Ask Sam Mailbag: 06.15.18

Sam Smith opens his mailbag to answer readers' questions.

I'm grateful the LeBron Finals are over.  It was tiring, listening to most of the media talk about LeBron, LeBron vs MJ etc.  The constant bashing of his teammates. Unless I missed it, I didn't hear LeBron stand up for his teammates.  Its difficult for them to get involved when he always wants the ball in his hands. Without game momentum, he crumbles.  He gets a foul called on him, he yells at the ref. He turns it over, he looks around in different directions. If his teammates commit a foul or turnover, he yells at them. Game 1..... He couldn't move on and he said it was his most difficult loss ever. They had OT and choked. He's got a broken hand etc. He ruined the Finals for me, or maybe it was the media.  On ESPN.com... The next day.. They had LeBron as the main article. Not the champion Warriors. I'm sick of it.  I can't wait for next season so Bulls fans can focus on the Bulls and block out LeBron news and LeBron excuses.  Did the media makes excuses for Dirk and the Mavs when they played Miami in the Finals?  I'm tired of the comparisons to MJ. They are both great players, different positions. They argue that LeBron doesn't have a hall of famer like Jordan had Pippen. Pippen wasn't a hall of famer when they won their first title. He barely made his first all Star game that year, if i remember correctly. Excuse after excuse.  Ugh

Victor Devaldivielso

Sam: I like LeBron, but you make some points that mostly escape the day to day media. OK, pretty much always escapes. That post game cast thing was a stunner, his acolytes dropping word to his ESPN staff; head shaking, really, to if he actually was hurt—I tend to always believe players when they say they are, and I believe LeBron did hurt his hand—not wait the 10 minutes until after the media conference? Especially since he hadn't said anything for a week and as I recall threw himself a lob off the backboard for a dunk in Game 2 with his “bad” hand and then in Games 2 and 3 combined was three of 10 on threes, which is about his average, and 13 of 16 on free throws, again not unusual. It was just in Game 4 he dropped off. I heard some saying it was the trainers/doctors who insisted, as if anyone in Cleveland management or the organization can tell him to do anything. I don't see LeBron as an excuse maker, but you rarely ever hear him talk about his team as opposed to himself. Perhaps because media asks him all the questions that way. There's a larger issue with him, however, that speaks more to being 3-6 in the Finals.

Former Bulls player B.J. Armstrong, a former Jordanaire, wrote an essay about that this week. BJ's point is relevant. He was there as Jordan morphed into the sort of team player that LeBron cannot seem to become, dominating the ball and making teammates appear less than they are. It looks good for LeBron; less so for everyone else. Jordan came to understand, and he and the Bulls went on that amazing run of six titles in eight years. Think about LeBron's three titles. One was with that ridiculous offensive rebound and Ray Allen shot that bailed out a certain loss and another was when Raymond Green was suspended and the Cavs came back from 3-1. And no way anyone could out isolation that Thunder team with Westbrook, Durant and Harden. But a win is a win and every team has good fortunate to ultimately succeed. BJ arrived in 1989 just after the Jordan Bulls finally made the conference finals. Many forget, but they did it in 1989 with Jordan playing point guard. He'd taken over the ball completely amidst the frustration of the step back that season from 50 wins to 47, falling to fifth in the Central Division. Most only remember the famous Cleveland “shot” until the six-game loss to the Pistons after upsetting the Knicks. But Jordan had gone full narcissism. He didn't see any other way with both Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant unreliable. Media was stunned Jordan could do all that alone. The Pistons only laughed. They understood the Bulls never could beat them that way.

