Ask Sam Mailbag: 02.23.18

Pax just said that the vets are out, Felicio will start and Payne get significant minutes. Cuban just said, publicly, that the best thing for Dallas would be to lose, and that he communicated this to the players. There are 8 teams within 2 games of one another at the bottom, and all but one (BKN) is highly incentivized to lose. Will this be the all-time greatest tankathon ever? We could have a third of the league trying to not win a game from here on out.Alejandro Yegros

Isn't the news that Nwaba, Felicio and Payne getting minutes the rest of the way a good thing? I'm not talking about tanking. If they were tanking, Markkanen, Lavine and Dunn wouldn't play. I love the announcement. They don't need to find out what those guys can do, next year. They need to find out now. Plus, it gives the main trio a chance to be the go to guys where the offense revolves around them mostly. They already know what Holiday, Lopez and Grant have to offer. I love this and didn't see it coming. I want to see games with Dunn, Lavine and Nwaba and see what kind of defense they can be together. Victor Devaldivielso

Great all-star game! Defense was much improved! Jimmy doesn't like the free-flowing, no defense type game which is why he didn't really try and was a non-factor (in previous games). So now being that they actually tried on D (even in the first half!), I thought maybe it's Jimmy's time to shine, right? At least I'll get to see Jimmy Buckets since no Bulls are in the game, right? Again a no-show (I know illness), but really a DNP-Coaches Decision?? Has there ever been such a thing in the all-star game? I'm sure somebody would have loved that spot, you know to actually play in the game. I love Jimmy, but wow. You wanna be an all-star, but not actually play in the game? At least a few minutes would've been great. It's the all-star game, the layup line and suiting up is ridiculous if you don't play.Adam Garcia

At least the 76ers in losing for years traded away decent players in order to lose games. The Bulls are simply going to sit their better players for inferior players? I suppose it's just that the Bulls have not purposefully tanked during the Paxson era which has now been very long by NBA standards. So it's sort of jarring to see them do it, even if as I said I understand. But you're assuming, perhaps because you obviously know the people involved better than I do, that next year they're going for the playoffs. Say they start out poorly. What's to prevent them from doing this again. And somebody gets hurt the next year so do it again. I'm sure Sam Hinkie didn't start out hoping to tank in the fourth year of his time there. But it doesn't seem Paxson's personality would allow him to do this for long and I respect and enjoy that about his leadership.Cameron Watkins

I didn't watch All-Star; haven't for a few years now. From the players' quotes, it sounds like they made it a game. They said they didn't want it to be a ‘joke' as in the past, so they (allegedly) ran plays and played defense. Hmmm... Final score was 148-145. Sounds like the typical All-Star dunkfest to me.Art Alenik

Crazy to think that a year ago Dunn was on the fast track to becoming Noah Vonleh! And this was not your focus but he has been (other than that whole Niko thing) maybe most important to any success the bulls have had this year - grant has proven to be a good backup but look how they have struggled with Dunn out.Guy Danilowitz

I've read the rationales for playing the young guys, and I'll concede the people making the decisions are far more savvy about managing a basketball team than I am, but to not even dress Lopez, Holiday and Grant? That seems shoddy in the extreme. Those three guys busted their butts, won their jobs, played team ball, did everything that was asked of them, and this is what they get? I feel awful for them. And yes, I know about the money and it's a business and all that, but good people shouldn't be treated that way.Kirk Landers

The Bulls are giving their younger players significant playing time down the stretch, namely Nwaba, Felicio & Payne. What about Antonio Blakeney? He seems to have the biggest upside considering he's the greatest G Leaguer of all-time. I haven't heard his name come up at all in the "see what we have," Daniel Slesnick

With the increasing trends of perimeter centric and small ball movements in the NBA, do you see Phil Jackson returning to the league and the Triangle being implemented by some teams down the road?Abram Bachtiar

Wanted to get your take on the new proposed playoff format. I like East and West and isn't one of the problems is sometimes the "best team" doesn't get the #1 seed? That's what 7 game series are for. Seeding will play into it even in a 1-16 format. Then you might as well get rid of Divisions and Conferences because what purpose will it serve?Adam Grace