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Ask Sam Mailbag: 02.08.19

What the heck are the Bulls doing? Otto Porter was not the right move. $28 million for 2 more years after this season for Otto Porter is a joke. This trade makes absolutely no sense from any angle I look at it. It's basically Gar/Pax saying we
can't sign any impact free agents and aren't even willing to try because we can't land anyone. So instead of saying we failed later, we just will make this senseless trade to avoid having to try to bring in an actual star. Best case Otto Porter
makes the Bulls a little better, and they win a couple more meaningless games. I don't care if it's morally right, the Bulls should be outright tanking and getting the best shot at potential superstars because they don't have the interest or
ability to bring any over in free agency. Ok, Markkanen and Carter should not be untouchable. They are ok, but not superstars, they aren't the leaders on a championship team. Lauri is overrated. A player that size should be driving to the basket,
not thinking he's the next Kyle Korver. Plus he can't play defense. Ok, I'm done before I have a nervous breakdown over this!

Tom Gorski

Porter pretty much was tasked with standing around waiting for John Wall to stop dribbling and then shoot. So we'll see if there's a there there. It's worth a look, and you are correct and so are the Bulls. They admitted to you (and us) the free
agency fantasy was just that. Bad teams are not a location unless they have multiple slots, and even then it's a big gamble. The Bulls had that chance in 2010 and went for it. They got Carlos Boozer. Good, but not who you wanted. The Knicks are
taking that risk now. Look at a team like the 76ers. They have not been able to sniff a free agent because they were so bad so long. Free agents don't go to rebuilding, and the Bulls acknowledged honestly that they were not going to play that
dishonest game.

The message is about getting incrementally better until an opportunity arises. The Rockets plan was to build around Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. And then someone dumped James Harden on them. You can't plan for that to occur, but it does. You have to
be realistic in the midst of that and build toward competitiveness. As much as fans and media see sports as championship or go 0-82, it's still a year long entertainment business. Competition is entertaining, and the Bulls had to begin to get back
into that business. It looked like they were heading there this season until swamped with injuries. But it also gave them some time to see what they didn't have: Shooting and a wing scorer.

Portis was terrific, fun, a good guy, all the hustle elements the Bulls liked to talk about. But a secondary priority, the Bulls decided. You don't lock up a reserve when you have several starting positions unfilled. And now the Bulls are spending
too much money? If the Bulls could land Kawhi or Kevin or Kyrie, I'm sure they would. But why pursue the exercise we all know would be futile just because of where they are, Year 2 of rebuilding. Who thought Curry and Thompson were the core of a
title team? You fill in positions, add talent gradually and see what you have. Don't worry; no one is untouchable until it's obvious they are.

I like this trade. We were weak at SF, and everyone can use a 3 and D player in the modern NBA.

I'm bummed to see Bobby go, but Bulls would have had to pay him this summer in the $18M - $20M range. Is that worth it for a bench player? He will be fine and will still have a great NBA career, and I think Carter Jr. will fill that role very
nicely next season. I liked Jabari, too, but for whatever reason, it just didn't work out.

Time to move onward. I'm looking forward to Zach driving and kicking to Lauri and Otto at the wings. The trade was an upgrade for us.

Ateeq Ahmed

Like the trade a lot as Bulls now have a veteran good small forward and signed up to use their cap space. Now though only have one power forward on roster - do bulls have a G-league player to promote or do they need to just pick up a power
forward that is released or bought out? What are your suggestions for rotation the rest of the year? Hoping that Bulls keep Lopez to field a team worth watching in 2019 plus to help young players mature / develop

Wayne Warner

Again, the reason the Bulls can't lose too much is they have better talent than the Knicks and Cavs. Though to ease some concerns, the Bulls look like they'll lose plenty these last two months. Manipulating it is dishonest to your fans and the
game. Those that advocate it have character not worth considering, anyway. They're likely to remain among the bottom four in records with teams like Atlanta, Memphis and Orlando separating themselves with fewer than 30 games left. So the Bulls
should get a good player; the best player always remains the product of luck.