In the first 11 games of that playoffs, Jordan had 40 points or more six times and double figure assists also six times, double figure rebounds four times. The world wowed, but there could be no ultimate success that way. It was quietly a big reason for the coaching change to Phil Jackson, someone to try to rein in Jordan more, merge his brilliance with his teammates' desires and talents. These all are NBA players, made to look less, often unintentionally, by the way players like Jordan and now James believe they need to play to win. Jordan adjusted and never lost when he got to the Finals. James never has adjusted, and while his legacy will remain as a great winner and among the elite ever, he still doesn't fully understand what it takes to win in a team game. It might not be on purpose because, unlike Jordan, for example, he basically never was exposed to team play like Jordan was at North Carolina. As BJ notes in his essay, the game doesn't change. The spread, speed and three-point shooting still requires teamwork and sacrifice, involving the whole no matter how great the one may be. LeBron's still having issues accepting and understanding that encouraged by an adoring media satisfied by the highlight show.


I see the Grizzlies are interested in giving up their no. 4 pick if someone will take on Parsons. Could we swap our no. 21 for their 4 and then swap Asik for Parsons? Maybe throw in a future 2nd rounder or some roles players too. We would suck up an extra $25mil per/year and they shred the cash. But hey, we aren't making the top 6 in the east for 2 years anyway. With a 4, 7 and three point shooting from Parsons (when he plays), could be another step forward. Elite free agents aren't coming either until some of these young guys we have really develop and we at least make the playoffs. We could try and move Parsons in 1 yr when another lottery team will suck up a salary (Atlanta). Probably not enough for the Grizzlies though.

Andrew Brown

Sam: Certainly not enough for them. First of all, dumping a player means not taking back any salary. Yes, I saw this latest rumor. You understand first with Parsons making $25 million each of the next two seasons, you are out of free agency. OK, you say no free agents would come, anyway. But Memphis' owner already has said publicly they need to compete for the playoffs next season. More than most franchises, they rely on ticket revenue and cannot afford another season dump. Conley is returning from injury, and they have Marc Gasol, so they could do something. But when they say giving up No. 4 if someone takes Parsons they basically mean moving down. Not out of the draft. So they'd probably want back No. 7 from the Bulls. Not 22. The Grizzlies do need players, so perhaps 4 for 22, Portis and LaVine or Dunn if you take Parsons? The question is how great a player might be there at No. 4 that you'd give up two or three rotation players? It doesn't sound like anything really workable; just a team fishing around for blue marlin when trout or perch seem most available.


You've mentioned that Trae Young could make an effective 3rd guard if drafted by the Bulls. Might the Bulls consider moving Dunn to shooting guard and LaVine to small forward in order start Young at point guard?

Brent Finger

Sam: I doubt it given LaVine, though he has the ability, has not shown much defensive interest in his career yet. And Young, like his models Steve Nash and Stephen Curry, is a poor defender. So with LaVine, the Bulls poor defense could get worse. Golden State does the trade off because they put three and four all-league defenders with Curry. The Bulls cannot do that, and to have your wing player a poor defender is fatal. Young on offense does deliver what the Bulls don't have—they do share his penchant for turnovers—with the ease of ball movement and tremendous long shooting. The NBA with its current style of play caters to players like that now, which otherwise would not make Young even interesting. He could be in a heck of a three-guard rotation with Dunn and LaVine. I know you say starter with a No. 7 pick, but the Pistons did pretty well with that three-guard rotation of Thomas, Dumars and Vinnie Johnson, none of whom were very tall, but all of whom could score.


I know this looks like an idotic question but is there a possibility that D-Rose comes back to the Bulls? We were interested in a reunion last summer and I feel like that if we were battling Minnesota to acquire him, I feel like Derrick would choose us as he's from Chicago and it's an offer he can't refuse. I get that we already have a point guard in Kris Dunn but Rose could be a mentor to him and he'd give us valuable minutes off the bench which he showed that he could do during the playoffs. I think it could work as he'd probably be aiming for a relatively cheap deal that wouldn't hurt our cap going forward and he'd be playing in his hometown which is an offer that I think any athlete wouldn't be able to refuse.

