Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 10.29.10
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One question triggered actually by Mark Jackson's and JVG's comments - the Noah-Melo thing again. I'm not speculating whether it's going to happen or not, but the thing is, and I quote and agree with Jackson here, "you don't find unstoppable scorers like Melo, though you can find another great rebounder and emotional leader like Noah a lil' easier". I mean, don't you agree with that just a little? I feel the Bulls, as good as they currently look, and they'll improve when Booz' comes back, might be making a mistake, the same we did in not giving up Deng for KG or Gasol when we had the shot. And don't get me wrong here, I love both Noah and Deng, great defenders, both developing a decent offensive game. But how do you feel about the scorer-rebounder/leader thing?
Sam: I heard the question came up again during the broadcast and I wasn’t surprised as I talked with Van Gundy about it before the game. I could understand the concept of trading for Anthony. The conventional wisdom is, OK, you take a step back this season, but you aren’t winning, anyway. But then you have Rose to match with Wade, Anthony with LeBron and Boozer with Bosh. Miami is being talked about as a championship team with those three and you can make the case that three with the Bulls would be better. So if they were to do it, I wouldn’t go nuts and say it was a mistake. But, again, I wouldn’t. I keep hearing how much easier it is to come up with a double/double potential All-Star seven footer who is a teammate favorite and hustler like that and I wonder where those guys are. If the Bulls get it going when Boozer returns, Noah could be an All-Star. Plus, to match salaries you have to give up Deng and probably a No. 1 pick. You’d be awfully small, and where are all these seven-footers? Omer Asik? I’d stick with Noah and I believe the Bulls will, as well.
Tell me if I'm dreaming, but I really think that Carmelo Anthony will sign with Chicago next year. Shouldn't we have cap space, if we don't re-sign Keith Bogans, Brian Scalabrine, Kurt Thomas? I mean, even if Denver trades him, he doesn't have to stay anywhere he doesnt want to. I think Chicago is the perfect fit for Melo with the team we have now.
Sam: The interesting part is Anthony agrees, and I’ve continued to hear he’d like to play for the Bulls because of Rose and Noah. But you are dreaming. The Bulls already have more than $52 million in committed salaries for next season with the cap perhaps being even less than that. Their free agency was last summer and with Rose’s extension coming up, they are with this group pretty much forever out of free agency. Perhaps you can trade guys into trade exceptions or cap room, but it generally is almost impossible, especially with big contracts and role players, which comprise much of the available players now on the Bulls roster.
Why can't Rose get himself to the free throw line? All the stars can and seem to get about 14 of their points there. Is he not getting the calls cause he is still considered raw and refs not bailing him out like they do Kobe, Lebron, Wade etc?
Sam: Rose wondered the same thing when I was chatting with him after the game, particularly on one late play when he was hammered and the ball was called out of bounds. One issue this season is the NBA has been moving out veteran referees and moving in a lot of new referees and there were some new guys last night. The new guys don’t know players and sometimes they don’t know where to look with Derrick. He jumps so high that he’s hit a lot in the lower body and they aren’t looking there. Plus, he’s so fast and does finish so well that they, unconsciously, I assume, figure he’s going to make the shot and don’t make a call. Derrick already is one of the best finishers in the game. Plus, he moves so quickly he does avoid some contact, or seems to. But, I agree, he doesn’t get calls he should given how much he goes to the basket and at this point he’s just way better than the quality of some referees working in the NBA now.
What about Beverley? Is he a decent option?
Sam: The sense I get now is the Bulls are going to stick with 13 players for awhile and retain their flexibility for other, perhaps larger moves as a 14th man the way things look might just be a practice player.
Brewer has zero lift right now. I remember that he was rated as the best athlete in his draft class. Is he still hurt, too heavy or just lost it?
Sad to see his game around the bucket.
Sam: Though politicians generally want to tell you that, no one feels your pain. So I don’t know if he is hurt and how badly he was. But you are right in that he seems to have no explosion or lift. My guess is he fears extending and injuring that hamstring again. So I’d view him as hurt until I can see him dunk in traffic. He had a few opportunities against the Thunder and pushed the ball up softly and really looked awful. I’m assuming he’s hurt and wouldn’t play him for awhile.
