Ask Sam Mailbag: 10.27.17

I think there’s good news with Markkanen. His shooting will improve (classic form, almost Bird-like). But the ‘news’ is that he can drive (even has a few moves) and get boards. Maybe the “next Dirk”… or maybe even better. Let’s hope he has a high ceiling. I’m guessing he does. And of course, it’s good news that Dunn will be back soon. I wouldn’t care so much if not for the game he was having when he went down. That was the first time I saw him playing with confidence – hopefully a sneak-preview of what’s to come. Imagine if Dunn, Lavine & Markkanen all work out as we’ve hope! What will the trolls do with themselves if Gar/Pax made a great trade?
Art Alenik

I’m the first to say I was in the depths of depression after looking at our roster for this season. However, you did say the season is long and they would be fun to watch and guess what, we are fun to watch! Love this Markkanen kid. Beautiful stroke, not afraid to mix it up in the paint and seems to take everything in his stride. Lavine & Markkanen, I get it now.
Michael Burling

For about seven years the Bulls had an incredible run of draft success: an MVP, three more All-Stars (Noah, Deng, Butler), a Sixth Man winner (Gordon), plus two starter-caliber players (Hinrich and Gibson, and even Johnson after a while). The past six or so years the Bulls have not drafted a single starting quality player (perhaps until Markaneen this year); the best player from the past six years is not as good as the worst player from the previous seven. Can you point to a difference in management's approach that might lead to this?
Alejandro Yegros

Mate I am lost...seriously what is with the Bulls, banging on about Zach Lavine being the person we are building around and talking extensions and yet this kid hasn’t played one game for the Bulls yet! Seriously why say this to the media now or even think this now. Next thing we’ll know we’ll sign him up for a max deal and then the kid will get injured again. Umm think we’ve been down this path before with the unfortunate events of Rose. Let’s see if the guy gets through the season before talking extension. Then when saying ‘build around’ and then something goes pear shaped and we turn out back on them it causes more harm to the face of the franchise.
Andrew Brown

What about expansion abroad? Back when David Stern was around there was all this talk about Paris and London. Later, it was state side in Las Vegas, as an example. What about now - are there any rumors of expansion teams both state side and out of the country?
Tom Plonowski

Would the Bulls be opposed to bringing back Doug McDermott? I don't think he got a fair shake. I think he would be great with how the Bulls are currently constructed.
Rocky Rosado

When the Bulls talked about this season, they mentioned the importance of supplementing their young players with quality veterans. Since Luol Deng has fallen out of the Lakers' rotation, could the Bulls get him? There are few people of higher quality in the NBA than Luol. Granted, that impacts the team's cap situation, but seriously, for all practical purposes the Bulls are going to rely on the draft to rebuild. Luol's contract will be off the books before the Bulls are far enough out of "rebuilding" enough to attract the kind of free agent who will take them to an elite level. Why not have someone on the team who can show them what being a professional is all about?
Chris Feldman

Before Mirotic got re-signed, Portis probably figured it was his time to shine as a starter, not realizing that once the veteran Mirotic was to get re-signed, he'll have to settle for coming off the bench. This probably frustrated Portis more, and he was so determined to start (by any means necessary), that it led to the altercation (I could be wrong, but you just never know these days). So what happens once Mirotic is cleared to play again?
Kieron Smith

My understanding is that either Niko or Bobby must go because of the on-court fight. To me, that seems an easy decision. Regardless of who started the physicality, it appears that Bobby is the only one who broke the law and crossed the (admittedly ill-defined) NBA line by punching and severely injuring a teammate. Niko, therefore is the victim. Also, Niko beat the slow-to-mature Bobby out for the starting 4 position. Finally, the Bulls owe Bobby only about $1.5 million if they cut him while Niko is owed about $12 million.
David Thompson

I know I'm in no position to comment without having any of the details. But that has never stopped fans before, and so why let it stop me now: wouldn't a seemingly fair punishment for "The Punch" be to suspend (or bench, to avoid making it about paychecks if there is a loss of pay) Portis until the such time that Mirotic returns to the court? While I like him as a player and the media seems to portray him as a good person, frankly I was surprised they did not release Portis. But I know there are two sides to every pancake and so I'm sure the Bulls did what they thought was fair based on the facts.
Ross Goodman

