Ask Sam Mailbag: 06.22.18
Sam opens his mailbag and answers readers' questions
The Bulls came out of the draft a very improved team. I was worried that GarPax might stick their toe in the Trae Young or M Porter Jr pool. Carter fills a spot that the Bulls would have been chasing - a modern Center. Carter is good with or without the ball in his hands. Other players will like having him as a teammate. Hutchinson is a dull but prudent choice. I'm glad they didn't reach for raw teenager. Hoiberg probably wants to start playing basketball now. Two fundamentally sound players along with the current talent will be attractive for coming free agents to land. I hope the Bulls don't max out LaVine. He can make spectacular plays but he doesn't look like he is fun to play with. He reminds me of a friend who used to tell me, "you need to get open so I have someone to fake it to".
Sam: Ouch, but I do like that one. As I recall, Jordan used to say that to Brad Sellers and, well, pretty much everyone in '87. I know there was talk about Young and Porter as the high risk/high reward players many fans and media believe a team needs to take a chance on to be "great." Which seems to me (and you) an unrealistic way of building things unless you have another job and this is your hobby. It's too bad for Porter Jr., but 13 teams passing on him like that probably tells you what you need to know, that the risk is too great to pass up a chance for a starting NBA player. That's really what it's about because that's mostly how you produce excellence. I know many seem to view sports now as playing for a championship or rebuild from nothing. But it really all is about middle ground and then getting lucky. The Warriors didn't take a chance on a "great"player. They picked Curry when he fell to them at No. 7 and weren't sure if he would be better than Monta Ellis; Harrison Barnes also seventh, same with Klay Thompson at 11 and then Green in the second round with their third pick in that draft, trading Ellis (and almost Curry) for Bogut and, hey, a title as players matured, developed and played together. Then later they acquired the super star. Those examples of recent champions that way are more widespread, the Mavericks, the Pistons, the Heat. Was drafting Dwyane Wade to that team the recipe for a title? And—spoiler here because it's the reality—it's not about winning a championship. That's wonderful if it occurs, but it's about putting together a competitive, entertaining, professional and appealing group of players and seeing what they can do. Sometimes they do parades. You don't start with a star; you usually have one evolve who blends with a team. So we'll see; there are chances now, at least.
My tentative conclusion is that the Bulls improved their team through yesterday's draft. The consensus grades are a B for each of the draftees. GarPax did not swing for the fences (such as a draft of Porter or a move-up for a higher choice) but were able to get a couple of solid base hits. So, where do we go from here? It seems to me the value of Robin Lopez increased through the draft even though his name was never mentioned. Some teams (Phoenix, Dallas, et al.) apparently still find some value in the use of a "traditional"seven-foot center. So, how about such a center with lots of experience, a team-first attitude and a team-friendly, expiring contract? The Bulls are stuck with Asik. Instead of languishing on the bench, he might provide some minutes as a back-up center if Lopez is dispatched. Who or what do you think the Bulls could get for Lopez?
Sam: Bs are good. I was celebrating in school when I got them. Maybe Porter becomes great and good for him if he does. The Bulls just could not afford that risk with a chance to potentially fill out a lineup the way they may have. In scouting, you look at health before talent. Young? I liked him more than some, but, uuugh, the defense would have been ugly as well as the locker room. Despite the notion of competition bringing out the best and all that, if you just resurrected a lottery pick point guard it's not a great message to bring in another. As competitive as you may be at your job, how do you feel the day they hire the person who is best at your job at the competing firm? Perhaps not the greatest for morale. Oh, right Lopez. I was gnashing my teeth about all the times The Tribune did that with me. You push yourself, I agree and maybe become better, but the newsroom parties become fewer. Pass to who? Look, we all like Lopez. OK, I admit; we love Lopez. But the path is clear, no offense, which is another issue, by the way. Markkanan and Carter Jr. are the future in the front court, and the sooner the better. Markkanen showed a picture recently as he prepared for Eurosomething of him with actual body definition, and there's still no way he beats Carter Jr. in arm wrestling. Though Carter Jr. was the fourth big man taken, lots of executives I talked to really liked him. No one said Olajuwon, which they might about Ayton. But no one was rolling their eyes. This also is where those opportunities begin to fall in place potentially for the Bulls. Lopez has value as a player and an expiring deal for upcoming free agency with, it seems, every big name player these days a free agent every year. So maybe a player with a long term deal as the Bulls can absorb salary. The Bulls did say they still are in the market for draft picks, though I'd prefer taking back a player these days as they do seem to have the outlines of a starting four or five coming into view.
