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Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 6.30.2016

You hear some of the bigger free agent names coming up and who they have granted interviews with. Do you have any idea of who the Bulls could be looking at ?. They seem to be good in all the positions (Body Wise) except Center. Don’t think Bismarck Biyombo is signing here?
Randall Sanders

I really like one aspect of the "retooling" of the Bulls. It is my good guess that this year's team will be more of a team. This year's formulation, due to the presence of young players and now the addition of new players, should be much more "coachable." Hoiberg's first year is finally over and he should be able to take command of his team. if everyone buys in...and there is no reason to think they won't after last year's disappointing season...the Bulls could be a fun team to watch. Of course, the question remains, will they be any good? I do have a question for you. Where do you think these guys will end up? And, who, if any, will the Bulls go after? Durant? Gasol? Whiteside? Noah? Afflalo? Barnes?

Also, almost a year ago I said that this would be Snell's breakout year coming up. I'm just reminding you now so I can brag about my prediction at the end of the year.

William Kochneff

As far as the other free agents—and these are all guesses as opposed to quoting informed sources or team officials who are guessing—I think Durant stays another season in Oklahoma City as close as they were and with the addition of Oladipo. Plus, if Durant were to go to Golden State no matter how unfair it is he’d always be labeled as hooking on to win a title since they won without him and were also a minute away. Everything I hear about him is he wants to help bring a title somewhere and have a large initial role. I think Pau is more attractive to the Knicks than Noah given Pau’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and experience with Phil and running the triangle offense. Plus, New York has a better opera than either San Antonio or Oklahoma City, though Pau probably wants another title shot. That’s why the Spurs has come up with the possible Duncan retirement. Maybe the Clippers, though, as they also chased him previously. I’m stumped about Noah given several years of health issues (though I believe he’s fine now) and his inability to shoot or finish. I can see him in a later wave of free agents in late July or into August when teams have to spend and perhaps with a big one or two-year deal to prove himself. Brooklyn, for old time sake? Atlanta to play with college teammate Al Horford again if he returns? Miami if they lose Whiteside? I think Whiteside moves on as Miami doesn’t have Bird right after the steal they made getting him out of the D-league. I can see the Lakers with a young team taking a shot at Whiteside. Maybe the Mavericks as they’re always looking to make a hit. There will be many and I see him as a Jerry Maguire Show me the Money guy. And, frankly, I couldn’t blame him after playing overseas and in the D-league.

But I’d beware if I were the team and tying myself to him for big money for a long time. I’ve heard the Warriors if they can’t lure Durant have interest in Nicholas Batum. But as to me he’s not that much better than Barnes. I wouldn’t break up that amazing chemistry. After all, they were about a minute away from a back to back. If I can’t get a superstar, then I’m sticking with what I have. I’ve always liked Afflalo as an efficient scorer and defender, but now he’s into his 30s, about to maybe go to a sixth team. He’s a good addition for a team that’s close, perhaps the Clippers if they let go free agent Jamal Crawford. But Afflalo should draw nice interest in the second or third wave of signings. He doesn’t make sense unless you are close now given his age and recent physical issues. As for Tony, I guess you missed it last season. The Bulls sure could use that breakout coming up. And by the way, you didn’t ask about Greg Monroe, who is not a free agent, but seems to me also a big name on the move given the talk from Milwaukee all last season. He makes $17 million and probably will opt out after this season, so not a huge risk. My guess is the Bucks don’t ask much as he’ll be appealing as teams need to get to that cap minimum and likely would gladly give up a No. 1 pick.

At the time of the draft, one of the circulating rumors was that the 76ers were willing to trade Noel, Covington, #24 (Luwawu) and #26 (Korkmaz) for a pick in the top 8. No one made that trade. The 76ers did not get a backcourt veteran. Butler was rumored to be worth more than a top 8 pick. I am concerned that there may be some fallout from Butler being available for trade. Here are my questions - Do you think there will be any fallout? Do you think there is still a chance that Butler will be traded? I read some pretty positive reviews of Luwawu and Korkmaz, do you think the Bulls would have any interest in trading Butler for Noel, Luwawu and Korkmaz? The Bulls would definitely be younger, longer and more athletic.
Mark Schroeder