Okay Sam, back in the day I played a ton of pick-up ball throughout Chicago. You cannot start the fight, get beat up, then ask to switch teams because you don't get along with the cat who you were in the scrum with. I say Mirotic has no leg to stand on with this trade demand. I also think he should be fined or suspended as well for the fight with Portis. It sounds like a pride/ego move to me. Which brings me to my questions for you:

What kind of leverage does Mirotic have in this situation? Do the Bulls blink? If so, what can he get us in return? Is this brought on by the initial scrum or the fact that the rookie is playing so well?
Tony Reed

I was just hoping to get your thoughts on the Bulls rookie development. We've had a few good picks late in the first round over the last decade (Taj and Jimmy), but I've also noticed a few of our rookie picks struggling, and not really developing much. Guys like; Doug McDermott, Marquis Teague, Eric Murphy and Cameron Barstow. I know these were never going to be great players (especially the latter two), but there was very minimal improvement during their time with the Bulls. Then you look at guys like Tony Snell and James Johnson who struggled with the Bulls, but have gone onto decent roles with other teams. Looking at our current crop, I've struggled to see too much development with guys like Portis and Valentine.

I'm wondering if there is something missing in the Bulls player development? It just seems to be a matter of 'getting lucky' with picking players, rather than coaching and developing them.
Daniel George

What do you think of trading Bobby Portis and Jerian Grant or Kay Felder for Eric Bledsoe?
Ryan Carpel

Okafor continues to get crapped on by the Sixers. I would pull a Bledsoe if I were him.
Mike Sutera

For a guy in Pondexter who hasn’t played in 2 years he has looked decent. Smart player.
Bob Ding

I was born on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. As you and everyone else in the world should know Hurricane Marìa sliced our island in half as a category 5 monster. Needless to say it was one of the most terrifying things I have ever gone through. And I've walked to work through some of the most harsh Chicago blizzards through some of the most dangerous parts of south and mid Chicago and the famous steel Puerto Rican flags floating across Division at Humbolt Park would stick to my cold hands when I'd stumble passed them stomping through 3ft of snow. The woosh sound of huricane Irma was like a bird chirping on a sunny day compared to the mad giantess Maria kicking our doors and windows in, turnning them into fountains of dread and destruction that drowned our pridefulness into humility.

Most of us are quite grateful for the technology in our pockets that allowed us to communicate with loved ones four agonizing days after the event. As soon I would get home from work (which had a diesel generator that charges my phone) I'd take the steps to the roof of our 7 story condo and see if I can catch a glimpse of my Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls are Puerto Ricos favorite team of course thanks to Jordan. I remember I moved back to the island from Chicago around 2009, I went to the west side of the island to hang out with some friends at the University of PR in Mayaguez and upon arriving to our version of "Wrigleyville" to "bar hop", I felt I was back in Chicago again in playoff season of the Jordan era. Every man or woman with a hat on their heads was wearing a Bulls cap. I couldn't count how many.

In these days with no light and a daily search for warm food and some desperately needed entertainment to distract us from these hard times. The NBA is my safe haven. Most of our courts here are outdoors and some have amazing views of the oceans and mountains. But some have been destroyed in this catastrophe. I wonder what the Bulls can do to help with hundreds of thousands of fans here on the island having so much trouble? I dont think the NBA has ever had an exhibition game here in PR. Now would be a good time to give back. JJ. Barea with help from the Mavs have helped tons but most of us need a lot more help.

Besides all that, Lauri Markennen is an awesome player and I believe he's much more mature in his game than most give him credit for. I think he's stronger than people believe also. He's a better passer than some of the gaurds and I think since the team is already in this situation they should keep him out there and let him loose. Why would they sit him out when he's hot? We could have beat the Cavs again even if just in the regular season. I felt like Lauri was also gaurding Lebron quite well. Do you think Lauris respect and admiration for Lebron could detain him from swatting away the ball and making him look foolish? Cause one thing that made Jordan and some cases Lebron who they are is their utter disregard for who had the ball - they push and pull and swat and block and Dunk over whoever.

I can tell Holiday is loving his new role and that's what I love about what the Bulls have done. There is something in this young team and in the style of basketball that will make them all better.

Can't wait to have the whole team on the court. See what they can do. Anyway Que Viva Puerto Rico!
Jimmy Torres