Ask Sam Mailbag: 06.28.2019

Sam opens his mailbag and answers your questions about free agency, the Bulls and other stories around the NBA.
 Darren Collison #2 of the Indiana Pacers handles the ball against the Boston Celtics during Game Three of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2019 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later

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Brodie Larsh:

What realistic free agents would you like to see the Bulls end up with? Beverely and Noah seem like good fits for 1-2 year deals. Any non-max, "major" free agents you'd like to see them make a run at?

Sam:

As one of my correspondents wrote, this would be an ideal time for Noah to return with marijuana being legalized in Illinois. But, alas, probably not. How about Pau Gasol? There have been rumors about Taj Gibson, though more about that kind of reasonably paid (for the NBA) veteran with a strong work ethic and locker room attitude who would eagerly come off the bench and work with youngsters. Not that the Bulls are serious competitors, but they really aren't as far away as they seem. They were a 35-win team last season that won 22 games because of injuries first and then inertia later. They've pretty much got a legitimate starting five with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. Perhaps Coby White before too long. Maybe Kris Dunn still? So they are not necessarily looking for starters. Yes, they would take Kawhi if he wanted to come for the $23 million available salary cap space. But it's also not like they are trying to jump from 22 wins. They would be if they were playing Wayne Selden, Rawle Alkins, Brandon Sampson and Timothy Luwawu-hyphen. But they are not. I'd be fine with Noah given his size and teammate friendly demeanor, though I get the sense he and Rose aren't high priorities.

There will be plenty of rumors once the bidding starts Sunday, and we've already heard a few like Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and apparently anyone who ever played for the Pacers, Malcolm Brogdon, Patrick Beverley, Tyus Jones, Julius Randle, and many more to come. The problem the Bulls have is their salary cap amount of about $23 million after apparently getting approval to remove the $3 million for Omer Asik because of injury. The Bulls are not in the major bidding for the top free agents like Leonard, Jimmy Butler, the various injured Warriors and Kemba Walker (by the way, whoever thought the six foot, shoot first and defenseless point guard would be a $150 million player? So there's always hope.). Then comes the $20-some millions guys like D'Angelo Russell and perhaps Brogdon and Randle, though the latter probably is too small to team with Markkanen. The Bulls seemed to indicate their priority was to divide up the total and an exception among two or three players. So that could require having the market set, which means a player like, say, Collison may wait to see what Joseph gets. Then he says I'm better than him, so I should get 50 percent more. But they don't know now. If a player signs early, he guarantees a salary, but then maybe he prices himself too low. But if he waits, perhaps the chairs all are filled and he has to settle for less. It makes for so many unknowns that the Bulls could sign two players July 3. Or maybe no one until August. With almost 200 free agents, this could last awhile.


Phil Cox:

My free agent wish list for the Bulls is as follows:

  1. Kawhi Leonard
  2. Kevin Durant
  3. Ky...

Ok, maybe that's wishing too much.

I like Terry Rozier now that it looks like Boston may renounce his rights, I think that provides some strong, not-old (sorry Chris Paul) competition at the PG spot for the Bulls with Dunn and White. 2.

Since Robin may go (great guy, probably looking for a different situation at this point in his career), how about someone like Jonas Valanciunas who could sign a multi-year deal and expect to be competing in the eastern conference by the end of it? Maybe not, but I can't stop that feeling anymore that Carter at the 5 cannot be a stand-alone solution for a competitive NBA team. Dewayne Dedmon perhaps?

Sam:

My sense is once White became available in place of the expected Jarrett Culver, the desire to spend a lot of money on a free agent point guard dissipated. I see more of a place holder to start the season depending on the status of Dunn, who for now is the starting point guard. To sign someone like Rozier would suggest they have a deal for Dunn already, which seems doubtful the way John Paxson talked at the rookies' introductory session Monday. With White, it would hardly make sense to tender a significant contract to someone like Rozier. Plus, Boston hardly has Kemba Walker signed. And Danny Ainge doesn't give up players easily or cheaply. One factor that could come into play is with teams like the Knicks and Nets having all that cap room, they could whiff on the big guys like your favorites for the Bulls. Then you might see those big, one-year J.J. Redick-like deals so teams could save their cap room. The Bulls could do that, though it does seem they want veteran backups at guard and forward. So perhaps someone like Dedmon, which would be great for me to relentlessly use my Dedmon tell no tales joke.


