Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 11.12.10

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

Who do you think is going to be a better player Derrick Rose or John Wall? After seeing Wall post that triple double yesterday it got me John Wall going to be better than our Derrick Rose? I guess you can judge that at the end of their careers to see who won the most titles and who makes the biggest impact to their team. However looking at what Wall is doing now as a rookie vs what Derrick did in his rookie year...Wall is looking pretty good.

Andrew Brown

Sam: Yes, I’ve suddenly been getting some of these type emails with Wall putting up numbers. So it, at least, ought to be entertaining with Washington coming into the United Center Saturday. Yeah, Kirk Hinrich, too. The Bulls probably would like to have Hinrich to defend Wall, but that’s another issue. Wall is playing for a team going nowhere with a wild bunch of headcases, so it’s difficult to assess what he truly will do. Rose came to a Bulls team that was supposed to be a playoff team when he arrived. Big difference. They are both fast and when you are that fast it only matters if you are running the 100 meters. Derrick is obviously much stronger and certainly now he’s a better shooter. Is Chris Paul better than Deron Williams? Rose is terrific and an All-Star in his second season, which should give Wall some lofty goals to shoot for.

Is Allen Iverson a first ballot Hall of Famer in your opinion, and where would you rank him all time, top 25, 50, 75?

Martell Craig

Sam: Obviously he is in Turkey, where Iverson has gotten a tremendous welcome. I’ve never been a big Iverson fan less for his antics, especially early in his career, than for his style of game, which was too individual and selfish in my view. He was fortunate despite his defiance he played for Larry Brown, who perhaps only could build a team around Iverson to specifically suit his talents and get him an MVP award. Iverson also has had, positive or negative, an impact on the game and the way it is viewed off the court. I’d consider him definitely a so-called first ballot Hall of Famer.

It seems the unimaginable may be happening. Miami is off to a slow start and there are now whispers of Pat Riley coming out of retirement to coach the team. Who could have possibly seen this coming?

Christopher Prince

Sam: Shocking, I tell you. It is just shocking. The conventional wisdom now is Riles finishes the season to inject some toughness, and turns it over to Doc Rivers next season to inject some balance.

Did you happen to catch the end of the Jazz/heat game [Tuesday] night? I flipped it on with 39 secs left and heat up 6 and for some reason didn't turn it. Absolutely one of the most pleasurable non Bulls moments I have seen in basketball. The Heat didn't really choke as much as the jazz had one of those unbelievable finishes. I hope Tibs becomes a Sloan Clone, his teams just never stop coming at you.

Greg Wright

Sam: It was likely one of the most enjoyable games for fans outside Miami in this era of finally having an NBA team to hate since the ‘80s Pistons and ‘60s Celtics. It will be forgotten about because it happened so early in the season, but it was one of the more remarkable games and again another of my head scratchers on how people can enjoy baseball and football more than this where leads change so rapidly and finishes like this can happen against even the best teams. I do think this Bulls group has that capability, though not so much because of Thibodeau, whom I do think will be a good motivator. But in Rose and Noah they have a core of players who won’t give up. Which is why pulling them so early against the Knicks last week was a mistake Thibodeau will learn from. You don’t give up on the guys you have who won’t give up. You are correct in that Miami didn’t panic, as Wade tried to brush it off, but what struck me besides Millsap’s extraordinary game was the way not only he dominated a much taller Bosh but the way Bosh mostly stood around on defense watching and especially the way they allowed Milllsap to sneak in for that tying putback. That’s developing into an issue for them. By the way, what a road trip for the Jazz winning in Orlando as well. Loved Sloan saying it wasn’t such a tough trip: Great weather and just a 20-minute plane flight for the back to back. Forget old school. Jerry may have invented the alphabet.

Is it just me or does Miami look really boring and overhyped? not their skills, but their marketability? If LBJ was on the Bulls, I'm pretty sure the excitement would be much greater in the NBA and in Chicago vs. Miami. It seems like they blew their load on that impromptu summer introduction of miami thrice and are just waiting for the playoffs. I find myself flipping to a Clippers game when I watch the Miami games. and their style of play is slow and uneventful with all their awful role players. Bosh is not a star and watching LBJ kick it to James Jones is not going to get me off my seat. I'm now concerned that I won't be able to sell my Heat tickets for $180 a piece.

