Zach Lavine #8 of the Chicago Bulls faces off against Bogdan Bogdanovic #8 of the Sacramento Kings on February 5, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.

Ask Sam Mailbag: 06.29.18

Sam opens his mailbag and answers readers' questions

What do you think is the most likely outcome of Bulls cap space this year? Use it to take on bad contracts of a team trying to sign free agents in exchange for a decent player and/or draft picks? If yes, do you give this scenario a better than or worse than 50% chance of happening? Would they consider using cap space to take on bad contract in exchange for a draft pick?

Kevin Gacek

Sam: It's free agency this weekend. Is the NBA great, or what? There's no sport with so many personnel stories so often. Yes, again. When was that NBA draft? That's right, Lebron-orama. There's Paul George and Chris Paul and maybe DeMarcus Cousins, the latter who maybe can't play next season. And recalcitrant Kawhi. The Bulls aren't likely involved with any. No, LeBron's not coming and the Bulls are not trying to add more salary cap room like in the last big LeBron-a-palooza in 2010. But if a team needs that much more salary cap space to accommodate LeBron and a lieutenant, the Bulls figure to be ready to sell some cap space for a starter or a potential lottery pick. That's why it made no sense to take on huge salaries at the draft to move up a few spots.

Perhaps it doesn't occur, but you want to be ready if there's an opportunity. The Bulls could get to $25 million in salary cap room, but it doesn't seem like they're going to be diving into the free agent pool in a big way this summer. After all, this coming season sounds more like having a chance to finally have five young guys on the floor together to see what they can do and perhaps become. Why add a veteran role player to take those minutes now? After all, it wouldn't seem any of the big guys would look at Chicago as a win now situation. I'm not sure what the Bulls are planning, but I thought Bobby Marks, the former NBA executive who now writes for ESPN, probably had it right. He wrote to expect the Bulls to continue to operate "over" the salary cap. That would suggest the Bulls would prefer to use their exceptions. The exceptions are larger over the cap, though nowhere near the potential $25 million in cap room they could create. That would suggest perhaps an addition of a player or two in the $8 million range. Plus, there is the negotiation with restricted free agent Zach LaVine, who has Bird rights to exceed the cap with the Bulls.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against the Houston Rockets on April 10, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.

Unlike most summers, this offseason seems like a good to spend on free agents because prices should be reasonable with less than normal competition. Philly is the only good team with significant cap space and the Lakers are the only exciting destination. Teams never have enough perimeter players who can defend and do something on offense. I'd offer Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Smart contracts on day 1. Signing them would improve the team and give them the choice to walk away from a crazy LaVine contract.

Conor Gallogly

Sam: To spend on a crazy Smart contract? Which likely would be in the $15 million annual range? There were reports last season the Celtics would offer the restricted free agent $12 million to $14 million, and he said he was worth more than that. I like Smart a lot as a Tony Allen type of player, impressive hustle and helps your team and cannot shoot. Sorry, I'd rather have LaVine. Again, I get these requests fairly frequently to not resign LaVine, which is strange to me. OK, he's hasn't defended much in Minnesota, either. But here's an excellent athlete who is a very good three-point shooter, solid citizen, anxious to improve, a young 6-5 guard. Yes, he had ACL surgery and we hate that phrase, and he didn't finish last season, though who really knows with the artificial competition after the All-Star break. I find it hard to believe given his health situation LaVine gets any sort of break-the-bank offer as a restricted free agent. Teams are no longer allowed to say they'll match to scare off competitors or restricted free agents. If LaVine were in this draft, he'd have been a top 10 player. He's 23 years old and ready to have a full season again after missing much of the last two. He's a top athlete for a team long searching for more athletes and the biggest name in the Jimmy Butler trade. I cannot personally see a circumstance in which I would not want to work out a contract with LaVine. I think he's going to be a terrific player again.

Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a free throw against the Atlanta Hawks on March 11, 2018 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

If Vlade is a fan then we know we got to let Zach walk

Mike Sutera

Sam: Ouch. There have been reports this week that the Kings might or might not from sources who may or may not know make a free agent offer fo Zach. What, the Buddy Hield era is over already? No one's ever sure what the Kings are thinking, as you suggest, but they did try to move up in the draft to get shooting guard Hield taken sixth and then acquired him for DeMarcus Cousins and he had a better season than LaVine, playing in 80 games and averaging 13.5 points on 43 percent three-point shooting. So with their entire salary cap room and a starting level healthy NBA shooting guard on the roster, they're going to spend all their money on a less healthy shooting guard who shoots 10 points lower? I know, I know, it's the Kings.