A jump-ball between Cristiano Felicio #6 of the Chicago Bulls and Mitchell Robinson #26 of the New York Knicks on April 9, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Kyle Knowles:

Why don't the bulls let go of Felicio? I'd rather keep Lopez and let him go. Also any word on them keeping Wayne Selden and Lemon? They played well for us too last season.

Sam:

To be clear, Felicio has two more guaranteed years left which remain on the Bulls books even if they were to let him go. So what would be the point? Lopez is a free agent who is looking for more than the Bulls care to pay now, but more importantly for the Bulls to be a starter. I believe Lemon and Shaq Harrison will be with the Bulls Summer League team. Arcidiacono is a restricted free agent with whom I assume the Bulls make a deal later this summer. I don't believe Seldon will return. I think Hutchison is supposed to play in Summer League, so I'll be interested to see if he's healthy. And with two or three free agent additions, the roster is filling up. With players under contract, the Bulls have nine not including Arcidiacono and the two rookies, White and Gafford. That's 12. If they add three veteran free agents, that's 15 and a filled roster without Lopez, all the Sampsons they had, the hyphen-Cabarrot, Harrison and Lemon. So there still are decisions to make.


Daniel Gafford #10 of the Arkansas Razorbacks dunks the ball against the Florida Gators during the second round of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 14, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ateeq Ahmed:

I only recently watched Daniel Gafford highlights. He looks good. Sure, a lot of his highlights are dunks but he had a lot of rebounds/put backs. Plus he looks smooth running the pick and roll. His post up game is decent. Anyone who can windmill dunk over a defender, in game, I want that guy. I'm sure he will come off the bench, but did people really expect him to start? After so many hits, and only a few misses, how can anyone doubt the Bulls' scouting? I'm expecting him to shine off the bench. Please tell me I'm not delusional. Ok, maybe I am, but I'm still excited to see him play in Summer league.

Sam:

He fits the much-desired—at least of late—Clint Capela profile with some size and athletic ability to support Carter. I'll admit I'd never heard of Gafford before last week, though I also admit I would be hesitant about watching Arkansas basketball in the post-Bobby Portis era. So I am also interested to see him play, though as we all must remember about Summer League, that also was where Denzel Valentine looked like LeBron James.


Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Dan Prellberg:

With the Rockets shopping Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker- either two of three or all three so that they can make a run at a Jimmy Butler sign and trade, is this something GarPax is taking a look at? I think something like a top 5 protected first plus either Wendell/ Lauri and Chandler/Valentine and non guaranteed salary filler from the G league guys could work right? Then Houston flips what the Bulls gave for Jimmy in the sign and trade. Does everyone win here? We get closer to a true center with Capela. I think this is a bold move that could accelerate the rebuild a bit especially with the player and winning experience amongst those three players. Could backfire too if Lauri or Wendell turn into absolute beasts but I think it's about time to be a little bold GarPax.

Sam:

Houston generally chases every big name—how'd that Carmelo Anthony thing work out, by the way?—and I'd love to see Jimmy playing with James Harden and Chris Paul, who already can barely stand one another, each want the ball all the time, are strong personalities and hard to get along with. I think what Houston is trying to do is perhaps create a salary cap exception or space for Butler under the guise the 76ers would be scared he'd leave for nothing and trade him, though we've rarely seen any sign and trades since the new labor deal. The Bulls would have the cap room to take Gordon and Tucker, though I'm not sure that makes much sense given Tucker's age and Gordon's injury history. Capela? No way! He's got an awful $90 million contract, can't shoot and is probably 6-9. When the Rockets played Golden State they didn't even play Capela that much because of his lack of offense. And Gafford is supposed to be Capela, right? By the way, you'd never give up players. You'd just be absorbing contracts and thus doing them a favor. So they'd have to throw in a first round pick. Still, I don't see it and don't see Houston getting Butler. Unless they also agree to relocate to Tomball.


Dragan Bender #35 of the Phoenix Suns shoots a free throw during the game against the Chicago Bulls on March 18, 2019 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.