Art Alenik

Sam: It's not a ridiculous notion, but both sides have moved on. Rose did have some interest in returning last year because, well, he wasn't having much interest anywhere. I believe that's changed with his play for the Timberwolves in the playoffs. His relationship with the Bulls never was as bad as some suggested, and it's been very good these days with Rose working out this summer in the Advocate Center and having had upbeat sessions with Jerry Reisndorf and the Bulls in which I'd heard Rose expressed gratitude for all the Bulls had done for him. But he signed with the Cavs last year to get back in the playoffs with a top team and the Bulls aren't quite there yet. I don't believe Rose sees himself as mentor as much as still, as he says, a baller.


Bulls seem to be trying hard to convince onlookers that they are interested in Trey Young. They're not. It will take 4 years for him to sniff the level that Dunn is currently playing at. I don't see a scenario where the Bulls draft him over Wendell Carter or even Mikal Bridges. First there was a report that they're "enamored" with Young. Now there's a report saying that there displeased with Dunn's work ethic. Do they think Orlando will fall for this?  Either that, or the media is flat out making this stuff up. Unless Bamba falls, Wendell Carter Jr. is the obvious, Roquan Smith pick for the Bulls.

Yuriy Fomin

Sam: Carter Jr. may still be in the inside lane. But I would not dismiss Young. I did get a number of questions about reports the Bulls have issues with Dunn's work ethic. I hadn't heard that, and I know Michael Jordan almost never worked out seriously in the summer in his first eight or nine years with the Bulls, concentrating on golf, and they eventually were able to overlook that and decided to keep him. I have seen Dunn at the Advocate Center, though media isn't allowed to watch workouts. There is a lot of bluffing around the draft, though the Bulls don't usually engage in much of that. Of course, they could have Danny Ainge as a consultant.


There are pictures of Dunn working out at the Bulls facilities with other players. It Sounds to me more like Tre Young's agent trying to stir up interest for his client after the earlier report of Tre Young possibly being drafted by the Bulls. Now reports are Phoenix trading their 16th pick to move into the top 10 to possibly draft him. A lot of rumors will be flying this week going into next week's draft.

Josh Levin

Sam: It's shaping up as one of the most unpredictable drafts in years. Last year's was pretty routine in the top 10 since basically everyone missed on Donovan Mitchell. I think I had the first 10 or 12 in my mock draft; this year I could have trouble after No. 1. I think Arizona's Ayton is a lock even as the Suns have been having all the top big men in and raving about each, which could slide Jaren Jackson Jr. up a spot ahead of Luka Doncic. The rumors lately with Doncic committing to stay in the draft is that he's slipping out of the top three (some had him as No. 1 to go with his coach, now coaching the Suns). It's unlikely he would get past No. 5. You could see the Suns thinking with Young. They traded for Elfrid Payton, but he's hardly a true point guard. Seems like an ideal backup. With Ayton and Devin Booker running and shooting and getting to the rim, Young could really direct things and spread the court. Plus, they'd have a big time rim protector to cover for Young. They'd be 76ers West. But they don't have anything to give up that I can see that would get them high enough for Young other than last year's pick, Josh Jackson. They have No. 16; 16 and Dragan Bender to move up? No. 16 and Alex Len? Maybe. You'd have to get into the top 10 to get Young. If he slipped to No. 7 and the Suns were serious, I'd take Jackson for the Bulls pick and the Suns still would have No. 16. That's just one possibility. With Booker, Young and Ayton, Jackson wouldn't be that vital and the Suns could pick up a nice wing player in this draft at No. 16.

I can see the Clippers wanting to do something with their two picks at Nos. 12 and 13. Ace journalist Gary Payton reported this week LeBron's son is registering for school in Los Angeles. Most assume LeBron to the Lakers with Paul George or Chris Paul. But what about the Clippers? Jerry West can be very convincing and that owner has a lot of money and connections. Maybe someone takes on Gallinari for the two firsts to clear money for LeBron. That could give a team like the Bulls four firsts in a strong draft and also perhaps the ability to move up with multiple lottery picks. Maybe dad can ask Austin to opt out. The Grizzlies are in trade speculation all the time at No. 4 and the Magic at No. 6 have perhaps half their roster to unload, so they also will be unpredictable. It's going to be a wild 48 hours before that June 21 draft.


