bulls are not going to sign Tracy McGrady please! I read somewhere that the Bulls are interested in him, and that this was his desired place to play.
Sam: I believe McGrady's desired place to play is where anyone will take him. I'm fairly confident the Bulls have little interest in him, especially because even at his best he was a ball holder and half court player and he doesn't fit basketball wise even if he had much skill left. Which he doesn't.
Could the Bulls give Portland their and Charlotte's first round picks this coming draft for Fernandez? Could that work? Like you said they got enough on the perimeter and two first round picks could be valuable for them.
Sam: Everyone loves Rudy. This is the latest spate of emails I get, to add Fernandez, and I'd love to see it. But I don't see it happening as the Trailblazers generally have been asking for a lot for Rudy. Maybe a high level player like Gibson and a No. 1. I think the Bulls have gone about this offseason in the right way by not depleting their core with fantasy trades and adding to the roster without subtracting needed pieces. Portland needs to compete now and I don't believe they want future draft picks. The price for Rudy generally has been high as there have been numerous bidders given his low salary. I don't believe the Bulls have any shot, though they have expressed interest at various times in the past.
Assuming the NBA comes out of the labor agreement [with] a soft cap, do you see LeBron, Wade and Bosh playing out all six years of their contract with Miami?
Sam: How funny would that be if the NBA gets a hard cap through? Really, it seems to me virtually impossible since a lot of owners will not want to break up their teams, including the Bulls. Would you want to let go Noah or Rose or Boozer because of a salary cap limitation? I know a lot of people are mad at what Miami did, mostly because it seemed deceitful the way it was manipulated. Yes, it would be a fine irony for Miami to have to break up the team on it's own for cap reasons, but I don't see it happening. The weak link, if there is one, could be Bosh, and we'll see how he handles the big time as he's mostly failed his team when asked to do more.
The key question is: how feasible is to keep both Rose and Noah, combined with Deng and Boozer, once the young talents will have to re-sign their contracts? Considering the new collective agreement, which is still under construction and so will be in the near future, can the Bulls afford all those four players under the cap?
Sam: I think that's why you are seeing the Bulls sign these two year deals. They are trying to think ahead, which is smart. You don't want to get in a situation where you have built a good team and have to drop key parts because of a new labor agreement. Noah and Rose, you'd assume, would be eight figure players, and it's hard to see the future with any team with four as the Bulls would have with them, Boozer and Deng. So this is going to have to be finessed and the Bulls are trying to do that now. I know it's easy for fans to build fantasy teams with stars and high level players, but teams have to be thinking ahead about finances perhaps now more than ever.
What Flip Murray did last year... he probably wasn't consistent but he was one of the only guys that could provide you with some decent scoring off the bench.
Sam: I usually dismiss Murray as the Bulls don't often go back to guys. He is a streaky shooter and I'd probably prefer someone else, but he was popular with the players. He was generally cranky and uncooperative with reporters, but was different inside the team and actually quite the cutup. So they could bring him back without any chemistry issues, I'd assume, though I expect them to look elsewhere.
I really like the Watson signing, and I could see him being a poor man's JET, as ironic as that sounds. I hope the bulls utilize him as a scoring guard rather than a pure point guard. He is as fast as Terry, as tall as him, defends the same way, has a comparable shooting stroke, but lacks some athleticism. Still, I see him good for 15-17 points off the bench maybe for 6th man of the year? Does the kid have it in him?
Sam: Well, that might be a bit much, but I'm sure the Bulls appreciate your enthusiasm. I think they'd be thrilled if he averaged half that. Look, they previously were playing Lindsey Hunter. At least Watson is alive. Terry's an interesting comparison, though we haven't seen quite that kind of scoring. I heard a comparison to Bimbo Coles, who had some good scoring years in the early '90s in Miami. To me the big thing is it's a player and not a guy you are trying who hasn't been there.
I'm curious why we needed to do a sign and trade in the Watson signing? I understand that Golden State wants the trade exception and draft pick, but couldn't we just have signed him outright and forced them to either match or let him sign with us?
