Ask Sam Mailbag: 4.13.18

With the season over thoughts shift to the draft. Is it realistic for the Bulls to augment the Pelicans pick with non- core players like Valentine, Holiday, Payne, Vonleh, Grant or Nwaba to move up say five to eight draft slots?

John Petersen

Pax has generally tried to do the right thing, like not letting Curry have a heart attack on his watch, or giving Derrick Rose every single chance he could to revive his career. Sometimes this has hurt the team, and Pax has taken plenty of flak from the fans… for just about everything. (Seen any ‘Fire Sam Smith’ billboards around town??)

So this time, Pax decided to ‘play the system’ like most everybody else does and get the best draft pick possible. He still couldn’t find it in his heart to blatantly tank, so he devised this half-way thing – supposedly giving playing time only to guys who are raw & need to develop quickly, or who we need to evaluate for the future. At the same time, some of your better players sit and you’re bound to lose often; nearer my draft pick to thee. And I think it speaks well of Pax that he never wants to do this again. It’s worked in some ways, but left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

When I say “it worked”… well, we have the #6 or 7 pick and we found out what we need to know about a few candidates for the bench. I’d say that if the Bulls had ‘gone for it’ they’d have picked about 10th, and we wouldn’t have seen Nwaba, Kilpatrick, Vonleh or Payne… all of whom could make the team. If Fred can get them playing like last December, then they’ll definitely be competitive. If the young guys pan out and work well together, and they add a piece or two, 2019-20 could be fun. Still not sure if it was worth it – only if Gar/Pax make a very good pick!

Art Alenik

Do the Bulls own a 2nd round pick this summer or was that part of a deal?

Randall Sanders

Almost a perfect plan but bringing Mirotic was the one mistake and it could loom large. While Kirk was a nice player, Dwyane Wade would’ve looked a lot better with a few more losses. Mirotic was a mistake because it wasn’t worth dropping out of the top four to get the 23rd player pick in the next years draft.

Jeff Lichtenstein

Never been so happy for a Bulls season to end. I feel dirty. To watch Omer struggle at every facet of the game, knowing Robin is healthy and wants to play...is participating in the tank. I turned off the Detroit game with 2.30 left in the third. May we never fall this far from grace -- from all that is graceful and elegant and inspiring, about sports or anything that requires community and fairness and helping the least successful become more successful -- ever again.

Chris Granner

The “playing of the young Bulls” has helped several players emerge as useful rotation candidates or other helpful pieces. On the flip side the biggest disappointment must be Felicio. He seemed to start the year out of condition and still appears a step slow and with a lower basketball IQ. The Bulls obviously thought he had a greater upside with the four year contract. With extended starting/playing time he is better than earlier in the year but still prone to have moments where he is not thinking or anticipating. It would be a shock if the Bulls did not draft a center with the two picks. Is Felicio realistically salvageable or simply a lost cause?

Kieron Smith

Kilpatrick’s been killing it. I really don’t want him on the roster though after this season. He is already 28. Hopefully we can include him in a deal this summer.

Bob Ding

Raptors in 7 over the Wizs. I think the Wizs wont roll over for the Raps. Wizs are not ur normal 8th seed. Bucks in 6 over the Celtics. I just cant go with the Celts given the injuries. I dont care how good a coach Brad is, no Kyrie and no smart is just 2 big of a loss. Philly over Miami in 6. Embiid Vs Hassan should be fun if joel comes back in time.
Cavs in 5 over the Pacers. Playoff LBJ is here. They will just drop 1 in Indy. George Hill will be huge in this series as he knows the pacers well and has played with some of those guys.

Mike Sutera

Eastern Conference:

Toronto Raptors in 5 over Washington Wizards I don’t think they’re as good as they‘ve been all season, and their reserves already are feeling the heat a bit. But there seems to be some major dysfunction in Washington. Going out early could finally mean trying to trade John Wall, which would make this summer one of the most amazing ever with Kawhi Leonard likely to be traded and who knows where LeBron might go.

Boston Celtics in 6 over Milwaukee Bucks. They’re missing enough guys to lose this series with Kyrie Irving out, Marcus Smart also and Hayward from all season. But no team this season probably has played harder and competed more ferociously on a regular basis than Boston. They’ve been something to watch even with so many young players. Plus, there are some issues with the Bucks as Giannis doesn’t seem to get the ball near enough and it’s still an interim coach.

Philadelphia 76ers in 5 over Miami Heat. The Heat are a cute, hard trying bunch, but the 76ers have been hot, and hot even without Embiid. They look like the real thing, and they have some veterans with Redick and Belinelli. Simmons is a tough guy who doesn’t seem to fool around and I expect the 76ers in the conference finals.

Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 over Indiana Pacers. I know LeBron has some issues playing in Indianapolis and we still can’t figure how the Pacers are doing this. It won’t be easy and may even go seven because LeBron’s playing like Thibodeau is coaching him—take him out and the other guys hit you with a 10-0. LeBron’s going to have to really work for this one.

Western Conference:

Houston Rockets in 6 over Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves really do have a lot of talent, but they, of course, don’t use enough of it. How much can Jimmy Butler strain in this series trying to stay on the court against Harden given the knee issues? I’m still not convinced about the Rockets, and Harden and Paul have come apart in playoffs. Maybe not yet, but it shouldn’t be easy.

Golden State Warriors in 4 over San Antonio Spurs. Yes, Curry is out and they’ve been mediocre, but the Spurs really have nothing. I’m surprised that without Kawhi they even got to the playoffs. Look at some of those lineups. Manu bailed them out basically the last two weeks. Manu? This is the end of this run. Yes yes, we’ve heard it before, but it’s a retool next season and I don’t see the Spurs in the playoffs with Manu gone after this season.

New Orleans Pelicans in 6 over Portland Trail Blazers. I’m buying into Niko getting his powers by shaving his beard. The former Bull has been sizzling since finally shaving and the Pelicans after losing Cousins regrouped and Anthony Davis has been amazing. I know no one takes the Trail Blazers seriously with their guard game and Lillard mad about being left off something. But they were top 3 for a reason. Rondo’s been terrific and we know he should have beaten Boston last season. They’ve got no bench, but also with good guy E’Twaun Moore it would be nice to see them get a round and see Davis in another series.

Oklahoma City Thunder in 7 over Utah Jazz. The Thunder has been the most unpredictable and underachieving team this season, and yet they did get fourth. It did look like Westbrook went for stats to get that second triple double, but Longley always used to say how Rodman would beg him to get out of the way to allow him to have the rebounds. Goes on a lot. The Thunder is tough to figure because Westbrook will shoot you out and back in, and out and in, and it’s some amazing ride watching that guy and then we’ll have all the Paul George speculation and Carmelo is done talk and the Jazz is just so boring.