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after a play in the first quarter against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.

I've heard the talk of Lebron to Philly maybe. But why is there no talk of Paul George to philly. I think he would be a much better fit with Simmons and Embiid than James would be.

Aaron Ward

Sam: And away we go, as the Great One always said. No, Jackie Gleason. Paul George to the 76ers has been speculated fairly often, actually. Will he take his talents there? Actually, it's George this time, who no one cares that much about, who is doing the TV show to announce his Decision. He's done some sort of three-part documentary that I'm not sure where it is on—social media somewhere, I guess—in which he supposedly will announce his decision in Part III. Yes, be still our beating hearts. He'll likely opt out, but that's a financial decision which shouldn't affect his location decision. He's been making more noise lately about staying in Oklahoma City, which gained some credibility with Magic Johnson suddenly talking about this being a two-year Lakers project, that anyone thinking it was about this summer is just silly. Silly us, but it did sound like that was what it was about all this season.

So perhaps Magic got a signal from George, and then Chris Paul takes the money and runs with Houston with all his owies and doesn't just want to be a lesser paid LeBron acolyte in L.A. You don't hear as much LeBron to Houston stuff lately, and if he doesn't opt in you won't as Houston basically needs a trade. The story that's been going around in Houston is that James Harden told the Rockets he doesn't want LeBron clogging up his game and doesn't care to play with him. It makes some sense because Daryl Morey is usually openly chasing the biggest free agents and this summer has been exceedingly quiet. The 76ers interim GM Brett Brown said they are chasing stars, but I cannot see LeBron telling the family, no really, Philadelphia is cool; trust me, Cheez-Wiz on meat is Dope. Stay in Cleveland? We've all been saying that's doubtful with that roster he clearly hates and L.A., and lifestyle makes sense. But if no Paul George and no Chris Paul, would LeBron still go? Could Magic sell him on a two-summer project?

Perhaps LeBron figures out he'll probably finish behind Boston and Philly in the East with Cleveland, so why not finish behind Golden State and Houston in the West? But be able to have his kids go to the beach every day in the winter. And, really, after those few, the biggest names are restricted free agents like Aaron Gordon, Jabari Parker, Clint Capella, Marcus Smart, Zach LaVine and Julius Randle. Would DeAndre Jordan opt out of $22.6 million to become unrestricted? Is someone really paying him $80 million turning 30 next month and still can't shoot? Mark Cuban? After what Jordan pulled on them in free agency a few years back, they should get him to opt out and then change their minds. Isaiah Thomas? LeBron seemed to have had enough of him. Then the best unrestricted are considered to be Tyreke Evans, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gay, Avery Bradley, J.J. Redick, Elfrid Payton, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Greg Monroe, Michael Beasley, Rodney Hood, Jamal Crawford, Brook Lopez, Trevor Ariza, Derrick Rose, Lance Stephenson, Amir Johnson, Nick Young, Alex Len, Jeff Green, Mario Hezonja, Nerlens Noel and Dwayne Wade, who says he's never leaving Miami again. Maybe the James kids can stand one more winter.

Rodney Hood #1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket during the game against the Golden State Warriors in Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals on June 8, 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio
Bulls should sign Rodney Hood on a 1 yr deal for like 10 mil as a 'prove yourself.' Athletic wing who can score, give us another vet to help the young guys.

Our future looks the brightest in 2020 when we have a load of cash. Recruit a decent player in Hood now and don't overspend and go for that 7-8th seed as the goal.

Andrew Brown

Sam: He's been rumored and mentioned a lot with the Bulls, and he had a really, really bad year with that refusal during the playoffs to play in garbage time to the Cavs basically exiling him after that until they became desperate and played him late. He is a really good shooter with three-point range, but the Jazz gave him up pretty easily for the guy who was supposed to replace Gordon Hayward. Of course, Donovan Mitchell did, and then Hood was actually benched. He's been injured a lot, averaging about 20 games a season missed in his four years. And there long was tension in Utah about the length of his stays injured. He'd be an interesting sixth man scorer type, but would he accept that? Would he accept a one-year deal? I assume he'd be looking for three years at about $30 million to $40 million. Worth it? Though few teams really have much cap room, so, yes, a lot of guys could be on one-year deals the way the players association misjudged a few years back and didn't allow the revenue additions to be phased in. They made a few guys really rich at the expense of so many others. He'd be a reasonable target.