Timothy Servan:

Can the Bulls take the risk and sign free agent Dragan Bender? I mean he's young and could develop under the bulls organization with Lauri by his side, another tall european player. He may develop as a poor man's Lauri Markkanen.

Sam:

He's the profile of the kind of player you maybe take a chance on, a former high lottery pick in a dysfunctional atmosphere—firing the GM after he makes the draft picks and signs the free agents, firing the coach after one season, letting Devin Booker take all the shots—who never got much chance. Though I admit I had to take a second look to see if he hadn't been traded. I can't recall much about Bender other than being tall and standing around. The Suns wouldn't even pick up the fourth year option. Those are the kinds of players to maybe get lucky, but the Bulls need some veterans now given the luck plan hasn't been working too well.


Referees break get between Taj Gibson #67 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers after a foul during a 120-109 Clipper win at Staples Center on November 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Ernesto Gilmond:

I'm gonna share my options: Taj Gibson and Patrick Beverly. I've heard that team needs a tough veteran presence in the locker room, players who can encourage and teach young fellas on their growth in this league. What do you think about a two year deal and 25MM (12.5MM per year) for Taj Gibson and a four year deal and 40MM (10MM per year) for Pat Beverly?

Sam:

I think Taj would love that given it's about 50 percent more than he makes now. I think Beverley, to his credit if not the Bulls, probably priced himself out of the Bulls market with his personal publicity campaign and playoff success, if you can call a first round ouster that. He's established himself as that sort of tough guy who stares down the best, which I suspect gets him the best contract of his career. So good for him. You like to see overachieving players like him make good, though he's hardly a point guard whatever that means in this era. He's really not much of a facilitator and while his shooting percentage is good, he doesn't really create shots. He's valuable, if perhaps not necessarily ideal at a big salary as a small, but tough and defensively aggressive shooting guard.


Jeff Lichtenstein:

Are the Bulls looking at and seriously being considered at 1 big free agent versus splitting into 2 at $10m each? If dollars were equal for a top tier free agent, would the Bulls loose out if dollars were equal because there is young starting talent at each position already on the roster?

Sam:

Anything can change if someone in the $30 million neighborhood decides they can live on $23 million. At least if inflation remains low. I happen to like adding a Morris since they play tough, can make a shot and I'm never sure which is which, but they're similar. Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, Jared Dudley, Jodie Meeks, Wayne Ellington, Ed Davis, Enes Kanter, Kosta Koufos, Mike Muscala, Kyle O'Quinn, Mike Scott, Kenneth Faried, Rodney Hood, Greg Monroe, Mario Hezonja, Jamal Crawford, DeMarre Carroll? They seem like some of the sort of free agents among whom the Bulls will be deciding.


Zach Lavine #8 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a layup against the Sacramento Kings on March 17, 2019 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.

Kurt Anagnostopoulos:

I am feeling like this team overall is filled with question marks which makes it difficult to be mad, happy, sad, excited or really anything. All the injuries last year left more questions than answers and makes you wonder if there is a single player on this team you really have a feel for. Is Zach an all star or a guy that gets you 24 but does not help you win? Is Lauri a star in the making or an average starter? Is Wendell a guy that help you win or just a guy? Is Coby the next great PG or the dreaded combo guard? Can Hutchinson be a starter or is he an end of the bench guy? Kris Dunn, got me. While everyone wants to say the Bulls should do this or that, I can't see how they should do anything before they get a bit more clarity on all their players.

Sam:

Riddle me this: Zach is the kind of player who gets you 24 points and helps you to win if you win. If Zach were on the Bucks, he'd be on the All-Star team instead of Khris Middleton. I know Scottie Pippen liked to say Michael Jordan didn't win any titles without him. Neither did Michael win many without Bill Wennington and Will Perdue. Like Stacey King said when Michael had 69 against the Cavs: Me and Michael combined for 71 today. Middleton had the good fortune of passing to Giannis Antetokounmpo instead of Antonio Blakeney. Like Jordan used to say about Magic Johnson, it's easier to make Kareem and James Worthy better. I have to make Granville Waiters and Darren Daye better. But that's the way the games work.

