Ask Sam Mailbag: 12.14.18

I remember when the Bulls brought in Larry Keenan as the star to saves us in the early 1980's before Michael. The management referred to him as Dr Kwas a good offensive player, from what I remember, but hardly anything to put a Dr in front of his
initial. The Bulls always had the hard sell for all their teams, except when Michael came along and changed all of that. It's much easier to sell seats and viewership when you have a transcendent star. And actually, we've had a few transcendent
stars like Scottie and Derrick. But something happened after Michael and Scottie left, and I don't think this organization has recovered; and that is the drive of the players to succeed no matter what the odds. I see some of that in Lavine. And as
driven as Paxson is, I don't see it in management. I kind of wonder what happened. I thought when Paxson first came in and drafted Heinrich, and then Deng and Gordon, that the team was moving in the right direction. Maybe all the heartache with
Derrick's injuries and Butler's eventual change of attitude and subsequent change of teams. Maybe it's all the criticism that's everywhere on social media these days. Maybe it's just luck sometimes. The Bulls were lucky a few times in the past
that changed their whole franchise. So I hope we get lucky again soon. I do like a lot of the players on this team.

Elias Zimianitis

I do miss the good old days when the players were so committed and worked so hard and all they cared about was the game and the good of the league and the franchise. You've got one thing exactly right. Luck, which got the Bulls Jordan (Portland
took Sam Bowie ahead) and Rose (1.7 percent draft lottery odds) and despite all the fun Hinrich and Gordon and Deng and Nice they maxed out at 49 wins. You've got to luck into a star, and while the Bulls did move up cleverly to draft Pippen at No.
5, without Jordan there were no titles and Scottie's defense would not have looked that great on a 42-win team. Look, the Bulls care and are trying, and Markkanen, Carter, LaVine, perhaps Dunn and a lottery pick and free agent to come isn't a bad
start in year 2 of rebuilding. It doesn't look like a championship team yet, but it looks like they care. Though you're always better off really lucky than really caring.

Jim Boylen gesturing on the sidelines during a game

Boylen is starting a "leadership committee" in his team? This can't be real, right? Sam, I've been a Bulls fan for a long time. I've seen Rusty LaRue, and ERob, and Tim Floyd, and Ron Artest working in Best Buy as a rookie to get the
discounts, and heard every time Hoiberg praised the team's "great spirit in yesterday's practice" right after a loss. And yet this is somehow the dumbest thing I've seen. I'm sure you'll put a positive spin on it, so I look forward to
hearing it.

Alejandro Yegros

Floyd did have a leadership committee. It was Charles Oakley telling him he was the worst coach he'd ever seen. I don't think it's dumb because it got everyone through the weekend, if also some good humor around the rest of the league. There are
all sorts of such informal things around the NBA, and the Bulls sort of had it with the so called Breakfast Club of Jordan, Pippen and Ron Harper, who discussed with Phil all sorts of ways to work with Dennis Rodman. You don't think that required
player input? Though Michael made up the titles back then. It's not a big deal. Humor them.

Ryan Arcidiacono drives the ball during a game.

Your recent article planted in my mind a bench mob of Dunn, Harrison, Hutchinson, Parker & Porter. Have Dunn and Harrison apply defensive pressure at half court. Thus no change to starting 5

Wayne Warner

Zach LaVine passing the ball

Lavine's been a pleasant surprise and I'm glad to see him having a good season. However, what the heck is up with some of his passes? He makes at least three mind boggling, absolutely horrendous attempts to pass through traffic, often resulting
in easy baskets for the opponents. Are the coaches too mesmerized by his gravity defying dunks that no one's noticing this?

Bambi Choy

Jabri Parker drives the ball

Just when I think things couldn't get any lower they bumble up the acquisition with Parker. He was good over the last month, Lauri comes back and he goes back to the bench (which is fine) and now he isn't in the rotation? Seriously something is
off with this. Maybe he was the one telling his teammates not to go to training.

