Ask Sam | 11.20.09

Sam Smith opens his mailbag to respond to the latest round of e-mails from his readers.

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Just wondering on when they are estimating Derrick Rose to be 100% again!? He has had some ok games through his injury but I like most am waiting for him to breakout. We are struggling to score this year and we all thought his numbers would go up to help the team but I understand with his injury. So just wondering when he will be 100% so that there are no more excuses from the Bulls. With the emergence of the rookies Jennings and Evans I can now see them making All-Star appearances before Rose. Sure that's a very early call for me to say that but I still don't think he'll be this wonder kid that everyone has labeled him as. A very good player absolutely but not a year in, year out all star. Ahhhh I used to love the days when the Bulls were well represented at All Star weekend. It must have been 1998 when I last had that feeling.

Andrew Brown

Sam: Nobody among the Bulls is really saying, which suggests to me they are not fully sure themselves what is going on. But the tone of Rose questions and comments have changed dramatically lately. I get a lot of emails wondering just what became of Rose. I’m willing to give him more time, but I’d agree he’s nowhere close to being an All-Star in a season we thought he’d make that step, and, really, is now suffering in comparison to the latest rookies like Jennings an Evans. Yes, everyone likes a new toy.

Can Rose be the most over rated point guard in the NBA already? I have been watching him closely and he exhibits some early signs of dysfunctionality that a good coaching staff should be able to fix with a little guidance! Top signs of Derrick dysfunction: He pulls ups his dribble with little or no pressure on him at least 10 times a game (often 25 feet from the rim). He settles for a 15 foot jump shot with lots of time on the clock, all teams will give him that shot now. In the playoffs they will close on him. He refuses to consistently exploit his one GENETIC advantage his foot speed and quickness to the rim he pushes and then lets up at half court 12 times a game. He should be shooting at least 10 to 15 free throws a game. Going to the hole and getting fouled, easy points even if he shoots 50% from the foul line. When he is not pushing the ball up he looks lost . . . More like BJ Armstrong. He is NOT VOCAL Enough. This is his team. He wanders off. He must take ownership all GREAT POINT GUARDS DO. He is a below average passer and gets himself in the air with nowhere to go but OUT. He is an average ball handler /dribble with any pressure on him he can’t break it down. On the up side when he does push it, it works, it becomes an easy game. His defense is even better and he can rebound and he leads by example but so did Luc Longley.

So why doesn’t Vinny (coach of the year so far, this Bulls team is so much better prepared defensively for every game, what a turnaround since the Celtics, good for him) get him to put pressure on the defense?

Michael Petan

Sam: Hey, B.J. was an All-Star. I’m not sure you can be that overrated when you’ve never been an All-Star. Though, yes, we were excited about Rose in Chicago. But we’ve seen it so we know he can do it. But, right, he hasn’t yet. Though perhaps we are asking too much as teams aren’t stupid. They prepare for your best player. Maybe the Bulls can trade him for Jamal Crawford? Yes, it is 10 games since Rose was rookie of the year and an Olympic candidate, so I suppose he’s had his chance. He clearly hasn’t been the same player yet. There are several factors, including missing almost four weeks with a leg injury, having to get back in condition, missing the attention defenses paid to Ben Gordon with Salmons and Hinrich shooting poorly and with the offense a bit too much at this point in side to side action, like pick and rolls on top. The defenses have tended to sag on Rose. Though these are things that can be worked out. And it wasn’t like Rose was driving to the basket and running fast breaks all last season. As he feels better he’s been attacking more, and Vinny does talk about it all the time. It’s still a team, with Tyrus Thomas out, with new starters in two positions and an emphasis on defense, which requires effort and energy, and NBA teams just don’t allow you to run. Defenses have gotten back on the Bulls. You’ll notice they don’t trap up court much. No one ever said Jason Kidd didn’t run. But when the Nets played the Spurs in the Finals, the Spurs thwarted that running game by retreating n defense constantly. The Bulls and Rose will work it out, I believe, though hitting some shots should help.