So the Cubs Jason Heyward becomes a legend for giving the weather report during a rain delay instead of a loser who probably ruined several rallies and appeared to be swinging wearing a blindfold. I think we have an idea who they are, that Zach is a quality NBA scorer, that Markkanen also is, at least from the perimeter and needs to get a bit more physical. They're a nice pitching staff without a No 1 starter. Perhaps one becomes that. Perhaps they fall into one like Toronto did. The picture begins to clear once they are all able to play together with some structure and consistency, which means without questions about the coaching staff, roles, additions and subtractions. The Bulls appear to be getting their house in order with a three-year contract for Jim Boylen, John Paxson indicating the plan with these players and now with health and the rookie additions we should begin to have a better indication this season.


Kevin Kleinman:

Zach Lavine seems like a polarizing player to Bulls fans. Leading up to the draft there were a lot of people calling to trade him to the Pelicans for the #4 to get his contract off the books. I see a young player who has improved each year he's been in the league and has borderline elite level scorer potential. A bit of a ball hog, sure, but not outrageously so. At $19.5M/year, in a cap environment that's still rising, he seems to be a pretty good value. Furthermore, barring injury, it's hard to see his contract being untradable down the line should the Bulls change their mind on him. You're around him and the team a lot, what's your outlook on his career trajectory and do you think he has a fair value contract?

Sam:

I know; I don't get it, either. I'm hoping that attitude is from your vocal minority since it would be a reason—although it's not accurate—free agents won't come to Chicago. If you have a fan base that doesn't appreciate someone like Zach LaVine, I don't want to play there, either. I read "reports" of trade discussions involving LaVine. They were not true. He never was offered for the No. 4 draft pick. The sort of attitude you attribute to some fans is the classic losers' attitude that if I can't see the greatest and a title, then I give up and don't care. It's the fear of failure and work. And then Toronto wins the title with one All-Star. Good things can happen if you keep working at it. Zach's a rare offensive talent in an offensive era. He's an excellent shooter and a fearless attacker. He's a serious worker with a wonderful, uplifting personality. If I had a criticism, I didn't think he was used often enough. I thought there were too many times he looked to pass instead of shoot trying to do what was asked of him. Maybe he's not the lead player for a championship team, but maybe he can be. You also need Scottie Pippen types. Was Dirk Nowitzki good enough to lead a team to a title until he did? Chauncey Billups? No one is untradeable, especially when your team is hovering in the 20-some wins. Zach is one of the good things going on with the Bulls.


Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets drives to the basket during the game against the Orlando Magic on April 10, 2019 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

James Phoenix:

I don't expect the Bulls to get the biggest of agents like Durant or Kawhi, but how come this team is not a consideration for even the second tier agents. Why would Kyrie and Kemba not consider? D'angelo Russel? This is the third largest market in the country and think it is time to quit letting GarPax, Reinsdorf off the hook for not getting free agents. I don't buy the Jordan shadow anymore as the reason.

Sam:

I would not mention that to Kyrie and Kemba—or the teams paying them—that they are not top tier. Both will get perhaps $15 million more annually than the Bulls have available to even offer. Hey, come play for us for $10 million less because we're in the third largest market. I answer this free agent canard occasionally, which has become sort of the Big Lie of Chicago Basketball. Repeat a falsehood enough people will believe the untruth. You know, no one will come to Chicago as opposed to going…No, they haven't gone to New York. Haven't gone to Phoenix in 20 years. Went to Miami once. That was LeBron. Basically, the Bulls didn't get LeBron. Every year the Bulls were in the market—other than coming off 15 wins with Tim Floyd as coach, which I would have advised them not to come if they'd asked—the Bulls were pretty successful. The Bulls in the last 20 years are in the top 10 percent of NBA teams in attracting top free agents. They got Ben Wallace the year he was No. 1. They got Pau away from the Spurs and Thunder. They got Boozer after LeBron said no, and Boozer had been an All-Star and Olympian coming off leading his team to the conference finals. Carmelo admitted afterward he wished he'd come to the Bulls instead of returning to the Knicks. The Bulls just didn't get LeBron. Twice. Or Durant, who was looking for a team having won a title recently. Small sample. Actually, that 2010 summer they did well also getting top guys like Kyle Korver and CJ. Watson. And don't forget Scal. Maybe the Bulls take a run at someone like Russell or Julius Randle, though it seems they are looking to fill out the roster with multiple veterans. Maybe like Dallas did in 2011. Take a look sometime at that championship roster. There can be many roads to success. Which is never guaranteed.


