Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 02.24.12

Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of e-mails from his readers

What's the deal with the Gasol to Chicago rumor? It sounds like management asked Rose if he would be open to playing with Pau, he said yes, and now the punditocracy makes it sound like Derrick is demanding the trade.

Chris Howland

Sam: I can see the scene. Mike Brown is in his offices in Los Angeles, a premier defensive coach who doesn’t much care for offense. So much so he has assistants often diagram the plays in huddles. He’s screaming, “Get me Carlos Boozer! I must have Carlos Boozer!” For? The player many still believe is the best all around center in the game. There’s a good saying in investing that if it sounds too good it is. Don’t believe it. This has been the question of the week, the curious report Derrick Rose was pushing for a Pau Gasol trade. For one thing, anyone who knows Rose or has followed the Bulls knows Rose doesn’t believe in such behavior. He did deny it before Wednesday’s game, but this all had Bulls people laughing. He’s the guy who wouldn’t recruit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh. And now he’s changing his whole nature to recruit Pau Gasol? Who is 10 years older than he is. It suggests a complete misunderstanding of who Rose is and how he operates, his belief system and his nature. It’s why you saw every reporter who regularly covers the Bulls dismiss the story. But as a famous columnist once told me, Why let the facts get in the way of a good story.

I have been hearing chat on ESPN radio this morning and seen some things online about a possible Bulls/Lakers trade. While i know they are only rumors do you see it happening? I think Boozer, C.J Watson and maybe a Bulls 1st rounder or maybe the Bobcats pick for Gasol would work. Lakers can save on cap room if they choose to put CJ into the Lamar Odom trade exception. Boozer has a extra year on his contract but there is only a few mil difference on overall price of the contract. The Bulls will also have the Bi-Annual exception next year (which i think was 2.5 mil this year) they can use to sign a point guard such as Kirk Hinrich. Lakers get a point guard to start for them and save a little $$$. Let me know what you think.

Alex Pauley

Sam: That should thrill Kobe. Let’s see, the Lakers get a power forward not as good as Pau and a point guard the Lakers thought less of than Steve Blake, whom they signed while Watson still was available. And then you throw in the 28th pick in the draft and the Lakers have to be talking a new dynasty again.

Are you hearing anything about those Gasol to the Bulls rumors? I guess there is nothing to it, Gasol has a huge trade kicker and the Lakers would probably want more than Boozer+Watson but it's great to imagine having the Spaniard on the team.

Ivan Krpan

Sam: Oh, yeah, that’s the other thing also forgotten. Gasol has a 15 percent trade kicker in his contract, which means you’d be paying him almost $22 million, making him by far the highest paid Bull. This, of course, at a time when he is averaging career low numbers, and the Bulls would go deep into the luxury tax and basically be precluded from making any additional transactions and perhaps need to dump a few bench players. And, no, it makes no sense for the Lakers to trade for Joakim Noah as Andrew Bynum is an All Star and Noah isn’t exactly a power forward to step out and shoot jumpers. Though he’d probably like to be. Now, I’d love to have Gasol if I were the Bulls. But, geez, how impossible would it be to land him, which just seems so obvious. Though not to everyone, I guess.

So latest internet rumor is that Derrick Rose wants the Bulls to trade for Paul Gasol. Assuming there even was a potential deal in the works it is still amazing that they would throw Rose’s name in there. He has made it clear he is not going to lobby for other players. The Bulls management throughout its history has also made it clear that they don’t take advice from their players when it comes to making roster moves. This is classic stuff isn’t it? It just wouldn’t be the modern day sports world without some bad information getting out there. How exactly do these rumors get started?

John Swank

Sam: So two Bulls fans are sitting around and one says to the other, “Say, Pau’s unhappy, the Bulls could use another seven footer with Boozer maybe 6-8 and not our favorite guy. What about we propose Pau for Boozer. After all, it’s just the internet. You can write anything.” We know I love to make up deals. Though there’s a difference if you suggest teams should do something to saying teams are doing something. But this is going to be just the beginning as I expect this trading deadline, much later than usual, to be active, at least in terms of rumors. And I have no doubt the Bulls will be trying to land an upgrade. I’ve already suggested a few, which basically means those won’t happen. It is fun to discuss, so I’m not all that opposed. But, people, let’s be logical. I think I have an idea how this really did happen. Pau is an exceptionally nice guy. He talks to reporters from back home, and it’s pretty clear in L.A. Brown has no idea how to use him as he stands outside shooting jumpers a lot. So he talks to his buddies back in Spain, where this originated, and mentions he wouldn’t mind playing with a point guard who, by the way, has the same agent. Players say this sort of stuff all the time. Reporters who hear it nod and say, yeah, that would be cool. So it gets written up in Spain a bit cross wise and then gets picked up by an internet site in the U.S. for a headline. That’s just my guess, by the way, from sources who may or may not know. By the way, I do think Pau will be traded, though no one has told me that. And it won’t be to the Bulls.