Andrew Brown

My biggest concern with all of this Boylen talk is simple: Zach Lavine. Portis is too tough to care, I don't care what Parker thinks, WCJ is too young to have a say in it, and Markkanen seems to be a little more easy going and younger to not
question the coach. What scares me is the new coach that has proven nothing as a head coach coming in and upsetting Zach Lavine. Yes, how childish does that sound? But honestly, I don't care if Lavine is being a little sensitive or whiny even.
He's the guy I come to watch. He's the guy I want to play for the Bulls for a long time. He's the greatest wild card to me (Markkanen may end up the better overall player) and thus the key to winning anything in the near future. Even if Boylen is
doing what he feels is best for the team and if it is the right thing, I just don't want this to become a weekly issue between a coach and player for years to come. Is it that serious, or something small that will go away? Would Gar/Pax step in
and tell Boylen to cool it or you gotta go? Are we all just over-analyzing and exaggerating this too much?

Jon Kueper

The Bulls seems to have a problem setting picks. Why does the guy setting the pick move? It's the ball handler's responsibility to drive the defender into the pick. Boylen should show them some old footage of Mark Price. He knew how to use a

Andrew Moulesong

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 07, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Thunder 114-112.

Before I write about the Bulls... Westbrook had what? 24-17-13 plus 4 steals?? Yes, he also had 10 TO's... thanks to the Bulls' new ball-hawking defense. But... Geez, 17 rebounds for a guy who's 6'3". Our two best rebounders were Lauri &
Jabari, with 7 each adding up to 14. It's hard for me to find fault with a PG who averages double-digit assists every year and rebounds like a PF. The kid's a freak! Yes, this will be interesting with the Bulls. I'm not sure if Boylen is coming on
too strong, or if Fred spoiled them. Probably a little of both. In the end, it will come down to whether he helps them succeed/win. Remember what Noah told Thibs. ("I'd really hate you if we weren't winning so much.")

Art Alenik

If the Bulls start winning now, it will be all about committees and tough love and if they don't, well it won't. We always judge sports backwards. If it worked, it was the right way to do it. The Bulls are insistent this is part of their process,
and so we'll see. There are plenty of judgments to come. Making them about a week's work isn't really enough.

I wanted to answer the Westbrook part, as well. We agree he's a fierce player and a star of the league, but those triple doubles are as fraudulent as can be. It was clear in that game with the Bulls the way Steven Adams simply either got out of
the way to let Westbrook grab the ball or sealed off an opponent so Westbrook can have the board. We've always heard Westbrook demands Adams do that, and you can tell Adams could care less about stats and is a great teammate. We saw some of that
with Rodman and Luc Longley (those guys from that part of the world seem much friendlier and unselfish) as Rodman asked Luc to get out of the way so he could get a lot of those rebounds. Luc always cleared for the missed free throw rebound, the
easiest of all since the offense is running back. Except when Jordan tried to dunk those. Westbrook's terrific, but those are bogus, inflated triple double stats. If Wendell Carter was playing with anyone from New Zealand he might lead the league
in rebounding.

This is on purpose though, right? Dyin' for Zion?

Yousuf Shamsie

Chandler Hutchison driving the ball.

My question centers around Hutchison. I've been watching the box scores focused a bit on him. Do you think he is more of a work in progress than originally thought? He still gets some run behind Holiday and now Parker but doesn't seem to be
taking advantage of it. I know late round picks are not supposed to be world beaters but just wanted your take on him so far this year.

Greg Young

What's your feeling being around the team the last week or so? I'm reminded of the old saying "It's always darkest before the dawn".

Mike Burling

Well the main thing, as you've said, is they need better players on the floor - we'll see if Dunn and Portis can help with that soon.

Guy Danilowitz

Besides offering a free agent a big contract, the free agent could head up the "leadership committee"?

Did the Bulls increase the odds of luring Kevin Durant with this opportunity?

If not, who else might be a good candidate to help with the LC job?

Jeff Lichtenstein

The Bulls have reached the Boylen Point

Erik Fenton