Sundeep Shah:

There was a lively debate about players sitting out games due to rest and load (of c***) management.

I have a very simple solution to propose and I hope your voice can amplify it: If a superstar sits out a game for rest on the road they are automatically deemed ineligible to play their next home game. May not prevent faking injuries but I'm sure medical clearance can be made a requirement as well.

If teams want players to rest let them do it at home games.

The NHL did this regarding the all star game a few years ago, automatically ineligible for first game back if you skip all star game.

Sam:

The NBA used to do that with its All-Star game because some players would want to pass. The rule was if you were injured enough not to play then you were injured enough to not play after the All-Star weekend and forfeit salary. Everyone played, which also emphasizes why they're never coming off 82 games. Rest, load management, yes we hate it. But once something becomes accepted and, in effect, endorsed by the league, there's little turning back. I always complain about this and—I know, Jordan references are unfair—but point to how Jordan never sat out preseason games out of town because he felt he owed those fans an appearance. So a few years back for a preseason game in Chicago, for which everyone paid full price, not only did the Cavs leave LeBron home, but Kyrie, Kevin Love and even Kyle Korver among their top 10 regulars. When I complained about this to coach Tyrone Lue he said he wished he'd left the entire roster home. The league cared not a bit. Because the parents are fine with the kids out drinking and driving late at night, why should the kids stop? Though what you'll hear then is, see, Kevin Durant played and look what happened to him. Perhaps it's just better to evolve to an artificial intelligence model so we'll be able to see at least facsimiles of the players, but they won't risk injury. The NBA recently started a video game league. Forget the two-week tournament in mid-season Adam Silver has been brainstorming. Maybe just pay them their salaries as licensing fees and let the gamers decide the results? The players, after all, will be much more rested.


Troy Sarni:

I have heard a couple times now that the NBA is reviewing all options when it comes to the current 82 game NBA schedule. Including shorting the season, I'm in favor of a 72 games to season; adding play in games for the playoffs kind of like MLB Wild Card game, which I'm also in favor of. But the one option that has been mentioned without any detail is a mid season tournament, something akin to European soccer leagues. I'm not sure how that would work for the NBA. Would it be a mid season tournament? Or something like the FA Cup where it is a season long tournament? Either way there are no details so I've been wondering how that would work.

Sam:

NBA commissioner Adam Silver—heck, the NBA for years—has been the most innovative among sports leagues. This is something that's been suggested and considered in recent years, and really is more generational. Not that Americans are dumber than they've been, but they've evolved with the internet into a society of less patience and a shorter attention span. You know, more blinking lights and headlines. So the NBA is trying to figure out first, as usual, to get in step and perhaps ahead. Instead of reading a book, maybe a podcast. Instead of 82 games, maybe some tournaments so we can have several celebrations during the season and sell more No. 1 foam fingers. After all, the ethic often seems to be if a team cannot win a title, then why bother to pay attention.

As you might expect, I'm still for the 82-game schedule, which the players and owners are for, too, because fewer games means less money. No one votes for that. None of the proposals I've heard seem realistic. A guaranteed playoff spot or seeding for winning a mid season tournament? Until the NBA makes the Finals less important, I don't see any of that working. Plus, it seems the NBA plays a 72-game schedule now because I don't know any players who play more games than that. Well, other than undrafted guys from the G-league. Everyone just gets paid for 82. You can never make anything perfect, but I think the NBA remains as good as it gets as it is.


Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2019 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Abe Rotbart:

Al Horford would be the perfect mentor for W.CarterJr. and Gafford, even if it meant only signing one FA long term. Who do you think is apparently offering him 100k over 4 years as has been reported? I don't think he will get that. I think he just wants out of Boston.

Sam:

Yes, If he'll take $10 million after turning down $30 million. But do you really believe the negotiations start Sunday? Most of the free agent deals probably are done already. Agents are talking to teams all season and getting promises. No one is required to take lie detector tests or swear on Bibles and things like that. You better believe if Horford was walking away from $30 million he knows he's got maybe three years and $60 million locked up somewhere. Plus, weren't we told Carter is the next Al Horford? If the Bulls have the next, why do they need the last?


