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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 12.03.10

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

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.

Just want to know your opinion on the LeBron interview after the game...First "My talents to South Beach" and now "continue my greatness here in Miami"? shouldn't he hire someone to speak for him? I think Marv Albert was right, we didn't need that. The Cavs fans sure didn't need nor deserve that. Will he continue this stomping of the people of Cleveland?

Alexandre Farripas

Sam: It sounds like he's now taking P.R. advice from Chris Bosh. So there he is getting through just what seems like a night that couldn't have gone better and blurts out something stupid like that. But you also get the sense you never are getting the real story or expression from him and he's scripted on some level and just throws out some combination of words and they often come out uncomfortably, like the taking my talents thing. I just think he's not particularly an articulate guy. Look, he is only a high school graduate and it's not like there's much higher learning once you get to the NBA. So he comes off as a bit of a malaprop, and while Michael was much more polished and intelligent, he'd come up with his doozies as well, like when the team was in Paris and when asked about great sites there he mentioned "the luge." Though I have to say my favorite moment of the evening was when LeBron passed by Mo Williams and Williams appeared to tell him to stick it, some suggestion about doing something to himself that was somewhat unpleasant. That looked like the only true expression of emotion I saw. LeBron had this classic "huh" look on his face as he walked away. Classic moment. You can see it on YouTube.

Does it concern you at all that nearly 75% of Boozer's field goals last year were assisted? It might be more of a reflection of Sloan's flex offense & the way they passed the ball, but when I heard that stat from Matt Guokas last night it made me think that maybe Carlos Boozer isn't a guy who can create his own shot down low.

Ryan Schlanser

Sam: OK, he played one game. You can trade him now. When you have a great point guard, as Boozer did, that happens. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve heard Amar’e Stoudemire sounding like he wished he were back with Steve Nash. Boozer has demonstrated you can throw him the ball, he can create space and is comfortable taking that shot, though I think he is best when running the floor and finishing. The Bulls weren’t able to do that at all in Boozer’s opener against the Magic as they got the franchise version of no rebounds, their fewest ever. As I wrote in my postgame column, there probably were elements of Noah and Rose being distracted by Howard and both trying to figure out how to play with Boozer and what Boozer was doing. I would give Boozer at least one more game before the Bulls try to get Zach Randolph for him.

I got that sense that Rose was afraid of driving into the basket... He did once, that I recall, and Howard fouled him... Did you think he was afraid of crashing into Howard and on the floor? Better lose one game than 10 in a road for being without our better guy?

Rui Dias

Sam: Only Rose knows for sure. I’ve never seen a situation in three years with Rose where he hasn’t attacked the basket no matter who was there. Now, I also haven’t seen anyone take Rose out like Howard did last season, though I seem to be one of the few who believed those hits last season were flagrant. In any case, even if Rose chose to stay on the outside, it’s not as if others don’t against Howard. Guys always did against Shaq when he could move. You are right in a sense that why take the risk when it is a long, long season and you are much more important than any one game. I know everyone likes to think you take on whomever, sort of this goofy American tough guy mystique we have. Seems mostly to get us into stupid wars, in my view. In any case, what seemed most obvious to me courtside was Rose trying to figure where Boozer was going and what he was doing. Boozer clearly was uncertain about the plays and the offense and on a couple of occasions betrayed the spacing and got too close to other guys, making it easy on the Orlando defense. So Rose looked like he was trying to figure out and given Boozer’s veteran status and first time back make it as easy as possible on Boozer. Again, it was clear to me Boozer wasn’t near ready to play, but he wanted to and the team didn’t want to discourage him. But even if Rose backed off for the long term I have no issues with that, at least until the Bulls have someone who can get Howard’s attention. As great as Noah has played, he doesn’t have the strength to deal with a motivated Howard, and Howard was banging pretty good. Orlando came in 13-4. The Bulls were 9-6 and working in a new player. It’s not like the outcome was a huge surprise.

While none of Bulls from Derrick Rose on down played their best Wednesday night, the point in the game were the game got away from the Bulls was the second quarter when the all 5 starters were on the bench. I notice many teams leave one of their higher scoring starters in with second group the like Lakers with Gasol or the Spurs with Ginobli. The 90s Bulls also often left Pippen on the court with bench as well. Do think it would be best in the future for the Bulls to play Boozer (wouldn't have helped Wednesday but he should get better) or at least Deng with the 2nd group so that their is a primary offensive player to go to.

