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Ask Sam mailbag | 09.17.10

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

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

I know that you said, no carmelo, but, we have a lot of pieces that we could give. So we give Noah, Deng, Gibson, JJ, money, Charlote´s pick and how many 1st that they want, for Carmelo, Billups and Nene.

Alexandre Rayel

Sam: I’ve continued to get a number of these beseeching requests for Carmelo. I explained, I thought in brilliant detail, last week why he wasn’t coming to the Bulls. One thing I forgot to mention is he’s not even interested in Chicago. Remember, Chicago was the perfect place for LeBron? It was. Coming to play with Noah, Deng and Rose and bringing Bosh. How could he not do that? It was the perfect place for Wade. Coming to play with Noah and Deng and Rose, bringing Bosh, the Bulls main weakness being shooting guard, and his kids here so he wouldn’t have to split up his family. And neither came close. So now it’s ‘Melo, who got married this summer and had the wedding not in his favorite city, Chicago, but New York. Hey, we’ve got good banquet halls here. I know there was one internet report of his interest in Chicago. Forget it. He’s got a celebrity wife whom I never heard of but supposedly has something to do with MTV. I am confident, though, she’s no Doris Day. She’d love New York or L.A., and fans have no idea how a wife influences these decisions. Unless, of course, you are married, and then you know. No offense to Chicago, but we are not exactly a celebrity city. I do believe Denver will eventually trade him, but it’s going to be to the Nets. Slight possibility Clippers. The Clippers have some good pieces and likely Minnesota’s unprotected No. 1 pick in 2012. Kevin McHale keeps on giving. But they still are the Clippers and you are clearly No. 2 in L.A. The Nets are No. 2 in New York, but No., 2 behind the Knicks isn’t very far, and the Knicks are a mess that has blown free agency. Yes, the Nets are in Newark two more seasons, but they have Jay-Z the entertainer—The New York Times reported this week he’s so big that guys who rob banks wear Yankees hats like he does--the big Russian guy money and ‘Melo gets to make it his team. Plus, the Nets just cashed in for Troy Murphy, who has a nice expiring deal. So the Nets throw in their recent No. 1 pick, Derrick Favors, who projects to be a terrific power forward, a young stud like Terrence Wiliams, another No. 1 and you’ve got a deal. The Nets get a star and still have Devin Harris and Brook Lopez and the Nuggets with Kenyon Martin and J. R. Smith coming off the books have a heck of a nice head start on rebuilding. Book it, Danno.

So I know everyone is caught up on Melo at the moment but say Denver decides to move Melo and are in a rebuilding situation. I dont think Billiups would want to be there and I think the organization would probably be okay turning the team over to Lawson in that situation. Would the Bulls be interested in making Billiups their 2?He brings everything we could use to the table and he and rose play well as the 1 and 2 on team USA. I would much rather get him than Melo and he fits a need as a shooter at the 2. He would just have to accept playing off the ball instead of being the point which i think he could just like on team USA.

Marshall Lacey

Sam: I admit I didn’t see every USA game, but of what I did, Billups is closing in quickly on being done. He shot poorly, couldn’t guard anyone and basically didn’t do much. And he turns 34 next week. I’m fairly sure Denver is done with him and will buy him out after this season for about $3 million on his $14 million deal. I assume he then tries to get the best contract he can and returns to the Nuggets to play a final season and then coach in Denver, where he is from. Guards like him go quickly, and he’s headed way down and out.

Since the FIBA world championships ended there has been a prevailing opinion among many people that Russell Westbrook not Derrick Rose should and will play in the 2012 London games. Are people basing too much on a few games or am I missing something? It seems to me that Westbrook played well in a few games down the stretch while Derrick Rose had an uncharacteristic shooting slump, but throughout the course of the NBA season and majority of the world champioshionships Rose was both the better shooter and player. Of course I am biased.