The Bulls picked the best available player, in my opinion, when they selected Wendell Carter Jr. That said, I wish they made an offer similar to Dallas in order to get pick number three (I'd have liked them to use it on Jaren Jackson Jr.). There were rumors out there that the Bulls were trying to trade up. Regardless of who they were targeting, I'm curious if the promise they alleged made to Chandler Hutchison - that they would definitely take him with the 22nd pick if he was still available - ham-stringed their efforts to make a trade because they felt they couldn't include that 22nd pick in any deals after making the promise. If so, I'd be very disappointed. I'm not sure what you know or would be willing to say about the promise, but do you think they would refuse to include that pick in a trade if a promise were made? Don't you think the Bulls could have beat Dallas' offer by giving a lottery-protected future first (what Dallas gave) plus #22? Or did the Bulls refuse to include that #22 pick in trade offers because they thought keeping it had more value than moving up a couple of spots, or did they refuse to include it because they made that promise and breaking it would be harmful to their relationship with the agent. If it's the latter, while not necessarily a wrong decision as the agent may be important and powerful, it shows they were dumb to make the promise in the first place.
Sam: I also hope any talks with any agent would not have resulted in that and I doubt it did because my experience with the agents they've dealt with—and I fully understand the agents' position—is the agent will screw the team any chance they get and nothing you do for them once will ever help you in the future. I have seen that too numerous times. The agents' job is to protect and take care of the client, and new ones each year. I do see teams doing agents favors, like bringing clients to summer league. But I never have seen an agent reciprocate. Though I suppose it could happen in the future. Just that it hasn't occurred yet in about 50 years since the agent business basically began with Bill Bradley and Larry Fleisher. This was my sense: Atlanta at 3 wanted Young. There was no way he was getting past Orlando, which wanted him at 6. The Bulls didn't get lucky in the lottery drawing, so they fell a spot to 7 instead of moving up. I know some blame them for not forfeiting all their games, but they played out the season going for this day as best as they could. I hear these complaints about playing Mirotic, who was too good. After all, they got away with not having to play him until December because of the fight. Was Portis ordered by management to knock him out? LaVine trying to get back in November was held out until January; they put wax on the rim so Dunn would fall on that dunk and be out three weeks? OK, they didn't, but if they were trying to lose games they couldn't have done more than they did. And then the post All-Star benching—wink, wink—for development.
It's just that the Butler trade was too good for them to be too bad the way Markkanen played and the competitiveness the team played with thanks to the coaching staff. Hoiberg did a heck of a job getting that ever changing group to compete like it did. For overachieving under the circumstances, his record was as good as any in the league. I think the Bulls most liked Bagley after Ayton. The Kings didn't offer the pick to anyone. Even they knew. I didn't think the Bulls were that certain about Doncic; we'll see. I think they were unsure about how his skills would translate. But they could not get to No. 3 because Atlanta had no interest in No. 7. No. 22 had little to do with it. They tried for No. 4, but taking Parsons' $50 million for the next two years would have taken them out of basically any chance for a player for two years. Was Jaren Jackson worth that? I don't see it yet given he couldn't even play all the time in college. It does mean something. Maybe it wasn't the day they drafted Jordan or Rose, but it probably was as good as they could have done with what they had.
I honestly don't know anything about Hutchison, but I know management always makes great selections in the 20's, so I'm not concerned about that pick. Plus it's worth a gamble that late in the first round. I'm feeling good about the Carter Jr pick as well. The idea of him and Lauri playing together is very intriguing and promising. The question I have is, how will this affect Bobby's playing time? Will he sub for Lauri and Carter for Robin? As I type that, I realize that this will be a nice front court rotation! Is it too early to start getting excited about the new season? I feel like the Bulls will pick up a nice free agent this summer.
