Ask Sam Mailbag: Could D-Rose return? Bulls trade deadline thoughts and more

Parker Lerdal: Will Ex-Bull Derrick Rose return to Chicago as part of the NBA trade deadline this year? 

Sam: Independently of being his biographer, I believe it would be an excellent move for a team that still remains without a true point guard, and that’s hurt the Bulls this season without Ball. Goran Dragić fills in admirably, but not for long periods. Rose would be a terrific addition for spot minutes, if not also local popularity and the ability to mentor a local guard like Ayo Dosunmu. But it seems like a difficult fit. Rose is out of the Knicks’ rotation, it seems for good, and the reports have been they’ll try to send him somewhere he can compete. But even if he’s never said it out loud lately, I believe he’d welcome a return home. The issue is his salary of about $14 million this season and a team option for next season. The Bulls might be able to match that with a package that includes Coby White, Tony Bradley and an addition. Though it’s unclear if the Bulls have plans for White. If Rose isn’t traded next month, then you figure he’ll get a buyout and then choose a team. The last time he was in the playoffs in New York a few years ago even at his somewhat reduced level he was their best player in the series.

Greg Young: Against Indiana I heard many variations on a A Tale of Two Halves; 47 games in, it is what it is. Since the trade deadline is approaching and you will be getting a spate of whackadoodle (technical trade term) ideas, I thought I would start. I would trade DeRozan. He has been a breath of the freshest air and a joy to watch. DeLightful in his professionalism and DeTermined in his craft. But he is the most valuable chip and the re reading of this book is no longer enjoyable. Entirely his fault? Not even remotely but change can be useful. I would extend Vooch and seek a younger, more athletic SF in return for DeRozan. I am not particularly interested in draft picks. The big two of Zach and Vooch can hold the sub 500 performance until next year when the mythical Ball can return.

Sam: That sounds like a well thought out, conceived and sensible plan. Which I doubt will occur. I actually tend to agree with you for many of the same reasons. So then we both can be on the other side of what occurred; with the caveat, of course, that I never saw the Vooch trade coming. To me, DeMar is the only one with substantial trade value. We’ve seen a lot Zach suggestions, but his value is diminished by the long term financial commitment. DeMar’s been the Bulls’ best player these last two seasons in somewhat resurrecting his reputation to be considered among the leagues elite. He could be the balance-of-power changer in that the team that gets him could push ahead in the very even races in both conferences. So it could mean more in giving up players and picks (I only want them to recoup some of those traded away; you still need a youth pipeline). But every indication seems to be the phlegmatic Karnisovas remains convinced—and he could be right—with the return of Ball whenever that may be the Bulls are a conference finals contender. And he has yet to see what that looks like for a full season and into the playoffs. I also could see DeRozan welcoming such an opportunity even if he’d never say it and would not have an issue remaining to finish his contract after next season and would embrace it. I think whack-a-doodle actually was the term often used for my trade suggestions back at the Tribune. I’ve still got a few left over Eddy Curry ones is anyone is interested.

Ateeq Ahmed: Nice pickup by LA. Hachimura was a high draft pick, but they’re saying Wizards needed to free up money for Kuzma. Funny that one of our picks was dealt in this trade.

Sam: Not so funny if it becomes the next Jokic, which is unlikely. I do like the deal for the Lakers and I guess that’s the price of paying Bradley Beal more than $50 million a year through 2027 and picking up Porzingis at more than $30 million. Imagine what he’d make if he had a post up game. There’s probably some internal issues with the team and Hachimura after him not playing much following the Olympics. He has been out a lot with injuries. But I like his game. He plays physically with a good shot; excellent addition and the Lakers win that one.

Ryan Carpel: What are your thoughts on bringing up Henri Drell from the g-league? He seems to have some nice size and skills reminds me of Toni Kukoc. We aren’t getting any usage out of the 2-way players on a rotational basis now. Maybe they could use this euro player to come in and hit 3’s.

Sam: I don’t see much of the G-league, though I guess one question is who would he play ahead of with Donovan fairly set with rotations? I saw a little of him and he looks athletic, if not quite Kukoc-ian. But this late in the season it’s doubtful to see players from the G-league get much of an opportunity unless there are numerous injuries.