With the Rose trade, I'm back on board as a Bulls' fan. Full throttle ahead! It's funny to me though that the "experts" are predicting the Bulls to struggle with the departure of Gasol and Rose. One radio predicted 23 wins. As far as I'm concerned, the Bulls have gotten better. Lopez is not the scorer that Gasol is but he's efficient and a much better defender. Grant can't do any worse than Rose did last year (ranked 44th amongst point guards in player efficiency and 81st amongst point guards in real plus minus). Plus the Bulls were 9-2 without Rose last year. Mirotic and McDermott will pick up the slack when it comes to the scoring and defensively the team will be more stout with Grant at point guard and Lopez at center. I can't see this team being worse than last year's 42-40 and they will definitely be more fun to watch. Assuming that the roster is similar in November to what it is now, how many games do you see them winning?
Yurly Germanovich

I guess we are in a new era now. I think everybody are really exaggerating the bulls demise. The bulls are pretty deep up front. If they could re-sign E'twaun Moore I think we would have some decent depth. I think the bulls are in a pretty good place if some of the young players take a step forward. Both Taj and Nikola are in contract years so you know they are going to want to play their best basketball to earn a bigger paycheck in 2017. Automatically our starting front court defense is much improved with the swap of Lopez for Gasol. Bobby Portis is going to bring that energy off the bench with Mirotic. Felicio showed down the stretch that he is much more than meets the eye. I think with Grants length and athleticism him and Butler can create one the best defensive backcourts in the NBA. With Calderon, Moore, and Mirotic off the bench they have enough veteran leadership that I think we are going to be much better than people think.
Rocky Rosado

Now the Bulls are back to one all-star which is reminiscent of when the Bulls had Ben Gordon. At the end of the game it was always down to Gordon creating a shot, often an off-balance jump shot that may or may not go in. Jimmy Buckets and his cast mates will play hard and be in games down to the wire. Then it will be time to turn it to Jimmy with a last shot gasp. The new addition, Denzel Valentine, reminds me of Kirk Hinrich. Bulls fans will love him. Solid, high floor-low ceiling player. It feels like this franchise is headed towards Mediocre Limbo. The Bulls need a lightning bolt? Where does such a thing come from in the NBA if not a high lottery selection? To complicate matters, I hate tanking.
Mark Schweihs

In your mailbag everyone is wondering if Jimmy is going to slide over to play sf this year. I want to see him play pg as he stated he thinks he is. As Rose sat for general soreness in the last games jimmy proved he could get in the lane and distribute. He had a triple double or two i remember. Why not play him there? Since hes not the best shooter wouldnt it make sense to give him the ball and have three shooters and a tristan thompson type playing alongside him?
Jake Henry

Gar Forman said that we are not entering into a rebuild, but Derrick is gone, I believe they tried to trade Jimmy, Jo is as good as gone, Pau seems gone, there are rumors of Taj and Dunleavy being shopped....How exactly is that not a rebuild?
Trevor Hoffler

All the hype is on Grant but Dinwiddie is better than Grant. Fans will see. Portis will replace Noah as the fan favorite, hustle/energy guy. Bulls vs Knicks in the playoffs. I'd love to see that.
Victor Devaldivielso

Do the Bulls retire Rose’s jersey once he retires? (I say yes, 3rd best player in team history- maybe 4th considering Sloan) Does Rose get in the HOF? (All NBA MVPs are HOFamers. Let's assume he gets another 5 years with similar averages from last season).
Jay Ernani

Rose's minutes were down 15%, his assists numbers were down by 19%. Compared to MVP Season. If you reduce his minutes, you reduce his productivity, if that's something that is acceptable, the 15% decrease in playing time should justify a 15% decrease in assists... Which means his assist were only down 4%. This is comparison to his MVP season!!!! But no one talks about his minutes in comparison to that season, they only focus on his production which is not fair at all. I also watched a lot of games, I know he wasn't that great, but how many times did he pass the ball to Mirotic who would then chuck it up.
Alan Shapiro

Dwyane Wade to the Bulls for two years? There are reports Dwyane Wade is "preparing to field outside offers" after early contract talks with the Heat broke down.
Ryan Carpel

It certainly has been a wild post season so far and overall, it has me rejuvenated. I've seen the draft express breakdown of Paul Zipser, and I have to say, I'm really excited about this guy. His first step is explosive, he's crafty in the way he uses his body and angles, competes, appears very strong, obviously athletic, and seems to have a good stroke that can be developed. Is this the young version of Chapu? I think so. I hope he earns some minutes at PF/SF and ignites the UC with a big time block or a big time jam over somebody. Would love to see our own small lineup sometime this year: Mirotic, Zipser, Butler, Valentine, Jerian.
Kenny Lim