Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 12.06.2013

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

What’s with all these people with these stupid trade ideas ? Am I the only one who thinks the Bulls’ future is bright? You have the following:
1) Two (2) first round draft picks in 2014 (which is projected to be a very deep draft)
2) Expiring contract in Deng (cap space)
3) The option to amnesty Boozer (creating more cap space for free agents)
4) The star in Europe (although I see him taking up the cap space letting Deng go would create)
5) Rose–Snell-Noah-Gibson

Randy Sanders

Sam: Though I see you’ve got the Bobcats making the playoffs or close and giving up that pick this season. Could be as their defense is very good and Al Jefferson gives them their first real scoring threat ever. But, yes, I agree that there’s no need to become the 2000 Bulls when they had six draft picks. And, yes, there’s that Rose guy, whom I believe still should make the team. As for Deng, you never know what will happen.

I've watched the Rose press conference a few times and I really think that Rose has hope he can come back this season. At this point I want to cut myself off and make it clear that I don't have a strong opinion either way. I'm not one of the people who flew off the handle when he didn't come back last time. He likely has another 9-11 years in his career, if he were 37 when this happened it would be a different conversation. It seemed to me that he has a goal to return this year very late in the year and with a meniscus, especially if it were to heal well that's a medical possibility. Do you think the Bulls would let him even if he could? Do you think it will turn into a Jordan scenario where he basically has to demand it? Obviously the Reinsdorf family has invested a great deal of money into him and it makes sense that they would want to protect their investment.

Mike Slonina

Sam: I guess that’s possible; I saw it as Rose reacting in some sense to the accusations last season that he did not want to play. I think that’s one thing that hurt him the most given he’s always wanted to play anytime, anywhere, and if you know him you know playing basketball is the thing he holds most precious. It’s why to see him going through this now for two years is so hard to watch. I think when the question was raised he in some way was just trying to say I love playing and want to play. But this time he cannot. The doctors and the team have said—and the team says these things based on medical recommendations—that it would be unsafe and he should not try to play until next season. Thus he will not no matter what you hear.

What is up with Noah? When did Jo join the Dwayne Wade "I'm yelling at the refs every play and not running back" party? I thought he'd tire Bynum out in Cleveland and that didn't happen. It's like every play he's talking to refs. My imagination or has he lost his grooviness?

Greg Young

Sam: I can’t always keep up with Noah’s hip hop world, but the swag has sauntered at times. I think that was even more clear the way he played in Thursday’s win over Miami. What you love about Noah is the emotion. You know how he feels and he puts that into the game. It’s been a big part of what the Bulls have been able to accomplish. We treat these guys in sports as robots, demanding performance. That’s sort of the contract: We pay, so produce. But as hard as you try, and I believe Noah has been trying, sometimes it doesn’t develop. He really was up for this season, as excited in preseason as I’ve seen him. Then he basically misses all preseason and can’t wait to play, and then he begins to play and the team’s best player and their hopes for that special season they all talked about is likely gone. It’s not like Noah cares more than anyone else. But he lives on this emotional high wire that has benefitted the Bulls all these years, memorable performances in big games when a player with his offensive skills has no business performing like that. It’s something of a product of his highs that enable him to have become an NBA All-Star from a kid in high school who literally only was invited to the big summer games to pick up the towels. He’s made himself an NBA star, the rarest of worlds, with hustle and effort over natural skill. So when he is confronted with a disappointment like this and seeing his good buddy Rose hurt and out and hurting like he is, well, maybe you understand a bit that Noah isn’t exactly responding like a soldier going into combat forgetting everything but his mission. You still see terrific efforts from him, but you also see his rawest emotions, which is hardly unusual for him. And it’s often the core of this Bulls team.

There are reports that Carmelo is unhappy in New York. How about Anthony, Shumpert, Aldrich, and M.W.P for Boozer, Deng, and a 1st rounder? The Bulls get their true #1 scoring option, allowing Rose to concentrate on play making and score more efficiently with less defensive pressure put on him. The Knicks get a franchise culture revamp, seeing as Deng and Boozer are both classy professionals, and they are then free to go after LeBron James.

Will Rockford

Sam: I mention this one as I have gotten numerous Anthony proposals. If Anthony truly wanted out of New York as the latest media report suggest, you’d certainly have to take a look in a trade. I’m fairly sure he’s only going to go with a trade and not free agency given the big difference in contract size and money ($30 million). It’s one thing for a center like Dwight Howard to do so. He’ll get another huge deal at 32 even if hurt some. Anthony at 34 won’t. So he’s not giving up that money. But knowing the Knicks and the owner’s love for Anthony and the owner’s legendary stubbornness and that they’ll tell Anthony they will build around him with Tyson Chandler, I find it difficult to believe the Knicks would be forced into a deal knowing Anthony likely has little leverage. Plus after next season when Stoudemire comes off the books they’ll be way under the cap and can make big pitches for guys like Rondo and Kevin Love, the latter as New York media already notes has a place in New York and spends considerable time there. Anthony I suspect will be persuaded that the grass isn’t greener, even though, technically, the only grass in New York comes in small bags.

I am sure Derrick’s return should be between Feb and Mar if he practices FaLun Gong (Falun DaFa).

Gong Zhou

Sam: Derrick, of course, has been declared out until next fall. And though I do like the concepts from the spiritual practice, I think Rose probably has the wrong coach to go that way. I would be better to consult Phil Jackson.

Are the Bulls the team with more significant injuries in their roster? Or which team has this "distinction"?

Alfonso Mendoza

Sam: The notion, yes, is the Bulls have all these injuries and no one else does. Of course, when you lose a former league MVP and your best player, it’s stands out more. But as much of a mess as the Nets are, they have numerous guys out plus their best player, Deron Williams. The Knicks have their best and only interior defender out. The Timberwolves last season had more than half their roster out. The Thunder lost Westbrook; the Lakers remain without Kobe. It is another issue that no one can quite quantify: There do seem to be many more serious injuries now than there once was even as players are stronger, healthier, on better diets and with constant conditioning and trainers. Yes, years ago players played as they had little choice. Like football players with concussions: Get in there or someone else will and you are out of work. But players also come into pro sports now so much younger with their bodies less mature, which has to lead to injuries, in my view. The contact is greater given how much stronger the players are. Yet, some players, like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, rarely are out. Young players skipping college like Bryant and Kevin Garnett lasted decades. Thus it’s difficult to identify an answer. But it seems more a part of a team’s fate that ever before.

Apart from his shooting, the things that have impressed me about Snell the most on offence have been his ability to feed the post (those long arms seem to help, and he finds good angles) and his passing off penetration. Since the Bulls are struggling to find back-up point guard minutes, could Snell fill some of that role? Admittedly he hasn’t looked good on the break, but neither has Teague and I doubt James is going to help us push the ball. Is Snell’s ball handling good enough and can he defend the point?

Peter Johnson

Sam: You mostly have to be who you are. Snell still has plenty to learn and you don’t want to try to make someone into something they are not. Lots of teams make mistakes all the time trying to convert guys into point guards just because you need one. You are best never trying to do that because what makes a point guard is unusual and you just don’t make them if a guy is too short for shooting guard as well. Snell can make plays on the wing off the dribble and is a good passer for a rookie and his position, though not great. Perhaps he eventually could be a Pippen style point forward at times, though Pippen before he grew in college was a point guard. Snell is just starting to become an NBA player and find out what kind of player he can be. He’s been good thus far in limited playing time and you don’t want to push a guy too hard. Even Jordan always said the biggest thing for rookies is for them to have confidence. You don’t want Snell questioning his, as obviously Teague is.

What are the financial implications of Derrick Rose being out for the year? Does his salary count towards the salary cap? Does he become "inactive"? Can they pick up another player? Does sending Marquis Teague to the D-League mean the Bulls can get another player to replace him?

Mary Ann Tenuto-Sanchez

Sam: Rose’s salary remains on the salary cap as the Bulls have to pay him. They could be eligible for an injury exception, but I doubt the Bulls would follow up on that as it would add considerable luxury tax money and be double the salary. Plus, at this time of year you mostly can only pick up 10th and 12th players at the end of the bench, which makes little sense to pay, in effect, double their salary. The Bulls likely will keep their roster at 13, but could make changes with the last spot, which is held by Mike James now. Players in the D-League are considered on your roster.

It appears that the Bulls have three viable, quality wing players (the fact that Thibs is starting Snell speaks volumes). Two of them are cheaper, but the third, most expensive guy, also happens to be the best all around player of the three. So what do the Bulls do? Do they keep Snell and Butler, and try to flip Deng for whatever they can get? Considering the 2014 draft and the new economic climate of the NBA, what, if anything, can they get for a Deng rental? He's got to have some value to a Western Conference team. Would Butler potentially bring back more, and you go with a Snell/Deng combo moving forward, although that tandem will cost a lot more $$$ in a repeater tax environment. Or, are they going to stand pat, make a run at the 3 seed, and lose to Indiana or Miami in five games again this year? I suppose there is something to be said about accumulating rugged playoff experience, and how that may have more value than a draft spot five or six spots higher in the long run, especially considering how well they have drafted in the 20s the last few years.

Jeff Verdone

Sam: It’s their Rubik’s Cube. It may have an answer, but it’s not easy. Deng has loads of value, but given his contract situation where he can be a free agent this summer and a market that would likely preclude him from agreeing to any extension with a team and the anticipation about the 2014 draft, it would be difficult to get anything in return of value that doesn’t include a long term contract to match Deng’s $14.3 million salary. And the Bulls cannot take back a long term deal unless it’s for a star, which you obviously don’t get for an expiring deal. I’d doubt they’d give up either of the young guys. As they said, they’ll consider changes. But it’s difficult to see where it is for now likely given a limited number of teams want to make moves in season.

So the Bulls have sent Marquis Teague to Iowa. The pessimist in me reads this as their giving up on him; if he can't play for this team when it's missing its entire starting backcourt, then he'll probably never contribute. A quieter, perhaps deluded optimistic voice suggests otherwise, though. Is it possible that management realizes Teague needs to play a lot -- to get his confidence and use that impressive quickness -- before he can learn to play a little, before he can contribute a solid 12-20 minutes a game? How do you see it? Does Teague look like he a future with the Bulls?

Joe Kraus

Sam: As you probably know by now he’s back with Mike James getting hurt in that Monday game. I don’t believe it was about losing faith in him as much as getting him some legitimate playing time so that when he did return he would be more ready to play. He did play a bit better Thursday, so I think the plane trip helped. While Thibodeau does work guys hard, he doesn’t so much in practice and doesn’t often scrimmage. So if you aren’t playing in games with the Bulls you pretty much aren’t playing. It’s just that the Bulls never much use the D-League. Most teams do and many have their own affiliates. It’s a worthwhile league and good for improvement. The issue more with Teague is he’s the classic example of a player who should have stayed in college. When you are not a lottery pick, or a high one, I believe you basically take millions of dollars off your career by leaving school early because you mostly never become as good as you could be. Had Teague stayed in college with a good team like Kentucky he likely would have been a lottery pick. I think that’s why the Bulls went for him, the Catch-22 of the draft these days. You take a young guy with potential who’d be a higher pick. But then he’s not ready to play and doesn’t and doesn’t develop. That’s Teague. So now does he ever get a second contract? Probably, but limited. I understand guys not wanting to risk injury or if they need the money. But they should know that more becomes Teagues. Check the top players in the league and see how many there were who came out as 19-year-olds who were not high lottery picks. You often don’t then get credit for your talent.

It's good to see Taj Gibson playing well again after a disappointing season last year. This is his fifth season now and we all know he can be a starter for many other team. Does he ever complain about not being a starter? More importantly, he's only averaged 23 minutes per game in his career and I'm sure he wants to play a lot more than that.

Jay Choi

Sam: He’s been terrific this season other than that little setback when Rose was hurt, which affected the entire team. He’s been a great teammate and while I’m sure he’d like to start, he’s been a good teammate and never says anything but positively supporting the coaching. He’ll get more minutes playing the way he has, which has been as the Bulls best inside player this season.

Many suggestions have sent him to perform change of players, it seems to me that the only attractive player for another team is Mike Dunleavy Jr., I think the Thunder could be interested in adding him to open the court and the Bulls could ask any draft selection as you see it.

Piero Paguaga

Sam: I could see interest in Dunleavy given his shooting ability and reasonable contract through next season. There’s likely no way you’d get a first round pick, and certainly not in this draft. And there will be another season in 2014-15 and Rose will return and you still will need shooting. I wouldn’t be too quick to give him up unless something made a lot of sense for next season as players like him are valuable for good teams or if you want to be good.

Can you give me your assessment or opinion on the poor records of the Nets and Knicks so far this season? Is it possible the Bulls, losing their franchise player for the year, will have a better record than those two teams at the end of the season?

Dawn Parker

Sam: In some sense the Knicks and Nets and Bulls can sympathize with one another. Or perhaps have the Bulls say, At least we’re not them. Losing Deron Williams and Tyson Chandler are major blows for those teams, though they will return this season. You’d think both will improve, but the East will be wide open for the playoffs. The question now is perhaps how few wins you’ll need to get in. I’ve heard GMs speculate it might be 36. The season Jordan got hurt in 1985-86, the Bulls made the playoffs at 30-52.

I’ve just read your latest installment of Ask Sam (11-29-13) and admit to being somewhat depressed by all of the trade suggestions. Let’s give this current group a chance! People seem to forget that the 2012-13 Bulls sans Rose made it to the second round and gave a valiant effort against Miami despite the absence of arguably two of their better perimeter defenders (Deng and Hinrich). Also who’s to say that either Teague or Snell won’t provide an unexpected boost for this team analogous to Butler from a year ago. If this team is healthy around playoff time, they could have an interesting run (particularly considering that the Eastern Conference appears to be incredibly weak again this year). I’ve been watching the Bulls for about 25 years now and last year may have been one of my favorites to date, primarily to see the way they handled the adversity of a season without their MVP. I can’t wait to see what happens this year. Bulls fans—let’s not throw away the story before the narrative has a chance to unfold. We could truly miss out on something special.

Frederick Bierbaum

Sam: I obviously am not in agreement with the desperate as I do believe in the sanctity of every season and providing a responsible performance for the community the sake of the game. Last season did turn out relatively well considering the circumstances. But there is a difference. The Bulls last year did have the chance to plan and prepare without Rose. This season they did not as they planned and built around him playing from the start. So it will be more difficult this season and the players are in a more precarious situation given they understand the group will basically not be coming back as comprised as compared with last season.

Last week you were opposed to the idea that the Bulls should tank in hopes of landing a high lottery pick in what figures to be a very strong draft. Several losses later, have you warmed up to the idea yet? After all, I don't hear many Spurs fans complaining about what could have been in their lost 1996-97 season (they, like this year's Bulls, were one of the stronger NBA teams heading into that season with players including David Robinson and Sean Elliot. However they suffered many injuries and decided to keep Robinson out for the year despite his ability to play by midseason. The end result: Tim Duncan). Sure, 37 wins may be enough for the Bulls to make the playoffs and lose to either Indiana or Miami, but doesn't Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, or Jabari Parker sound much nicer? After all, seventeen years later, San Antonio is still benefiting from their infamous tanked season.

Mike Burgher

Sam: It’s often typical reaction to examine the one exception and ask why didn’t they do that. Like why didn’t Rose play when Adrian Peterson did? How come you didn’t invent that app or web site when it seemed so obvious? You pretty much miss the story of the Spurs, who obviously got lucky with the third odds and getting No. 1. They lost Robinson, their best player, and he didn’t return. And Rose isn’t either. But they didn’t trade players for draft picks; they kept all the same players knowing Robinson would be back and in Duncan’s first season brought back their top players from the previous season other than Vernon Maxwell. Who more for off court reasons. They more than most teams were built strictly around Robinson’s game and it was a few years before Gregg Popovich would abandon that inside out pass it around the perimeter game which is the source of the view the Spurs play boring ball. They once did. Plus, the Spurs tried to be better that season bringing in an again healthy Dominique Wilkins, who led the team in scoring. So Robinson went out and they added a new high scorer. Hardly sounds like tanking. That franchise never believed in quitting, which is one reason it’s so great. They just had a bad season. And it worked out, though it rarely does.

I hear a lot of Bulls fans and read a lot of Bulls writers/bloggers that want management to trade away players in order to tank so they can still root for the team to win individual games, but not feel bad because they are also root for ping pong balls at the end of the year. In a weak Eastern Conference, fans should be rooting for the Bulls to go the other way and try to improve the team this year. Why are fans openly rooting for management to take us back to the level of play from the early '00's? Why don’t fans remember that in a loaded 2003 draft, the Bulls did not get a top 3 pick and ended up with the solid, but not franchise changing Kirk Hinrich? I would prefer the organization keep building on a foundation of success and not count on luck.

Nate Mordica

Sam: Building through the lottery is perhaps the purest way to build a team, though as your Sacramentos and Milwaukees and others how that works out. Or the Bulls of the early 2000’s. The lottery just as often than not is fool’s gold. I understand many fans and media critics see the few top big names, and like kids after Christmas have had their toy and now they want another toy. It’s better after Hanukkah as you get bad chocolate coins and then the worst you have is melted chocolate in your pocket if you forget to eat them. But I digress. I think they’ll keep a part of that core together and add to it. And I’m with the Rose kid as I’d like to see what he’ll still have.

I feel for Rose. I think he absolutely believes that he'll be back as an elite player in the NBA. I however am not sure that he is ever going to be the player he was. When he comes back he will have only played in 50 games in three NBA seasons and two years removed from the game. He is one of the good guys in the NBA. At the same time as a fan we have to face reality. I look at so many great athletes who have had injury problems. Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, Bill Walton, Greg Oden, Yao Ming, Michael Redd, the list goes on and on. It seems like the bodies of some athletes respond well to injuries, and in some it seems cases they don't. Maybe it's a testament to those athletes. Maybe their talent far exceeds what their bodies are capable of. I think the other point is that some athletes change their game when they get injured and some don't. Those who learn to work within what their body is capable of go on to have good careers. Look at Grant Hill. He was never the same, but he eventually accepted that and he played again. I don't mean to sound like a downer, but I believe Rose will be a very good NBA player again, but I fear he'll never be the superstar he is expected to be. I guess the fans of Chicago just have to accept that this is the team and as long as LeBron is in the league we have to accept that winning it all isn't everything. If you love the NBA, you have to just enjoy it for what it is, and not worry about when the Bulls ever get back to the top.

David Naber

Sam: That sure won’t get you going with your coffee. Of course, that could be exactly right. And we’ve all said that about James as they did looking back on the 90’s when some great players like Ewing, Malone and Barkley couldn’t get titles because Jordan was in the way. And Drexler and Hakeem only did when he took a few years off. So, yes, only a rare few win titles and it may be LeBron’s era. As for Rose, that, too, could be the case. For now, the doctors have a different view in relation to many of those players you mentioned who had either microfracture or double ACLs. They’re saying now he should return with no issues. Perhaps he’s not at MVP level, but you don’t necessarily need that to have a great team that can contend. There’ll be many examples of those champions. I think everyone would be quite happy if Rose returns as a very good player who’ll have a long career. You can have quite a high level team with that kind of player. I’ve mentioned this curiosity before about Chicago: Fans and media will embrace seasons when the Cubs and Bears have no chance to compete for a title (which is pretty much every year the last 100) but view the Bulls season as worthless if they don’t have two superstars and are not playing for 60 or 70 wins. I see it mostly as the Jordan effect and being spoiled by that amazing era. Though we saw some pretty good basketball last season and I suspect will again.

I know it might be blasphemous to say but do the Pacers have a chance to be the second team in NBA history to win 70 games? Especially considering that the Eastern Conference may be the weakest it has been in years as it currently stands.

Matt Griswold

Sam: No.

Are Bulls fans finally starting to realize Luol's worth? The guy is everywhere and doing everything. What are the chances the Bulls are able to make a deal with him and keep him in a bulls uniform next year? Much respect for Luol Deng.

Gorav Raheja

Sam: It really is too soon to be determined for sure as there will be many moving parts and money orders to come. But I would not count him gone.

Do you think the Bulls will amnesty Boozer after this season? If they do where do you think he will end up? I think he has a good chance of landing in Miami if they let Bosh go.

Megan Wong

Sam: Again, it’s way too soon to say. But that will be a consideration with Boozer. He lives in Miami in the offseason; his kids are there all season. He tried to go to the Heat initially as a free agent, though they obviously had bigger plans. He could end up there after his Bulls contract fully expires. If you amnesty him, he gets his full salary and then under certain circumstances can go play for a minimum with the Heat. But there is the waiver process, which could alter that. Players in amnesty go to waiver. If a player is claimed, the claiming team has to pay the full salary. No one likely would do that as they have to have cap room. You can submit a partial waiver claim and the player goes to the team that offers the most and with the poorest record. The team must be under the cap to do that as well. But players in this situation also may let it out quietly they won’t come to avoid anyone bidding. If no one bids, they become a free agent. That’s the great edge of having LeBron. Players will go there for less or little, like Beasley this season and Oden, for a chance to be in that group and have a title chance. It unlevels the playing field, but the Heat earned it with their play.

Not gonna humor you with ridiculous trade scenarios, but I gotta send you an "I told ya so." You put a lot of emphasis into the Bulls being "fine" after losing Nate and Marco, as many others did, citing "healthy" Rose and Hinrich, and in your case, the improvement of Teague. Whether Teague is a serviceable NBA player remains to be seen, but he clearly has fallen out of favor with Thibs. Hinrich hasn't played 80 games in a season since 06-07 and has proven to be injury prone in recent years. Derrick may have been at no greater risk of being injured than anyone else, however, the knee wasn't the only problem the last few years, and I honestly saw something like this happening, though I didn't envision him being out a whole year. I don't think there's any question (Nate) would be an asset the Bulls would love to have right now. Ok, I'll let you get back to the absurd trade scenarios.

Ryan Gaines

Sam: You have to make decisions on what you have and going forward. Finances were an issue given the luxury tax situation as well as years. Nate got two years at $2 million per from Denver. The Bulls had to make a decision: With Rose back after a long time out and Hinrich to back up and Teague getting his option picked up and having to play some, there was no place for a fifth guard in Nate who made it pretty clear he expected to play. You can’t build your team based on what may happen to your best player. Sure, the Bulls would love to have Nate now. But you can’t build your roster, especially in this era of financial penalties, out of fear of losing your best players. The Heat hasn’t with LeBron; the Thunder hasn’t with Durant. It isn’t done. The Nets haven’t without Deron. And the Lakers obviously haven’t with Kobe. As for Dunleavy/Belinelli, that made enough sense given Dunleavy is the better range shooter spotting up while Belinelli operates better with the ball. Of course, Belinelli’s off to an unusually great start shooting the ball, but he does get more space given who he plays with. And at some point you had to see if you had anything with Teague. The hope now with Mike James out is the coach will give him more of a shot.

Did Boozer and Williams get along in Utah? If so maybe swap out the failed experiment pierce for Boozer and bring old man Garnett off bench. Assuming they got along, the Williams-Boozer pick and roll can live again. Maybe even bring in jerry Sloan.

Mike Kay

Sam: Boozer and Williams are close. But have you seen Garnett? Maybe he’ll get better, and you’d feel some sympathy if he weren’t such a bully all these years, though mostly challenging European players and small guards. Which was why the NBA was cheering Thursday night when Bargnani was trash talking and scaring him. You feel for the elderly, except when it’s a cowardly bully like Garnett. He makes $12 million next season, which would not qualify as an amnesty, and basically wipe out the Bulls from getting better while watching him slowly turn to stone. I read somewhere he is being inspired by Lot’s wife.

Now that the Bulls are out of championship contention for the season, many of us fans are likely thinking about the future. Mirotic has now accomplished a lot in Europe, won individual awards, put up impressive numbers, looks great on tape, etc. What are the chances he comes over to the Bulls for the 2014-15 season? When will we find out whether or not that will happen? Will it be necessary to amnesty Boozer to sign Mirotic or could they both potentially be on the roster next season?

Cameron Watkins

Sam: Who said LeBron and George Paul won’t sprain their ankles? Mirotic has his season to play and will make his decision on where he plays next season this summer. The Bulls have many options regarding finances and personnel which are a long way from being determined at this point. You’d know a bit better after the trade deadline in February.

I don't get the desire to blow up the Bulls. I want to watch a team that plays hard, pushes teams to their limits, and is fun to watch. Only one team wins the ring every year, that doesn't mean the others are a waste of space. I want to know that on any night my team can push the best teams. I don't expect them to win every night. The Bulls without Rose are still a good team. Perhaps not elite, but talented and well coached. Rose at this point, in my opinion, has less than a 25% chance to be the MVP Rose again. So? Stuff happens. You sign a free agent. You get a lucky bounce in the draft. But trades that change the core of your team? For the better? Not going to see that too often. Trade a strength for a weakness to make a difference at the margins. But to change the core through trades is too risky, with a low upside, for most team management. Keep this team together. Get them to play hard. Try to keep your best players. (Deng is better than most draft picks, even lottery picks.) Have coaches who can cover your weaknesses and showcase your strengths. Try to sign a top free agent. ( Perhaps King James won't come but others are around.) Admit your mistake with some players and cut your losses. Draft smart. Top five picks might be stars but later picks can make real contributions. Mostly, don't panic. BTW I see Wade at the end of the line and LeBron on his way to the Nets. Bosh who knows? Heat go from contender to pretender. Things change all the time, and quickly.

Dan Panke

Sam: Are you not allowed to listen to talk radio?

How do you not love Derrick Rose? That guy has the best attitude.

Jim Harlan

Sam: Unfortunately, he’s had a lot of practice at this. But it’s also why I’m often surprised at the negative reaction of so many people to the injuries and to him. Here’s a Chicago kid, a native, who’s embraced his hometown, never talks about being anywhere else, is a product of the toughest part of the city to grow up and identifies himself with Chicago. You rarely see that ever in pro athletes. And then without the rancor or reaction at the negative, a kid you can be proud of and point your own kids toward the way he handles disappointment with such grace and class.


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