No one has anything bad to say about Bobby, though the Bulls did offer eight figures last fall after Bobby was basically in the playing rotation one season. The team had different needs. Bobby's a reserve four. They most needed a wing three; there
is a difference. Bobby was more four/five; so Porter in this NBA can play some power forward with his size at 6-8 and shooting component, more three/four. Depth isn't exactly the Bulls biggest weakness these days. And as difficult as the daily
losing continues to be (much easier to say rebuild than live with it), it is just a year and a half in with another draft and maybe $20 million in salary cap too, which could mean at least two more new players this summer.

Finally! That's what every Bulls fan is thinking right now. GarPax finally made a solid trade deadline move! Otto Porter JR. Is essentially the exact player the Bulls need. He's young and overpaid yet still very useful as a spot up shooter and an
ideal wing defending partner for LaVine.

I even like the TLC trade, the Bulls have picked up a couple of young athletic wings that can play defense. Essentially, doing exactly what they needed. I'm stunned. In a good way for once.

Parker and Portis becoming Porter is excellent asset and cap management.

Hope they also free Robin Lopez and let that good man play on a playoff team!

Sundeep Shah

I'm still pretty shocked by that trade, on several levels. Mostly, it's that $20-million-plus for Porter seems like a cap buster for years to come...or is this just the new reality in the NBA?

The other thing is, Bobby Portis seemed to be developing into someone special coming off the bench. I understand your points about signing him as a free agent, but he seems to be to be as solid as Porter for 30 minutes a game. I guess the point
is, Porter plays a position of more need.

How many $20-million dollar players do competitive NBA teams have on their rosters? If it's three, and Otto Porter ends up being our third, is it reasonable to think the Bulls would do any better than the Wizards have done with him as #3?

Kirk Landers

Try to remember what really is a free agent in the NBA. Everyone wants the top four or five, who basically gravitate to their friends and high level current winning situations. Why fool yourself now if you realize it's not possible and try to get
closer to where they might be serious? The salary cap for next season is about $110 million. The luxury tax kicks in at around $130 million. So a team should easily afford five $20 million players and be able to fill out a bench without going into
the tax, which really is about what most teams view as the cap. The Bulls remain under, so retain the flexibility with Porter. And it's just two more years, which then potentially opens money for a top free agent if the team has advanced toward
where the roster could be more appealing regarding veterans. Remember, everyone has a plan. Which doesn't much matter until you get lucky.

The killer part of the trade is it takes us out of reach free agency. Maybe odds were so low and with not exactly a players type of coach, maybe no one significant was coming here. Then again, if we win Zion Draft, maybe Chicago looks nicer than
Milwaukee in free agency?

Jeff Lichtenstein

Bobby Portis, your best scorer off the bench traded just like that? I just don't get it.

King Berango

This has been the most interesting trade period I recall for any period. It will take some time for the NBA fans to digest the very significant changes in team philosophy and strategy going forward. A few weeks of dynamic change have really
altered the league landscape. And, it's not over yet.

John Petersen

I take two main things away from the PORT-is, park-ER for PORT-ER (see what I did there?) trade:

  1. Durant & Leonard have said "no, never" to the Bulls;

  2. Management has softened on Wendell as a full-time 5, and see him playing some backup time at the 4 with Lauri, or with some other configuration -- making Bobby's time on court less valuable long-term, especially with the gaping hole at the 3.

Chris Granner

So recently, I have read some articles about the Bulls listening to offers for anyone who isn't Lauri or Wendell. If I've interpreted this correctly, it means they are listening to Zach LaVine offers. Does it mean he could potentially be traded
even though we just signed him for 4 years or is this more of checking out his worth in the market?