John Leichenko:

Besides height and arm length, what's the difference between Blake Griffin and Zion?

Sam:

One appears to have a personality.


Coby White #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels goes up for a shot against the Washington Huskies during their game in the Second Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.

Cameron Watkins :

I don't watch any college basketball, so following the draft I looked up Coby White highlights. The highlights show his creativity in finishing around the rim, but one thing I noticed is that he looks like very much a below the rim player. I only found one clip of him dunking and that was on a break away. It wasn't the most impressive dunk I've seen either, sort of reminiscent of that one time Hinrich managed to dunk during his NBA career. It's not so much that I think White needs to dunk on people to be effective, it's that I now wonder if he has the type of athleticism that is usually required to be an NBA star. I know everyone has written about how fast he is, but is that just compared to college players? Like I said, point guards especially can be very impactful playing below the rim but at 6'5" and with all the talk of what an athletic back court he'll form with Lavine, I just thought I'd see a little more in his highlight reels. Is there any concern about this or is it just the clips I'm watching?

Sam:

Let me run that by Steph Curry.


Kris Dunn #32 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the Charlotte Hornets on March 23, 2019 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Tom Bell:

If Dunn really could fetch even a low second-round pick, the Bulls should jump on that ASAP. Dunn is strong on defense, but it is agonizing to watch how slowly and deliberately (and ineffectively) he runs the offense. I'd be fine with Arcidiacono as the short-term starter until White is ready.

According to several advanced measures, Arch was the best player on the team last year on a per-minute basis. Take that with many grains of salt; but he wouldn't kill the team as a starter. Meanwhile, what free agent PG wants to sign with a team where his lottery-pick replacement is already on the roster, waiting in the wings?

Dumping Dunn would also let the Bulls keep Shaq Harrison as the third PG/on-the-ball defensive assassin. Harrison's play is so much more enthusiatic and entertaining (to fans) and inspiring (to teammates) than Dunn's. Which has to count for something in a bench player.

I've got to believe Paxson continuing to pump up Dunn is just a smokescreen to try to not kill his trade value. Now that White is on board, Dunn is obviously history with the Bulls. Probably as soon as the initial round of free-agent signings is over.

Sam:

I do think the Dunn saga will be perhaps the most interesting story of the summer. I'm not quite as down on Dunn as you may be, but bringing in a young point guard who has appealing, athletic traits doesn't bode well for a Dunn/White pairing. The one thing the Bulls have gotten caught up with in the past at times was perhaps worrying about being criticized for a move, like say trading a former No. 5 pick for a second round pick, as you suggest. Dunn could yield more, but you don't get caught up in the reaction because the unintended consequences often cannot be measured. Do you stunt White's development? Cause locker room distress? Create a negative media narrative? You always do what's best for the franchise in a macro way. If it's best to go with White, Arcidiacono and perhaps a veteran free agent, then you don't sit around and worry about not getting value for someone who doesn't fit your plans. Maybe he reaches his potential somewhere else. That's okay. Good for them and good for him. You shouldn't be rooting for his failure. You have to do well by your players and your franchise. Not every move works. Critics always will work backward and see what didn't work and blame you for it. Get over it and move forward! Fear also isn't a business plan.


Mike Burling :

I saw recently that Philly offered Dr J for the 3rd pick in the 1984 draft. For your younger readers, Julius At the Time was probably the most polarising player in the NBA. Would that be a fair assessment?

I found it interesting that at that time in the League it was such a big man driven sport that Philly would give up so much for a shooting guard. Did everyone in the league know the potential for Michael it was it always a 5 was the safe pick?