Sam: Maybe they'd have matched to get something and then you can't get him. Then your money is tied up a week again and you have to start over. May as well deal, like paying for that item on ebay. Sometimes better to have the peace of mind and not save every penny.
I think a similar comparison to the team make up of the new Heat (Wade, Lebron,Bosh) could be, from Michael's rookie class, in combining on the Bulls; Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Akeem Olajuwon.
Sam: Not even close. As Shaq said, Bosh is the Ru Paul of big men.
What is the issue with Matt Barnes? I thought he would be a great addition to the Bulls. He would have added some toughness and he seems like he could also play the 2 and the 3.
Sam: I see he signed with Toronto on a reasonable deal. I liked him and have said so as I think the Bulls could use a bit of toughness, though Brewer could provide some. The issue was more position. With Korver and Deng, there really was no room or reason for another three, and James Johnson plays there when he plays. The Bulls remaining needs are guard and big man.
Do you think Jeremy Lin would be a good addition for the Bulls? I've watched him during the summer league and he's got a nice jumper, is aggressive attacking the basket, and was pretty decent defending John Wall when they played. He would probably come pretty cheap and could be a nice backup for D-Rose.
Sam: I think he's been the nobody du jour this summer. I've gotten a load of e-mails about signing the Harvard guy. I assume that's mostly from a good game he had against John Wall. He's made shots, but as I've said, I see the Bulls, like with the Watson deal, looking for veterans. Don't confuse success in summer league with anything resembling actual success.
If Joe Johnson was still available after we signed Boozer and after Lebron had decided to go to Miami, would the Bulls had offerred him (Joe Johnson) a max contract still?
Sam: Yes, but they couldn't have offered what Atlanta did, and as long as they offered that sixth year when Joe is 34, there was no way he was going to sign anywhere else.
Why is Rondo waffling on joining the USA Olympic team? I think he's been overrated and has been helped a lot by playing with 3 future hall of famers. I think he's afraid he wont make the team with heavy competition at point guard like Derrick Rose and Russel Westbrook.
Sam: Look, I know people don't like Rondo's attitude, but the guy makes plays. Though I can understand him passing on USA Basketball as I don't see any way they can keep a guy who can't shoot. In international ball you have to and Rondo probably understands that.
Do you think the Bulls will take a look at Richard Jefferson to possibly play the 2? I know he usually plays the small forward position, but I think he would be able to play the better shooting guards straight up (i.e. Kobe, DWade, etc.), and chase shooters off screens.
Sam: He's obviously too expensive as they have maybe $4.5 million left after signing Watson. Jefferson opting out was the "what was he thinking" decision of the summer. He was owed $15 million for next season. The Spurs still are buying drinks for everyone, I assume. He's looking for more years and somewhat less money, but it's an awful risk I still cannot believe he took.
I was listening to the radio this morning and the ESPN Chicago guys thought the Bulls were a 45 win team. I thought with the moves the Bulls made, they'd be significantly better. If I had to play oddsmaker, I'd put the Bulls win total at around 50-52 wins unless there was a catastrophic injury. I'd also put the Heat at 67, the Magic at 58 and the Celtics in the low 50's.
Sam: Well, the Bulls won 41 last season despite dumping Gordon and Salmons and losing Noah for a third of the season and spending half the time apparently deciding what to do with the coach. With good health they have a good shot at 50 wins. If you check back on preseason predictions anywhere you'll find them way off. Check the NBA GM preseason surveys and you'd think these guys play golf all the time and rarely watch basketball. Oh, right. The radio guys don't even come to games, not that it makes the people who do better prognosticators.
Look, it's all guesswork now. But you have what seems like the right order on paper in Miami and Orlando the two best. I'm not sure what happens with Boston as they showed they can keep it half speed and make the Finals, so I don't think wins matter much at all for them.
Do the Bulls have anyone in mind for backup point guard? How about Earl Watson on Carlos Arroyo? I know neither one is a world beater but I don`t think either one would be too expevsive. Besides, what other options do they have?
