Ask Sam Mailbag: 02.10.17

Just read an article that if Tai Gibson were to be traded his current
value would be a first round pick. I don’t see his value that high
unless he agrees to an extension with the team he’s traded to under the
Randall Sanders

As for Taj, and I know this all depends on economics, but if it were up to me I’d bring him back on a new contract next season. Of course, it depends
on his market, but he’s only going on 32, hasn’t played all that much in
his career, and is such a valuable player, person, leader, team guy that
his type of player could be more difficult to replace than almost anyone
on the roster. You want people like that around all the time, and not
just we media people because no one is more stand up and engaging on the
entire team. I look around the East at power forward and I don’t see
many better. Probably Love, Millsap, but not by much. Serge Ibaka? I’d
rather have Gibson. The Morris twins? I’m happy with Gibson’s physical
presence. I’d have taken Jabari Parker, but terrible news. Thaddeus
Young? Ersan Ilyasova? Patrick Patterson?

This is one of the top three
or four overall power forwards in the East and having one of his best
seasons, growing with his shot and I’m believing he gets it out to
three-point range. If the Bulls go whole turnover, OK, but you don’t
find many like Taj, one of the Bulls great low draft picks ever. If you
are keeping Robin Lopez, and he has a long term deal, I like the way
that tandem plays. Can you do better?

I was watching the Knicks and Clippers (dont ask me why) when they swung
to Oakley getting tossed.

I have never seen 7 security guards so scared but I also don't think I
have ever seen a more sad sight during a game than watching an absolute
legend getting tossed from an arena during a game.

10 years the Oak man was the Knicks enforcer - how did it end up like
Mike Burling

I remember covering the 1999 labor
lockout. Oakley’s first big contract was about to go away if the players
didn’t settle that day. Barkley in the meeting makes a big speech
basically at the end of his career about standing up to the league and
you’ll are cowards and Oakley basically beat him up. I probably wouldn’t
have wanted to settle the debate that way. Remember, that’s the Barkley
who once body slammed Shaq in a game. Oak’s critique of Tim Floyd’s
coaching cost him a $50,000 fine from the Bulls, the only team fine I
can recall for telling the whole truth that accurately. I don’t know
what happened, and the Knicks seem sure they have the independent
witnesses to back up their contentions of Oakley’s erratic behavior, and
maybe to them it was and not to Oak. I just have never known Oakley to
fabricate events even when they made him look bad.

Everyone was saying how they wanted the Bucks youth. Now they are very quiet.
Jabari will be lucky if he comes back to be Ron Harper from his later
Bob Ding

Why not just play Valentine at point?
Ryan Carpel

Has Phil Jackson finally Phailed? Yes they are referring to Phil as
“Phailed Jackson" in New York. The “Fire Phail" chants have been heard
at the “World’s greatest Arena”. What is your take on the Knicks? I am
also intrigued by where Rose will end up next year. He seems to miss
Chicago and the Rhondo experiment seems over. Is it possible Derrick
returns to Chicago IF the price is right? Rose, Butler, Wade, Lopez and
Gibson make a formidable starting unit.
Bruce Roberts

Melo to Bulls? They're already hard to watch as it is. I sure hope that
there's no way that this could happen.
John Jenkins

A couple years ago, I recall you saying that opportunity and landing
with the right team aren't major factors in an NBA player's success or
failure, that it's talent and determination. I keep wondering about
that. Certainly, for great talents that's probably true, but what about
young guys coming in the league who are talented but not exceptional? Or
anyone getting drafted by Sacramento or some of the other franchises in
organizational dysphoria?

At the moment, I'm thinking of Jerian Grant in
this context. The more he plays, the better his stat line gets and the
more effective he is in games. He couldn't get playing time in New York,
and not much here, either, until the last month or so. It looks like
he'll have an NBA career if he gets enough minutes to develop his game,
but what if he'd been buried on some other team's bench? It seems like
there must be several players drafted each year who enter into
situations in which they can't succeed...though perhaps the Development
League will help get them a second chance.
Kirk Landers

The Bulls need to trade Doug McDermott to somewhere where he can
actually get some playing time. He's the last guy off the bench at this
point and still the team's best shooter, by far. Terrible luck for Doug
losing playing time to guys that can't shoot 40% from the floor.
Yuriy Fomin

What's your take on Niko? He was an excellent rookie, and he had a very
good second half last season after a first half marked by (what I
thought was) an ill-advised placement as a SF and then the appendectomy.
But this season he's often looked invisible or bad. He seems like a very
nice guy (which is often the kiss of death, as in Snell). Do you have
any behind-the-scenes take on him?
Alejandro Yegros

What is the deal with Anthony Bennett? He's kind of a cross between
Elton Brand and Draymond Green. He sends so talented but it seems like
no one wants him. Is he the kind of guy that needs the ball to make an
impact? Is that the problem?
Victor Devaldivielso

I think the main issue for the last 2 seasons is that the Bulls do not
have a clear vision, a clear direction of the team's targets and the way
to reach them. A couple of years ago they maxed out Jimmy making a
statement that the plan is to move from the Rose era to the Jimmy era
which in my opinion was the correct decision. Then they fired Thibodeau
as they believed that he was running out the players and was too much
focused on defense. In my opinion the first part was completely
justified as you can see the careers on Lu, Noah and Rose and others
after all those minutes under Thibs.

They handpicked Fred Hoiberg as they liked the style of play he had in his college and his "laid back" attitude. They waited for years to bring Mirotic from Real Madrid and
traded 2 first round picks for McDermott. All those decisions were
correct in theory... but what did they do after to support those
decisions? They brought Wade and Rondo to swallow minutes. In the
shooters' era the team has limited shooters. Do you really think that
the management has a clear view of where they want the team to go?
Stefanos Panayiotides

It's true that only a few Bulls have distinguished themselves, and that
we have a lot of raw young guys. But I still think you have to decide
on a rotation, or none of those guys can become consistent. The way
it's going, when they get on the court, they're not used to their
teammates, they don't know their exact roles, and now they're probably
playing 'scared' that if they have a bad stretch, they might not see the
court again for 4 or 5 games. Nobody develops their game or plays their
best without some consistency. I understand Fred's dilemma.

MCW handles the ball well, but can't shoot or defend 'waterbugs. Grant can
shoot and defend better, but has no point-guard skills. Denzel is
smart, passes and can shoot, but is a little slow on D. But you have to
make some decisions on who to go with, and use the others as best you
can. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the Bulls do this summer
(or can do this summer) to give Fred a better roster. At this point, I
don't know if we'll have Wade or Rondo back. Wade seems frustrated and
Rondo can't be happy at having been benched for 5 games after leading
the NBA in assists last year. I just hope we can keep Taj in town. I
think he'll get some juicy offers. Or maybe they'll trade Butler and
start all over again... So which guys do you think are 'keepers'?
Art Alenik