Ask Sam Mailbag: 05.26.17

Let me just say upfront that Michael Jordan was the greatest thing that ever happened to Chicago sports, at least, during my (very long) lifetime and I was convinced of his singular greatness long ago. That said, watching LeBron James, especially the last couple of years, rings the same bells. He dominates a basketball court in the way MJ did. I think debates over the relative greatness of athletes from different generations is pointless, but it's interesting to think about other players who had the kind of impact on a game that MJ and LeBron have--not just scoring, not just defense, but a presence so impactful that the games revolved around them. Kareem, maybe, and Wilt and Bill Russell. Magic and Bird were great players, but I'm not sure they had the same impact on how the game was played. Anyway, it's a treat to be able to watch such a great talent.
Kirk Landers

Rondo out for the Bulls in the first round, Lowry and Nene out for the Raptors and Rockets in the second round, Leonard and Thomas out for the Spurs and Celtics in the conference finals. Not sure if I left anyone off, but has there ever been an NBA playoffs where so many critical and/or best players were lost for their respective series? This all seems kind of nuts.
Terrell Bryant

If the Bulls bring back everyone, the 16th pick of the draft will not help them win games, so they might as well take a gamble. That Diallo kid is worth the risk. The last athletic SG the Bulls selected that I can remember was Corey Benjamin. Am I forgetting someone? It would be nice to have Diallo learn from Wade and Rondo.
Victor Devaldivielso

- Do you see Jerian Grant with a long-term future with Chicago? I think he's a rather nice combo guard. He can play point or the shooting guard position. He seems more of a shooting guard based on his play. I expect him to back-up Wade if Valentine can't cut it. He and Payne should battle it out for Rondo's back-up spot.

- Do you think Canaan will be back next season? His option will only have $200K guaranteed for next season if he happens to get released this summer. He's only 26, he's not really a veteran presence. Sure, he's a nice bench player too have, but I think the Bulls should get rid of him.

- Do you see Wade retiring a Bull? Sure, he'll be back next season. I don't expect for him to be back in Chicago after his contract runs out, but do you see another team signing him then or could the Bulls bring him back for a bench role?

- What are your thoughts on MCW ? Could he be someone that can still be that 15/6/6 ball player on another team that has different needs at the point?

- Where does Rondo go after next season? I think Rondo signed with the intention of him, Butler, and Wade leading Chicago to a 4-5 seed and a deep run at the NBA playoffs. That didn't happen but I think Rondo will get his option picked up and he'll be back for one more season. At 32, then he'll look to get one final contract and win.

- What kind of ball player can Payne develop into - meaning can he be the point guard of the future for Chicago? He's shown he can shoot with his left hand but can he play defense and can he distribute the ball?

- Do you foresee a breakout season for Denzel Valentine next season? I'm talking 20+ mpg next season, 10 points off the bench and 45%-50% shooting from the field.
Tom Plonowski

Rondo emerged as the team’s most vital non-Butler player, so he’ll likely have that point guard spot and we’ll see how much they can push the ball with him firmly in that role now. Carter-Williams has a relatively small player option, which he figures to exercise to become a free agent. He’s hard to figure as he looked so good as Rookie of the Year and had an impressive playoffs against the Bulls when he was in Milwaukee. The inconsistent rotation seemed to affect him.

Many Bulls fans will disagree: But I see Gar and Paxson as having a better eye for talent than they are credited with. We'll see if Butler and perhaps Rondo are enough to get any top players to want to play in Chicago. I think the Bulls can be better than the Celtics next year - they already gave Boston serious trouble this year.
LongGiang Le

I want the Cavs to crush Durant's dreams of winning a title. He shouldn't have joined the Warriors, but rather joined Harden/the Rockets instead.
Kieron Smith

Send LBJ to his fifth finals loss.
Mike Metz

You are around NBA players all the time. For us mere mortals can you explain the thought process with some of the big money players. If a player has $100 million in the bank, are they overly concerned about the next contract paying them $180 million instead of $217 million? I'm trying to understand if a max contract is as important as we hear it is. Is some of it ego?
Mike Burling

There’s a report the Timberwolves will consider Derrick Rose. Is he going to trade for Deng as well?
Mike Sutera

I think the pressure is on Boston now to re-consider trading the No. 1 pick on draft day with the Cavs knocking them out of the playoffs. Boston is the only team in the East right now that could challenge Cleveland given the right players.
Randall Sanders

This is so embarassing for the NBA. Who is going to watch the regular season any more? We can all pencil in Warriors vs Cavs round 4 for next year.
Bob Ding