John Swank

Sam: The problem, really, is having no one like Pippen to leave on the court. Actually, the Bulls only lost about six points at that stage, though they also were six down when those guys came in. Plus, Gibson was with that group along with Brewer, and Brewer really is the “starter” now as he’s playing more than Bogans. The problem with Boozer not up to speed is when you take out Rose the drop off is substantial and you are trying to limit Deng’s time some. You are comparing this Bulls roster to championship teams, and that is a big mistake.

Are you concerned about the minutes Deng, Rose and Noah are playing? All three of them are averaging over 39 minutes a game (as of 11/29). Chicago is the only team with multiple players in the NBA's top ten for MPG and we have three! While I am excited about Boozer's return, I do not foresee his return impacting Rose or Deng's minutes and only slightly impacting Noah's minutes. Both Deng and Noah were injured last year and I would hate to watch a depleted Bulls lineup in the spring because of Tibbs reliance of them in November.

Kyle Simon

Sam: It’s an easy second guess, but it shouldn’t be a big issue for young guys like Rose and Noah as Jordan and Pippen were routinely 40-minute or close players at similar stages in their careers. And it’s so much easier to play now with the first class travel Jordan didn’t have in his career, at least the first six years. Consider, for half Jordan’s career he traveled commercial with the team, so they had to wake up 5 a.m. after night games on the road to get the first available flight, then a league rule, out of the city where they played. Then they might go home to practice. Life was much harder then. The hotels weren’t the five-star types the players have today and there was no staff of masseuses and strength coaches and specialty coaches to answer every need, and no entourage. I remember Ben Gordon used to have a guy keeping his car running in the parking lot at the Berto Center during really cold days so he wouldn’t have to leave practice and get into a cold car. Now, not ever having experienced what those players did, today’s players have no idea. You could say Noah has had injury issues with his plantar fasciitis, but injuries usually are a fluke. Sure, there is wear over a long period of time, so perhaps I’d most watch Deng, whose minutes certainly will decrease with Boozer playing as Deng’s time mounted playing power forward in smaller lineups.

The only thing that i don't get about coach Tom Thibodeau is what does he see in Keith Bogans? Why is this guy is even in the rotation?? Starting?? Don't you think he could give them minutes to James Johnson and start Ronnie Brewer.

Keorn Thomas

Sam: I know after a loss, guys like Bogans take the hit. Let’s get it straight that he’s not the reason for losing. Guys who win the games also lose the games. Bogans’ minutes have been in decline and my guess it’s a matter of time until Brewer gets into the starting lineup, where he was scheduled until being hurt again in camp. But Thibodeau considers himself a loyal guy. Though sometimes too loyal. He has coached Bogans before and knows when the lineup is changed it looks not only like a guy is demoted, but also makes it look like he’s thrown under the bus for the losses. It’s a delicate balancing act for a coach. He doesn’t want to change things when it is going well, and he doesn’t want to single out someone who is not a main player when things are going poorly, like in baseball when they always fire the pitching or hitting coach. But Thibodeau has steadily been increasing Brewer’s minutes and finishing games with Brewer or Korver, so they really are the regulars over Bogans. Bogans does what he can and isn’t to blame. He seems to fit in well with the players and seems to be a positive influence no matter his situation. Trust me, if Thibodeau had, say, Ray Allen at shooting guard, or O.J. Mayo, he’d be playing.

I agree that you can't read a ton into Mayo getting benched in terms of an immanent trade or anything. But I do think there is something to the fact that Memphis spent 2 first round draft pick this year on SGs. Seems they are planning on building depth there to make Mayo expendable. I think Gasol and Randolph are more critical to their team at this point and are higher priorities. I think that Mayo should be the Bulls top priority... not Carmelo. If he becomes available near the deadline or next summer, what would you be willing to trade for him? If Memphis wants the Bulls 2011 first rounder and the Charlotte pick would you make the move? Would you include Taj in a deal for Mayo?

Matt Maloney

Sam: I agree the Bulls’ main weakness now is at shooting guard, as I alluded to above. My guess is the Bulls are conflicted. I think they want to hold out for the big prize, which is Carmelo, because the chance to get a big time scoring star doesn’t come along much. Especially with many believing Carmelo won’t sign with the Nets and might not want to risk waiting for the Knicks. But it would cost the Bulls an awful lot for Anthony, likely Deng, Taj, Asik, J.J. and three No. 1s. Would that be too much and break up what they have and make them more like the depleted Heat? Or try to find a shooting guard and take a shot with basically what you have, though it’s hard to see how they could add a starting level two without giving up at least Taj and some picks. I don’t see why the Grizzlies would give up Mayo now as he’s cheap and when they beat the Lakers this week he was on Kobe to finish the game and made a heck of a defensive play at the end. I’d like to have him, but I’d be surprised if the Grizzlies gave him up this season and gave him up for not much after they were ridiculed so badly for the Pau Gasol deal and the owner personally got involved in the draft to get Mayo. They probably don’t want to extend him, but I don’t see them taking picks and a reserve or two when they want to make the playoffs.

