Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 1.11.2013

Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of emails from his readers

As much as I respect Derrick I am afraid about his come back. I understand that stars win championship[s], but Derrick lost 2 for us already when he started playing selfish individual basketball. [We] haven't seen partners trying to win championships alone. That's why I am afraid when he gets back we will see [the] same boring basketball when he keeps the ball 20 seconds and tries to penetrate alone. Bulls play great team basketball right now.

Ed Szycha

Sam: I was shocked to get a few of these emails after the win over Miami. I used one in my game recap after the loss to the Bucks Wednesday. I do read a lot, but sometimes you become so involved in your world — and mine is much NBA — that you lose the feeling of the vox populi. Will the return of Derrick Rose hurt the Bulls? Obviously, some people think so. I’ll be willing to take the controversial position that I actually believe Rose playing for the Bulls makes them a better team. There! I said it! I can handle the controversy. Actually, I feel Derrick is an under-appreciated passer because he’s so offensively talented. He gets passes to teammates in their shooting motion, which is a great, if overlooked, skill. He does look to pass first, but it often is his threat of offense, like with Michael Jordan, that occupies the defense and gives others more space for shots and cuts. You just have to look at his high school and college years to know he sacrifices scoring to win. Though I do appreciate a lot of fans lately have come around on their dislike for Carlos Boozer, I still think Rose is a more important player for the Bulls. Condemn me if you must. But to paraphrase Patrick Henry, “Give me Rose or give me the Bobcats.”

Given that you can't change the past, what are the positives that can come out of Derrick Rose's injury, for himself and the team? Looking at the Miami win, it seems like there is less hesitancy on the offense. Everyone is willing to take their shot instead of deferring to D-Rose. Boozer is attacking more, Kirk moves the ball around really well, Noah is getting more comfortable passing, facilitating and taking his mid range shot, and there was a lot of great interior passing in that game for easy lay ups. Obviously we'd want to have Derrick back... I'm just happy to see the team gelling and playing great team basketball as well. It they continue to play this way when Derrick returns, I'm pretty optimistic!

Dave Nguyen

Sam: Well, at least you want Derrick to have a prominent role, although I see no positive to Rose’s injury. As I’ll state below, I’m not sure when Rose will return, how much he’ll play and thus the potential impact. I actually worry more about the playoffs. That’s a time of much tougher play and being the competitor he is, Rose is not going to be one to back off and not put a lot of physical pressure on himself. Which is why the diagnosis probably will be very conservative. Many see Miami in the East with flaws that came in the last week against bigger and more defensive oriented teams. So it’s easy to extrapolate add Rose and the Bulls are on the way to the Finals. But that’s a lot of Rose to add and this is just the first of his five year extension. The Bulls have salary exceptions and draft picks upcoming that could add talent. I wouldn’t want to parlay it on one playoff.

I read that Iman Shumpert was cleared for full contact practice with the Knicks. Soon after I read that, there were rumors swirling that Derrick has been cleared for practice also. Since they suffered the same injury on the same day, could there be any truth to Derrick being back sometime next month?

Nicholas Hill

Sam: Yes, perhaps in late February, which is no different than the estimates and predictions when Rose had surgery last May, which was several weeks after Shumpert did waiting for swelling to recede. Which is an important distinction. All these surgeries are different because of the individual. And not to say other organizations care less about their players, but the Bulls intend to be exceptionally conservative with Rose. There’s been a rush of Rose progress stories in local media lately, but not a single one — at least the accurate ones — have Rose any closer to return than he was last May. Rose with his doctors has a day to day plan of activities and progress, and I’ve heard none yet include a day for playing again. The Bulls hope he can return in late February or early March. But clearance is 100 percent a medical issue. If any of the doctors he’s seeing raises a concern or question, Rose doesn’t play. And this time, unlike the Michael Jordan broken foot in 1985, Rose is not going to be part of the decision about a return. Sure, he will report how he feels, which is significant. But this will be exclusively a medical decision. Not to criticize the NFL Redskins about the decision with quarterback Robert Griffin, but with Rose the decision will not be for coach or player or management. It will be the doctors saying he’s no longer at risk compared to any other person who hasn’t had the injury. Which is what it’s appeared to me GM Gar Forman has been saying and the way it seems best in the long run for the team. That doesn’t seem like it can suggest a date.