Kenny Lim

Sam: No, you should get your money. But I was thinking the same thing Tuesday as I was flipping to watch the Hornets and trying to figure out how they were doing it. They have been a dull team to watch, really, I think because of the way they play. They are in a similar situation as the Bulls with the free agency. The upside is you have a chance to add a star or a position you never could fill, like post player for the Bulls, but you have to keep your salary total at the cap. Which means teams like the Magic, Lakers and Mavs can and are spending about $40 million more on players than you can. So you end up with limited depth. But Miami also seems to be making the same mistake with James that Cleveland did in playing him slow and in a half court game too much. If they ran and were in the open court more and played faster not only would they be more interesting, but few players are more exciting than James and Wade that way. I did hang with them the second half and there is that supposed inevitability factor, but with losses like they’ve had where they can’t control quickness on the perimeter and size inside, they are going to have issues and if you enjoy watching them lose you should have plenty of opportunity for awhile.

I noticed nobody complained when Anthony let Alfalo take the shot. Kobe would have taken the off balance, closely guarded prayer that Billups passed up-- it's part of Kobe's "I am the man" personna--but the right play is the one that helps your team win, not the one that cements your reputation or legacy. Mike became a greater player when he finally passed to Paxson in LA, then Wennington in NY, and, of course, Kerr. Kobe leads the league in missed last second shots, especially with 2 guys draped around him. I believe the right play in the first 47 and a half minutes remains the right play at the end. For Anthony, LJ and Kobe.

Sheldon Hirsch

Sam: I think the play was for Carmelo. They just didn’t get it to him. But you are right. We do hold LeBron to a higher standard, but that’s also because Anthony doesn’t call himself “the King.” There is a balance there. I remain in the school where I want my best guy making the play at the end because he has more experience with that and is more likely to get a foul call because—other than with Rose—he is accomplished in drawing contact. Yes, a lot of the culmination of that 1991 season was with Michael finding Paxson to close out the Lakers and the denouement of my Jordan Rules book. But Michael also took just about all of the big shots to get there. It’s always a good point for debate, though I am of the opinion that it isn’t great for the team to single out a guy for a game winning shot who might have had one or two shots all game. It’s not so much ego macho in my view as the guy who has been in that position most of the time and most of the game. You don’t hand the ball to the closer without a warmup and say, “Win it.” I stick with the most talented and take my chances.

I don't know how you do it, but man oh man if we could figure out a way 
to get Melo and keep our 3 studs, we would be on the cusp of titles. 

For all the Melo bashing and stats that show hes inefficient, the bottom
 line is, the guy can flat out score.

Any idea if Gibson's emergence is a big deal around the league? I feel
like he can be a 15 and 8 guy for years. I realize its probably 
impossible, but if we found an expiring contract for Deng, I think we
would have the pieces. 

Expiring deal, Gibson, James Johnson/Asik, charlottes first, and our
first. That's a nice package, far fetched as it may be. A man can

Michael Koltun

Sam: I think what that game Monday did with Anthony’s 32 points is showed just how great a scorer he is, how the Bulls have nothing like him and are not likely to add anyone like him and how tantalizing his addition would be. Which makes the disappointment that much more difficult. It seems apparent now Denver is in no rush. There’s one theory that Anthony would go to the Nets, though I wouldn’t. Have you seen that arena? It’s maybe a third filled. So Denver would then want to hold onto Anthony into February so the Nets pick would be better as Anthony couldn’t do much to help their record. The Nuggets closed ranks in management and it seems for now they’re intent on seeing what deals develop when more guys are available for trade in mid-December. I also thought it was interesting as the Nuggets were being blown out by the Pacers Tuesday night Anthony went to a reporter to ask when the Nuggets played the Pacers next. So he’s not making the kind of fuss that would force the Nuggets to do anything. It probably puts the Bulls in limbo since I think they want to wait out that trade, which may not be for three months. Denver doesn’t want Deng’s contract, so you’d have to dump that, say, hypothetically for nothing to the Cavs trade exception, and if they cannot come up with anything better, maybe Denver takes Taj, Asik, J.J. and three No. 1s and maybe you have to absorb Renaldo Balkman. And despite what he said here about how nice Chicago is (a New York writer was also there and Anthony said how nice New York was as well), some close to Anthony say he still prefers the East Coast to Chicago. It’s a long, long shot for the Bulls.