Thanks for writing that piece on Derrick Rose for recently. His struggles on the court have been in the minds of all Bulls fans and yes, even most of us feel weird saying he seems ... human thus far? Bottom line: great players overcome things like these. When you look at all the greats, they still thrive even with handicaps like groin injuries, flu symptoms, back issues, etc.

I think Derrick simply has had to deal with that "perfect storm" of issues. The loss of a pure shooter clogging up the middle, the team's struggle shooting the ball, opposition's primary focus on stopping him, lack of explosiveness due to injury, living up to expectations set so highly last year, etc.

However after reading your piece I find comfort in knowing there is more than just skill to Derrick! Part of what made Rose so special last year was that he is a breath of fresh air personally. Where others would pout, get mad at the media for the criticism, or create inner squabbles within the team, Rose seems somehow "transparent" in his honesty about the issues he is facing. Number one, he KNOWS and apparently feels that he should be doing better -meaning wants to hold himself to a higher standard than just average NBA player #491. Second, not once did i feel in reading his response that the team would be facing adversity because Rose was going to turn into a "me first" or "get my own" kind of player. EVEN THOUGH, he essentially said he'd try to assert himself more into the games. I look at players with amazing skill like Gilbert Arenas and cringe at the kind of reaction they have when facing something like what Rose seems to be going through.

It has been alarming to fixate on Rose for quarters the past couple of games and asking to yourself if he's ok. But describe Rose's role with the team last year ... yes he scored, but he wasn’t the primary scorer. He's in charge or running the offense, facilitating for others, pushing the ball on a fast break -the main lacking area in my opinion this year-, and the occasional "wow" moment with his athleticism. This year, facilitating for others has been hard for anyone due to the poor shooting, the team isn’t running as much as I had previously anticipated, and he has had the occasional "Rose" move even at a self declared 90%. My guess is that when Rose can go 100 miles an hour again, he'll draw more fouls, get to the line more often, and not get blocked so frequently.

I think this is the one player in a long time the Bulls can actually say not to worry, he's too good to keep this up for long.

Roddy Enrique

Sam: Thanks for the perspective and for understanding there is more to Derrick than just whether he can dunk or not. Of course, that is the main thing because their performance is what the players are there for. Rose has always been this way since he came to the Bulls—open, cooperative, untainted by the glory and money and celebrity. He is a pleasure to be around and to see his joy for the game that you root for him. It’s one of many reasons I wouldn’t trade him. You have to build with someone and he’s as good as anyone to have as a base. I do think he’ll come out of it because he is serious about the game and his responsibility. But, yes, he could use a little more staff emphasis on early offense.

I dare not even go here and please forgive me for asking but, if the Bulls want to be a contender quick and attract some big name free agents — What about Rose for Paul as the cornerstone of a deal? Rose may end up being great someday but Paul is truly the real deal! If you want to attract some big name free agents - Paul would be a much stronger enticer than Rose. Paul made Chandler look like way better than he was. We send Rose, some cash and cap relief in exchange for Paul. They get a future star point guard to build around and dump more salary. Rose is on his rookie contract and has to figure to come cheap. Bulls are in the east — New Orleans is in the west.

Dan Abdo

Sam: Easier said than done and all that. I threw out that suggestion earlier this week in my Monday NBA column about the Hornets, given their declining situation, may have to look into dealing Paul. I personally doubt it’s imminent, though I do believe it’s something worth considering for them and possible given the way owner George Shinn has run organizations. Still, Rose is off to a poor start and would hardly be appealing at this point for the Hornets. I doubt the Bulls would have any interest as I believe they are committed to Rose for the long term, but New Orleans has some rookies that could replace Paul some. If they were to deal Paul, it probably would be to a team that could give them lottery picks and an All-Star level scorer to start. Paul’s terrific, but he’s never going to be playing for the Bulls.

