Ask Sam Mailbag: 06.21.2019

Tom Golden:

Coby White looks to be as good as we could have expected at that slot. Now comes the hard part. I know its not supposed to happen but I'd keep Robin, I want guys like him on the team. Other than that I don't know enough to even suggest a move at this point, considering all that goes into making a trade and/or FA signing work. But if we let Robin go, we're going to need an upgrade on the bench at the front line position.

Sam Smith:

The Bulls haven't revealed their plans, but I would not expect Lopez to return. Moving on, and all that. With Wendell Carter and especially drafting a center—yes, I know a kid and not ready, and, ah yes, still having Felicio on the payroll—I think the Bulls have other free agent priorities. The question about a veteran point guard will remain even though executive John Paxson Thursday talked about Kris Dunn being with the team into next season. Which is not unreasonable despite concerns about the position given that White is hardly ready to be an NBA starter. But perhaps the way the league is now not all that far away. Though Robin is a great teammate and solid presence, he's not much outspoken and has made it clear he doesn't like coming off the bench. Carter is the starter. I assume Robin takes a run at seeing where he can play a starting role, and the Bulls can hardly promise him that.

Billy Habibi:

Now that the Bulls have made their selection and gone with Coby White - hopefully their PG of the future. Do they still look for a point guard in free agency? I can't see them offering a giant deal to Brogdon or Russell, but what about a 1 or 2 year deal for Pat Beverly? He'd bring some veteran leadership and stability to the team and would let White ease into the role off the bench.

Sam Smith:

That was the big question after the draft—I know, I know, other than the hair, though it didn't seem to impact Joakim Noah's career—though my sense is the bigger name free agents are out. My sense is the Bulls use their approximately $22 million in salary cap room (depending on the appeal with Omer Asik) to spread among two or three veterans to enhance the bench and veteran presence. Though there's always the possibility of a trade regarding Kris Dunn since after the musical chairs are filled, several teams still will need a point guard. And it's often a good risk to try for a former lottery point guard on his second or third team. Or fifth like with Chauncey Billups. The Bulls were able to get White because teams needing a point guard and selecting ahead of the Bulls, like the Suns and Timberwolves, passed on White. That's either good for the Bulls because they got their guy by surprise, or bad for the Bulls because those teams know something. It's probably that those teams want to go the veteran point guard route, which suggests the bidding might be extensive for the point guards with perhaps even Beverley looking at maybe $20 million annually in a tight market. With the need for veterans to fill out the roster and probably replace Robin Lopez since they also cannot be certain about Denzel Valentine and Chandler Hutchison after injuries, it makes sense to give Dunn another chance and thus time for White to begin to develop. The way John Paxson talked Thursday night it sure sounded like Dunn is coming to camp even if it was clear he wasn't being given any job and would have to earn his starting job. It might be just what he needs again because he played his best with the Bulls the season when Jerian Grant beat him out in training camp.

Joe Guest:

I don't love the Coby pick and hate passing on Bol Bol in 2nd round. I like bringing Dunn back and let's compete at PG. Loved Darius Garland but glad they didn't overpay. Hope I'm wrong on Coby. I think Bulls fans are underestimating Otto Porter Jr. He will have career year and be a big reason they make playoffs this year.

Sam Smith:

Actually, I've generally gotten more positive reaction about this draft than most of the last several. The fans poll we did on bulls.com this week had White as the leader, and one of my top behind the scenes draft gurus, the White Sox' Brooks Boyer, wrote me before the draft, "1. Coby White. Bigger DeAaron Fox. Potential to be a star." Who can argue with a Sox marketing guy (he actually played basketball for Notre Dame. I know, but still). I also got a lot of mail about passing on Bol Bol. Which I think might be medical given how far he fell. I like the profile of the Arkansas guy, though I have never seen him or heard him talk in the third person like Bobby Portis. There seems a lot to like about White with the potential for his game—athletes, yes!—his spirit and even what seems like a great attitude about the team. He seemed happier about his teammate being picked in the lottery than even himself. Are we talking the Bulls Across Your Chest logo man?

Abe Rotbart:

Well they got him! And frankly, he may have been worth tanking for. I really think he's a perfect fit. GarPax should feel lucky.

