Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls

Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 1.22.2016

Sam Smith of opens his Ask Sam mailbag and responds to the latest round of emails from his readers

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By Sam Smith | 1.22.2016 | 2:10 p.m.

I know you may be getting a flood of questions with the Noah injury about the future. I'm not from the north side so I don't want to be a next year guy but the team will be very different in its lineup and well we might as well make the best of the assests long term. Question one is it possible to trade Gasol to say OKC for say there first and 2 rd draft picks. He would give them more scoring and debth and maybe then talk of a 3 way race to the west. The other trade would be to maybe give Kirk a chance at a ring. I say if could send him to Spurs for there first round pick be worth it. That is more to honor him with a chance at a ring.

Those picks could then be packaged again to move up in the draft and with the money in free agency can make moves.

--Kevin Franzen

Sam: I get a load of these sorts of things, to trade guys with little value to other teams for things of much more value. But why not: You’re not rooting for the Thunder. Obviously with several seven footers, some whom they don’t even use, it obviously makes no sense for them. And, c’mon, Kirk for a first round pick? My peeve on this one is I never understand why fans are so quick to give up. What if LeBron got hurt? It's not like the Bulls are the 76ers. I never understand this future vague thing instead of competing.

Hey, wasn’t anyone here when the Bulls did this in 1999 and had the worst six-year record in the history of the NBA? If players quit and wanted to cash in like fans do the fans would be furious: Where’s the spirit, the sense of competition? Who says you can’t win unless you try? I know this Cubs thing is in fashion now about losing for three or four years and then you are a contender. It doesn’t happen often. Ask the 76ers.

Have the Spurs done it? The Warriors? The Heat? The Lakers? They’re doing it now and they’re a disaster. No successful NBA team basically has done that not only because you can’t win with kids, it takes long, and it’s much harder these days because you get babies with one year of school. Look how many three and four year young players are on the winning teams. Look at the Timberwolves. They’ve got some great young kids; it’s taken them about a decade to get them and they’re still about 25th. You run it out as long as you can, like life, and them you see what’s next.

As you've indicated, McDermott is the best outside shooter on the roster. So tell me why McDermott gets so few shots. Most of the time, he's camped out in the corner on the weak side with Derrick, Jimmy, or Brooks going one on one. The few times that he sees the ball, he usually passes. What kind of action can the Bulls run that will get Doug some open shots - - shots like Barnes and Iguadola seem to get all last night? Isn't it time to give up on Snell and just start McDermott? I know that there are defensive deficiencies, but Snell's defense against Barnes last night was not very helpful. Isn't it time to say that his lack of offense hurts us more than McDermott's defense?

--Michael Mezey

Sam: It will be another of the many decisions Fred Hoiberg has to still make as I think he pares down the rotation the last 15 or 20 games. McDermott is the best shooter, and Fred says it all the time. They have not done a good job getting him catch-and-shoot opportunities, which should be at least 10 per game. Derrick, Jimmy and Aaron going on-one-one, yes, has something to do with that. It’s not an ideal roster, though everyone looks bad against the Warriors’. But don’t compare to them as no one moves the ball and bodies like they do.

The Bulls really don’t have many guys who make plays off the dribble, so the ball doesn’t swing much even with Hoiberg emphasizing it. But it never swung under Thibodeau because he didn’t want it to much, and even if it feels like enough, 41 games isn’t. It’s probably going to take talent additions at some point, which is no surprise to anyone. Rose and Butler are formidable scorers and you can succeed with them. But they are both scorers first. Plus when you watch teams like the Warriors or Spurs it’s not just one pass.

Say Rose or Butler makes a drive and kick. Usually it then becomes a shot from Pau or Taj. Doug needs the ball moving around to move the defense and they just haven’t gotten there yet. I tend to agree with the notion of getting something on offense if you don’t defend as much, which is the case with Pau. It’s OK; few in the NBA play good defense. Make the defense react to you as well. But Hoiberg feels Snell provides enough defense to offset his offense. Doug’s OK off the bench; he just needs more shots.

I did a little research on Derrick's shooting numbers, using half-time of the Dec 10th game (when he first took the mask off) to divide his season into 2 halves.

Pre-Mask - 17.5 games - 94-265 FG (35.5%)

Post-Mask - 17.5 games - 128-276 FG (46.4%)

The only point guards shooting over 46.4% this season are Parker, Curry, and Dragic. It seems clear that his game is pretty decent right now and getting better. I'm curious about how Derrick feels about his own game and what his expectations are for the 2nd half of the season. Do you have a feel for where he's at mentally?

--Dan Michler

Sam: I do and I’ve noticed he’s starting to open up more in public about what I’ve seen all season and which he’s mostly been condemned for: He’s trying to do what everyone has begged him to do but at the same time refuses to let him do. He wants to get through the season healthy. That’s all. He doesn’t care whose team it supposedly is---it’s the Reinsdorf group’s, by the way—who scores the most, gets the most shots, the best seat on the plane, the first one in line for brunch, who leads, who follows, who buys, who dunks. It’s all about health because he knows he and the team cannot have success unless he is healthy in the spring and then beyond.