I'm unclear on why there were so many terrible contracts issued during this summer. I know the cap exploded compared to previous years. But players like Crabbe? Harkless? Mozgov? Etc. There were many more. Why were all these mediocre players getting such huge deals? Did the trailblazers genuinely think that harkless and crabbe were worth a combined 30+ million each year? Or were there penalties for not using all this money?? Seems to be coming back to haunt a lot of teams this season.

Aaron Weinger

Sam: That would be the Summer of Biyombo. Though the NBA players association and league have pretty good relations, the longtime suspicion probably caused the players association to do its players a terrible disservice; well, just most of the players. The summer of 2016 was when with the new TV contracts the salary cap jumped $25 million. Suddenly teams were flush with extra money, like teenagers hitting the lottery. The league was the only smart one and told the union it would be better to phase in the increase. The union figured the league was cheating them in some way, though LeBron again being a free agent had something to do with wanting more money right away. But the general managers went nuts: $72 mil for useless Biyombo, the big Lakers deals for Deng and Mozgov that cost Mitch Kupchak his job, $120 million for Nic Batum (Oh, Michael!), $94 million for Chandler Parsons, $72 million for Joakim Noah, $64 million for Ian Mahinmi, $70 million for Kent Bazemore, $80 million for Ryan Anderson, $98 million for Hassan Whitseside, $75 million for Allen Crabbe, $70 million for Evan Turner. All long term deals, which is why there are only about a half dozen teams with any cap room now and basically all those guys available without interest.

I read that the Clippers are likely to waive Teodosic for cap reasons. Wasn't he sort of last year's equivalent of Luka Doncic? Would the Bulls be interested in signing a young brilliant passer (even if he's a poor defender)? Or is he likely to be the subject of a bidding war, and cost more than the Bulls would be willing to pay?

Peter Manis

Sam: If he is the Mavs are in big trouble. He's going on 32 for one thing, but was basically hurt all the time and played about half the season and started about 40 percent of the time. I don't expect much bidding.

 Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on January 13, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Carter, Dunn, Lavine and next years 1st for Kawhi?

The vaunted Spurs front office will be over a barrel if they can't fix things with Kawhi.

Outside of Boston, or Philly, no team has a super attractive set of assets going forward and the market for forced trades is never an equal value exchange . So in that sense, I think it's fair to speculate on uneven deals Boston is so loaded they can actually play hardball once the vaunted spurs front office realizes it has no choice but to make a trade (not even sure the Kawhi trade would make them that much better unless they also flip Heyward) Can't view these situations in a vacuum.

Is Dunn, Lavine and Carter worse than what the Knicks gave up for Melo? Look at the pile of trash Cleveland got for Kyrie. Don't write it off out of hand! Help me drive a narrative!

Dan Shiller

Sam: Sorry, not happening. But, yes, Kawhi, he's Mr. Drama these days for the guy who never says anything. He's now the supposed Lakers bread crumbs to catch the foxy LeBron. Of course, the Spurs could trade him anywhere and they are bound to the franchise to get the best deal they can for their future. That actually would be pretty good for them from the Bulls. Not so much for the Bulls with a player who bailed out on the Spurs all season, has basically been ripped by who we've always said were the best people in the NBA, hasn't said the name Chicago in years, has specified L.A. and could walk out on you in a year. And then if he did decide to play next season in a place he hadn't asked for, with a starting lineup of Cameron Payne, Justin Holiday, Leonard, Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez, is that a contending team? But the news is LeBron supposedly needs Kawhi traded to the Lakers before he makes a free agent decision. I cannot see the Spurs dealing with the Lakers, but...The only time I've ever heard Gregg Popovich criticize another team was when the Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Lakers. Popovich openly condemned the Grizzlies for trying to give the Lakers a playoff/competition boost. Now Popovich is going to do the same for the Lakers and Magic Johnson? In the Spurs conference? My guess is he's told his staff to think that there's 28 other teams than the Spurs and deal with them. And there may some Kevin McHale/Danny Ainge wink-wink there with former assistant Brown now running the 76ers.

The Bulls, to me, don't have enough left that makes sense to make a play for Leonard and then without a long term contract, which seems unlikely, see him walk in a year. Boston might not even do that with way more tradable assets and multiple draft picks in the future. The "but" is Popovich and his crew aren't the Spurs. They owe the franchise to make the best deal. If they could get Ingram, Kuzma, Ball (see if dad tries that stuff with Popovich), a draft pick? The interesting part is a lot of the Lakers' fan base likes the young players and isn't as excited about LeBron in his 15th season for the short term and then, of course, he runs your team. If Magic thinks he's losing power after next season if he doesn't make a big hit, watch what happens if LeBron does come on a short term contract.