Any truth to the rumor that the sixers might take Deng for Igoudola and then we can swap him for Melo (with some picks involved of course)

Dan Abdo

Sam: I hear this one a lot. There have been rumors now of Iguodala being traded, though the 76ers deny it for now. Actually, Iguodala makes even more than Deng and if the Nuggets don’t want long term deals unless it’s for a huge impact player, I cannot imagine them ever having any interest in Iguodala, who is basically a somewhat better version of J.R. Smith, though not that much since Smith shoots better. There were such rumors last year that Denver liked Iguodala, but management has completely changed and I strongly doubt they are interested in Deng or Iguodala. What most overlook is with new management the biggest issue is becoming not getting embarrassed in an Anthony deal, so you don’t bring back a non-All-Star level player with a long contract that hamstrings your future. That’s more Philly or Chicago fantasy, it seems to me.

Is it too early to start the Joakim Noah for Defensive Player of the Year campaign?

Chris Howland

Sam: No, but you’ll have to begin on your own. The Bulls defense, overall, has been a bit shaky and the offense actually has been better. Noah’s numbers are great, but he hasn’t been much of a help defender yet. Asik gets a bunch of cheap fouls which keep him out of games, but he has been a better help defender. As I’ve written, LeBron is no defensive player of the year. Dwight Howard still is the gold standard for that award.

I am tired of people calling Noah an "Energy Guy." It has become a
backhanded compliment (such as "She's pretty on the inside"),
underselling his true abilities. He is way better than Anderson
Varejao. I know sportcasters and writers don't change their impressions
on a player until it is too late (i.e. chauncey billups is still Mr. Big
Shot), but this is starting to get ridiculous-they do watch the games
they are commenting on right? 

Also, Noah is averaging a ton of minutes since boozer is out
(understandable). Are they worried about his workload after
recovering from a foot injury? He is young, but it would be a shame if
he broke down near the end of the season. I don't think centers
traditionally have these types of minutes.

Aalok Shah

Sam: I think they’re finally catching on with Noah, though the first impressions often stick with the laziest in the media. But Noah has a good shot to be an All-Star, and L.A. and Noah for All-Star weekend could be something. Which does bring us to those minutes. They do seem awful high. He’s in the top 10 in minutes and the only center in that group. Again, with Boozer out the Bulls are in big trouble when Rose and Noah are off the floor, though more without Rose. Asik has filled in reasonably at times, but he gets in foul trouble too quickly, forcing Noah back in. Plus, you assume Thibodeau is trying to get some wins for a cushion before the team heads out west. It looks easy when Noah puts up the numbers he does, and he likes to play and is young. But it will be something to watch.

How many minutes do you anticipate Taj playing once Carlos comes back?

Mike Green

Sam: The way Taj is playing, they’d better figure a way to have him out there close to 30 minutes. And I think they will. First of all, we know Boozer historically is no fast healer, so when he returns I doubt he’ll be playing big minutes for awhile. And the way Taj can defend, there’s no reason why he won’t play center as well as forward. So I see him in the 30-minute range until he cannot produce. He’ll probably take time from Asik as Boozer’s minutes increase.

Do you think that Michael Jordan would be a 1st ballot Hall of Fame Inductee after 7 years in the NBA? So in essence that would be after the 1st championship? I say no, because there are more people deserving of the Hall of fame for that class. But I have some friends who believe Jordan would make it after 7 years and they went on to say that if LeBron retired last year he would be a 1st ballot inductee also because of their impact on the game of basketball.

Antoine Peterson

Sam: Michael more than LeBron, because I have been on various Hall of Fame committees over the years with Hall of Famers, and I noticed when they voted, the tiebreaker always was a championship. That’s not media voting; that’s guys in the Hall of Fame. Yes, LeBron did make it to the Finals once, but Michael by then was a two-time MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, two-time slam dunk champion, officially the best offensive player and defensive player in the game with those awards, five time scoring champion and having set a playoff scoring record. James’ legacy after seven years was going in reverse. Jordan’s was ascendant. He was a Hall of Famer by then. After that was the move to greatest ever and icon.

I have noticed in the past few years that the officials have been calling a lot more charging fouls than they have previously. Back in the day, even if the defender set his feet for a split second before the impact, they would still call blocking. I wonder if physics classes would help them? They would learn that a body moving with the momentum of an NBA player going to the basket full speed will not be able to stop on a dime when someone steps in his way at the last instant. The defender knows he will get ran over because it is unavoidable. If I remember correctly, it would be astonishing if the refs called 2 charges in one game. Now its like 2 per half.