Art Alenik: Zach’s finger. Six for 36 from the arc since it happened through Indiana.  That is a real injury, and I almost wonder myself if he should be playing.  Since we have no idea what’s actually wrong with his hand (or at least, I don’t), it’s hard to judge whether sitting would help it heal faster.  Must be frustrating; He just gets his legs going and then hurts his shooting hand.  Zach had shot 51% from the arc in the previous 4 games, and 17% in the next 5.  We can only hope it’s not serious and will heal soon, but I’m afraid Zach was telling the truth when he said ‘torn ligament’.

Sam: I don’t recall him saying torn ligament, but could be, I guess. It’s true we never know the medical part since teams can fall back on the privacy laws, so what I’ll say is I’m proud of the Bulls. I know there’s disappointment about the record, but they seem a credit to the NBA, to me, because they play. There’s been another surge of load management talk with Barkley weighing in on TNT, which always kicks off discussion. So many of the self described tough guys continue to skip games regularly as well as the stars like Curry and Giannis. To their credit, the Bulls All-Stars never miss games. DeMar missed just a few with a legitimate injury, but came back quickly. Zach could have skipped part of back to backs all season but refused to. Vooch never takes off. When they talk about their commitment to the game and the sport you can believe them; not so much many others. These are guys who insist on playing, which is all the league really is about. They deserve our respect for that as much as it should just be assumed. Because so few live up to the true standard of what a professional should be about. The Bulls’ guys do.

Kevin Burns: Like most Bull fans, I root for our draft selections to excel, especially the high ones, so I’m rooting hard for Patrick Williams now. Just like I did some 15 years back for another #4 overall, Tyrus Thomas. They both fit the same profile – tweener 3 / 4 forwards with elite athleticism & two-way skills. Please compare the two, and tell me why it will not end the same way for Patrick as it did for Tyrus (off-court personality issues aside)

Sam: You can’t put aside the personality issues because of the immaturity and apparent anger that swallowed up Thomas. I can’t predict Williams will be a star player, but I can see him as a competent competitor for a long time. He takes the game seriously and believes in accountability. I thought—and the Bulls obviously then did, too—Thomas had a higher ceiling because of his exceptional athleticism, which is better than Williams’. I’m not involved in training, but Williams strikes me as a bit too heavy. I think he’d react to things better if he were thinner. Of course, then everyone would say he needs to gain weight for strength. OK< enough of me being the trainer. Thomas had this incredible trampoline effect, but he seemingly couldn’t leave the small town behind and seemed overwhelmed with the job, especially with a demanding coach in Scott Skiles and impatient fan base just coming off the long Tim Floyd rebuild and now back in contention with a likable young core. I feel like Williams will endure better and longer, though he may not reach the initial expectations.

Alejandro Stambulis: Drummond, a rebounder (does not play or played 5.42" against Indiana, with 3 OREB, 3 times to the line"; N.Vucevic  32.43" 0 OREB, O times to the line) DeRozan maintains the excellent performance of the previous year, however the Chicago Bulls are worse than last year and the same explanations continue to be heard or read at the end of each lost game: defensive problems, rebounding disadvantage, adaptation of the players to the new system and to the new team. Injuries are not the explanation,  because they lost against teams with injured important players, for example Washington Wizards. What is the explanation?

Sam: The Drummond conundrum is an intriguing one. It’s apparent Donovan remains uncomfortable with both on the floor together given his preference for speed, transition and matching to the smaller lineups. When Myles Turner went off in that third quarter in Indiana, he did go to Drummond after not playing him in the first half. And his physical presence did seem to have an effect. You wonder the way Donovan’s used Drummond if the Bulls do look to make a deal and they include Drummond to get a point guard. Just spit balling, as it were. Everyone wants to know the explanation, and it’s too granular, which means none of us really know. The injury to Ball is significant because of him being the only true point guard and big perimeter defender. As good as the Three have been, defense is a weakness, which is why they’ve had some issues against the young, athletic teams. And then there’s the lack of three-point shooting they couldn’t address yet (this offseason) with the need for the backup center and point guard, Dragić. But as I often note, this isn’t the last season ever and we assume Ball will be back and hopefully at a similar level by next season.