So he’ll take a few games off for an ankle tweak or hamstring thing and it’s not slacking. It’s being smart and basically doing what everyone was screaming about Thibodeau didn’t do. So then you do it, build toward the end of the season, and you’re condemned for not playing 45 minutes through a sore hamstring in December until you do and then you are condemned if you get hurt as a result. Derrick understands the wins and losses are in the games and not the public arena, and I see him doing the right thing for himself, which is the right thing for the Bulls in the long run.

In the past I have criticized Derrick Rose and wrote about the necessity of unloading him any way possible. I'm now seeing an evolving Rose who has learned to play efficiently within his new physical limitations. One thing is clear, Rose is not a classic play making point but not really a pure scoring guard either. When the time comes to re-sign Rose, if this trend continues, will this lower his value on the open market or does his current style of play fit into what many teams are looking for?

--Will Grocke

Sam: Well that was quick since you wrote me a few weeks ago to release him and now you are considering an extension? It’s why I love this feature. I can answer these questions without even having to talk to anyone. I thought Derrick was widely mischaracterized with that free agency thing at media day. He seemed to be merely in sort of a stream of consciousness about the huge money coming into the cap and how everyone was talking about it. (And everyone was that day).

Rose and everyone else knows no one will be making any decisions until July 2017, and then assuming there is no lockout or strike as that’s when either side can opt out of the bargaining agreement. Lots, as we know, happens in a year and a half. Michael Jordan retired and returned. If Rose is healthy next season he’s shown he can score and will be a free agent prize. If he’s not he won’t be. And, by the way, I know of about 435 players talking about their free agency.

Do you think that Bulls fans are "too heavy" on the team results, complaining when they have "hard wins" against "weaker" opponents? Looking other teams results we see Knicks needing 2 OT's to win the 76's at home, Memphis beating the Pelicans by only 2 at home, Raptors the same against the Nets, Miami getting kicked by the Bucks at home, OKC not having a "blowout" win against Denver and also Indiana only by 3 against the Suns. It's only the Bulls fans or other teams fans also behavior like that?

--Felipe Spengler

Sam: It’s the province of being a fan: Who cares what anyone else does. I want to win! You know about your team and are acutely aware of what they do and how why. Most fans pay little attention beyond box scores to other teams.

Though the larger point is imperfection. Unless you are a virtually perfect team like these Warriors or those Bulls you go through these things because of the schedule, injuries, travel. People like to view players as pieces to maneuver, like robots, and more so these days with the popularity of fantasy sports. Players become extended statistics to perform. But what those results show regularly is the lack of dominant teams, and why you don’t give up because most of those teams that are even better than you are one injury away from being worse.

Why doesn’t Hoiberg start E’Twaun Moore as the starting SG and move Jimmy to SF?

--Tom Choi

Sam: He’s played that lineup a lot moore. Again, I believe as the season gets to a close he’ll tighten things up. The problem with Moore is he’s not a great athlete; tough guy, hard worker and all that, but you find diminishing returns when he’s out there for long stretches. You make the mistake when you ask guys who be what you want instead of who they are.

Do you ever read the player's tribune? Right now, there are players writing in support for all star spots. Some have been written about Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker and Hassan Whiteside. I think the Whiteside argument intrigues me the most, with the amount of blocks the guy has, but I guess that is only one statistic that can't be weighed into consideration too much. Just got me thinking what guys you might include that most others wouldn't include?

--Jon Kueper

Sam: I wrote about my All-Star picks for the Bulls web site Thursday after the starters were announced. I understand the case for Whiteside because of his stats. But he’s an interesting guy given whenever I ask coaches about him they always say to stay away from that guy. No one ever elaborates. And you hear Miami now wants to move him and watching their games he often doesn’t finish games. He’s coming up for a big contract that seems t scream buyer beware. Bosh would get the nod from Miami ahead of him, though they’ve been slumping lately.

Two chances to beat Golden State/San Antonio in the playoffs: Slim and None. By the way, Slim is on vacation.

Rex Doty

Sam: The Bulls, by the way, are no longer in the Western Conference since 1980. And, by the way, I see you’re from Vegas. Did you put down a lot of money preseason on the Bulls winning the title? They were no one’s favorites, but it’s not like the Cavs are the 2015-16 Warriors. As we know they lost to them by 30-plus at home as well. And only one of those Western teams can get there. And last year the same Spurs team was upset in the first round. Stuff happens. That’s why we still watch.

In baseball you always see teams pickup their ex-players and let them retire with their old team. Especially if they were great players. Why don't the Bulls sign Ben Gordon to a 10-day contract and test him out? If it fails, he's retired a Bull the place he started. He was definitely great for the Bulls relatively speaking. However, if he catches fire we have the Old Ben Gordon or as we called him Ben Jordan back in the day.

--Ryan Carpel

Sam: I’d expect spontaneous combustion first. I always like the idea of honoring former players, though I think the Bulls may be waiting until the Cubs invite Sammy Sosa back. So I guess maybe they don’t always do it in baseball, either.