Sam: I agree it will be interesting to see Markkanen with Carter since they both will do a lot of things. I believe the pressure should be on Dunn and LaVine because you have to begin to get those two inside guys the ball more than they did, or really tried to last season. OK, LaVine was just working himself in and we couldn't expect much and Dunn was recovering from his Thibodeau syndrome. But Hoiberg's challenge is going to be to get Dunn and LaVine to trust giving up the ball that they'd get it back. They will with those two inside guys; they just played last season like they wouldn't. I believe the Bulls like Bobby as the backup for both forward and center. Bobby struggled some with the center backup role his first few years, but I think he feels more comfortable now and the evolution of the game has helped him as the big guys do more rolling and playing outside. I think Bobby's role might even expand, and certainly depending on what occurs with Lopez, who for now should be the starter to open the season. I don't see a major free agent situation this summer because I really don't think it's time to make that push—even though the East with LeBron leaving is so weak the Bulls could fall into the playoffs—and I really don't want to see a potential starter come in who will push one of those guys down in minutes. OK, if you can get Kawhi, I'd be OK with that.
Why aren't the Bulls the perfect trading partner for Kawhi?
Sam: Because assuming the Spurs do trade Leonard, which seems most likely lately, there's probably no way he would resign with the Bulls and then you'd have to give up so much for a one-year rental, and you still don't even know if he's healthy and whether he would play, After all, he didn't (wouldn't?) last year with the supposed model franchise and greatest coach. I accept he was injured, though refusing to even attend the playoff games was bad. And what chance would you have of trading for Leonard without giving up Markkanen when Boston likely would take the chance of the rental and probably would offer them Jaylen Brown, next year's Kings pick, which certainly will be in the lottery, and probably Terry Rozier and not have to blink. He's signalled he wants closer to back home in California, and if he didn't care for the San Antonio winter it's not going to be an easy selling point when we still have winter here in Chicago a day into "summer."There would be nothing sillier than the Bulls where they are now even calling the Spurs.
The last time we had an all star 3, we drafted him at 7 (Lu). The time before that, we drafted him (more or less ) at 5 (Scottie). We now have 4 guys on the roster who go 6-9, 230-250. And even after Pax's statement that a wing is our highest priority...We go for a wing at 22. We passed on at least two (both Bridges) who projected higher than Hutchison, and on one (Porter) who might well be the star of the class. Shaking my head. But you're not, so much. What do you know that I don't?
Sam: I'm pretty good with American history and golf trivia. From what I understood about what Paxson said was that there really was no one on the roster who projected as a small forward starter. Maybe Hutchison isn't, either, but Porter as pretty much everyone in the NBA told you Thursday night is radioactive for now and you might be blowing a chance to add a long term starter. And we saw that even the 76ers with a wing need weren't that thrilled with the hometown guy they saw more than anyone. I think Bridges is fine and should be a good player, but let's not confuse him with Pippen just because he plays that position. I think the other Bridges, who is supposed to be more a power forward, ended up going higher after the trade. It's just that you don't look to fill a position when you are coming off 27 wins. You accumulate more talent, and there wasn't more talent at small forward that was worth passing on a quality big guy. I think that was also one of Ben Franklin's aphorisms.
I feel Jabari Parker would be a nice risk for Chicago to take if it's a 2 year deal with reasonable amount. Kids young only 22 which fits the bulls and he can play when healthy if he's hurt just keeps the bulls with the same roster like they want but there's at least a chance of getting out of this rebuild earlier then later and with a weak confidence I feel the opportunity is now rather then later. My question is should the bulls take a chance with jabari parker or just keep on this run of not making moves and hope the draft brings life next year?
Sam: If it's a two-year deal at a reasonable amount, I am fairly certain the Bucks would match since he is a restricted free agent. I think they'd match a three-year deal at a less reasonable amount because even with the two knee surgeries, he may prove too valuable to just let hobble way. Just kidding. We've all heard rumors, which have been denied, about issues between the parties and I think a lot of the buzz about Chicago is a story Parker wrote about his love for Chicago. Is he going to be the elite star he looked like a few years ago? It doesn't look like it, though it's hard to say with his limited play in his return. I can understand him wanting to get some financial security after all the injuries. I'd be reluctant to try to outbid on a restricted offer, though if he were unrestricted in a year I think I'd be interested then after seeing him play for a season. Would he do that? Would the Bucks? I don't see him coming cheaply this summer. The media reports were he turned down $54 million and three years last year. Just another interesting summer question.