Don't you think it likely Carmelo's agent has been given intimations,
if not outright figures, that it would be well worth moving to NY and
saving the Knicks? He is really their last chance at a superstar in
the next 5 years, maybe 10. Chris Paul isn't going there unless
Carmelo is waiting already, and is from NY and the only guy partial to 
playing there, it seems. Nike wants him there more than NY Knick fans 
do. My guess is his "team" knows by now that a move to Chicago is
 worth $25 million or so in marketing bonuses, while NY would net him
$75 million or so since Chicago already has Rose and Noah. I think if
Denver is waiting for him to come around and take the most money, they
are silly to think they can offer it. Superstars always think they
can make every Sam Dalembert into a Joakim Noah so it does not
surprise me if he thinks the Bulls ought to trade everyone not named
Rose to get him and fill out the roster with scrubs, or that even in
the ongoing mess of Miami's gift of a season, Melo would think him plus not much equals championship if he
wants it to, even though it has meant first round thus far in his
career. But when everyone says he isn't going to risk losing a lot of
money to play for the Knicks- I don't think there is any risk. Sure
he would rather get the $65 million extension and then be traded to
the Knicks to collect the marketing cash too, but he has to know it
will be worth his while to be wearing blue next year.

Andrew Hodgson

Sam: That could be his thinking, though I do agree with the notion of his arrogance in wanting the Bulls to trade Noah for him. I do have questions about this notion of all this endorsement money from New York as rarely has anyone made any money in basketball that way. Guys in New York rarely have had huge endorsements. All you have to do is look at the biggest endorser, and he played in Chicago. But, yes, I can see Anthony just saying the heck with the money (he’ll still make a lot and there’s a chance in a new deal they’ll “grandfather” in veterans and he’ll make as much as if he signed now) and he just wants to be in New York. We’ve heard for years he misses and wants the spotlight, though his behavior this season with technicals and ejections suggests he could be getting close to a breaking point and anxious to do something now. So the Bulls are waiting patiently to see what happens for now.

Out of all the teams contending for the free agents last summer the Bulls were obviously the most talented one. I'm sure a lot players (especially those guys in Miami) are re-thinking their choice. The only reason I can think that they wouldn't come to Chicago is because of living up to the "Jordan Legacy." Do you think once Kobe retires the Lakers might have a similar problem attracting great players to Los Angeles?

John Lafoone

Sam: That may have played a part, though it does seem it was more of kids scheming to get in the same club and hang out with the cool guys. Kobe, as we all know, is no MJ. I don’t think guys fear the Jordan legacy, because if they do then it would be the fault of the fan base holding players to such an unfair standard. I don’t see that in Chicago now. With the Lakers and Celtics it is easier in some sense because they have had so many generations of champions and no one person stands out to be compared with. I think the Jordan legacy is a thing of the past.

Everybody likes to talk about Derrick Rose's progress and whether he can be considered one of the best point guards in the league. If Derrick continues his rate of improvement (which I assume he will considering his work ethic and desire to win) he will undoubtedly surpass D Will and CP3 as the best in the game. My question is- what will it take for Derrick to be mentioned in the conversation of best point guards in league history? He has seemingly endless talent and his stats improve not only from season to season but from game to game! What does Derrick have to put up on the stat sheet and what accomplishments must he achieve to reach the pinnacle?

Ben Feldman

Sam: Maybe I went a bit far this week in my MVP for Rose column, but I was making the point of what he’d done so far given his so-called supporting players. As I also wrote, I think Williams is the best point guard now and is having a fantastic season. Had Rose not done what he did against West teams and the schedule difficulty, I’d probably have gone with Williams. But let’s not get too far ahead. There’s no way, in my mind—because of their impact on the game, their size and overall ability—that Derrick no matter how far he goes would ever be better than Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. They are one/two among all-time point guards and I’ve never seen anyone close. I personally have Oscar No. 1, but I can understand the debate for Magic and would not make a big argument. There have been some great ones, like Cousy, Isiah, Frazier, Jerry West played a lot of point, Stockton, Maravich. But for whatever reason, perhaps rules to come extent, we are witnessing perhaps the golden era of point guards, so enjoy it and enjoy Derrick’s battles.