Your recent article in which you suggest that the best move for the Hornets is to trade Chris Paul is ridiculous. The Hornets have begun to win over the city of New Orleans almost singlehandedly because of Paul. He is a close second only to Drew Brees in the hearts of the people of this city. Although the city is not yet back at full strength, the support for the Hornets is relatively strong. Any trade involving Chris Paul would undoubtedly destroy the majority of the city's support for the team. In no way, shape, or form does a trade involving Chris Paul help this franchise. Chris Paul may not be happy that the team is currently struggling, but he is not the type of athlete that would demand a trade even though he deserves better than to be a part of a team that struggles like the Hornets have. He does not become a free agent any time soon. The Hornets best available option is to wait. They will have the opportunity to prove to Paul that they are committed to winning once Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic come off the books after next season. That will free up over $20 million in cap space. Couple that cap space with the lottery pick that the Hornets will most likely get this year and the development of rookies Darren Collision and Marcus Thornton, and the Hornets will be in position to have a high quality team. The icing on the cake would be if the Hornets front office were able to trick a contender into thinking that James Posey is their missing piece. A trade involving he and the first underrated now overrated (and terrible defender) David West could give the Hornets either pieces of more cap space. Let's not forget how upset Kobe was with the Lakers but a few short years ago. A player's mind can be changed with just a few personnel moves.

Benjamin Nelson

Sam: I actually tend to agree with you. Rarely do you see stars traded, though George Shinn did that in a big way when he was in Charlotte with Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson. And though you say the Hornets’ financial situation is reasonable, it is also Shinn’s main business and a tough basketball market historically. My main point was Paul will never have the value he does now and could command an impressive package of talent. Some around the NBA who believe in conspiracies say Shinn is not above alienating a community, as he already has done, to be able to move again and get a better deal. I’d doubt the NBA would let him do that again, but you never know in a new economic model and with a labor contract coming. And I see you have questions about David West as well, and he commands interest. It’s easy to say things look better after next season, but there’s a lot of games to be played until then and top players don’t do well with multiple losing seasons. It makes them look at how well their friends are doing elsewhere. And, really, are they serious about having Tim Floyd as the next coach?

I agree with you that it's about time to break up the Hornets. Is there any scenario that you can think of that the Bulls would be able to trade for David West and still have some money for a good free agent (i.e. Joe Johnson) this offseason? Would something like Tyrus, a first rounder, and Jerome James' expiring contract get it done? Is David West even worth going after?

Bryant Williams

Sam: Not according to that guy above. I did mention something about Tyrus for West in that Monday column, and I’d take a shot, though I do agree he’s not the player he’s lately thought to be and in my view not an All Star. It also comes down to considering a guy now and lowering your expectations for the summer.

Why are you shopping "Kid Dynamite" Tyrus Thomas? Don't put him to pasture with all the trade talk. Sometimes the evil that you know is better than the evil you don't know. Besides he wants to stay in Chicago he fits the future for the Bulls.

Jim Mitchell

Sam: Kid Dynamite? Not bad. Of course, having a series of explosive games would help. I’m not anti-Tyrus, and I don’t think most are anymore. Everyone would like to see him have a good season, so it’s unfortunate he’s hurt now. But there remains the chance he doesn’t want to stay and the Bulls would need to move him or renounce him for cap room, though that remains uncertain. If you have a chance to get a player you’ve had your eyes on to fill a need, you have to consider dealing almost anyone, though I’d exclude Rose and Noah primarily.

I feel that part of the reason Rose isn't flourishing this year is not because the lack of a big man (although that would help) but a lack of a wing man at the 2-guard position. With that said, looking back, or even now, was trading Sefolosha for Taj Gibson a good move? We could really use a quick, defensive, long, athletic 2-guard right now that would compliment Rose. I think he’d be perfect and didn’t demand much money. I like Salmons, but I feel like he's more cut out to be a 6th man who can come in and play mostly the 3 and some 2. Not start at the 2.