I am hoping the Bulls could compete for a playoff spot this season.And for them to do that, they need an experienced starting small forward. Though Danny Green is listed as shooting guard, he's experienced enough to play small forward.
Given Green's shooting, defense and experience, I find him as the perfect rental for Bulls up coming season. He not only fill the starting SF role, but his championship experience would be useful for our young guys. Do you see a scenario where Spurs unload Green's contract to the Bulls for a combination of Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser and/or Justin Holiday?
Peter John Jimenez
Sam: I can see the Spurs moving on from Green since they seemed to move on from him last season as his playing time decreased and he was awful in the playoffs. He turned 31 today, so happy birthday, Danny, you seem about done. It was a great run. The Bulls are heading in a different direction. Up. I do see some maneuvering to come with players toward the end of the Bulls roster, though I don't see it for players who fit best as veterans who've been role players for top teams. Actually, the way the Bulls are comprised now, I see them in a playoff race in the East, though I wouldn't mind seeing one more lottery and then a free agency try in the summer of 2019. They finally have a potential starting lineup to look at instead of fitting in pieces over two or three years. Let's get a good look, and then perhaps it might become clearer what piece you might want to add.
Wendell Carter Jr. is typical Bulls "safe" pick that maybe can get you to the 2nd round of playoffs at most. How many championships has Al Horford won for his teams? I hate rooting for this franchise. Trade up or take a gamble for a star like Porter Jr. could be. They blew this tank so bad. A tank year for maybe Al Horford at best. What a waste.
Sam: Well, they said they were doing development. I obviously disagree, but this infatuation with a guy who basically hasn't played since high school and had back surgery as a teenager is pretty weird. Though I guess it's like buying lottery tickets every week or gambling in Vegas, neither of which I do as you also know I am not that much fun. Yes, everyone likes the chance of the big score, the life changing event, the excitement. Though I am not much for the analytics craze that has changed sports only in that it has provides thousands of jobs for people who know nothing about sports, I can figure out that the lottery and Vegas mostly are about losing. Al Horford, by the way, is a multiple All-Star, former No. 3 pick and one of the top free agents chased by one of the most successful franchises in sports history that is again going strong. If the Bulls got Al Horford II, they should get a parade.
So let me get this straight... Derrick Rose, youngest MVP ever tears ACL an misses the next season, gets so much junk thrown in his face about not playing the following season when cleared to play in late March, but didn't want to return half speed and now nobody wants him because he's not dependable. Kawhi Leonard hurts his quad not as serious, never been MVP, misses the next season even when cleared in February to play(not as serious as a torn ACL), but didn't even trust his team doctors and now he's coveted by almost everybody? Both are extremely quiet and were team players. What am I missing here?
Sam: Logic, reason and one guy being in a media market with no media.
Where do you see Dwight Howard headed. If it wasn't for his attitude i think he would be in such high demand.
Here are the teams that we can cross off Bulls, Magic, Rockets, Lakers,Hawks, Grizzlies,Suns,Thunder, Cavs
Sam: A lot of been there and done that, and you know everyone in the league was talking Warriors the moment of the trade with the buyout obvious. Howard's like DeMarcus Cousins in a different way disruptive. Cousins cares, but he's so moody and angry he puts teammates and everyone on edge fearing his next rage. Plus, he is completely lost on the court with his anger at times. Howard doesn't care about anything and just likes to clown around, but maintain his reputation by forcing himself to be a figure. You put them with superior talent they know is superior and a coach who is far more accomplished, like Cousins was with USA Basketball, and no problems. You can put them with Popovich, with LeBron, with the Warriors, of course, where with Curry, Durant, and especially Draymond, Howard doesn't get to pull any of his stuff because they just sit him down for a month and who cares. But he has shown he's still really good. Not pre-back great, and he will be in the Hall of Fame after leading the league in rebounding almost every year for a decade, but great compared to Zaza and JaVale. There they go again.
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