In a recent mailbag you addressed a question about trading for Jamal Crawford, and you stated why it wouldn't happen. I have a similar scenario, but in my opinion a much better player, Jason Richardson. I know they wont be able to trade for him since his salary this year is like 14 mill in the final year of his contract. Wondering though what you think of his game? Good size, good outside shooter, explosive athlete, at 29 still has some good years left. I can't imagine the Suns will resign him given their financial woes. How much do you think he will go for in the FA market, and would the Bulls take a shot next summer if the Brewer/Bogans combo doesn't work out?
Sam: He’s a name I hear, but as I wrote above the Bulls are out of free agency. You might be able to get him in trade, though he wouldn’t be my top priority. As I’ve written already, I like the possibility of Stephen Jackson and I think it’s more realistic because the Bulls have Charlotte’s 2012 pick, which I assume they’d like back. Richardson has been for too long now in now defense, open court offenses with the Warriors and Suns and it might take a while to discipline him again. He’s certainly an upgrade, but at that $14 million number would cost too much to trade for.
How awesome would it be to have Deng, Noah, Boozer and Rose on the All Star team? I realize that Noah and Deng are stretches, but wouldn't that be amazing? If you were to put odds on that, what would you say the odds of Noah and/or Deng being picked for the All Star team are?
Sam: Rose figures to be a lock this time and could be voted on by the fans as a starter. Forget Deng and Boozer, the latter because he’ll miss too much time early in the season. Noah has a shot, but it might come down to the Bulls record. Howard will start, so it will be a coach pick. If the Bucks go well, they could go with Bogut. Same with the Hawks and Horford. I haven’t seen the ballot yet, and maybe Stoudemire gets put on as a center. Who knows. But Noah does have a shot.
Certainly there's no right or wrong answer(unless you disagree with me) but who would you rather start your franchise with, Dwight Howard or Derrick Rose?
We all know what they do well, but they both have their weaknesses.
Howard is a poor free throw shooter, with nonexistent post moves and has averages roughly 1 assist for every two turnovers for his career.
Rose is an inconsistent(but improving) jumpshooter, an inefficient scorer(still doesn't get to the FT line enough), and doesn't rebound as well as he should given his strength and athleticism.
Who would you take, Howard or Rose?
Sam: Howard. It’s still a big man’s game, and while Howard may not be as exciting, he affects the game perhaps as much as anyone. I read last year where Phil Jackson said he’d start with Howard over LeBron. The Bulls are building a franchise around Rose with a chance to do something special. But there are few guys who ever come along like Howard and he obviously has a lot of room to improve.
ESPN reported something about the Bulls and Sixers talking about a Deng for Iggy swap. To me that would only make sense in a Melo trade. Is there any legitimacy to this rumor?
Sam: This one is so stupid I don’t even have to check it out. Why would you trade for a player with as large a contract as Deng’s who cannot make threes and has proven to be difficult? It’s ludicrous if you think about it, which a lot of people obviously don’t. One tip with ESPN, which likes to manufacture these things—there are several reliable writers like Marc Stein. But you have to be careful as some love to get themselves headlines to get on TV more often without working very hard or caring very much about accuracy, like with the recent dustup regarding the Knicks and Anthony. There was stuff about it being close or serious all of a sudden, and I know a few GMs read that (yes, the sad part is how much attention it gets) and called Denver and said they could offer way more than that. They were told to ignore it and there was nothing to it and the teams haven’t even spoken for some time.
Big negatives against the Thunder: Rose played like instead of
trying to win he was trying to win the stats
war against westbrook. totally amateurish.
he took way too many stupid shots.
both guys had 28 points but westbrook did it
with far less attempts.
And bad coaching- he held rose way too long out of
the game in the 3rd quarter. he should have put him
back in with 4 minutes left. if u have worry about
not fouling, then teach the guy in between games
but let the chips fall where they may.
Sam: No, it doesn’t take long. First, looking at the box score you might think that, but if you saw the game there was zero to that with Rose, though it was of concern in another area. The offense was so inept in the fourth quarter when the Thunder began to switch and get into guys that no one but Rose could make a play, or barely even move. Rose kept looking for guys, but no one could break free or make a play, so they threw the ball back to him and he had to force up some bad runners and shots. It is a concern without Boozer and with Brewer and Bogans unable to create. They’ll have to go to more options to free Korver on catch and shoot as he also doesn’t create, and they may have to go more with C.J. Watson, who can get his shot and risk the defensive mismatches. As for Thibodeau, he did fine. He played it by the book, which was OK in bringing Derrick back with 10 minutes to go and the Bulls leading. I saw no problem with that.