Sam Smith:

The Coby White pick also seems to be cutting into the hobby of Chicago fans to demand massive organization firings. It's early, I know.

Charles Klapp:

With the addition of Coby White, do you think my favorite point guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, will still be a Bull this season?

Sam Smith:

I do. I'd want to retain Ryan because he's the ideal teammate for that position at the end of the roster, a guy who will practice hard and always—try running the load management crap by him—and be ready, and if he doesn't play for 10 games come out in that 11th game as if he's been there every minute of every game. He knows the system, whatever that may be for now, the players, the organization, the city. Among all the G-league guys and undrafted and second round picks, he's the one I would bring back. And probably just Blakeney since he's on the books at a small price for next season.

Tony Masden:

I see a lot of freshmen is this draft. Seems more and more are entering too soon before they're fully developed and end up being a bust. Two years of college at least maybe three.

Sam Smith:

Though it sounds like the players' association for reasons I can never fully fathom appear to have persuaded the NBA for the next collective bargaining agreement (either side can opt out after 22-23) to return to the direct from high school to the NBA model, a precursor, obviously, to drafting LeBron's grandkids shortly thereafter.

James Costas:

What's with the trade scenarios having the Bulls trade LaVine and the #7 pick for whomever? I suspect it's all just talk/speculation from the outside and not coming from the Bulls, so I take it with a grain of salt. But isn't LaVine considered one of their pieces of the future, likely with All-Star status, even more upside to his game, a hard-working guy always seeking to improve? And, even if it was for a higher draft pick, what are the odds the player chosen would be an improvement over LaVine, either currently or in the future? It would not be a good move, in my opinion!

Sam Smith:

Obviously, that did not occur, and just to be clear, though I hate this era's questioning of the media as a whole whenever someone makes up something—yes, it happens, but generally not with respected publications and media—LaVine never ever never ever was being discussed in any trade scenario. Yes, I suppose if the Warriors were offering Curry, though the point is all those rumors about LaVine and No. 4 and all that stuff was a fabrication. The Bulls also were able to figure out, OK, where are we getting his 24 points from? Case closed.

Michael Mezey:

I thought that you might enjoy this headline in the Washington Post sports section this morning:

Zion Williamson isn't a lock to win NBA rookie of the year

I didn't think that we would be discussing rookie of the year awards before a rookie has even signed with a team, let alone played his first NBA game.

Sam Smith:

The Bulls see him in their third Summer League game next month and if Wendell dominates will it be fair to say Zion could be a bust? Look, we rarely have time for contemplation in this era. We have so much to do!

Scott Lucas:

So the Harden/Paul pairing didn't end well, with reports that Paul has to be traded. However at his age, with his injury history, and his massive contract that will prove difficult. Do you see any contenders making a move for him? If not, do you think the Bulls would kick the tires on him given their need for a PG and veterans? Porter and Dunn?

Sam Smith:

Obviously you sent this before the Bulls landed rookie of the year contender Coby White. Hey, we can put pressure on our guy, too! I never thought the Paul/Harden thing would work because of the way Paul controlled the ball. But it did seem to be working, and they surely did have a chance for the title in 2018 before Paul was hurt. Paul always has been difficult to play with because he is excellent finding fault in others. Apparently, Harden explained who had the MVP trophy. We all understood-as did Houston, most likely—Paul's contract was to take a shot like Toronto did with Kawhi. It almost worked; it didn't. When it doesn't, it looks bad, as it would have if Kawhi had sat out most of the season and they lost in the first round, which was equally possible. Sometimes you are not the A-team and a plan doesn't come together.

Tom Plonowski:

Is there a chance Wade comes out of retirement to join LeBron, AD, and others in L.A.?

Sam Smith:

How cool would that be and how much less value would those souvenir signed jerseys have? Wade probably made too much of a production of last season, and, remember, LeBron sent him packing back to Miami the last time they were together. But this could be the return of Carmelo.

Victor Devaldivielso:

Am I crazy to think D Rose goes to the Lakers now?

