Ask Sam Mailbag: 01.05.18

Interesting to see what will happen with Niko as there seems to be many reports he will be moved when he can be traded now his stock is up. If this is to happen do you see it being for picks or expiring contracts to free up cap space? Mike Burling

Nikola Mirotic shooting the basketball.

We agree that even a #1 draft pick is still a gamble ... or maybe a ‘project' who will take a few years to blossom. We've already been through that with Niko and are just starting to see rewards. What are we? Foster Care for young hoopsters?? We may still get a lottery pick, albeit a later one. Do any Bulls know Paul George? If so, it might be time for some ‘casual friendly conversation'. Not tampering, of course ... . No, never that. As my wife always says, "Let's burn that bridge when we come to it." The way Niko is playing right now, he's definitely worth the $12.5MM (and probably more). We have him locked in at $12.5MM for another year. By this time next year we'll know if Niko is a star worth paying even more, or still up-and-down. And by that time, Markkanen will truly be ready to replace him if we can't negotiate a reasonable salary. Trading Niko now is like selling a bag with a rock in it that just might be a diamond. Nobody's paying you for Niko's potential, so you're almost bound to lose. Gar/Pax Bulls don't even have to say they were wrong. In fact, they were right about Niko! It just took four years to pan out. Taking that idea one step further, Gar/Pax should actually be getting accolades right now. First, they picked a coach who nobody (incl. me) had faith in, and he's got them playing great team ball. Then they traded Butler, and seem to have gotten 3 good players for him. Looks like they were right about Dunn too! Next, they signed a few scrubs and rejects with some potential, in the hope that 1 might be a ‘find'. Nwaba qualifies, maybe Holiday & Grant too. So, yes, maybe they're better than they thought they'd be at this point. That's not a bad thing! If nothing else, they've saved the season for me. The Bulls are actually fun to watch. Art Alenik

Kris Dunn handles the ball.

How does one truly value NBA trades? Initially, I disliked the Butler trade mainly because the Bulls also added the 16th pick. Looking at the Twolves for whatever reason that player has not played. In the short run Bleacher Report is still saying Chicago is the loser in this trade. Currently, with the recent development of Dunn and contract considerations, I would say this is not the case considering Lavine has yet to play. As a fan, I would like a playoff run for development sake yet I want hopes of an eventually good team. Lopez to Cleveland if they have a first-round pick they need the help of defense. This could help Chicago open up maybe more minutes for Portis. Bulls don't get a huge pick but maybe a top ten they could be a playoff team next season. Kevin Franzen

Robin Lopez looks to pass the ball against the Dallas Mavericks.

The next 10 games are not that hard. We have the Mavs next who haven't been bad but we can take them. I could see us winning a shocking 7 of the next 10. At worse 5. Bob Ding

Kirck Hinrich of the Atlanta Hawks handles the ball.

Was there ever any chance the Bulls would've traded the #7 altogether - what ended up being Kirk Hinrich? Were the rumors true that the Bulls wanted to trade up in the draft to grab Anthony, Bosh or Wade?Tom Plonowski

Nikola Mirotic looking for a rebound.

That was a bizarre decision to sit Mirotic... tank is on?

I know you're going to say "players/coaches don't tank"... and I agree. But Mirotic is easily your best player this year, and to sit him for that long looks really bad. Heck, it looks really bad to keep bringing him off the bench, when he's better than Lauri.Alejandro Yegros

The Bulls and the Raptors looking for a rebound

This Bulls team is certainly proving to be a wild ride. Like most others, I didn't see the flurry of wind coming after the 3-20 start. Even the recent losses we've had have all been winnable with one or two plays being the difference between the W or L. This highlights a perfect example of what is possible in competing and why supporters should always get excited about every season - the possibilities and the unknown. The rest of the season will be very intriguing.Darren Jones

Coach Fred Hoiberg.

It seems like we can be confident in Hoiberg's ability to help players improve their shots. You see how he helped Dunn and Lopez improve their shots. You also see how he helped Lauri, Nikola and Denzel bounce back from slumps. Do you think we can use this for players with low value because of poor shooting? I think we can offer something for players like Justise Winslow, Stanley Johnson or Mario Hezonja.Melbert Tizon

Markkanen handles the ball.

I was trying to figure out who Lauri Markkanen looks like. His nickname should be Eddie for Eddie Haskell from the old Leave it to Beaver. What do you think?Mark Schweihs

Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the basketball.

Can the Bulls win a championship with Markkanen as centerpiece? How high is Markkanen's ceiling?Jeff Lichtenstein