Rami Hagari: Will Perdue and Kendall Gill kept on saying the Bulls collapse against the Pacers was all about them changing their strategy during the second half. They were completely out hustled on defense and after listening to Stacey and Amin say the first half was really fun to watch, it made the turnaround more depressing. The Bulls lost because they are the “gang that can’t shoot straight”. They have no deep firepower and can’t compete with most teams shooting percentage plain and simple!

Sam: I didn’t think it was strategy so much as the Pacers playing more physically and aggressively on the ball, like the Bulls did against Atlanta Monday. The NBA also is an aggression game for all the skills. Which also is why teams do better at home and get more calls; you tend to become more aggressive with support from the stands. The Bulls obviously were loath to make an excuse, but that Paris trip with the time changes and the long flight back had to have an impact to some extent, especially since it was the second of the back to back and the letdown occurred in the second half. Regular season with that travel is tough, and as I noted to their credit no one asked out. Perhaps their playing time could have been limited, but the Hawks did tie the game after three quarters Monday and I assume Donovan didn’t want to risk that home game playing so well. Yes, as we’ve all noted there’s not enough three-point shooting for now. But it is also the tradeoff for having a go-to guy like DeRozan who plays the midrange and leads the team in shot attempts.

Scott Lucas: I want to give a shout out to some of the role players – particularly Derrick Jones Jr. and Coby White. I’ve never understood why DJJ hasn’t had a permanent spot in the rotation. He provides a lot of the same intangibles as Javonte Green (who I also like a lot), but with better length and the one thing the team desperately lacks in rim-protection. His lob catching ability is terrific and leads to some big momentum plays and he’s also shown the ability to knock down the catch and shoot three. I hope he sticks in the rotation through the rest of the season. Coby White also seems to have taken a lot of the minutes that used to go to Dragic, who I also like but is best used as an insurance policy at this stage of his career.  Coby has significantly improved his defensive effort and positioning along with his ball handling over last year.  After watching Lauri blossom in a new environment I’m concerned about Coby doing the same if he’s traded or not resigned.  We have to keep in mind he’s still only 22 years old and there could still be some growth in his game. He’s already a good outside shooter, but if he can get a little more arc on his jumper I think he could improve his consistency and become great. What’s your take on his standing with the team? Can the Bulls retain both Coby and Ayo, as both are FA’s after the year. As much as I like Ayo given his hometown/underdog status, I actually think Coby has more upside and is the younger of the two.

Sam: Two good points; Jones is a tough one to figure since he makes more threes than you think he will, which isn’t many with that form. With Javonte Green out and it seems for awhile still, it is looking like Jones may have taken his spot. Because neither has enough regular offense, Donovan doesn’t like using both, but I agree Jones is uncanny at times the way he works that baseline and gets the ball. It’s just you can’t have too many non-scorers on the court. The Coby conundrum is more interesting. A year ago after his injury plagued season he seemed gone. But he’s improved a lot. His ball handling is much better and he’s one of the few guys on the team, and certainly the only off the bench, you can rely on to stretch the court with his shooting. I get the sense Ayo is a lock to return the way Donovan relies on him, but I think Coby has surpassed him with his shooting. You forget his age because he came out so early. The question is whether either gets an offer and how much; you’d think Coby has a greater market. Especially with Coby, if he doesn’t get an offer I assume the Bulls offer him the qualifying for another season and then he’d be unrestricted in an offseason when with DeRozan expiring and they probably have more moves to make.

Sundeep Shah: Vucevic has an expiring contract; Bulls gave up a lot for him but I think they need to be sellers at the deadline. Even with Lonzo this teams ceiling is a 5 seed, second round max. Patrick Williams is showing something lately, Coby is a nice young bench piece, trading them for a short term gain makes no sense because this isn’t a championship team and isn’t one piece away.Trade Vucevic for a young athletic big and squeeze another year out of DeRozan before trading him at next years deadline. Time to be sellers again. 

Sam: What you describe is not so much selling as reestablishing. I hear suggestions often about trading Vučević, but then you have to take back $22 million and as a two to three-month rental since he’s a free agent I don’t see how you get enough to make it worthwhile. Plus, it’s not like there’s some great plan for bigs on the roster. I’d like to have the option to resign him, which, of course, is possible as a free agent, but rarely occurs when a team lets go a guy.