I was outraged the day I read that the Bulls signed Scalabrine and I'm even
more outraged today that he played 11 minutes to Omer Asik's 2 minutes.
Scalabrine is simply not an NBA level player. If Thibodeau is comfortable
with him at the end of the bench and thinks he helps in practice or
something, fine, whatever. But he should not play 10 minutes in the season
opener or in any game where there aren't freak injuries or people fouling
Sam: Asik could have played more against Ibaka, though the Thunder don’t throw it inside much. The coach likes and trusts Scalabrine and you better get used to that because he’s going to use him until Boozer returns. He’s somewhat vulnerable on defense and Jeff Green did go at him as soon as he got in the game, but you can’t play Asik against speed on the perimeter. Scalabrine is not going to be popular here because he was identified with that Boston fan pet. But he made an impact in that Game 7 in the 2009 playoffs and can be a useful reserve. Some said what about James Johnson in a game against athletes, and I can see that. But Thibodeau did use 11 guys and for right now I don’t believe he has gained that trust level to not make mistakes with Johnson. So I don’t expect we’ll see that much of him.
Luol Deng will be awesome as a number 3 scorer, but as a number 2 scorer it’s just asking a lot when we need buckets down the stretch.
Sam: I know some fans were disappointed with Deng again after a good preseason, but I thought he did a heck of a job on Durant, forcing him into multiple bad shots and on several occasions overplaying when they wanted to go to Durant and bogging down the Thunder offense as they had to look elsewhere. I thought Deng impacted the game well on the defensive end, and we’ve long known he’s not going to be a big producer down the stretch as he’s just not the kind of guy who’s going to break down the defense and make plays. But this is as confident as I’ve seen him and I think he’s going to have a good season.
Seeing Bogans as our starting shooting guard got me to thinking about potential upgrades. What do you think about the Bulls making a play to re-acquire Ben Gordon? He played 23 minutes in the first game for the Pistons, isn't starting, and the team has been predicted to be at the bottom of the league. Wouldn't Dumars be open to unloading his contract? Ben to me seems like a good, less expensive alternative to Carmelo and, if you pair him with Noah, Boozer, Deng, and Rose, would give us a chance to compete with the Big 3 in the East.
Sam: Maybe they can also get Hinrich and Tyrus and Tyson and… oh, yeah, been there done that. I assume Ben is finding out the grass isn’t greener, as it were. We’ll see him Saturday in the home opener. But he’s still about six feet tall and still making about $60 million, which is way too much. So it would take giving up several players to get him. He’s better than the Bulls have now, but not worth the cost, especially with the Bulls having to soon pay Rose.
Why do you think the Bulls picked up the third year of James Johnson's contract? I suppose it's a relatively small financial commitment, but you seem to think that he's the odd man out on the roster. Do the Bulls have bigger plans than we think for James Johnson?
Sam: I think it was because it wasn’t too costly in that you measure it against the cost of putting at least a veteran minimum player in his place. Plus, he clearly has worked and improved, losing weight, getting his shot better, so it’s not a big risk. I know I said I wouldn’t and let him prove his worth, but given the risk/reward it made sense to qualify him.
Do Gar and Pax have interest in Rip Hamilton? He would be a good defending SG who moves well without the ball to pair with Rose and Detroit is looking to move him, right? I'm pretty sure you have talked about him in the past in trade scenarios, so what kind of scenario would it take to get him?
Sam: Probably a loss of brain activity. He’s a player on the way down who doesn’t stretch the court and always has been prickly to deal with and who is making way, way more than he should given his current skill level. He’s in his 30s and has two years left after this at more than $12 million a year. He’s your albatross.
Knowing that Portland made Jared Bayless available for basically nothing, couldn't we have and shouldn't we have given up 1 of our picks to get him? He could have played the 2 guard spot.
Sam: He’s OK, but you are talking about very modest upgrades. If you are giving up No. 1 picks you want to go for someone who makes a difference. He doesn’t and essentially is a back up in the NBA.
I know its too soon for this but if Omer Asik and Joakim Noah play extremely well could that make Boozer expendable at the trade deadline or at season's end.
Sam: Yes, we are getting a bit anxious. Maybe we should let Boozer play one game before trading him. Playing Noah and Asik together, and we don’t even know if Asik can function in the NBA yet, Rose would have to average 50 to get to 100 points. OK, to get to 85.