Brian Becker

Sam: You have stumbled upon my refereeing pet peeve. The block/charge, all the refs I speak with tell me, is their most difficult call. Too bad they get it wrong 90 percent of the time. Though that’s not totally their fault as the NBA instructs them how to call it. The entire philosophy is wrong. Defense is about moving your feel, staying between your man and the basket. But NBA defense has gotten perverted to the point where a player is rewarded for running halfway across the court and jumping in front of someone. That’s not defense. That’s trickeration, though I regret quoting Don King. The way they call it also leads to the flopping they say they want to curtail, but never make an effort to, and which muddies the game. If the league allowed its referees to judge real defense it would be a much better game, guys would stop falling over for some reason and defense would be better because you would only be rewarded for real effort and defense and not the gamesmanship that goes on now. And scoring would go up, which is another reason why I don’t get it given the league changed the rules to make sure touching a guard brings a mandatory life sentence. If only I ran the game. But I know they can fix that if they try in the new collective bargaining agreement.

Wouldn't it make more sense to just hold on to the Charlotte pick? I mean isn't that our best shot at getting another top ten pick in this decade? I know now seems really important but, I don't see anyone out there who I really love yet. Besides I would like to see a Brewer get out there to start a bit with Boozer before I deemed it a failure.

Matthew Reeves

Sam: I believe that’s the issue with the Bulls now. The pick has value now and might be a nice piece to help you get something. Management is charged with such things, the future and all. The Bobcats could make the playoffs in the next five years and make it just some mid-first pick. But they also don’t have great prospects for the future and, yes, it might be the team’s best chance to keep a long run going with perhaps a No. 1 overall pick in 2016. My view is you do what you can now. I have put away money for retirement, so it’s not as if I live my entire life like that, but too much changes in sports and I’d cash in that pick if I could get something decent now. Boozer isn’t going to be very effective come 2016, guys get hurt and who knows what. I’m a take your shot now and win the title you can as soon as you can

Please tell me that someone in the west is gonna actually challenge the lakers this year.

Melvin Mulanthara

Sam: Can’t tell you that. I agree they’ve had a soft schedule thus far and usually do in November. I don’t think they’ve played a winning team yet, and certainly no contending team with Portland having so many injuries when they played. So it’s a bit of fool’s gold so far. But they have what no one else but really the Celtics have, which is front court depth and size. It’s proven the difference in two titles. But the difference in the West has been the power 60-win type teams of the past have dropped into the 50-era, like the Suns, Mavs and Spurs. The Thunder and Blazers look to have leveled off and even though the Lakers will begin to take some losses, they’ll get Bynum back at some point and probably will win the west by 10 games. My pick for second, the Jazz, have looked the best of late, though they remain too small to compete with the Lakers.

Would the Bulls be able to get Mickael Pietrus somehow? He is a good 3 point shooter and not getting much time with the Magic.

Allan Bovenmyer

Sam: They probably could and would have to overpay as the Magic don’t surrender their players much. I wouldn’t have much interest at all given if you are going to make move for a shooting guard you want a serious upgrade, not a better version or Keith Bogans given Pietrus doesn’t create his own shot and stands mostly on the perimeter firing threes. You can do much better.

Been watching Korver closely account of all the rap about his bad defense,can not see where it is any different from anybody else on the team.For what it`s worth,last years +/-,net 48,and win % doesn`t seem bad and if I understand it better than Brewer.

Jim Hunter

Sam: I think certain guys get identified as poor defenders and it’s difficult to erase the rap. I’ve watched Korver and while he’s not the greatest, very few are. That’s the point. There just aren’t many great individual defenders. Pierce and Allen were regarded as poor defenders until Garnett came along and Thibodeau enforced a solid system. Whereas there’s the label in the draft black guys get of being athletic, the notion being they are not as smart, white guys get the rap of being poor defenders. It’s all lazy man’s crap, but Korver suffers some from being under that same umbrella. He’s OK and works at it and often the perimeter guy gets the blame when there isn’t the right inside help and the Bulls haven’t been great at that this season.

Is Derrick a marquee/elite scorer or not(has the capacity)? Anybody who is a late game closer, scores 27ppg in the playoffs last year, and just goes into these scoring outbursts the way he does the answer would be yes. But on the other side someone who says they are happy to facilitate others, and not be the star.
Is Rose the prolific scorer/franchise player that most teams need to win championships? Eight of the last ten championship teams had guys who got to the line 7 or more times a game and what 27 ppg? So is Derrick that guy? Can he be that guy?