Sam: It’s not like you are about to get a guy from any of these lists who’ll make much difference. I know fans are interested, but once you have nine guys the roster is pretty much set. Will Bynum? Chucky Atkins? Jamaal Tinsley? Rafer Alston? Flip Murray? Shannon Brown? Royal Ivey? Keyon Dooling? Marcus Williams? Anthony Johnson? Earl Boykins? Is there much difference? Heck, they had Lindsey Hunter for two years. There are other guys like Roger Mason and Keith Bogans. The priority now may be another big man, as with Brad Miller signing with Houston, the Bulls need size as no one quite knows what they’ll get out of Omer Asik even though the coaching staff is optimistic.
I think Derrick Byars from the Bulls Summer League should be given a shot (no pun intended). He's a 6'7" wing that probably would bring just as much to the table as James Anderson, if they would've drafted him with the 17th pick (and kept it). He's shot the ball at a high percentage throughout his college and D-league career, and the Bulls could really use another 3pt option besides Korver. Moreover, signing Byars over an aging Bogans or Roger Mason would save the team money that we could either put towards a higher priced back-up point guard, defensive forward, or a 3rd center who has a mid-range jumper that could help spread the floor.
Sam: It’s difficult to say given summer league players who are not drafted rarely make rosters. Byars was close last year but never made it up. Guys from the summer league or D-League usually need to be role players like Chris Richard and not specialists with skills, since they don’t get a chance for many shots but usually are asked to defend or rebound or set picks. Teams usually prefer experienced players and I assume the Bulls go that route.
The thing that troubles me most about this offseason is: How come when owners talk anything about payroll and salaries it is called collusion, but when players talk about it, it is called free market? I am not surprised that the "big three" went to Miami. I had a feeling that they had it all planned out months ago when Wade made the loyalty comments and the "free agent summit". Everyone "knew" something was up, and it would not surprise me if it happened before last season. I think the Big O (Oscar Robertson) had it right, the ownership HAD to know something was up going into this free agent market. Enough about the team everyone will hate for decades, the newest of New York Yankees of buying talent.
Sam: One of the issues the league has with player behavior is they are selling the players as their product. There seems little doubt Wade colluded with James and Bosh at a time they all were on different teams and under separate contracts. But the NBA doesn’t want fans to dislike its greatest stars, which is why you rarely see action against the top players. When Michael Jordan had his gambling accusations in the early 1990s, the NBA said it was investigating but really never did. I’d recall contacting key people involved—and there were only a few—and they said they never talked to the NBA. The NBA consistently said since it was an investigation they couldn’t give details. So just as the NBA didn’t want to find anything on Jordan if there was something and it didn’t appear there was, they don’t want to find anything on Wade and LeBron as they are two of the biggest stars they sell. So as these things develop you likely won’t hear anything from the NBA. Just as when guys on a team get in trouble a team is reluctant to come down too harshly as they still have the guy under contract and then want the fans to pay to come see him, like what’s going on now in Washington with Gilbert Arenas. It is a realistic dilemma.
I just read an article about Rashad McCants unable to find a job anywhere in the league. I don't know about you, but I am very underwhelmed with the Ronnie Brewer signing (why do the bulls need another guy that can't shoot?), and McCants seems like a no-lose situation here. A former starter, who is still young, has a big enough body to cover twos or threes, can shoot (.333 career 3pt shooter, not great but way better than Brewer), has something to prove, and would be willing to play for cheap. Sign him to a one year deal at the minimum, and I would bet he's the starting 2 at the end of the year.
Sam: I’ve gotten a lot of similar suggestions and there clearly have been personal issues from Day 1 with McCants. He’s been a troubled guy and asking him to be far down the bench and play a role with a team like the Bulls trying to break through is risking a disaster that I don’t see worth it given the limited upside. I like Brewer as the fifth best starter. Deron Williams loved playing with the guy, which is good enough for me.
Miller is gone . what about now ? kwame brown?
Sam: That would be a tribute to Jerry Krause as the Bulls previously had the Nos. 2 and 4 picks in that draft. Why not No. 1, also? Kwame has been demeaned like Darko for being picked higher than his value. But that is the kind of pickup you look at. Mikki Moore? Kurt Thomas? Tony Battie? Jason or Jarron Collins? They’re out there and there’s not much difference.