Andrew Brown: We lost to one of the worst teams in the league in Charlotte. Hopefully, management sees this as the trigger to do something. This team's core doesn't work, coach doesn't seem to know what to do, not playing guys who deserve a run, max man Zach doing absolutely nothing again. It's a royal mess. If they sit on their hands and do nothing come this trade deadline, I will absolutely scream.

Sam: Maybe find a pillow. Karnisovas has been bold and of course could do something, but with the Bulls up against the luxury tax and seemingly not a top contender and given Karnisovas’ philosophy, I’ll reiterate I expect a quiet trade deadline. If you go back to Karnisovas’ introductory media conference, he talked about how he prided himself on being patient and not overreacting. Plus, you never get a team’s best deals midseason.

Mike Sutera: OG supposedly wants out of Toronto. What's going on in Toronto? Everyone seems unhappy. Last year Pascal and Nurse had their squabble. This year Trent Jr and Fred look miserable. Now OG wants out. 

Sam: It’s a long, gray winter up thee when you’re not playing for anything. The Raptors have been for most of the last decade, and can say champions. But it’s obvious now there’s a major restructuring to come with a management that has a reputation for being aggressive and impatient. Most around the league are looking to Toronto, but when that happens they become vultures and want to pick at the bones and not offer much. I assume Siakam is a keeper, and it seems VanVleet makes too much money given how limited his contribution. Anunoby with his size and defense and can make a three is the guy playoff contenders would most want, it seems. But the Raptors would need to get something significant.

Brodie Larsh: I was looking at options the Bulls may have to add a 3pt shooter. One way to go would be to trade an end of the bench guy (Terry/Simonovich/Bradley etc..) for a 2nd round pick and sign somebody for a vet minimum. The best FA options look like maybe Wayne Ellington, Tony Snell, Etwaun Moore and Carmelo Anthony, all shooting around 38%-39% (Melo is actually the lowest but averaged around 38% the last few years)  Or they could trade for an active player. Teams generally like their shooters so there's not a ton of "cheap" options. All the trades essentially require Coby White's involvement, which seems counterintuitive for a team looking for a shooter. However, here's 2 that may make sense, and keep the Bulls under the tax line. Coby, Marko and a 2nd rd pick to the Pistons for Alec Burks (currently shooting 45% from 3pt). Or Coby, Marko, and Dalen to the Spurs for Doug McDermott (currently shooting 41% from 3pt)

Sam: Now there’s some names, sleepy Snell, ‘Melo. Those guys seem out of the league and too slow to get back in to make much difference, it would seem. I’ve always liked McDermott more than most, and he is a great shooter and the kind who’d be ideal playing off DeMar and Zach. But with his salary you’d obviously have to give up White and perhaps offset the effect. The Pistons are a team to watch with everyone watching a Bogdanovic. I like Burks, but again it would seem to require Coby with Burks’ $10 million salary. Plus, the Bulls are in no position to throw in draft picks that Detroit wants given the Bulls have so few.

Joseph Austin: I have read an internet trade idea that involves the Bulls trading Coby White to the Knicks for SF/PF Cam Reddish and a 2024 2nd round pick.  The idea being that neither player fits on his current team but could find better in this particular trade.  From the Bulls perspective, Reddish would give them another two-way forward that is taller than 6’-6 and is a a better defender than Coby White and can play both forward positions. Considering that the Bulls don’t have a lot of draft capital, they also receive a 2024 2nd round pick. Essentially, both teams solve each other’s free agency issues with both players in this trade. The Bulls would be more likely to sign Reddish because they could put him alongside Williams when DeRozan is gone. The Knicks would likewise be happy with re-signing White for his skill set.  What do you think of this possibility?

Sam: Seems more like rearranging the deck chairs in a sense. I’d probably prefer staying with Coby for now. Reddish has been on the market for quite a while with nothing going on, which worries you. Coby’s been a great teammate never questioning his changing role and always ready to give something no matter how much he plays. And though Reddish came out of college advertised as a three-point threat, he hasn’t been. Was this internet report from Thibs’ Facebook account?

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.