What did you think about Oscar's speech at the TNT show? I liked how he ended saying, "I'm most proud of that assist" regarding the court case and FA. But I thought he would have been a little more direct given the coin everyone makes today and the jokey nature of the night.

Kevin Hanekamp

Sam: Might have helped the night, which was brutally boring. And they say you only have to watch the end of NBA games. There wasn't much to keep you with that show. It was a fairy boring, anticlimactic event that was pretty much ignored by the NBA players. It was too late, for one thing, with the players now doing season awards and many thinking those were the NBA awards. Plus, once you have the playoffs and especially the last two rounds, everyone associates that with excellence. The awards should not be postseason. They are for everyone to be eligible. And then to make it the NBA version of the Academy Awards and basically no one shows up but the winners? How about supporting your league. And speaking of that, yes, it was the place for Oscar to look at the players and say if you guys think we did so much for you, how about a little help? This is an important topic for me and why I wrote the book Hard Labor about the Robertson suit and how much those players did that enriched this era and how many are hurting financially because none of them benefitted. It's an amazing story and to one somewhat biased observer (me), the definitive history of that 1960s and 1970s genesis of the NBA. I was pleased to see many of those stars there, like Oscar, Bill Russell, Chet Walker. They're all major actors in Hard Labor with shocking stories from that era when NBA players were some of the most significant, but overlooked, revolutionaries in the Civil Right movements as well.

The Denver Nuggets introduce Thomas Welsh, Michael Porter Jr., and Jarred Vanderbilt during a press conference on June 22, 2018 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado

How late in the draft do you figure the Bulls would have taken Michael Porter Jr.? Would they have grabbed him with the 14th pick as Denver ultimately did? As Porter continued to slip in the draft, do you suppose the Bulls had considered trading up from the 22nd spot to potentially land MPJ somewhere in the middle-teens? At what point in the first round do you think the risk outweigh the reward for the Bulls, a franchise that (once again) lacks star power? ESPN analysts (namely Chauncey Billups) compared Porter to Durant, as Porter was finally drafted by Denver. Meanwhile, Carter drew comparisons by the same crew to Carlos Boozer.

I don't necessarily feel they made a mistake. Carter was a safe bet and will likely contribute immediately. I have optimism for him. My initial question was: at what point in the draft does risk outweigh reward? As a GM, can you potentially live with botching the 7th pick in a draft and "go big or go home?" The Bulls practically did so in 2000 (Marcus Fizer at #4), 2001 (trading Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler at #2 and drafting Eddy Curry at #4), and in 2006 (trading #2 for #4 and taking Tyrus Thomas). It's always frustrating when a team botches its draft pick, but it isn't the end of the world, either. Should the plan fail, there's always next year's draft.

Mike Burgher

Sam: The biggest hint to me was that teams with less talent than the Bulls and greater needs, like the Knicks, the Cavs (without LeBron) and the Hornets passed as well. It sure sounds like the doctors said stay away, and it's one thing if you are potentially giving up a reserve later in the draft. Losing teams trying to be in the lottery once or twice cannot afford to pass on a starter, and it looked like this draft had them perhaps through the entire lottery. Risk and reward are personal issues. Yes, the second guessers will be out all throughout the lottery teams on Porter. You'll only hear from them if Porter does something. Maybe he will; good for him. I think the Bulls got themselves a kid who will be a good player; that should be enough.

With GarPax saying the Bulls won't be players in this summer free agency period but will be next summer, I was looking at the possible free agents in 2019 and I don't see us as any bigger player then as we are now. In fact, this summer is starting to look much to do about nothing as will next summer, at least as far as the Bulls are concerned. Paul George is most likely going to resign in OKC, leaving Lebron trying to figure out who will join him in LA. The Spurs are in no hurry to feed a super team to the Lakers so Kawhi may have to wait until next summer to go there. So with the Bulls not having a shot at any of those three guys and I assume they have no interest in Cousins, who would be left this summer or next that would be worth offering a max contract for?