Is there a win / win for the Bulls with Cavs? Obtain 8th pick for 22nd is win for Bulls. Freeing up cap space for Cavs by trading Love to Bulls for Holiday, Grant & Felicio (or Lopez) and use Mirotic trade exemption. Cavs would use LeBron at 4 spot. Target Paul George or CP3 or ...?

Wayne Warner

Sam: Probably won't work because no free agent ever wanted to come to Cleveland; it's really why LeBron left in 2010; he could not get anyone to join him. He tried. He tried hard with Bosh, with Wade, with even A'mare Stoudemire, who was a top free agent then with a strong knee. I believe LeBron never really wanted to leave 2010. He just wanted better players; it's why I believe he'll leave again, that he can't see any path with that roster—which we know he mostly assembled—and this time no effigies. They got a title. Kevin Love came in trade, Kyrie in the draft. Kyrie got out quickly. It's a tough free agent destination with the brutal weather (worse than Chicago), a desolate downtown area and Joakim Noah having said the best things about it.


There was an article from Bleacher Report that asserted that the Bulls' medical staff is incompetent. Have you heard these assertions before? There's a lot of scrutiny surrounding Missouri standout Michael Porter Jr., and it's not because of his talent. It all comes down to health. Teams are unsure about his back. Porter underwent surgery to supposedly correct the issue that ended his freshman season with the Tigers, but he's being extremely selective with his medical records. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Porter took a physical with the Chicago Bulls medical team instead of releasing his medical information to teams. Additionally, he'll be holding his own pro day today in Chicago instead of working out for teams in their house, forcing teams to rely on the medical report by the Bulls medical team.

Kirk Landers

Sam: Actually, the link never said that, though in a cheap shot way it suggested that. It's the problem with Facebook and all those fraudulent internet sites that post things out of context and unreliable reports. What you included pasted a tweet in the story from some blogger offering his opinion on the medical staff without any facts, information or knowledge. Someone needs to defend those who cannot (publicly) defense themselves no matter how wealthy they may be. Misinformed and fabricated information in tweets are obviously an issue everyone should be aware of, though it's even more irresponsible to just drop one in a story as if you are vetting it. It also referenced issues with Jimmy Butler, none of which I am aware of since Jimmy basically always played with the Bulls. They sort of kept him going. But the Bulls actually have one of the elite medical staffs in the world. Head physician Brian Cole is a go to orthopedic doctor for many, many NBA players and named Chicago's top doctor, a teaching professor and named on numerous best doctors in America lists. David Orth, the ophthalmologist, for example, is one of the worlds leading retina specialists and was the doctor who basically saved the first title in 1991 with fitting Horace Grant with his special goggles. Physicians cannot defend themselves against such slanders and malefactions. I probably won't hear about Porter's medicals since, after all, there are medical privacy laws. I doubt we'll hear anything we can figure out regarding his back. It's going to be a risky call for any team as Porter seems to be floating somewhere between Nos. 4 and 10 lately. One theoretical playing question I would have regarding the Bulls roster is that's yet another guy who prefers shooting to passing. Running out of balls in practice? Worth the risk? Right fit? The only real potential superstar at No. 7? Lots of questions.


Curious on your thoughts about Bulls trading back if there isn't anyone franchise changing at #7 to get more pieces to the puzzle.  For example, Trade the  #7 to the Clippers for #12 and Tobias Harris or DeAndre Jordan (if he agrees to sign with the Bulls). Potentially, can still draft upside players like Miles Bridges, Robert Willams, Lonnie Walker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, Colin Sexton.  If they view a player at that 7 slot to be a franchise player... whether that is Porter or Young that they wouldn't get later. They don't have a lead player; Harris is very good but not a top player to build around.