After CJ Watson's impressive game in Denver, do you think that he is capable of doing that when asked to. If so, do you think he would be able to put up those kind of numbers against a legitimate playoff contender.

Nick DiCristofano

Sam: He’s had some great games before with Golden State, but he’s shown to be more of a reserve type player, which is somewhat defined as lacking consistency. Consistency is the definition of greatness, doing something regularly and being counted upon to perform. Watson is talented and can have big games, but is more the scoring point and not dynamic enough to turn the game over to. I assume he’ll play more with Rose if the Bulls cannot upgrade at shooting guard, but he’s best backing up the guards for now.

I hear everyone say that the $20,000,000 contract for Darko Milicic is a bad contract. But at $4,000,000 a year for a seven footer thats only 25 that doesn't sound so bad for your starting center also. Isn't there much worse big men contracts out there? Three examples, Brendan Haywood $6,900,000 for a 31 year old bench player, DeSagana Diop $6,478,600 for a 28 year old bench player, and Jermaine O'Neal $5,765,000 for a 32 year old bench player. Thats just three players that don't start, are older, and make more then Darko.

Jason Kouns

Sam: It has become sport to make fun of Darko and David Kahn in Minnesota. But what NBA executives live for is that they can usually look around and find someone dumber than they are. Maybe Darko isn’t the center for a major team to rely upon, and his biggest issue seemed to be his attitude, for when he didn’t play much he seemed to give up or give in. Giving him the minutes and the starting job without competition seems to have energized him, and everyone always has known he had the skill. The question was his desire. There generally are some bad contracts for centers because there aren’t enough to go around, so teams pay a premium for them. Size does matter in the NBA. But Darko is hardly the worst investment or the worst of the free agent summer. I’d much rather have paid him than more than $30 million for Amir Johnson.

A Herald reporter claimed today that Bosh, Wade and Lebron gave up $50 million between the three of them so they could sign guys like Mike Miller. Is it true that they took less money??

LongGiang Le

Sam: They took somewhat less than if they stayed with their own teams, but then they'd have to stay with their teams. If they went anywhere else, the money would be only slightly more than they got from Miami. They really took marginally less in the big picture. The difference was about $14 million total over six years by going to Miami rather than staying in Cleveland or Toronto. Florida has no income tax, so add back maybe three percent of that, so it's about three million. So it's about 10 million less each over six years. They technically took less, but hardly made any great sacrifice.

What about Peja? Over the last few years there has been a sort of mid/late season veteran free agency where veterans have been bought out and have joined on with contenders. I have heard Peja Stojakovic will be bought out and free to join a contender. He is clearly past his prime, and is not regarded as a strong defender, but his signing would be to add shooting in spot minutes. I know you have suggested the Bulls will not make a minor move and stand pat until they are eliminated from contention for Carmello, but I only view this move as a positive.

Louie Correa

Sam: I’d be for that. I think Peja has something left and can come in and make some shots. Clearly, it would have to be after a buyout as he makes about $14 million, and, at least for now, the Raptors believe they can make a deal for him, which suggests they aren’t offering any buyouts. If it comes to that and there are a lot of expiring contracts around and few that really will be moved, then I can see Peja going for a buyout and the Raptors willing to save a million or so. It will depend first on how much Peja would be willing to give up, though my sense is given the accommodations Peja already has made to be traded there is some promise to work things out when the time comes. But it will be up to the Bulls or any team at that point to be in serious contention and a contender. I assume he’d want to go where he has the best chance to win.

How are things going at the Rudy Fernandez end? Is he feeling better playing in Portland now especially with Roy having knee issues? Are Bulls still interested? Is he one of what you called a major upgrade?

Ning Liu

Sam: Oh, yeah Rudy. It’s difficult to figure what Portland is up to now given the season ender for Oden and Brandon Roy’s serious knee problems. Will Portland break things up and try to rebuild with picks? Will they try to cash in for some players as they have some good pieces still? Though it’s difficult to see how they can be serious contenders. The Trail Blazers haven’t used him extensively with Wesley Matthews playing well, so I can see that he’d be available, but given Roy’s situation and that Fernandez still isn’t playing much I’d guess that concerns the Bulls. Rudy is being viewed around the league as more and more an all or nothing guy. If he hits fine. If not, he’s a liability. I’ve thought he could pass and do other things, so maybe it’s because of his limited time. But there’s the chicken and egg thing of whether he’s not doing it and that’s why he’s not playing much. My feeling for now is the Bulls want to hit a bigger home run than Rudy and are perhaps waiting for a shot at Melo or a higher level guard like Mayo.