Which team do you think would be reluctant to make the trade of Deng and Rip (maybe restricted 1st round pick) for Gay and Allen? Conventional wisdom is Memphis saves money (their stated objective) and also doesn't lose much offense with more jump shooting oriented players in Rip and Deng to play off of Randolph and Gasol. Bulls receive a second-level star who is a shot creator and scorer in Gay as well as a defensive minded wing that has played in Thibs system. Of course this would probably lead to a salary dump of Gibson/Boozer this summer ala Kirk in 2010 but in a league built around scorers and shot makers its hard to only rely on defense no matter how sound. I should point out I love Deng but I'm a Bulls fan and would prefer championships.

Ahmad Rashid

Sam: If you love championships, why would you want Rudy Gay? The only time the Grizzlies advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs Gay was out injured. I know every famous name that comes out rumored in trade produces numerous trade scenarios from fans. So it’s been Gay this week. I’ve gotten various suggestions with players some fans don’t want like Hamilton. So, of course, other teams would want them for their best players. The short answer is I’d rather have Deng than Gay. Sure, Gay is a spectacular athletic talent. But he’s not nearly as good a defender as Deng and for his career has basically averaged the same. He’s not a particularly good shooter, and if you watch him he takes some wild shots. Plus, he’s got this spectacularly obscene contract paying him almost $18 million next season and more than $19 million the season after, making him the highest paid Bull ahead of Rose. Smart teams don’t bring in a player who is hardly top 10 and pay him more than a former league MVP. I know fans don’t like to hear about flexibility, but adding Gay — and the Grizzlies are hardly including Tony Allen, their best defender — would essentially stamp this with Gay as the Bulls team of the future. Gay over the years has been in some notable feuds with teammates, and it tells you something when a new owner comes in and Gay is the first player they want to dump even as they’re having an excellent season. It’s not fantasy sports. Once you have him, you are stuck with that contract. The Grizzlies obviously don’t want it. Without asking anyone — not that they’d tell me, anyway — I’m confident the Bulls are not interested.

What's up with Scott Skiles? I always thought he was a terrific coach, demanding excellence and preaching defense and teamwork. He also had one of my favorite lines when he was asked what Eddie Curry needed to do to improve his rebounding. "Jump." Is he too tough for today's players? It would seem Thibs is of the same mold but the Bulls seem to hold together. Is it the type of players Bulls management has brought in or is Thibs better at player relations? Do you think Skiles or coaches like him can lead a team to the Championship?

Allan Olson

Sam: I agree Skiles is an excellent coach. But I’ve wondered what would happen if he got a great team. The teams he’s coached, the Suns, Bulls and Bucks, never quite had the great talent. So that puts him in a class with Doug Collins and Larry Brown as terrific coaching minds who bring stability and organization to a program. But they can get worn out when it becomes apparent the team can’t go much beyond where he’s gotten them. I heard it was the rare mutual breakup in the sense Skiles was done and management understood when he is you don’t push him to remain. You’d say given the track record, he won’t coach again. But I can see him returning because he is a very good coach and does make your team better. You just have to keep the contract short. As for Thibs, he is only in his third season with his first team. But those who have worked for and are familiar with both tell me Thibs has a more familiar way with players and though Thibodeau is demanding doesn’t appear like he’d run into the same issues with players.

With the addition of Daequan Cook can we expect that Rip is on his way out soon? I noticed that Omri Casspi wants to be traded. He has great range from behind the arc and the Bulls sure could use that.

Stan Ross

Sam: I think the Cook addition was more roster insurance than a sign Hamilton is out. Sure, he could be, but I don’t see his as an easy contract to move given he’s had a lot of injuries. The Bulls wouldn’t take back a longer contract as Hamilton’s is expiring. And generally the teams with cap room to absorb such a player are not playoff teams. So the need for a veteran like Hamilton would be minimal. I assume he remains with the Bulls. As for Casspi, he hasn’t shown enough that I’d want to give up a player earning in the $2 million range like Jimmy Butler or Marco Belinelli to match salaries.

Every time Hinrich is out, we see why Nate should only play about 10-12 mpg. The defensive issue is a given but Kirk understands who has mismatches and gets them the ball. The Bulls were woeful in that department after the first quarter against Milwaukee. I saw Hinrich get hurt but didn't realize it was a big deal. Stitches? When he's out, the Bulls are in trouble. Time to get the point guard trade/signing machine in action.