Sam Shahpar

Sam: I might do something like that for Harris. Not much of a fan of Jordan. I did mention I can see LeBron looking at the Clippers, and so they'd need to get off money. I've mentioned that with the Lakers, taking Luol Deng and Brandon Ingram. If you could get a player of Harris' level and their picks back, you would do well. The issue for the Clippers would be they cannot afford to gut their team because then LeBron would not want to be there and without Griffin and Chris Paul, it isn't a high level roster. Some good players, sure, like Lou Williams, but probably not enough. Then could the Clippers turn No. 7 into a good veteran? Perhaps. This is where it becomes difficult. It doesn't look like there's a franchise player there at No. 7, but the Warriors didn't think Curry was a franchise player at No. 7, and, of course, the Nuggets didn't when they traded the rights to Mitchell to the Jazz for a poorer pick. Porter Jr. has the potential of a franchise player; or injured bust. Remember, everyone wanted Greg Oden before Durant. Oden became unhealthy. If you believe Porter is the game changer and he's there, take him. But if you aren't sure if you could get a starter and move back to No. 12, could be. But I'd suspect the Clippers have bigger things in mind.


Reports are that Love will be on the market if the Cavaliers can't resign LeBron. Do you see a team like Philadelphia wanting to get Love in exchange for their #10 overall selection along with salary?  Perhaps Charlotte could be the other option if they want to create a playoff team with Love and Walker. The Clippers sound like a nice idea given their combo picks.

Tom Plonowski

Sam: The Cavs likely won't know about LeBron until after the draft, and given his relationship with the organization, it seems unlikely he's tipping them off. I'd guess they are operating as if he's leaving. There's some speculation that if LeBron opts for the Lakers it's with Chris Paul in tow.  Paul George to the Clippers? It is LA. Though Philadelphia often is mentioned for LeBron, I don't see LeBron wanting to live there with his family and then Embiid is just so popular and Saric is coming fast. LeBron likes being the guy. Why go for a quick short term LeBron when they are building something for years? Like the Celtics. Neither seems likely. I actually can see Paul George going to Philadelphia if LA doesn't work out. He's the kind of complementary talent who'd make sense. You hear he might resign with the Thunder, but, really, who wants to watch Westbrook like that all game? But, yes, Kevin Love makes a lot of sense as a complementary shooter as well. Would the Cavs do it now for the pick and something and bet LeBron is going, anyway? I probably would. Oh, right, Charlotte. You tend to forget.


This is from the NBA draftnet twitter: “Hearing teams behind ATL think there's a good chance PG Trae Young gets taken at 3... Hawks GM Travis Schlenk was with Golden State when they drafted Steph Curry in 2009, and may see enough similarities to roll the dice on him with the 3rd pick.”

Mike Sutera

Sam: So Ayton, Bagley, Young? Then Dallas gets Jackson after Doncic goes to Memphis? Orlando takes Bamba? Porter? Bamba falls to the Bulls? I'm getting dizzy.


Lebron talks about being with high IQ players. Seems to me the perfect fit is San Antonio, whether Kawhi stays or not. Can they afford Lebron and if so, do you hear talk of that?

Abe Rotbart

Sam: Of course, if LeBron were such a high IQ guy he would to have punched the wall. But that's another question. The Spurs have been speculated about because of Popovich, but that doesn't really make much sense. If Kawhi Leonard doesn't return, it doesn't make sense. If he does, he likes to control the ball almost as much as LeBron. They don't really have top young players to get you to take a salary and still have Gasol and Aldridge for a total of almost $40 million for next season. Dwyane Wade's comments on LeBron's future were perhaps most interesting since he repeatedly mentioned family. Not so much titles. LeBron's legacy is set no matter how much or little he wins now, and while LA seems foremost and most mention the Lakers, how about legacy stuff for getting the Clippers to the Finals or, gasp, a title? Talk about cementing you legacy and all that. LeBron needs control where he plays, and you don't get that with Popovich. Plus, Texas? I'm just guessing LeBron may not be a state favorite.