Given the Bulls free-throw struggles this season, who would you say is the Bull’s most clutch free-throw shooter? Besides the obvious Kyle Korver, who statistically might be the best, I would say Joakim Noah is maybe the best FT shooter coming down the stretch of games. I feel like Rose or Deng, who get the majority of late game FTs, usually miss that one to put the game away.

Adam Schechner

Sam: I’d say this was the worst commentary on the Bulls free throw shooting, that someone thinks Noah should be shooting at the end of games.

The Bulls are currently 9-6 in the midst of the toughest stretch on their schedule, and without their #2 scoring option. They've beaten good teams on the road and have handled bad teams even on off nights. You mentioned that with the current personnel, the Bulls don't have what it takes to make the Final 4, but I think we can hang with any team in the East over the course of a 7 game series. What accounts for the gap you see between the Bulls and the leading contenders in the East?

Jeff Rosen

Sam: Yes, this was obviously written before Orlando. It’s just one game, and Boozer is just returning. So things will change. At this point, though that could change Friday, they are not beating Boston and they are not beating Orlando. It takes more than a good week or month. You have to establish yourself against top teams, get a consistent rotation and fill spots. The Bulls have struggled at shooting guard and no one fully knows the impact Boozer will have with Taj moving to the bench. The front court depth doesn’t match Boston’s and Orlando has more depth as well as their payroll is allowed to be some $40 million more than the Bulls. I had the Bulls with a chance to get into the top four in the East and win the Central, and I think that’s pretty good for gutting the team in the offseason and missing on their primary free agent choices. But there still are some big holes. Some could be filled, so I’ll withhold judgment, but it’s hard to see at this point the Bulls one of the top two in the East at the end.

We know Taj is and will be in a lot of trade talk. (From Melo to upgrade in 2 guard spot.) Do you think Bulls should really ever consider trade Taj? Personal I think Bulls should keep Taj and allow him to develop under coach Thib and and Learn a thing or 2 from Boozer. I don't think it is wise to trade Taj now since Bulls won't really get full value for Taj as Taj will be under late first round rookie contact for 2 more years. I also think Bulls should look at future, Taj would be the person to take over (or re-take) power foward spot once Boozer's contact expire. (Many say) the team needs both Noah and Taj if Thib is the coach of that team.

Michael Hsiao

Sam: It is a legitimate point of debate. Taj is a better defender than Boozer, and moving Taj certainly weakens the team’s defense and front court, especially if it is for Anthony, who never has been much of a defender. Plus, he does pair well with Noah and it’s a good point that doesn’t get brought up much of Boozer slowing in a few years and it being a very good contract. That said, if the Bulls have a chance for a high level shooting guard or Anthony, I think you have to go for it.

I am a great fan of Bulls from Turkey and I watch closely both the Bulls and Omer Asik. When Asik is on the court Bulls is playing with only 4 players on offence. I know he is not good offensively but he is not so bad even not to pass him when he takes position in the low post. I know the basketball level is not same but in Euroleague and with the Turkish National Team he showed he can finish the ball when he is passed at the right time. I also noticed that he is getting demoralized as he is having less ball in his hands game by game. His self-confidence level is seems to be at deep at the last game of circus trip.

Yunus Akaltan

Sam: He did struggle toward the end of the road trip, but the coach seems to have confidence in him and is using him regularly. His rotations on defense are actually better than Noah’s, though he isn’t as mobile and versatile. He’s been a better help defender on the charts the team keeps. I have seen him finish with the ball and believe he can do it, but I don’t see it yet as a regular option in their offense given Omer’s short time in the NBA and the fact the staff wants him to concentrate on defense. Though he only played nine minutes against the Magic, he had three blocks. I think his progress has been good.

I know you've said the bulls are looking for either another shooter or a 3rd point guard, but my question is why not go after a player who can do both? i look at a guy like John Scheyer who can shoot, has great basketball IQ, just won a national championship and would buy into the concepts of a team defense. To be a championship team you have to have guys like scheyer around and considering he's not playing for anyone right now you could also get him cheap.