Sam Smith:

And he wouldn't even have to move. He's actually the kind of veteran who makes sense now for LeBron to fill out that roster. We've heard Rose would love a return to Chicago, but the Lakers are back in the title hunt with Anthony Davis. Rose went to Cleveland to join LeBron for that reason, so even if it didn't end well last time, he and LeBron seemed to do fine and maybe a second time. It would be good to see Rose finally in the Finals somewhere.

Brandon Evans:

I'm done letting anyone convince me that signing DRose and Taji-woo is a bad idea. Both Rose and Taj have put up better numbers in the last 2 years, than we had seen in what we consider their respective primes. DRose did that in 10 less mpg. He's smarter and knows better than ever when to assert himself during the course of the game. Taj is Taj. Just more efficient, effective Taj. We talk about culture all the time and i think these two were crucial parts to the ECF team culture that can get behind a Thibs lite, Jim Boylen. With what we added in the draft i feel like our roster needs mentors that can cause almost immediate impact from sharing experience while being able to still outperform the mentee. Im content with GarPax after this draft. I dont know if Coby is a superstar in the making or if he even needs to be. But i strongly feel like the right pg can unlock both Lavine and Lauri's superstar. Its on our roster. We need to facilitate greatness this summer and the vets will be crucial.

Now my hopes 4 FA: Any of these signings make me happy:

  • PG: Beverly/Rose/Seth Curry
  • SF: Hood/Ross/
  • PF: Thaddeus Young/Julius Randle
  • SG: Wayne Ellington/Glen Robinson III....

And I'd check to see what Jamal Crawford is up to.

Sam Smith:

Yes, that's next week. Obviously a lot depends on the status with Dunn, though I'd say the way things are going Rose seems a lot less likely than Taj. Obviously Julius Randle is big money and they seem to be looking for quantity with quality. I'd take a look at Jamal given his shooting and scoring abilities even at his age, though Seth Curry with all the playoff exposure probably priced himself out. I do believe the roster will look a lot different and a lot better with a lot fewer former undrafted types.

Ryan Carpel:

Coby White looks like Ben Gordon 2.0

Sam Smith:

Except for the part about Ben being unable to dribble.

Jack Lucas:

Why in the world would the Bulls pass on drafting Bol Bol, who has unlimited upside and wingspan, and instead take Gafford, who by all draft analyst reports I've read, is a one dimensional, low ceiling 8-10 minute off the bench 3rd quarter rotation guy?

Sam Smith:

Well, at least the Bulls have a lot of company since Bol didn't go until 44. What it suggests is physical concerns with his foot surgery. His size and frailty also could complicate that as big men with foot problems—ask Bill Walton—don't fare well. Gafford actually makes sense as a bigger, athletic guy, a sort of poor man's version of Jaxson Hayes, who was a lottery pick. Certainly worth the look in the second round. Yes, a safer pick, but a Bulls need. I don't see him as a gaffe. Gafford No Gaffe?

James Costas:

Thinking Coby White can definitely make a Bulls All-Hair team, along with Cam Payne, Robin Lopez, Joakim Noah. I'm sure I'm missing a few, but figure that's a good start. Not quite as pronounced, but the photo of Coby in the Bulls hat was reminiscent of Oscar Gamble with the Cubs back in the day.

Sam Smith:

Great Oscar Gamble reference, though his big hair and White-like cap perched on top of his hair look mostly was with the Sox and Yankees. Noah on draft night was so outrageous some among the Bulls were hoping he would be selected before their pick. The worst I've even seen was Elfrid Payton recently because it was getting in his face and affecting his shot. Dunking Darnell Hillman of the old ABA Pacers had what is generally regarded as the best Afro style haircut with considerable height since he was such an amazing dunker at just 5-10. It was a foot of hair. There have been some goofy ones around the league. Dwyane Schintzius and Birdman Anderson come to mind along with Danny Fortson. Old time Bulls Dennis Awtrey and Dave Corzine had those neat perms. Ben Wallace had some height with his Afro as did Artis Gilmore and the famousBulls No. 23, Rowland Garrett. Rodman was mostly inexplicable and Jordan's baldness opened the way for all men to be bald and proud which might be Jordan's greatest legacy. Though nothing probably surpasses Boozer's paint job.