Carl Reynolds

Sam: Niko? The problem with the NBA these days and trying to add to your team is there are about six or seven elite free agents in the entire league, and they're basically on two teams. I know everyone wails about players making their own teams. But owners did it, also. Weren't the Lakers and Celtics of the 80s super teams with multiple Hall of Famers? Auerbach did it for a whole decade. I have no problem with the players having those equal rights. After all, the salary cap is a 50/50 split. Basically everyone is a free agent almost every year, anyway, as most of these guys take two-year deals with one-year opt outs. Heck, the Bulls could get in the LeBron bidding for the next four years. But it's also about building your own stars. Markkanen looks like he could be. At least a Dirk level star, and that was good enough for a title with a lot of good free agent role players. The Spurs did it with Kawhi breaking through and a bunch of older veterans. There'll be plenty of guys who can make a difference in 2019. Maybe Enes Kanter opts in for a year. A lot of Orlando big men; I always liked Vucevic. Terrence Ross, Wilson Chandler/ Karl-Anthony Towns is coming up, the Morrises, Jordan Bell. Oh, right. For the Bulls, it's not so much the lack of inventory, but the priority now of seeing these young guys and getting minutes for them.

Is there any merit / interest in a sign and trade of LaVine for B Bogdanovic since both are 2 guards. Also would love Bulls re-signing McDermott as a 3/4 position reserve player

Wayne Warner

Sam: The Kings stuff strikes me an an agent trying to create a market for a client; we'll see. But now you're talking. I always liked Doug and felt he suffered some under the lottery pick designation/pressure/expectations. Yeah, bring him back as a reserve on an exception short term. After all, it took Korver several teams before finally hitting it big with the Hawks in his 10th season. I recall with the Bulls fans were ruining him out of town because he couldn't play defense, couldn't make big shots, was too predictable in the playoffs, yadda, yadda. Bring Back Buckets!

Chandler Hutchison reacts after being drafted 22nd overall by the Chicago Bulls during the 2018 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 21, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Do you think Chandler Hutchison is readier to play than WC Jr.? I just say so since it has the same scenario with Taj Gibson. No one knows Taj before, but since he played 3 years in college, his body was ready for the NBA play.

King Berango

Sam: The Bulls wouldn't mind to some extent because everyone seems pretty confident Carter Jr. is, if not, can't miss, will not miss. Meaning he's going to rebound from the start, set screens, make defensive plays and be capable of being on the court. Taj did become a surprise starter as a rookie, but took a few years and some steps back before truly developing as the rugged forward with a reliable mid-range shot. A reader pointed out how the Bulls with multiple first round picks often have seen the second player more successful. I think the Bulls would take that because if Hutchison becomes a starter, it means he becomes a top level athletic wing and shooter/playmaker. As John Paxson said, the biggest need.

I am wondering why the Bulls are not an aggressive franchise like the Lakers and Celtics? The Bulls are in the top of the league for value. With the record down due to the rebuild the team still had one of the best attendance records. So it seems there is timing and some chance that helps put out a great team yet management does play a role. How come the Bulls seem to be one of the lesser aggressive teams? The Lakers and Celtics have had down teams yet they are teams only wanting to be near the bottom for as few seasons as possible and I am not sure the Bulls management isn't. Example with this season it is possible for trades (other teams have to somehow help) to sign a max player and a another pretty good one based on trade of Lopez salary to field a competitive team with the draft this upcoming season.

Kevin Franzen

Sam: The Bulls actually are one of the more aggressive franchises; they just don't happen to be in one of the most favored NBA cities for LeBron and Durant. In 2010, they cleared the decks better than anyone for LeBron and Bosh, who should have gone to Chicago to join Deng, Noah and Rose. That would have been a way better team than Miami. But LeBron wanted to hang with Wade and the sea. The Bulls got more cap room than anyone giving up a No. 1 pick and Hinrich. Then they beat out the Spurs and Thunder for Pau and when Ben Wallace was the league's No. 1 free agent, they cleared the room to get him. They chased Carmelo hardest and he has since said he should have gone to the Bulls. They're just not in that realm now; remember, the Lakers bottomed out and have been picking in the top 10 for five years. The Bulls now have done so twice. Credit to Boston; they were able to find a gullible Russian sucker to buy washed up name players. Turns out to be the only Russian we've been able to trick.

Is it stupid to think that down the line Hutchison could be the next Jimmy Butler? It's difficult to determine how raw talent will develop, but you never know. It sure does seem like the Bulls' front office had this in mind when they drafted him. Lots of similarities. Ability to defend, not a "one and done," similar in size.

