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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 3.13.2015

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 | 3.13.2015 | 8:31 a.m. CT

Obviously the biggest concern for the Bulls will always be health. Besides that, are you more concerned about the offense or the defense? I always worry more about the offense, since I think the defensive effort and execution will always get better in the playoffs. The offense always will have its holes, but I think the two greatest factors affecting the Bulls offensive success are turnovers and 3 point shooting. It seems like when turnovers are lower (although this is not as important as in the NFL where it changes a game with 1 turnover) and when the Bulls 3 point percentage is above average, the offense is working at its best. This could be attributed to good ball movement and smart decision-making. When the ball gets stuck or too many risky passes are made, the turnovers go up or players like Rose, Butler, Brooks and Gasol are forced to put up tough shots. Is there anything else that you see as a greater concern for the Bulls?
Jon Kueper

Does the media in other NBA cities also try to discredit their superstars like with Derrick Rose, or is this unique to Chicago?
Ramsey Badre

Does Derrick not travel with the team currently because of his knee, or is it part of rehab, or what? I don't really care (not trying to bash him) but just curious about why he doesn't ever seem to be with his team and hasn't been through these injuries.
David Troy

At the end of April, Tom Thibodeau (should do) the following:
1) Have Pau Gasol be starting center.
2) Have Taj Gibson be starting power forward.
3) Have Joakim Noah be backup center to Pau Gasol.
4) Use Nazr Mohammed whenever Gasol or Noah get injured.
5) Use Bairstow whenever Gibson or Mirotic get injured.
6) Use enough McDermott.
7) Use enough Moore.
Kieron Smith

With kids coming into the NBA so young (and under-coached), you need a little patience and the willingness to teach... yes, even shooting & fundamentals. I get the feeling that Thibs feels that is not his responsibility, that kids should come in with all that down, and just execute his gameplan.
Art Alenik

I’m curious on your thoughts on Thibs use of Noah's minutes in the rotation. I’m wondering if there needs to be a slight tweak in the timing he is taking him in and out of quarters – more specifically his timing on the 4th quarters. Obviously he was on a minutes restriction to start the season (and he may still be now), and with the depth in the front court with Taj and Nikola it ended up that Noah was playing a large bulk of the fourth quarter from the start of the quarter (while Gasol was resting) and then being taken out around the 4 minute mark. He then may come back with under two minutes remaining (sometimes less) depending on matchups and the clock running down. I’m just wondering if this the ideal time to take out your ‘All NBA center’ particularly when he is as healthy and playing at as high level as he has all season. Ideally, wouldn’t they be best suited to have him on the floor for the entire remaining 4 or so minutes? I get the sense that just when the game is ‘on the line’ Noah coming out can be somewhat deflating. I don’t have the answer as to how the minutes should be managed and with such a stacked front court (when healthy) someone has to miss out. I noted that Thibs tried to play Nikola at the 3 (against Memphis) along with Noah and Gasol, obviously this wouldn’t work when a team goes small – I’m just wondering how you think this could be best managed or is Thibs just caught between a rock and a hard place?
Andrew Robson

I just ordered four Drops. I'm going to rock mine and give the other three to friends who will rock theirs. Part of my love affair with the Bulls is that they seem like such a truly good group of people. I know you give the NBA great credit for their commitment to philanthropy. But do you think most teams take it as seriously as the Bulls? Or are the Bulls special? Does that have something to do with management's approach of taking character guys, many of whom stayed in college?
Jacob Snyder

I agree Kirk is playing a little too much though, he plays so hard that he should get some more rest to be able to perform better but unfortunately he's been overused with all the injuries. One thing I noticed is that when you hear interviews from other Bulls' players they always point to him as their inspiration for whatever they accomplish in a game. Hinrich is also the reason I love the Bulls and the game of basketball so much, and the reason I am always sore from diving to the floor whenever I play on my team or simply with friends. To me, he's what being a Bull is all about and I really do hope they retire his jersey when he's done playing even if the Bulls don't do it as frequently as other franchises. Besides his on court contributions, he doesn't appear much and tries to avoid the spotlight, so fans don't really know much about him. What is he like in the locker room? Is he offering advice to the younger guys? Is he always in the gym shooting? How does he have so much influence on his team? Is he a nice guy to be around?
Cosimo Sarti

I've spent my fair share of time this season perusing internet comments from Bulls fans, and one thing I've noticed is that they have all the answers if the Bulls would only listen. To summarize the key points to fixing the team before the playoffs:
1. Bench Hinrich. He's the cause of 90+% of the losses. At worst, we'd be 60-4 right now if he wasn't on the team.
2. Fire Thibs for the following 3 reasons. First of all he plays Hinrich. Secondly, he isn't starting McDermott, who is most likely the next Larry Bird. Lastly, he's caused most of the Bulls injury problems by playing guys for about 3.2 min per game more than they should be playing. If you add that up over the course of a season, its like playing an extra 15,744 seconds. No wonder Jimmy got his arm caught in that screen! He never stood a chance.
3. Sign JaVale McGee. The Bulls bigs can't handle physical play. McGee is clearly the answer as evidenced by the 28 games he's played over the last 2 seasons. Guy is a beast. Well Kendrick Perkins was actually the best answer, but the Bulls were too dumb to realize it. The Cavs got a bunch of new players, so we have to respond!
4. If we do #1-3 and still don't win the title, then I'm afraid the window has closed. Time to reload. Buy out the remaining $41MM on Derrick's contract. Trade Taj, Pau, and Jo for some expiring contracts and draft picks. Free up enough cap space to sign Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, then Westbrook and Curry summer 2017. If for some reason those guys pass, then at least we should have the inside track to draft LeBron James Jr. in 2025.
Please use your secret inside connections to pass this along to the front office.
Dan Mitchell