Ian Dannehy

Sam: We all are biased regarding Rose, whom we see far more. It’s laughable to say he can’t shoot when we’ve watched him make huge shots since that Boston playoff series in 2009. Though he’s not that three point threat yet and I can’t see it this season quite yet. This is an instant world more than ever. The last thing everyone saw is the best thing. Makes them seem more important. Westbrook was in a good role for him, coming in and attacking and slashing. And he did some good stuff. He’s a good player you’d love to have. Rose was in a more inhibited role, and USA teams are all about sticking to your role. I am quite confident Oklahoma City would give you Westbrook in a second for Rose. And probably throw in Jeff Green. That said, these teams are about role players fitting as well. A lot will go on between now and 2012 and the team could choose Westbrook for his energy or defense or utility, though if you watch him on a regular basis, as I did last season, you know he’s not much of a point guard. If the USA team were to pass on Rose in two years they’d be leaving home at that time perhaps the league’s best point guard, but that would be their choice, and always possible given Chris Paul and Deron Williams have seniority from playing on the 2008 team.

If the Bulls get Fernandez for JJ and a pick, does that move Brewer to the bench and make Rudy your combo guard? Also, CJ Watson would seem to be out of the mix too, with a Fernandez signing. If Rose gets 38 minutes a game at the point, and Fernandez gets 10 at point and 14 at the 2, is that enough minutes for a guy already complaining about minutes?

John Sanew

Sam: I’m still hoping the Bulls can land Rudy for a No.1, which is more likely, if it does happen, as camp opens in about 10 days since Portland can’t want him coming in. They are now just trolling around trying for something more. Given the Bulls’ hole with long distance shooting, I’d see Rudy getting plenty of time, enough to satisfy him. The Knicks always are rumored interested, but they’d seem to have less time as they have perimeter shooters. Rudy would be a nice platoon with Brewer, but it’s up to Portland, as it has been for months.

My sense is that when you liken LJ to Pip, as great as Pip was, you are purposely diminishing LJ, a back-handed compliment. Riley chose Oscar as LJs Miami model. You could have chosen Bird as the model of point forward. In the Olympics, LJ ~doubled Kobe in steals, blocks, assists, and rebounds, and OUTSCORED him as well. He came within half a point of Wade and a clean sweep of Kobe, Wade, and Anthony in every one of those stats. Not really (seems to me) something to be diminished as "supporting" or Pippenesque. All the great players on that team allowed others to take responsibility, all were "supporting" (in a laudatory sense) and that's why the team was so good.

Sheldon Hirsch

Sam: Maybe it’s you trying to diminish Pippen, who had great numbers with that Dream Team. The point, which I’ve often made and which LeBron seems to me to have endorsed, is he doesn’t want to be the finisher, the guy who takes responsibility, but a part of something great. That’s OK. It’s laudable even, but you don’t get nicknames like King for that and Jesus like murals. He’s a great, great talent. No one disputes that. But he wants to be wrapped in more security. He got those great numbers on that Olympic team because of his talent. Anyone who watched those games would name you two or three other players who were pivotal before LeBron. It’s why I thought he’d fit great with Kobe and if he wanted to win for sure go to the Lakers and then succeed Kobe. But I think he prefers that cocoon of protection with other stars and I think he’ll be a great point guard this season threatening Oscar’s triple double average. You just don’t get to be in the race for greatest ever that way. Nothing wrong with that as I consider Oscar the greatest ever point guard. But not greatest. LeBron told us he’s satisfied to get out of that race for Jordan’s spot and enjoy his basketball life. Perhaps we just need to admire him more for that. But just don’t confuse who he is as a basketball player.

Would Michal Finley or Brian Scalabrine count as the good shooter the bulls need?

Vince Kabat

Sam: I think Finley is too old at this point, but Scalabrine is a guy the Bulls have talked with a lot this summer and especially with Thibodeau I can see him as possible depending on what goes on regarding Fernandez. I know guys like Steve Novak have been at the Berto working out more in pickup type games, which the Bulls do with guys before the season. The job, for now unless it’s Fernandez, is a 12th or 13th man who might play a day a week. You need a good team guy willing to root a lot and Scalabrine would be that. If they can’t get Fernandez, I’d take a shot at him if the price is right, though for now I’d guess the Bulls add someone from training camp as a non guaranteed guy to hold space for a trade.

What i saw of asik had me concerned but intrigued. yes, much better hands
but not a finisher- maybe afraid to take an elbow. i wouldn't give him
more than 5 minutes a game for the first month or so and only in blowouts
or if someone is in foul trouble.