William Kochneff

Sam: Of course, we didn't think Jimmy Butler would be Jimmy Butler. That's the difficult part of the draft and talent evaluation. Teams project based on size and speed and athletic ability and intelligence. And even more so these days because of their ages you don't see them play much in college, their "amateur" AAU experience is generally uncompetitive and you never know about their competitiveness, their drive, their desire to get better and perform under pressure and hold up for six months until they start to do so. I know teams make a big fuss about character, which is not a big factor with me because they almost all in this era are pretty decent people. It's about talent and performance. There are more people working the concession stands with better character. You are buying excellence and consistency, which is greatness, the ability to perform and excel on a regular basis. You'll know that after few years. Jimmy drove himself to that excellence. The irony is we heard all the great character stuff about him and after awhile he became a difficult guy to be around. But he was a great, great player, and that's why you wanted him. Hutchison does seem to have many of the same attributes with good but not super athletic ability, a propensity toward defense, an overlooked high schooler who improved every year and someone willing to work and compete who was a low first round draft pick. The Bulls can only hope. Heck, they'll even be fine if he has all Jimmy's wild up and down moods. One of their best days was the day they drafted Jimmy Butler.

Considering the free agents out there, Will Barton or Avery Bradley (or Paul George if he suddenly becomes lonesome for a return to the Midwest...which seems doubtful) appear to me to be the best fits for the Bulls. Neither needs anything close to a max contract, Barton could start at small forward now while Hutchison develops and Bradley could make an excellent 3 guard rotation with Dunn & LaVine (either could take LaVine's place if he leaves in free agency). I could see either of these players helping the Bulls tremendously now plus being of value 2 or 3 years down the road as the Bulls continue to improve. Do you see either of them as a good fit with the current Bulls or do you see other free agents out there that the Bulls might possibly target this year?

Gary Swanson

Sam: I've liked both Barton and Bradley, though Bradley basically missed last season with an abdominal injury and supposedly has interest from Memphis. The larger issue with the Bulls, though if they are going with their exceptions, as Bobby Marks predicts, it suggests they are out of the bulk of the free agent market except for a major player dump to sell cap space. The other issue, as I've mentioned, is whether you want a veteran free agent eating up the time of the young players when the playoffs isn't a big priority. The Bulls likely will be in the hunt for the bottom of the East playoffs because of so many teams rebuilding: Atlanta, Orlando, Brooklyn, New York, Charlotte. There also have been rumors Toronto might break up its team. That's two injuries away from falling into the eighth spot. Of course, a half dozen teams will look at it that way, but if the Bulls get back a healthy LaVine and Kris Dunn and they said they are done with the tryouts, so Robin Lopez is back at center, and they've got some good bench players, most everyone should be in contention into March. The larger question is do you want to spend your money now on role players or hold out and try to acquire someone with more potential when you are more ready to seriously compete? After all, wasn't this all about not settling for being an eighth place team, but putting a core in place that can compete with the best teams in the conference?

As I see it, by far the main problem with the Bulls' latest 7th pick is his head. I'm talking some Jason Terry levels big here. This makes him look much smaller than he actually is, and I'm afraid this will lead to a lot of disrespect from his opponents. Unfortunately I see no immediate fix for this (his hair is already as short as it could ever be), unless he bulks up in proportion to his head-size, at which point the opponents will spend so much time having to go around him to get to the basket that every other possession will result in a clock violation. On the plus side though, he must be a very smart kid.

Davide Antonio Secci

Sam: I normally would not use an email like this, but then I got a few more. Like this one:

One of the things worth noticing with Wendell Carter Jr. is his head. Wendell Carter Jr. seems to have a bigger head compared to his body. Something I also noticed when with Shaq in his college days. Shaq eventually fill that frame of his, to the point that his head is visually more balanced compared to his body. Though Wendell Carter Jr. already weighs 250-260lbs, given he turned 19, do you see him bulking up to maybe 280 - 300 lbs? He seems to have good footwork and already has a variety of moves down low. Would it be a risk for him to add more weight and become more of a post threat, than maintain his current weight and focus more on improving his perimeter defense?

Peter Jimenez

Sam: I usually don't notice stuff like that, though Seinfeld got a good episode out of Elaine's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) cranium. So I checked with my wife, who has an acute sense for physical appearance and has talked about that with me in suggesting I get ahead. She said he really has just a wide face and prominent jaw. Though the comparison with Shaq is encouraging. And we know he's smarter than most of the rest of us in media after having been pursued by Harvard while most of the media around the Bulls only got as close as northwest suburban Harvard at the end of the Metra line. But as you say it may suggest a young man light on his feet with good moves and a frame that will continue to fill out. The Shaq of the Midwest?

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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