Sam: I don’t fault Nate because that’s never been his job or what he is suited for. You can’t ask a player with much success to do what you need as compared with what he’s capable of. The biggest failures in personnel often are trying to convert someone to point guard. You either see the position or you don’t. I know Kirk has been hurt several times, but none seem long term and he should be back soon enough that you don’t need to bring someone in to replace him. Marquis Teague had a tough time against the Bucks, but they have very good scoring guards. I feel he can give the team some reasonable minutes. But with the way the game has evolved, point guard is probably the most demanding and in demand position. That’s why you see teams holding onto backups who could easily be starters, like Eric Bledsoe, Jose Calderon (starting lately), Ramon Sessions and Andre Miller to name just a few. It’s tough to find one who can handle your offense that a team will give up.

O.J. Mayo has a player option on staying with Dallas a second year, right now Dallas is not doing so hot, so do you think the Bulls have a chance of getting him if he doesn't sign with Dallas a second year?

Samuel Diaz

Sam: Mayo is the new Courtney Lee for Bulls fans, though he was a popular trade suggestion last season as well. The Mavs certainly are not going to trade him this season as they are hardly giving up with Nowitzki just returning. Sure, if Mayo opts out the Bulls like everyone else has a chance. Though with all their cap room, Dallas can make the best offer and has indicated they’d like him to stay. He’s had a breakout season for them, and I assume he remains unless someone makes a crazy offer, which the Bulls cannot do as they’ll be over the cap next season even if they were to amnesty Boozer. This, by the way, was the first week in the last 107 I didn’t get emails suggesting the Bulls trade Boozer for some of J.R. Smith’s tattoos.

Whatever happened to the Birdman? I mean he was bad, but there hasn't been a lot of attention on the result of his child pornography case.

Erik Fenton

Sam: Interesting you asked as his name just came up in connection with Miami looking to add some size. Child pornography usually doesn’t go well in a sentence with, “We could use some rebounding help.” I’m not sure what happened in his case, but he wasn’t prosecuted for anything and said it was a blackmail situation. The Denver Post reported this week the investigation is ongoing, which would pretty much would scare off teams. It’s not fair, but the tattoos probably don’t help. It’s the inequities about life. Kobe was charged with criminal acts, eventually dropped. He remained mostly popular as he was needed. Andersen is a marginal player who already was out of the league two years with drug issues. For what he can bring, he’s probably not worth the publicity, as unfair as that might be. But this isn’t about constitutional protections in the NBA. The Heat for now picked up a few minor league guys.

Last year Jimmy Butler saw limited minutes as it was his rookie year. This year he is starting to come along a bit and there is a growing ceiling. Do you think the growth he’s shown this season thus far, lands him in the rookie/sophomore game?

Marcus Anderson

Sam: I haven’t given much thought to that, though Jimmy’s game has matured quite a bit and he is a valuable reserve for the Bulls. But he hasn’t had the opportunity to score that much, which probably would deny him a spot. Though he is a very impressive leaper and I would be interested to see him in a dunk contest, especially as he now as Nate as a teammate who could coach him.

I know that Michael was known for his trash talking, but it seemed that he was mostly (if not always) able to back up his talk. And I'd guess that even still, Michael's competitors respected him because he was such a dominating/accomplished figure. Anyhow, was Michael ever the recipient of or otherwise involved in anything that resembled Carmelo allegedly screaming outside an opponent's locker room, or waiting outside a team's bus? And do you have any entertaining stories about Michael's trash talking that you'd care to share?

David Manzeske

Sam: None that I can share given the general bounds of the Bulls’ web site. No, Jordan never much went looking for someone like Anthony, once was responsible for a brawl in New York that got him a big suspension. I’ve heard of players saying some harsh things at Jordan, even off color as well. Michael would generally take care of it the best way by going out and dominating the game and that player. I know this sort of so called trash talking has become fashionable, and is nothing new as there was a famous scene with Larry Bird luring Julius Erving into a fight when Bird outplaying Erving late in Erving’s career kept repeating the scoring totals to Erving: “42-6, Doc, 42-6.” Erving then tried to punch out Bird. I’ll admit I don’t much subscribe to the activity, though you’d see players like Reggie Miller and Gary Payton do that stuff non stop. Reggie did once lure Jordan into going after him as Reggie could get pretty ugly. I don’t much like the exercise, but it does sort of put you in position to back up what you say. Though that sometimes gets lost in their art of saying something stupid. In this era, Kevin Garnett is by far the most vile.

If the Bulls finish with a top 4 seed in the east (which will not be a surprise to me), Do you that Thibodeau could end up being coach of the year?