Larry Teren


Sam: In finally getting to see Asik play, it seems clear he’s a project for now. And why should we think otherwise, I guess. He basically sat out the last three years with knee surgery, shoulder surgery and a contract dispute. And that was after starting basketball at 16. He shows he can move, is big and can block a shot or at least change some, but is a long way off from understanding the NBA game and his offense is nonexistent. He knows tough play by playing in Europe and being in big time leagues. But I also wouldn’t expect too much for now, certainly in the first half of the season. He is a willing and dedicated student by all accounts, so he could come faster than it looks like.

Does it make sense for the Bulls to look @ Earl Barron? He should come cheap & would give us more size? Seems to be active & is still a young guy.

My other thought is Dampier could be available by camp or the beginning of the season. I would bet he would head back to Dallas if he could.

We will need more size in the playoffs, that seems to be the big concern. I think they can wait until the trade deadline to address the shooting guard questions unless Portland decides to move Rudy before the season begins.

Steve Fulton

Sam: I guess they could take a look, though I think the size issue for the playoffs could better be addressed later and the shooting issue for now, which I think is the biggest void. Barron had some good numbers finishing last season in a few games, though Dampier is the hot name now after being released by Charlotte. I assume he looks for someone’s mid level. If he were to take a minimum, I assume it would be in Miami, where he could get minutes as they have no real center. He wouldn’t get much time with the Bulls with Noah and Kurt Thomas as the backup.

What happened with Jannero Pargo? I thought Warriors signed him!

Fernando Martinez Sans

Sam: He hurt his knee in a pickup game and wasn’t able to pass a physical. I’ve seen him some rehabbing at the Berto and he said his brother signed in Israel. Maybe he goes back overseas, though if he’s healthy I assume he gets a shot somewhere.

Just out of curiosity... why does Shaq still call himself the best center in the league?

Ray Lugz

Sam: He’s quite old, and at that age people often forget. He just doesn’t remember he isn’t, anymore.

Are there any common elements shared by the role players (Bogans, Brewer, Korver, Watson, Thomas) selected by the Bulls this summer, given that there was a large pool of talent and the Bulls had enough salary cap available to get almost anyone out there? Is the common thread their toughness, maturity/seriousness, basketball intelligence, athleticism, work being good teammates, or that they are all serious gym rats? Did Thibodeau have a major role in selecting who was signed? Also, 1.Is Carlos Boozer any relation to Bob Boooooooooooozer (as the PA announcer would blare out when he made a basket)? 2. Are you the Sam Smith that is No. 137 all-time in ABA scoring with 2,097 points and No. 66 all-time in ABA rebounds with 1,776 for the Minnesota Muskies, Kentucky Colonels and Utah Stars over the 1967-71 period (per Basketball-Reference.com)? I don't have a picture of the player in a sweater vest or golf shirt to have a clue.

Paul Zukor

Sam: I don’t think there was a common element as much as each was picked for need and flexibility. The Bulls were also trying to manage their payroll to have the maximum available to pay Noah and Rose given the likely changes coming in the new labor deal next summer. It’s easy to say pay everybody. But you cannot afford to be in position not to offer the most to your best players. Thibodeau was involved as far as input, but you never want a coach to dictate personnel as coaches change, as we found with Skiles. It seems the guys they got—and we’ll find out—are more of the gym rat, hard worker types, which is what you do need when you have a coach like Thibodeau. Even Rose and Deng, playing this summer, have been back working out at Berto this week. Noah has been there a lot this summer even with his contract under discussion, sort of the anti-Tyson Chandler. Boozer was best available, and you hope he can physically work to the level he’s asked. As for Bob Boozer, he was one of my favorites and one of your more underrated guys. He played for Tex Winter at K-State. Then he came into the NBA to play with Oscar, but not before sitting out a year so he could play in the 1960 Olympics as only “amateurs” could play then. Now, that’s commitment to the country for sports. When he came to the expansion Bulls, he finally got the scoring role and really played center on offense for Dick Motta and was the late game go to guy in the role Chet Walker later assumed. One time WGN newsman Don Harris used to yell out, “Boo-Zah!” And, yes, as that Sam Smith is a good ‘ol country boy from Kentucky, that was me.


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