Mark Norman

Sam: We’ll be able to answer that question and a lot of others better when Boozer returns. Rose is practiced in saying the right thing, which is the do whatever is asked blah, blah, yadda. He is an amazing talent, so he’s shown he can do either. I don’t except him to be that LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Dirk kind of guy because he’s basically the only real ballhandler and playmaker on the team. But with his three point shot getting better he is becoming virtually un-guardable. I think he’ll end up doing what is needed game to game and will be the highest scoring point guard in the league.

I know we need a shooting guard. But I think almost as urgent is a backup center that can give a good 10-12 minutes. I know Joakim is young and healthy and all that. But that doesn't mean we should ride him like a horse. Do you think they will get someone or just use Asik?

Ning Liu

Sam: I haven’t run all the emails, but I’ve gotten various like this which list shooting guard, backup point and now backup center as the team’s key issues. So what this mostly tells us is the Bulls are a flawed and incomplete team. Big surprise, there. Given the limitations of needing to stay at the salary cap when you go below as the Bulls did last summer, it’s tough to make many moves. The Bulls like Asik and he has clearly moved behind Noah for now. And it’s probably better to rest Thomas for later in the season. I think he could do more, but the Bulls want to nurse him through the season and I agree. The Bulls spent guaranteed contracts on backup point and center, and I don’t see any major changes at those spots.

I am originally from Turkey and doing my PhD at Texas Tech right now. (I might be biased.)
It occurred to me that whenever Asik is playing, Bulls are making a run. His contribution is so abstract that he barely gets any attention. But I think he is very crucial getting stops in defense.
Check this out!

AGAINST PISTONS: w/ Omer: Bulls 39 - 25 Pistons
w/o Omer: Bulls 62 - 66 Pistons

AGAINST BLAZERS: w/ Omer: Bulls 61 - 47 Blazers
w/o Omer: Bulls 49 - 51 Blazers

AGAINST KNICKS: w/ Omer: Bulls 35 - 43 Knicks (This is not fair, they shot like crazy :))
w/o Omer: Bulls 77 - 77 Knicks

AGAINST CELTICS: w/ Omer: Bulls 26 - 23 Celtics
w/o Omer: Bulls 79 - 87 Celtics

I think his minutes should be around 25 coming off the bench. I know he cannot score for now, but I think getting stops and starting the offense from the defense with a roadrunner guard Rose seems to be good idea until Boozer is back. I think the coach got caught off-guard since he did not expect Omer to play good, and his preseason plans were without him. But I think he should shuffle the minutes little bit for good.

Omer Topaloglu

Sam: Well, Omer has been a pleasant surprise and has moved into the backup center spot. His defensive instincts are very good, and he finishes strong at the basket on lobs. But he cannot stay in the game long enough to play 25 minutes because of fouls. Granted, many don’t seem fair and a bit of the usual rookie hazing, which can be worse at times for European players. I don’t think he’s quite the answer, but I do think the U.S. is better off with him compared to Turkey with Iverson.

With Amare and Boozer out of the West and Tim Duncan getting older and older, could you see Blake Griffin making the all-star team this year?
With Amare and Boozer in the East and Chris Bosh averaging less rebounds than Landry Fields through 6 games could you see Chris bosh left off the All-Star team this year?

Jake Domonkos

Sam: I do think there are going to be some big changes, and playing with who he is and how he has been Bosh’s All-Star career likely is over. Griffin will suffer being a Clipper and for sure a losing record. Unless he gets voted in, which is not likely, he’ll enjoy the rookie game. West forwards figure to be Durant and Nowitzki. Gasol should be center with Kobe and Paul at guard. And the voting hasn’t even started, but if that’s not it start complaining. For the East, figure Howard at center and LeBron at forward. It won’t be so easy otherwise and depend on record, at least for the reserves. Stoudemire has a good shot to be a starter along with Rose, the latter who is extremely popular given his top five ranking in jersey sales.

Collin Cowherd was on the radio this morning doing his normal routine and began discussing Derek Rose, calling him “fools gold.” He cited sources who told him Lebron James was actively interested in joining the Bulls but was rebuffed when he contacted Rose by phone.

Russ Hammer

Sam: Who is Collin Cowherd? As for that Rose stuff regarding LeBron, I think it’s pretty clear by now James liked the idea of a lot of people begging him and bringing him tributes, but he obviously pretty much had his mind made up.

Is anyone trying to teach James Johnson a post up game? He's athletic,
got long arms and a powerful low body - he could post up two guards and
small forwards with his size and use his speed and athletic ability
against bigs. JJ could be a Barkly jr type if he learns the post

John Leichenko

Sam: No offense to him as he really is trying, but it's premature and I think they still are working on shooting, passing and dribbling.