Mehdi BenLazreg

Sam: Thibodeau’s entry into head coaching after a 20-year apprenticeship that was more common in the 18th century in some respects is the most amazing ever. No, his teams haven’t won any titles. But he was coach of the year his first season; many felt he should have been last season as he was runner-up and again is in the running given the Bulls playing a highly competitive game given Rose’s absence. There certainly is a long way to go, but you’d have to say Thibodeau is in the top four of five now for the honor.

I just finished reading your most recent mailbag and was impressed with one fan's comment on why Thibs should perhaps be replaced after recent letdowns against Atlanta, Houston, and Charlotte. The Bulls had the NBA's best record in his first 2 seasons, the latter was accomplished in spite of numerous injuries that kept our best player out for a large portion of the season. After the win in Miami the Bulls are 18-13, in position for a run at another division title and a potential ~2-4 playoff seed in the East. This has all been accomplished for one very obvious reason... defense. Nobody is more responsible for the Bulls' consistent defensive effort than their head coach. I cannot fathom another coach that could do better with this particular squad. To even entertain the notion seems laughable. I will grant that fact that Tom's style of coaching is probably not suited for all teams. But for this particular Bulls team, there is no better leader on the planet.

Dan Michler

Sam: The planet, eh? Let’s not let Thibs know people think this way or he will not give enough time to his stamp collection on off days.

I would like the management to not touch the roster for this season. I think they are getting more familiar with each other and I really think that the Bulls will make noise in the playoffs especially with rose in the line up. Does the management have other plans?

Ray Martinez

Sam: I don’t get the sense any major changes are coming. It’s first the Rose question as I’ve mentioned above and you allude to. Not that the Bulls aren’t trying as the East seems fairly wide open. But I also get the sense the management wants more to react to what Rose can do and who he is compared with making any major revisions while he is out. And it seems most likely Rose won’t return until sometime after the trading deadline.

I feel like a lot of fans are very harsh on Rip but I think he has been very serviceable when healthy for the Bulls; he is by far the best scoring two guard option they have and I thought if him and Rose developed chemistry they could have been great back court. I understand it is highly unlikely for the Bulls to pick up his option next year, but is there any chance they still look to bring him back on a cheaper deal? I mean what can the market be for a 35 year old oft-hurt 2 guard, and for Rip where else can he go to start and compete for ring?

Dominick Ghilarducci

Sam: Of course, if that’s what he is, an oft hurt, aging two guard why would you want him back? I happen to think Hamilton has played his role well. Yes, he’s been injured, but that happens. Ask Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. He’s been by all accounts a good teammate and accepting of his role. I do think he and the team were pretty well set on it being a two-year situation with Hamilton to get a buyout after this season. But I do think he can help someone and will be in the NBA next season. I suspect the Bulls want to pair Rose with more a range shooter than Hamilton.

This might sound stupid but it does make sense, would the Bulls offer Rip to the Lakers for Jamison?

Shaun Chalmer

Sam: The salaries don’t match, so it’s not possible without the Lakers throwing in more players the Bulls wouldn’t want. I have thought of trying to get Jamison for Vladimir Radmanovic, who is a former Laker and rarely plays for the Bulls. It also is difficult since I don’t actually run any teams. But lately with the injuries the Lakers are using Jamison again and I assume they keep him as he still looks to me like he can be a high level bench player.

The Jazz need a PG, Bledsoe is way too talented to stay with the Clippers long term, assuming Paul resigns. The Clippers could make a run this year, so maybe they don't want to disrupt anything, though I don't hear many experts taking them seriously just quite yet. If they trade Bledsoe now they could maximize his trade value with his low current salary. L.A. is deep at virtually every position except center & are about to get Grant Hill back, so they are flexible to send some salary to match someone like Favors or Kanter, positions where the Jazz are actually deep. Add a Utah draft pick, a PG to help offset the loss at backup PG, & I could see a good fit.

Ryan Schlanser

Sam: Bledsoe really has come on and is a key player for them now as the Clippers’ bench is one of their great strengths. You have it right the Jazz is a point guard away from developing a good young team. And they are being taken seriously. There’s no way the Clippers move Bledsoe until they know they have Paul resigned. Most believe Paul will resign because the Clippers have one of the best groups in the league. The Jazz, though, I assume want to keep their young bigs, Kanter and Favors. But you never quite know what the pan there is with the odd rotations they play often leaving out their young players in favor of veteran free agents like Foye and Mo Williams who are most likely to leave.