I really wish you would float more trade proposals that involve Boozer. With that said, how does Bulls Management see Taj fitting into the Bull's future? I know they prize their draft picks (over value even) I'm hoping this is the case with Taj because I think he could easily solidify that position during the D. Rose era. Especially if he spends a summer improving (up to respectable) his post-up game, and then possibe amnesty of Boozer ?

Bryan Willis

Sam: I get a lot of trade proposals involving Boozer. OK, just about every trade proposal I get involves Boozer. It’s not going to stop, but he is not tradeable in any way because of the length and amount of his contract given the new labor deal and the new desire to cut payroll to avoid the luxury tax and pursue future free agency. Thirty year olds are out of vogue. Plus, Bulls management is satisfied with Boozer and will not do an amnesty, at least not for two years, in my view. So no more Boozer trades, OK?

A first half bulls thought: Carlos Boozer is having a fantastic season. Hes shooting 54 percent from the floor, averaging 16 and 8 in 30 mins, would easily be putting up 20 and 10 if he was playing 36 mins a game like he always did in his career before. hes averaging a steal a game too, playing much better defense, still bad, but passable for how good he has been offensively. If he can sustain this level of play against elite teams, wow that would be big.

Michael Koltun

Sam: Yes, it’s all in the eye of the beholder, as it were. I wrote a few weeks ago about Boozer being the player he was in Utah since he’s been with the Bulls. And that’s who he continues to be, warts and all. If people wanted something else they got the wrong guy. There’s not much he can do about it and he’s basically doing what he has always done.

The Bulls certainly don't have any scorers coming off the bench. Sure you could argue that the bench is depleted by having to fill in for the starters, but even when the Bulls had a full complement of bench players they still didn't have enough shooters/scorers. CJ and Kyle struggle to get their shot off against good defenses. Ideally you'd like to have a pure scorer coming off the bench like Lou Williams, Jason Terry, or even Ben Gordon, but those guys are few and far between. So here is one solution. The Bulls should trade Brewer to Golden State for Dorell Wright. The Bulls could throw in a 2nd pick. Why would GSW make the trade? Because they want to be major players in next years free agent market, and having Brewer's non guaranteed contract would enable them to add 4 million more to their estimated 13 million in cap room. Because Wright is having a down year, and is under contract for 2 yrs. Because Golden State might have just found his replacement in Brandon Rush (Klay Thompson could also play 3). Finally it not like Brewer is chopped liver either. He's a good defender, and would be valuable next to scorers like Ellis and Curry. His only problem is he can't shoot.

Al Mirza

Sam: It’s not an unreasonable consideration. I can see the Bulls wanting to do something like this as I’ve mentioned—and others have—the need for another shooter to spread the floor, though I haven’t heard much talk about Wright.

Taking into consideration that Kukoc had a long and very successful career in the NBA, the Olympics, and the Euro-league do you think he will ever get consideration for the basketball hall of fame? Do you think the voters would take into consideration that he was kind of a forerunner to all of the European players in the NBA today?

Bryant Williams

Sam: I think he should and believe he eventually will for the body of his work.

Required Jeremy Lin Question: I am very happy to see Jeremy Lin doing so well. If he is getting 28 and 14 in games is it a function of what Jeremy has to do for the Knicks for them to win, or is it one of those "someone has to score" kind of things, or is it something to do with D'Antoni's system? I am super happy for the guy.

Mark Wolters

Sam: It’s pretty clear now the kid is legit. I’ve written in previous mailbags and my Monday NBA notes about how much difficulty pros have identifying guards. He plays a lot like Steve Nash the way he hangs onto his dribble, so D’Antoni is the ideal coach the way he spreads the floor and runs pick and roll. Initially, he got chances to score with main scorers out, which draws attention. Had he come to the Bulls, say, it wouldn’t have happened playing behind Rose. Remember last season Rose went out a game, C.J. Watson had 30 some and then Rose came back and C.J. went back to eight minutes. If he played for Phil Jackson in the triangle without a true point he wouldn’t have gotten the chance. So the system is a part of it. And it’s opportunity. Why does anyone succeed anywhere. You get the chance. I’m sure there are people who could do what I am doing as well, but I got the chance and took advantage. What if he went to play in China in the lockout? Life has many crossroads and combinations of luck with opportunity, and he took advantage. Good for him. But when you have done what he’s done in the NBA for several weeks now it is no fluke. He’s not going to be a star, but he should be a starter.