I remember an old interview with Brad Miller, when he was in Sacramento, in which he said he felt he made enough money that he wouldn't care about it as much in his final years in the NBA. He said he just wanted to return to the Pacers and retire in Indiana. So why did he go to Houston? More importantly, why didn't he stay with the Bulls? They clearly have a better team than the Rockets. It was reported that coach Adelman was trying to reunite him and Kevin Martin. I get that, but I really thought he found a nice place here in Chicago. I guess money is king at the end of the day.
Sam: Yes, Udonis Haslem took less. And now there are rumors Matt Barnes may as well to go to Miami. But LeBron and the fellas got theirs. Brad’s story is a good lesson for all fans. Don’t believe much of what they say when it comes to money. In the end, they usually take the last dollar, and you can’t fully blame them as most people do. Brad had the potential to be different as he made $90 million on his last contract and as far as I could see he certainly didn’t spend it on clothes. And you can only hunt with one gun at a time, I think. He did chew a lot of tobacco, but I’m assuming less than a million dollars a year worth. Brad did seem to enjoy Chicago, it was close to home and his buddies and he even was close with the support staff and socialized with them. C’mon, Kevin Martin? Brad was there a couple of seasons with him, but I didn’t take him for the hunting/chewing type. Maybe Brad was mad they traded his best buddy Kirk. But he did what most guys do. He went to the highest bidder. You can’t be too upset as that’s the goal for most guys. He gave the Bulls a good season and a half and that should be enough for now.
With the grizzlies so deep at the wing now.....how about the bulls look into trading for Sam Young. He's looking pretty good in Summer League and could be available. I'd give up a future first round pick to get him. He's strong, athletic, and tough.
Sam: I haven’t heard his name, but I’ve always liked him and was surprised last year he fell into the second round. He was good in summer league. Seems like a reasonable choice, though I don’t think you need to give up that much for a ninth or 10th man. There are plenty of veterans free agents that won’t cost you a pick.
If Chicago has about $7 or $9 is salary cap left, would you take somone's expiring contracts in order to get a future pick from lottery prone teams? These are my best options:
TJ Ford $8,5
There's strong chances they go to lottery next year, and all 3 are in teams over salary cap threshole, it's just what Oklahoma did with Utah and Maynor,
Sam: It’s a possible way to go, but the Bulls likely need to spread that approximately $8 million among a big, a wing player and a backup point. Ford’s too expensive. Kapono is an awful defender at that price. Songaila’s a bit small up front, but I liked him when he was with the Bulls.
Do you think orlando would be willing to trade Gortat for trade exception and a couple of second rounders?
Sam: Don’t see why, especially the way Howard is in foul trouble so much. They can’t be in the business of giving up on talent with Miami loading up, and that’s probably a big reason they kept a marginal player like Redick.
It appears all of the stuff coming from Brad Miller’s camp was a smoke screen. With the exception of Derek Rose improving and 22 games of improved low post scoring (the number of games Boozer will play next
year) the Bulls have seriously declined in every other area except coaching… I see them as a 39 to 41 game winner next season getting to the 7th seed in an otherwise unspectacular top-heavy only Eastern Conference and losing to the likes of Miami, Boston, or Orlando.
Losing I’ll say in five or six games (depending on each teams injuries at that time.Do you think the Bulls might be interested in Marquis Daniels (unrestricted free agent guard of the Celtics)? I think he has good size for a SG at 6’6” and is surprisingly good at posting up smaller players.
Sam: I think they’ll be much better than that as they probably should have been last season and without any inside scorer. They didn’t hit it big, as we know, but they now have a legit NBA starter at every position, and maybe three of the five—Rose, Noah and Boozer—ranking in the top five, six or seven at their position, which usually is a formula for competing at least for the conference finals. As for Daniels, I was high on him once, but he’s been hurt a lot. He might be worth a shot at the end of the roster at some point if he’s healthy. The issue of late is these kinds of guys seem to want to sign on for teams with a better chance to go to a title.