Knowing that Howard and Gasol will be out for sometime, it looks like the Lakers will not make the playoffs. Do they start looking at who will be the first over all pick in the draft? I am not saying that the draft is rigged but I am sure the other GM's can not be happy to see the Lakers.

Jim Harlan

Sam: Sounds like you said it. It is something to be talking with assurance of the Lakers not making the playoffs. Not the top seed, which most everyone predicted, but not ahead of Golden State. This is a bit early for this annual discussion. But what benefit would accrue to David Stern by risking prison to get the top draft pick for New Orleans, Cleveland and Washington, three of the smallest markets with the least TV impact who got the last three No. 1 overall picks?

Is it just me or did anyone else notice that the Bulls played 13 guys vs. the Cavaliers? I thought you could only play 12?

Jose Pepe

Sam: You wouldn’t think you’d have to go 13 deep to beat the Cavs. But you are right. The NBA allowed the expanded available roster to 13 last season because of the lockout and the compressed season. They just left it because what’s the point if you generally have to have 13 or 14 players not being able to not play one if there is an injury. The NBA realized the limitation proved no real purpose and let 13 remain. Hardly anyone did notice because it doesn’t exactly change the balance of power.

Can we get Boozer in the All-Star game?

Gorav Raheja

Sam: There we go! First one. I know it may sound funny given the attitude toward him and his play the last few years among Bulls fans. But you can make a legitimate case for him. He’s the team leader in double/doubles and his scoring on a 36 or 48-minute level looks awfully good. The starters in the fan voting are pretty much set, and then the coaches vote the seven reserves. I’m sure Boozer would love the honor as while he never says anything about it, the criticism is certainly hurtful. And he wouldn’t be an I-told-you-so guy. But the coaches like the style of play of Noah, and if the Bulls get an All-Star I’d assume it would be him.

Do you see any possibility/opportunity for Kobe Bryant to end/continue his career as a Chicago Bull?

Roger Lawrence

Sam: One of the great things about the NBA — besides watching Dwight Howard shoot free throws — is you cannot assume anything given current events. Kobe seems like a lifetime Laker, but one of the great speculations among team personnel is LeBron James to the Lakers when he can opt out in 2014. The notion is they’d have Dwight Howard, but that seems to remain up in the air given the current state there. Things tend to change dramatically with the Lakers. Could Kobe play with LeBron? He did in the Olympics. Could he step back for LeBron? For anyone? Who knows. Maybe he wants to finish where he mostly grew up, in Philadelphia. But there’s no beach there. I don’t see why the Chicago weather would interest Kobe, but he really was interested five or six years ago. And the Bulls are playing inside. I’d say no, but Phil always tells me never say never. And didn’t Jordan suggest he might have one more comeback in him?

It seems like LeBron James is the favorite to win MVP every year and will probably win another MVP this year. While I agree he is the best player and probably deserves it, Jordan was clearly the best player every year but the league would normally switch it up so he did not win it every year. Malone? Barkley? Neither of them deserved the award over Jordan when they won it. Rose did win the award over James in 2011 but that was after the press conference/South Beach fiasco and voters did not want to award him that season. However, it appears the voters are back to handing the award to LeBron every year. So if LeBron continues to dominate will he keep winning MVPs or will the voters start to pick other players like they did with Jordan?

Dustin Gale

Sam: It’s hardly a certainty this season given Miami’s latest struggles, though I do expect them to make the playoffs. I agree James is the league’s best player. But the award, which has no actual definition, basically is for the best player having the best season. Jordan didn’t in 1993. His team didn’t finish first in the conference and Barkley did push his team to greater heights without quite as much talent. But, yes, there is something to not wanting to give the award to the same guy every year. And it does happen. Like with Hall of Fame voting in various sports, there are different criteria voters use. Sometimes for MVP it’s how much that player meant to his team. You could make a case Malone meant more to the Jazz than Jordan with Pippen and Rodman meant to the Bulls. It doesn’t mean Jordan wasn’t the best player, just not most valuable that season. I’m sure there will be others than LeBron getting the award in future seasons.

It never ceases to amaze me how willing and eager Bulls fans are to trade that Bobcats first round pick we own. It was just a year ago when it was suggested we trade the pick for the likes of Courtney Lee, Rudy Fernandez, or whatever soup-du-jour shooting guard might be available. I’d rather see that pick turn into nothing than trade it for some journeyman two-guard. Improving this team via trades or free agent acquisitions is a difficult proposition and while I’m not suggesting the Bobcat’s pick will definitely turn into gold, you have to at least hold it until you’re completely blown away. Furthermore, with how dysfunctional that Bobcats franchise operates the pick is only growing in value each year.

Michael Dlugos

Sam: In the interest of full disclosure as my sweater vests are not custom made as they appear, I also was one of those suggesting the Bulls try to add a player with that pick given I did believe the last two seasons, especially the last one, the Bulls could get to the Finals given their height and depth edge over Miami. But once Rose got hurt all of that changed, obviously. I’m still no huge fan of the pick if you can use it and get a top level player. The problem is there’s not huge interest given it could be three and a half years away and many GMs get fired within that time and might now want to improve the team they are leaving. My guess now is the Bulls go the distance with the Charlotte pick. The next great one seems to be Chicago’s Jabari Parker, though given his family background he could stay more than one season. So with the Bulls you may just have to sweat out 2015 to get that pick in 2016. The last time the Bulls were in the lottery it did work out pretty well.

If the Bulls had signed Bosh instead of Boozer, how many amnesty dump Bosh emails do you think you'd receive a week? Bosh is 6'11"" and has less instinctual rebounding ability than Eddy Curry or Brook Lopez combined.

Stephan Ztect

Sam: Yes, it seems many fans expected Karl Malone. I recall that free agency and the notion the power forwards, Bosh, Boozer and David Lee, basically, all were poor defenders. They still are, but it seems the Bulls fans don’t watch them much. Lee is putting up some big offensive numbers, but he was viewed as the weakest of the three given never being an All-Star and being maybe 6-8. Bosh is surely the most talented of the three if only because he was the only lottery pick. You can see with Miami that Bosh isn’t much a defender and rebounder and he’s gotten his share of blame in Miami. But he can shoot. He’s the biggest talent of the three. But he’s always been the one mentioned in trade in Miami, though they haven’t quite gotten to amnesty with him yet.

After watching the Bulls beat Miami, [I'm] starting to think that the Bulls could beat Miami in a playoff series once Derrick Rose returns. Even if Rose isn't near where he was when he got injured it would still be a plus for us. If Boozer can play somewhat like he did these last two games I feel like we could beat Miami and anyone else in the East. I still think the Bulls can make it to the East finals if nothing goes wrong and everyone remains healthy.

Peter Fish

Sam: There’s some big ifs there. And Rose and what level he can play at is probably the biggest. I’m not as optimistic as you are.

While I can understand the Bulls concern with Derrick's injury, would it really be a good idea to shut him down for the playoffs as you said they might? With all of the athletes in different sports that have come back from this injury most of them usually just play once healthy enough. We all know once Rose comes back he will be fully healed and even the doctors kind of hinted at the fact that sitting out once healed does not provide any additional benefits. This years team could actually have a better chance at success than next years team.

Alvin Coleman

Sam: I was just mentioning a possibility regarding sitting out the playoffs. In part, because I expect Rose to play this season, if only to get past the mental hurdles of coming back from that sort of injury for someone who is such an explosive player. Still, I don’t think even Rose has a good idea when he can surely play. I recall at media day how Rose said several times it was his job and responsibility to show management and the doctors he could play without risk to his knee. Since Rose still is in rehab I doubt there’s any schedule of a return yet. So I’d hold off on buying my conference finals tickets yet.

What do you think about the Bulls possibly rolling the dice on Greg Oden? He's interested in making a return to the NBA next year. He's only 24, and I don't recall him ever having any personality issues or off the court antics. The Bulls could definitely use him as a back up center over the aging Nazr Mohammed. Maybe he can finally have a healthy season? Or is he damaged goods, similar to Brandon Roy's bone-on-bone issue? I think it's worth the measure though.

Kevin Hero

Sam: I suspect every team in the league perhaps other than Portland will want to kick the tires, though they better be careful as that could put Oden out again. That is a big if he’s healthy, which is a huge motzah ball out there. Oden was going to be Bill Russell, but taller. There was some reports this week of him looking toward next season. If he’s healthy, I can see some team offering him a short contract at big money, which the Bulls wouldn’t be able to match being over the cap.

I wonder if Thibs, who is walking the sideline every homegame, just in front of Stacey King and Neil Funk, is able to hear their commentary on the game or not? I don't know how loud things are in there.

Jerry Becker

Sam: It can get loud, though also when there are video races on the scoreboard. Actually, I’m more surprised Neil and Stacey do such a good broadcast with Thibs standing in front of them shouting defensive stances and getting into a defensive position, apparently in case he calls himself in.