Taj Gibson does not, and I think it's fair to say, never will have a reliable mid-range game. I cringe every time he pulls up for the baseline jumper. When he puts the ball on the floor he can be turnover prone but seems to be a more efficient scorer. And when he gets to the rim he's got nice touch. Why does it seem to me that he shoots many more jumpers than shots near the rim or at least in the paint? Any thought as to why the Bulls never run any iso plays for him in the low post? Can't see many teams doubling and he would probably have a length advantage over most other power forwards.

Davan Sand

Sam: I think they mean to more and Thibs has told me it’s something he wants to do more of this season. But the Bulls like to play with a lot of motion and pass the ball well, and when Derrick is attacking that’s a better option. It’s something I can see more of, though he’s not the guy you’d want to stand around watching play out of the post on any regular basis.

Explain to me what chink in armor means? As you know espn fired a writer and now MSG suspended radio voice Spero Dedes for saying the same exact thing. He said the loss to the hornets was a "chink in the armor".

Mike Sutera

Sam: It’s a colloquialism that has come to be a slur against Asians, namely the word “chink.” It gets confused with “kink” in the armor, though no one who says it has much idea the literal meaning. Though as most Americans talk in clichés, they have no idea the meaning of, this struck me clearly more as laziness and unthinking rather than an ethnic slur. It’s sad to see how little ESPN stands behind its staff. I’ve made big errors in the past when I was at the Chicago Tribune, and I have to say in that era the newspaper stood behind you. It would be a hard lesson learned and there might be some internal discipline, but these were clearly not meant to make fun of Lin. ESPN should be ashamed of itself for trying to ruin the career of a youngster so they can act politically correct.

I always see you laugh off questions about the bulls acquiring "head cases" like jr smith, Stephen Jackson types, etc. Why is that? Almost every dynasty has had a head case. We had rodman or Oakley in the 90s, the lakers had Ron artest, the mavs last year had Deshawn Stevenson.

Zachery Ream

Sam: If LeBron were a head case, I’d take a chance. You don’t take a chance, in my view, with a marginal player. You can always get that talent with someone who won’t disrupt the team, will practice and be unselfish. Rodman, though I didn’t like his behavior, was only a bad teammate in San Antonio. Oakley was a great teammate and hardly a head case. Smith is way more trouble than he’s worth. You build teams with character; not characters. There are exceptions, though you have to keep them isolated and have one. Like you may take a shot at JaVale McGee, but you better make sure none of the other Wizards are around.

Any chance bulls try to sign Stephen Jackson if he gets bought out this season?

Omri Ambalo

Sam: I don’t see a buyout as he’s owed $10 million next season and with little likelihood of another contract he’s not going to give up money like that, I assume. But given his relatively selfish shooting nature in what we’ve seen of him this season and reluctance (or inability) to run I’d say zero chance.

I don't know how much attention you pay, if any at all, to the attire and equipment of players, but it looked like Taj was wearing Derrick's latest shoes, the adidas Rose 2.5, against the Hawks on 2/21. I think Paxson should require every Bull to lace-up in a pair of Rose's sneakers for a contest. What if Rose's magic does come from his shoes, as the adidas commercials suggest?

Tommy Reishus

Sam: And who says I don’t have the most sophisticated readers?

I noticed that the past few home games Luol is the first Bull announced in player introductions now instead of Boozer. Did that change happen because Deng is an All-Star this year, or is there something else behind it? It could just be because the lineups keep shifting--one game when Derrick was out Deng was announced first and Boozer last, even though both were forwards. That was odd. Just curious.

Chris Feldman

Sam: I’m not sure the reason, but I heard he asked for the change a few weeks back. I think he wanted to break up the Duke, Duke intros.

Do you think OJ Mayo is still a possibility at the trade deadline? If the Bulls offered up that Bobcats pick/Kyle Korver, do you think the Grizzlies would finally bite? OJ Mayo's contract is up this summer and they could get something in return, instead of watching him walk or getting low-balled offers from the Pacers.

Stan Ross

Sam: The sense I get is Mayo, given how much he’s played and the Grizzlies in the playoff hunt, isn’t going anywhere. After all, given his contract is expiring, you certainly wouldn’t trade him for another expiring. And that pick which likely comes in 2016 isn’t that valuable as a chip for now though the Bulls see it that way and aren’t giving it up very quickly.

I been watching that rookie Marshon Brooks" And i cant help but to remember the draft didn't we had a chance to get him when we traded up? Man if so that look like a big mistake" I watch us play,and even tho are record is pretty good.. I really believe we need more ball handlers..

Keorn Thomas

Sam: Brooks was the people’s choice last spring based on the mail I received. But the Bulls are thrilled with the Mirotic pick, and I’m not sure the way they feel they’d give him up for Kyrie Irving.

Is Tom Thibodeau "dead-man-walking" with the Bulls? I read that the Bulls have yet to pick up the option on his contract. Considering the history that Del Negro had with the organization, the parallel with Rose's health issues (Thibs overplaying Rose and Van Gundy bringing it up in the media this week), I see the writing.

Anthony Marro

Sam: I see the writing as well. On his next contract. Thibs is coaching and doing it well and has another season left after this. From everything I’ve heard the Bulls are thrilled with him and I expect he’ll be around quite a while.

The Bulls seem to have a real problem running effective offense vs a zone defense, and it seems to me that they are and will continue to see more zone. Is the word out and what do they need to do to be more effective against a zone.

Mike Johnson

Sam: Actually, most NBA teams have issues when a zone is thrown at them at first. Teams this season have had the most success against Miami that way. But it generally doesn’t last long because teams also don’t how to play zone very well because it rarely is taught or practices and pros are such good shooters. The Bulls generally break it down after a possession or two and the other day against Atlanta they kept getting someone open behind the zone for easy dunks with Noah so good at playmaking in the middle. I don’t expect to see it used all that much.

I know Kirk has been injured, but he looked just plain bad with the
Hawks. What kind of value do you see him bringing in the free agent
market? Any chance to get him back after this season? or is he going
to want to start somewhere else for more money?

Ted McKenzie

Sam: He really has struggled in Atlanta as they’ve used him badly. I’d assume the Bulls would have a chance to get him now, though his $8 million salary probably would cost them two rotation players, which might be too much. I assume he’ll try to make as much as he can after this season, though if he’s shut out I can see a return as the Bulls still like his game.

How about brewer and korver for ben gordon?

Nicolas Raimondo

Sam: The Bulls passed on Gordon for $10 million less than he got paid. I seriously doubt they’d have any interest given he’s making so much more and producing so much less. But I do get a question a week about bringing he and Kirk back. Ah, the good old days of first round playoff exits. Where have the gone?

What are your thoughts on the possibility of the Bulls looking into Arenas? I know it hasn't been mentioned at all but have you heard anything? SI just did an interview with him, and he seems to be trying to right everything and just get back to playing basketball and even says he has lost weight and feels better after some knee and hips shot treatments. Unless that is all a play, I wouldn't mind seeing him come in for a workout. Talk about someone who could create a shot.

G.K. Vincent

Sam: I saw that Sports Illustrated interview and my suspicion is he talks a better game now than he plays. Plus, he still sounds awfully resentful. It doesn’t sound like he’s gotten past the life is unfair part with his $110 million contract.

With Rose and Hamilton having injury problems, what do you think of the bulls making a run at one of the all time greats Allen iverson? I know he's a supposed chemistry killer but with his recent bankruptcy and the fact that the only team that wants him is in puerto Rico, don't you think he would do whatever it took to make the bulls happy?

Oliver Poilevey

Sam: Let’s see, that’s Stephen Jackson, Arenas and Iverson, J.R. Smith, Hinrich and Ben Gordon. What could the Bulls be thinking passing on all these great suggestions? You know when a guy’s bankrupt and can’t make a team in Puerto Rico it has to be time to pounce.

I was reading your mailbag and came across the question someone asked about the best point guard era and it got me thinking; could players like Bob Cousey, George Mikan and Jerry West even make an NBA team these days? It may be a timely bias but it seems like no one playing before the 70's and 80's could even get in the court if they were trying to play now a days. As you've covering basketball for several decades you are probably more qualified to answer this than anyone.

André Golueke

Sam: Oscar Robertson would be the best point guard in the NBA if he were playing today. Wilt would be the best center. Jerry West would be the toughest competitor. Elgin Baylor probably would be a top three forward. No, they weren’t quite as athletic, but if you put them in a time machine game against today’s players they’d have an edge with fundamental play and teamwork. The greatest players of the 60’s and 70’s would be dominant in any era. I could see Mikan not being given he was slow and that was an all white era that didn’t reflect the best in basketball. If you could see Earl Monroe in his prime you’d really, really love the game.

With Ben Wallace, Noah, Ronnie Brewer and Boozer are the bulls the team that has the most missed dunks ever?

Flavio de Miranda

Sam: Yes.