Roughly ten years ago, I remember you were calling for the disband of Washington Wizards pre-school composed of John Wall, Nick Young, Andray Blatch and Javale McGee. And it did happen in 2012, when Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Javale McGee eventually got traded. Back then, did it crossed your mind that Nick Young and Javale McGee would win a championship (two for Javale now), sooner than John Wall?

Peter Jimenez

Sam: Thanks for keeping up since I'm still pretty good with Bulls history, but usually can't remember what I was looking for when I go into a room. JaVale McGee and Nick Young were on championship teams? And while they also were important, do the people who make the coffee also get credit when the newspaper wins the Pulitzer for public service? It's wonderful to be part of a championship team, and everyone should get to share in it, and with the Warriors you know they do. But I'm still not trading for Young or McGee for their championship experience. Though they might have a better chance of being champions with the Warriors than if Golden State had John Wall. As we know, the puzzle doesn't fit with jagged edges.


I'm wondering what the Bulls could do to take advantage of the LeBron James free agency.  The Bulls can offer a soft landing spot for the Cavs over-salaried players (George Hill - 19.0M, Trystan Thompson 17.5M, JR Smith 14.7M, Jordon Clarkson 12.5M next season).  A trade could involve a third team like Charlotte, Denver, Clippers, Memphis with players like Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Wilson Chander, Lou Williams and Mike Conley - assuming those are LeBron's types of talented and cerebral players that can improve the Cavs.  Or, perhaps the Bulls can help with LeBron to the Rockets manuever.  Ryan Anderson's $40/2years contract is a problem for Houston's roster.  I'm not sure Houston has anything of value to make a trade work.  GarPax have emphasized roster flexibility and now might be the perfect time to cash in.  I think there are going to be some bold moves between now and the draft.

Mark Schweihs

Sam: Sure, the Bulls would take No. 8 for a salary dump, but then the Cavs get worse and certainly LeBron won't stay. Nobody you mention makes the Cavs much better and the Bulls don't have enough cap space to take on enough salaries to get the Cavs into free agency, and free agents don't come there, anyway. The Cavs might try to trade No. 8 for a veteran, but the pick isn't quite good enough to get that much; the Bulls know that.


The Bulls should target Clint Capela this offseason. The Rockets still need to sign Paul and Lebron this offseason and Bulls have cap space. The FA 2019-2020 is mediocre aside from a couple of young guys who will resign with their teams and Green/Leonard... the Bulls aren't getting either. Kris as a frontline defender and Clint as the anchor is a good combination. Then pray like hell that Bridge's skill transfers to the NBA or MPJ doesn't destroy his back.

Matt Ruth

Sam: Sounds like a plan? I'm not a big Capela fan. He's a restricted free agent, so I assume you're using up all your cap room for him. Look at what centers make. He's probably $20 million plus. Maybe there's not better, but that seems to be settling to me; and I don't see him as a final piece. Houston could be strapped financially, but not as many lately see Houston as the LeBron destination; so then they'll have plenty of money. Heck, they could even lose Chris Paul to follow LeBron to LA. Plus, you can look a lot better rolling to the basket in 100 pick and rolls with James Harden compared to, say without offense to anyone, other guys.


How about Lebron to Celts;  Kyrie to Minn  and Wiggins to Cleve;  Everybody wins: Boston gets the final piece; Cleveland gets a young budding superstar;  Minn gets him out and Kyrie had Minn on the list of teams he would go to;  doesn't help Minn D tho.Works on trade machine, Minn have to get rid of Teague maybe?

Trip Radcliffe

Sam: I don't see Boston in the mix at all for LeBron with about a half dozen ball oriented wing players, including Hayward, who they spent big money on a year ago and has played five minutes so far. Plus, Brown and Tatum look pretty good. I don't see Ainge breaking up his beautiful plan for that short term fix. Kyrie is a year from an opt out. Minnesota? Bye, bye. And didn't Cleveland dump Wiggins once already?