Mike Kedzorski

Sam: They have guys like that. Bogans, etc. I feel badly for Scheyer ras he had mono and then a bad eye injury in trying out as a free agent. He didn’t make it through the Clippers camp and though I don’t know what he’s doing now, I think he’d be a good European league player. The Bulls are looking for a much higher level more athletic and versatile shooting guard if they were to make a move. Ronnie Brewer for one is much more skilled than Scheyer, no offense.

Why don’t the Bulls send James Johnson to the D-League? They hardly use him, and sitting on the bench isn’t helping him progress as a player. Based on his athleticism and raw ability, I think JJ has a lot of potential if given the opportunity to develop. Perhaps his maturation process is slower than his peers, and all he needs is a little more court time to mature as a player. He could be a solid contributor for the Bulls in a year or two, but that’ll never happen if he doesn’t see more game action.

Brian Gierke

Sam: There is something to that, and I think it comes down to the same issue as last season. With a short roster, I think they prefer to keep him around in case they need to use a player. He’s had some good moments and could use some more play as he has developed from last season. He’s one of the few actual athletes on the team and when he comes in you see him do stuff no one else but Rose can, and JJ is about a half foot taller. But he too often compounds it with knuckleheaded mistakes. I would like to see him with more time, but you have to earn Thibodeau’s trust to play for him, and J.J hasn’t. The Bulls never have used the D-league much. I think that’s, in part, because you lose control when your guys go to the D-League. Several teams don’t like to use it because they feel the players won’t be taught the way they want their players taught and there are free agent types there looking for contracts, so it’s tough to run a system at times.

I'm very excited about the beginning to the season but I do have a question regarding the offseason moves. Why wasn't Anthony Morrow given a serious look? I know he's not averaging many points, but his shooting seems like it could've really helped the Bulls. 85%FT, 45%FG, 40%3Pt.

Brian Jacover

Sam: I got a lot of questions about that at the time, but Morrow was pushing for four years from the Nets, though he eventually settled for three. What a lot of fans forget is you have to manage your cap years in advance. Yes, you maybe take a risk for a high level talent like Anthony. But given the uncertainty with the new labor deal, there is a chance if the Bulls were to go out four years on modest level free agents they wouldn’t be in position to offer Rose an extension. I personally think it’s unlikely, but the league has left open the possibility with talk of a hard or harder cap that teams might not be able to sign players above a certain salary level. And with players like Deng, Boozer and Noah under long term deals, the Bulls could be out of luck with Rose if they weren’t careful with their lesser contracts. Basically, they went with two year deals as a result and I think did a good job with that. It wasn’t worth the risk for a player not really much better than what you signed, and the Bulls were pursuing Redick at the time. But what would your email been if the Bulls in two years could not bring back Roe because they signed Morrow?

What would the Bulls need to do record-wise for Gar Forman to get some serious consideration for Executive of the Year? Even though Pat Riley made the splashy signing of Bosh and James (although I think Wade did a lot of the heavy lifting on that), I think Gar did a better job of actually building a team, seeing the holes that needed to be filled, and getting the right kind of players to fill them. None of the contracts are exceptionally bad. He also found a coach that players and the media respect, rather than having one who has to hear daily about how his GM would do a better job (as in Miami). And, although this is just a one-year award, Gar made the best use of what he already had on the roster. I'm still amazed how Riley picked Beasley at #2 and spent years trying to get rid of him, and Forman picked Gibson at #26 and is trying to find ways to hold on to him. But Riley is the genius. Is there any chance for Gar to win?

Carl Feldman

Sam: Gar, I know you keep writing me and using false names. I did like the Iowa address on this one. Actually, this turns out to be a real person and has an actual point. Now, Riley clearly is the leader in the clubhouse. Despite how it’s gone for the Heat thus far, that was quite a coup no one thought anyone could have pulled off and anyone would have done if they could. It’s unanimous exec of year stuff. That said, and Boozer’s development will be key, the Bulls engaged in more team building, though they did pursue LeBron and, to a lesser extent, Wade. They had a better core than any of the other teams, so they did have something of a head start. If the Bulls can pull off one more big one, say Carmelo, as a hypothetical, assuming he becomes available (I’m trying not to tamper), then by the end of the season Gar could have a strong finish as they come thundering down the stretch.

Who's faster with the ball: Devin Hester or Derrick Rose?

Philip Montegna

Sam: I’d say Rose looks faster, but maybe you go with Hester because he isn’t allowed to dribble, though he does drop the ball on occasion.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: