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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 2.06.2015

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.

By Sam Smith | 2.6.2015 | 9:11 a.m. CT

Here are a few thoughts/ideas about the season thus far and where it’s going. First, and I’m a Thibs supporter, but this is by far his biggest challenge as a head coach. The pieces are there, it’s the most talent he’s ever had (despite a few injuries, but that’s gonna happen to any team), and it’s gonna be entertaining as heck watching him try to figure it out. Next, despite the recent losses, we’re seeing the return of near-MVP Derrick, who’s such a joy to watch. I think back to the past couple seasons, watching them play the Bucks or Nets or whoever on a Tuesday night, seeing Derrick in a suit on the bench, thinking, man, I can’t wait to see that guy out there again. And now he’s back, and fans should appreciate it. True, he still jacks up too many 3s and defense could be better, but we didn’t have this guy earlier in the season, and he’s gotten his arsenal of amazing moves back. Which leads to the next point, the emergence of Jimmy, Brooks and Niko and resurgence of Pau, all very pleasant surprises. Which leads to the final point: the defensive identity. Pau’s not part of that. That’s Noah, Taj and Jimmy, and to some extent Kirk and Dunleavy. If we’re gonna get stops, most of those guys need to be out there, and I wonder if we’ll see them closing games more often, at least in spot situations. That’s Thibs’ challenge, to make it all work and maximize the results with this talent, and let’s be honest, making adjustments on the fly hasn’t been his strong suit. The drama has been heightened because the stakes are higher than they’ve been in years, and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Elijah Humble

The Bulls have no chemistry. Not even Jimmy and Rose. It seemed like they were playing off a back to back. As if they didn't have four days to practice for this one game. It is really sad to see. No one is taking charge. No one is hungry. Pau Gasol and Noah do not work well together. They still don't know where they're supposed to be. I think Thibs has gone soft on them. What do you think could ignite this team? How come it didn't seem they had a game plan? Are they making plays? I don't see them. Time to panic yet?
Jimmy Torres

Rose reminds me of jordan when he came back as #45 - some flashes, but over all inconsistent. I don't think anyone can take 2 years off anything and still be great at it. By next season he will be back to form, but hopefully sooner, like this spring would be nice.
John Leichenko

I wanted to ask you about two plays from last night's Houston game. The first was when an unknown (to me) Houston big went between Jo and Pau for a put back on an offensive rebound. The two looked at each other in confusion. The very next defense play, the two both went after a rebound, fought each other and then lost it out of bounds. Noah looked extremely annoyed. Shouldn’t this be over by the time we are at the 50 game mark? Are Pau and Jo, both extreme talents, just not compatible? They keep talking about communication but they’re starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf. Dunleavy for MVP!
Greg Young

Is there any truth to the rumors the Bulls are looking for trades - most likely involving Taj? It seems a little bit of an overreaction at this point with the "starting 8" having played so few games together (and being 13-2 or something like that when the best 7 or 8 players are healthy). I do think the Bulls have to evolve a lot until the playoffs but I don't think more changes will help at all at this point, if anything the team needs continuity and stability at this point.
Jay Ernani

Here goes. Carmelo to the Bulls for Pau, Gibson, and Dunleavy (or a pick). Phil gets three hard-working, high IQ players on reasonable contracts to start building a foundation. And the Bulls return Noah to his natural position, paired with a young stretch 4 to spread the floor. Needless to say, Carmelo would make up for the loss of Pau's offense.
Chris Howland

What's happened to Mirotic? He looks like a wreck out there, so different than he did in the beginning of the year. I know a probable answer is "the league has caught up with him," but can you tell us what other teams are doing to throw him off so badly on both ends of the court?
Alejandro Yegros

Is Doug McDermott still hurt or is Tibs just not playing him because of all of the rookies? Do you think a little time in the D League would help him get his shot back?
Jim Harlan

What I was wondering was what kind of scouting report do the players get before games? And just what kind of preparation do they make for each particular game? Like, do they go over which players have been hot or cold lately, do they look at video of offensive moves the opponents tend to make and how to defend them, talk about the other team's defensive schemes and what they will plan to do to break the defense down? Would Thibs tell Derrick to try to drive more against a guy like Tony Parker or would that be up to Derrick to figure that out? I'm just curious if you could provide some insight into the pregame preparations NBA teams are engaging in.
Tom Bina

I'm not sure if I'm right but by the looks of it, it looks like Rose's pick and roll defense is terrible. He goes over every screen and once the defender gets a step on Rose he hardly can recover. It looks even worse when its Gasol and Rose defending the pick and roll. Is this a weak spot in our defense or is the problem starting from something else?
Raj Desai

If the Thunder don't make the playoffs do you think they would look for a new coach? Some fans and writers have complained for years now that Brooks isn't a great coach and only wins because of all the talent he's had. I'm not taking a side here, but I can see how it'd be hard to fire your coach when you're a top team in the West every year. Maybe this year gives them an opportunity in that regard?
Cameron Watkins

Are we calling it Whitesanity? Pat (Riley) with a gem of a signing. Imagine, had the Kings had him playing like this when he was with them a few seasons ago.... wow. Cousins and Whiteside.
Mike Queensworst

Mark Cuban's advocating for the elimination of the fan vote is absurd. The ASG is first and foremost about the fans. He should be more worried about a backup center. The fans voted in Magic Johnson when he wasn't even playing and he came out and won ASG MVP in one of the classic performances of the event. This isn't an election, it's a popularity contest. Every single NBA fan pays their fair share to see these athletes play, either through tickets, or just paying their cable bill (neither of which are very cheap these days). We've all earned the right to choose our favorite players. He's way off base on this one, in my opinion.
Wesley Davis

My friend has been a Knicks’ season ticket holder for ten years. They didn't give season ticket holders any All-Star tickets. The option to be put into a lottery and if selected than you could buy them. Pretty messed up.
Mike Sutera

I get excited about every Bulls season, and that has been building season to season with Rose finally back and the new additions. Since Thibodeau took over, there has never been a stretch where I turn off the game or don't even watch, not until this season. It's painful to watch what appears to be uninspired basketball. Defense is bad and offense is even harder to watch. Lack of reliable three point shooting stagnates the offense making the game not fun and could be the reason for the lethargic play. Energy? Three point shooting you ask? Last I read the energizer bunny may be available. Bring back our beloved Crazy Nate Robinson.
Jason DeLeon