I've read multiple reports that the Bulls may look to draft a PG next week. Personally I liked what I saw from Kris Dunn last year. I thought he showed good playmaking ability and on the ball defense and I figured he'd be a foundational piece going forward. Also what type of market do you think there'll be for LaVine in restricted FA coming off injury? Do you think he'll resign with the Bulls? What if another team offers him a max contract? I'd like to see the Bulls add to their core and not detract from it. If any of the coveted bigs or Porter Jr are available at seven I'd much rather the Bulls go that route than PG.

Scott Lucas

Sam: My guess is the Bulls see it the way you do; big guy or wing scorer as a priority. Yes, Trae Young was in Thursday, and why not take a look? I don't see point guard as a priority. They still seem high on Dunn from everything they have said. Still, as we know, when you are south of 30 wins, your roster isn't set anywhere.


I would still go for an 2 way wing such as Mikal Bridges or Kevin Knox since I believe Lauri will be your center during crunch time. They can guard the best player on the other team, plus can score without the ball. Kevin Knox intrigues me, good athlete plus he had that serviceable one hander that he can rely to to score. Reminds me of Derrick Rose's one handers. Can the Bulls trade up from 22 to try to get him?

King Berango

Sam: That's the fallacy about the draft I often rant about. OK, more conversational. If everyone says someone should be picked 11 and you pick him 7, it's not a mistake. I don't expect the Bulls to trade down, but I also wouldn't be shocked. I don't think you can trade up from No. 22 without giving up someone like Portis. But maybe if you like someone like Bridges or Knox and can add something of value, sure, why not. The elite in this draft seem in the top three or four. And that's no guarantee, either. Perhaps someone loves Porter and he's there at No. 7 and you are not sure. Get a player and move down  a few spots. I wouldn't go out of the lottery, but there still seem to be talented players through the top 10 or 12.


Lauri Markkanen had a great rookie season this year and demonstrated some intriguing handles and a fairly high basketball IQ. With the Bulls saying Lauri will be working on his dribbling and with more and more players like Ben Simmons and Giannis Antetokounmpo acting as point forwards and leading their teams, do you think it would be possible for Lauri to be trained as a point forward as well?

Andrew Roo

Sam: I do not. He handles the ball reasonably well and can pass OK, but if anything the Bulls need him to shoot more than the other guys. One problem last season was some guys who don't shoot well shot too much and he didn't shoot enough because, well, they already shot the ball. Which perhaps is why you hear more talk about a six foot Trae Young than you might usually.


If you were in Lebron James' shoes,  what will you do this summer in free agency?

Frederick Ong

Sam: LA or Phoenix. I'm for lifestyle if you are able to have the same job. Virtually every top player spends summers in Los Angeles and LeBron can get a helicopter for the traffic, like Kobe did. Actually, Phoenix makes some sense with their roster and adding the No. 1 pick and shooting, the winter weather (stay in LA in the summer) and it's my favorite place to go and maybe a book for me, LeBron Really Does Rule!


I know this sounds crazy but do you think a team would/should offer LBJ the position of player/coach in order to try to jump to the front of the queue in the LBJ sweepstakes?  We all know that he has been the de facto coach in Cleveland, except when something goes wrong in which case it is then Ty Lue's fault.  LBJ has always struck me as having a basketball IQ that is off the charts.  Bill Russell did it, so why not James?

Bruce Berger

Sam: Well, if you hire LeBron, he comes without portfolio. He doesn't like the title because it comes with some unpleasant duties, like explanations. Red Auerbach actually tried to get Tommy Heinsohn to coach Russell after Auerbach retired, but Heinsohn said no one else could coach Russell but Russell. Auerbach in a famous scene ran several names by Russell, who was so appalled he said he'd coach, which wasn't his goal. LeBron likes the job the way he has it, like a super consultant with veto power.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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