Sam:

That's an interesting story, as untrue as it may be. The 76ers were sort of a pro North Carolina then with Billy Cunningham coach, Bobby Jones and Dean Smith something of an unofficial advisor. He was lobbying hard for the No. 3 pick (Portland was open about selecting a center), and the 76ers were all in. They were offering the Nos. 5 and 10 picks and Andrew Toney, who then was a two-time All-Star and regarded as perhaps the league's best two-way guard. With those picks, the Bulls would have taken Charles Barkley and maybe John Stockton. But, no, the 76ers were never offering Erving even late in his career since he was probably the most popular player in Philadelphia history. At least among other than those who didn't perform criminal acts in the hockey arena like the old Flyers. No one then believed Michael would become who he did. But credit Rod Thorn because while he didn't know Michael was all that, he did know he was pretty darned good and worth more than an All-Star and perhaps two to be.


Steve Price:

Where would you rank the Bulls' roster right now for the future amongst all NBA roster situations if you were a GM and could pick any team in the league? For example, would you rather inherit the Bulls' roster than the Celtics, or the Hornets, or the Heat? Not just for next season, but to build a team from going forward.

Sam:

In a perverse way, I am interested in seeing the Warriors next season with Alfonzo McKinnie a pivotal player. There are a lot of potentially appealing young rosters, and the Bulls are in that mix as LaVine and Markkanen are on All-Star trajectories. Plus, having Porter for a full season should be crucial. The Hawks, Kings, Grizzlies and Pelicans have intriguing young rosters and one could make a move. The Nets did something remarkable in building a smart young core basically without any draft picks. There's a lot of depends on factors, but I guess you are asking who wins. If the 76ers keep Butler and Harris, they're my Eastern team. Even if Kawhi stays, I'm still disbelieving about Toronto. The point is the East with Boston sliding some and perhaps the 76ers if they lose guys is wide, wide open. Maybe not for a team to jump 30 wins, but there should be a lot of teams near .500. The Lakers with LeBron and Anthony Davis are appealing, and they'll add someone else. But there's not much else there there. With Golden State on sabbatical, Houston would be the top candidate if their GM were not trying to break up the team. It's a great summer to stake your claim in perhaps the most open NBA since the year or two between when Shaq and Kobe split and LeBron and Wade merged. Oh, right. KG went to Boston about then. But everyone had possibilities.


Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Luol Deng #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Joakim Noah #55 of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Taj Gibson #67 of the Minnesota Timberwolves pose for a photo following the game on January 30, 2019 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Andrew Brown:

With the addition of White, I just don't see any immediate need to our starting 5. Sure it would be great to get Durant etc but let's be real, it's not going to happen. Just hope we don't overspend on the B grade players in the market like Beverley, Brogdon etc. Not sure what else they bring except taking our cash but do provide vet leadership. Either way, those players will want to start which then is going to upset our current starters and hurt their development. Save the cash for later. Best to dip into the B minus / C grade crew. Heck bring back, rose / taj / deng and Noah. 2 yr deals for each. Be honest with them all, that we need you as bench vets, push and teach these kids. In 2 yrs retire a Bull which is what ‘most' of you want. Not sure Noah would go for it but the others, sure why not. If Lopez leaves Noah can back up Wendell, with the rookie our 3rd string.

Sam:

That sort of sounds pretty much like their plan minus most of the alumni.


Bobby Portis #5 of the Washington Wizards looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half at Capital One Arena on April 05, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Bo Boustead:

Do you see any chance that the Bulls might try to bring back Bobby Portis? Seems to me that he could be a great bench addition with 25-30 minutes per game, backing up both Lauri and Wendell. Perhaps pay him well for two years and have his contract expire along with Porter's and Felicio's.

Sam:

Im not sure if you can have two Arkansas players on a roster at the same time. I also was afraid everyone spoke in the third person like Bobby. Turns out having seen Gafford it's not true. It's been sounding like Bobby may be pricing himself out of the Wizards' payroll, so it's not likely he's on the Bulls shopping list. Plus, they have him again. It's Gafford. Not that Gafford can shoot, but Bobby couldn't when he started. Bobby has proven himself to be a useful player and probably will get a reasonable three or four year contract. Though I guess with he and Niko both free agents they won't be interviewing together.


Matthew Ruth:

Does the NBA include hair and shoes as a part of players height when they measure them at the combine?

Sam:

That was my concern also about White. Turns out he is about 5-8.

Nah, he's legit.

And with that, this is the final Ask Sam of the 2018-19 NBA season.

Happy free agency.

Got a question for Sam?

Submit your question to Sam at asksam@bulls.com

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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