Andrew Santiago

Allowing bad teams a chance to draft 1st has generally been a good idea. It creates some parity and therefore keeps the league competitive. Competition is entertaining. However, in the last few years some teams seemingly lose games on purpose.
This can be achieved by disrupting continuity. Firing coaches, changing philosophy and not playing your best players are ways in which management can lose games but argue they are trying win. This is bad for competition and not entertaining at
all. Gar/Pax have claimed they do not want mediocrity by continually making the playoffs without a real chance of winning a championship. An eighth seed never gets top draft picks so they are destined to remain a team without much hope of ever
winning a championship. It seems obvious that the Bulls management is trying to lose games. What can be done to make teams try to win games?

Joe Pisula

I know that you just spoke a lot in your last mailbag about the Anthony Davis drama, but I think what is bothering people the most is not that Davis requested a trade, but that it comes immediately on the heels of the Butler and Leonard debacles,
which have left a terrible taste in everyone's mouth. I actually think that Davis has gone about this the right way. He is well within his rights to walk after this season, and he has merely let them know that he won't resign. I don't see any of
the Butler drama in this situation. Butler's behavior was appalling and one of the most unprofessional temper tantrums I've ever witnessed. Now that the rant is over, I guess my question is I cannot remember this type of thing happening as
frequently as it has this past year and I was wondering if you could point to reason you think this has become the go to move of the players? Is it poor management? A fluke with these three players? Or is this going to become a regular annual
occurrence? I understand that one team's loss is another's gain, and that's the business, but at what point does a player begin to burn his future bridges with such behavior (mainly Butler and Leonard)?

Aaron Ward

My quick take is I like it for 2 reasons: Bulls being realistic about cap space and ability to lure a superstar (KD, Kyrie or Kawhi) and the reality in today's NBA is you need 3pt shooters; bulls need to take more and Porter can and will shoot
em...Tobias Harris etc are great but maxing out on a guy at that level almost guarantees mediocrity.

Guy Danilowitz

I know, I know, everyone wants Durant and Leonard, but you'd be fortunate to get Tobias Harris, who is a top 10 free agent. Porter is in that class. They got him. I can't say I ever heard anyone say about Porter than he's no Tobias Harris.
Performance also is about opportunity. Maybe now for the first time Porter gets it. I don't know Porter's ceiling, but Harris for the first time in his career is being featured in an offense. And became a near All-Star. Before that in places like
Orlando and Detroit—and you probably didn't even know he was three—he averaged about 15 or 16 points and you hardly knew where he was. $100 million man? Pay up. Somebody is going to this summer.

When you say stuff like this, I wish you would explain what it means; I should know but I don't; what does switching on screen/roll mean?

Paul Siekert

I have the ball and you are guarding me. Next to me on my right my teammate sets a screen (basically a block to divert the guy guarding me). I dribble right past my teammate who sets the screen, which is standing in place and me trying
to move around him without leaving space for the player guarding me to get "over" and stay in front of me. So I won't have open space for a shot, the opponent guarding my teammate who is setting the screen "switches" to
guard me. And the guy guarding me "switches" to guard my teammate setting the screen.

That is called switching the screen/roll. What teams then try to take advantage of is the guy guarding me is smaller. So when he switches to my generally taller teammate setting the screen, my teammate should have advantage to shoot or drive to
the basket. Or I will have an advantage because the opponent guarding the screener usually is a taller player and then maybe I am quicker and can drive by. Though most of the time I see the guards dribble between their legs 15 times and then shoot
a fadeaway three. Which generally isn't an exact part of the strategy.

What was it that Einstein said? The definition of insanity is trying the same thing repeatedly yet expecting different results (close enough). Why do the Bulls do all that switching on defense? It doesn't work! I'm telling you it cost us the game
in Charlotte (and probably many more this season). Who in his right mind thinks it's a good idea to end up with Markkanen trying to guard Kemba Walker? All it did was put Lauri in foul trouble and let Walker rack up 37 points. And it makes guys
lazy. I miss man defense; that is, actual defense. Stick to your guy, fight through the pick, and give him hell. All right, thanks for letting me vent.

Anthony Moulesong

When Lopez makes a hook shot and Stacey King compares his form to that of a former Bulls center, please suggest that he drop the name of Don Kojis—the original Bulls center.

David Thompson