I can hear your rejection of this thought even before I mention it, but I since I read that the Bulls have held a try-out for Adam Morrison, do you think they're considering him? Now that they have a defensive 2-guard and missed out on one 2006 college player of the year finalist, what say we try for another? He has underachieved (not too expensive) with time to turn it around. I know he's no defender and that he dribbles while looking at the ground until he assumes he's open for a shot, but when he's on, not many can pour in shots like him.
Sam: I’m not opposed to giving guys like that a look. I’ve liked Joe Alexander and heard he’s been hurt, but I’d hoped he’d get a shot. Morrison had something. He’s cheap and I have no problem with taking a shot, though I think the Bulls want to try more experienced guys and will do better.
How do you think the union leadership feels about players taking less than the max to play for Miami? They go through lockouts and hard earned negotiations so that the players can enjoy the fruit of their labors, and here these guys don't even use the entire negotiated salary possibilities? Will it help the owners justify a hard cap?
Also, will Miami and Orlando always have an advantage in free agency, because of the lack of a state income tax?
Sam: It’s an interesting point. The notion was the NBA was handing the union an issue by paying so much for low level free agents like Amir Johnson. But if guys like Haslem and if Matt Barnes also goes to Miami (though he’s been mentioned for Cleveland and that seems to make more sense. And money.) it suggests maybe the league can go with a hard cap as many guys will say it’s OK to take less to go to a desirable destination. I’d say privately the union is unhappy just as the league is when owners settle for less than the highest offer when they sell their teams.
The more you watch James Johnson play in summer league, the more you realize he is a future shoot guard, but that future is not now. He is nowhere near ready to be even a bench contributor on a playoff team. I think he needs at least half a season in the D-league to figure out what his game is going to be, what his strength are and how to play under control because he played out of position at the 4 in college and is re-learning how to play on the perimeter.
Sam: Yes, that’s what I’ve feared with him and he could be playing his way out of the NBA. From the beginning the issue was what he was as he had a lot of skill, but no particular place to apply them. I agree he could be a nice mismatch at shooting guard, and I felt the team should have had him in the D-League last season. The issue now is with a short roster do they need him, and if they do how much of an issue is that. If they are not going to use him, he probably should be playing in the D-League.
I’m sure you’ve gotten emailed a thousand times about this, but I just read the article on Yahoo and was particularly impressed by this excerpt. My respect for Derrick Rose just went up about five notches.“For everything the Bulls tried to sell – from owner Jerry Reinsdorf to GM Gar Forman to coach Tom Thibodeau – there had been one thing that troubled James’ about the Bulls pitch: Derrick Rose never called and tried to recruit him. Chicago officials never directly requested Rose to reach out with a call, and the young point guard felt James could’ve always reached out to him had he wanted to discuss the possibility of playing together. James needed to be courted, needed to be wooed and apparently it surprised him there was a star who wasn’t falling over himself to do that.”
Sam: As we know, there has been a ton of misinformation printed thus far about James and the big chase, so who knows if this “needed to be courted” thing is true at all. It isn’t true if you are in the camp that felt this was long decided. I believe Rose was there. I’d heard that he’d long felt—and players tend to know these things better—that James was more playing the Bulls and never was that serious. I don’t know this for sure, but I believe Derrick, as most great players do, sees himself as every bit the equal of James. These types of players don’t want to put themselves in position of begging someone to help them and then getting turned down and then having to face the guy. Great players generally don’t run around begging for help. I read once where the Yankees Derek Jeter said he never recruited players to the Yankees for that reason and because if the player didn’t come he didn’t want to be accused of trying to cost a teammate a job. How would it have looked for Wade if it came out he tried to get help and everyone turned him down? And then the guy knows when they meet Wade wanted him and he looked down on Wade’s interest. It’s also why I don’t think Rose was in on Boozer, though what I heard was Rose had told management he’d have no probably playing with anyone they got. But I think he knew before most of us the Bulls were fairly low on LeBron’s list. I find it hard to believe LeBron rejected the Bulls because there wasn’t enough fealty and then went to join the Heat. I know LeBron has seemed pathetic in a lot of this. But not that pathetic.