Douglas Seidman

Sam: We all liked Thabo, but the problem was he can’t shoot. So defenses lay off him and I think they’d have more issues with him. I think the Bulls actually did well with that deal because where would they be now without Gibson?

How huge was Joakim Noah last night?! He's clearly been the Bulls MVP so far this year. Last night, his hustle, rebounds and tip-ins in the 4th quarter were pivotal in beating the Kings. My question is: Is there any way at all Joakim can make the all-star team this year? I know he's not on the ballot but I thought the coaches vote on some players getting in, is that right? Or is it only if a player gets injured and can't go then the coaches vote for the replacement? Please set me straight on this issue.

Billy Habibi

Sam: By not being on the ballot, he can’t be voted in by the fans without receiving a ridiculous amount of write-in votes, but he had no chance anyway with Dwight Howard in the East. After the starters are picked by the fans, the coaches vote for the reserves and I think Noah has a shot because the rest of the centers on the ballot aren’t very good. It’s amazing the NBA could pick a committee of people who didn’t even know Noah was the starter. But the coaches don’t have to vote for a second center and sometimes opt for an extra guard or forward. Overall, I think Noah has a pretty good chance to make the team, and he should be seriously considered the way he’s playing. Now, who thought we’d say that after the first two seasons?

I think we need more perimeter shooting, and a good overall scorer. How about Hinrich and a 2nd round pick for Kevin Martin. I read somewhere that they have been playing better without him, maybe they would be willing to trade him. Hinrich and Evans sounds like a pretty good backcourt to me. Maybe we can get a deal done.

Connor Smith

Sam: I think I was the one who mentioned they were playing better. I suspect you could get some interest from Sacramento, but with Martin’s long eight figure contract I don’t think he’s the kind of player you want to invest that much money in for that long. I wouldn’t.

Since it appears that the Bulls can’t make a shot down the stretch, wouldn't you think that they might want to add another defensive piece? I’m thinking Bruce Bowen. Stay with me here, what do you think about having a line up consisting of Rose at PG, Hinrich at SG, Bowen at SF, Thomas at PF, and Noah at C. That provides us with some defense and some offense. and Bowen is a playoff vet.

Jake Hird

Sam: I’d say that lineup has a chance to score 50 points almost every game. Maybe 60 if they can get a lot of fast breaks.

The upcoming free agency comes down to 2 major difference makers: LeBron and Dwyane. I don't believe we have a good chance to sign either of them (they will both stay in their base). Even though I was against him I realized, when I watched the game here in Greece against the Raptors, that Bosh must be our main target! The reason behind that is that we are the team that can hide his lack of defensive skills. Noah's improved defensive game will cover his back defensively and he can provide the much needed low post scoring. Rose will also benefit from this move because more open lanes will be created to attack the rim. This is going to be a crucial summer for the Bulls front office. I know you don't consider Bosh worthy of a max deal but I do believe it fits great in our team. This is going to be a crucial summer for the Bulls front office. They based all of their moves the last few years on this free agency. With such a loyal support (among the top 3 in attendance the last 14 years!) there will be no excuse if we're not major players... No more Ron Mercers!

George Haramis

Sam: We’re all in agreement on that last point. I actually think that is the plan. Though the public interest seems most for Wade, I get the sense around the Bulls, though no one has told me exactly, that they most covet Bosh for many of the reasons for suggest. I made the point about a max player, but given there are about five in the whole league, it’s something of a moot point. Guys are going to get paid because that is the market, and you are paid what you are worth. Like you are what your record says you are. I also think Miami is intent on going after Bosh. Obviously, Toronto is improved and making a good case to keep him as their No. 1 piece, and he could want to return closer to home and there’s always been talk of Dallas putting together a package. And if the Knicks or Nets can figure a way to attract two players, it’s generally been assumed it’s LeBron and Bosh.

Phoenix is doing pretty well, but why Grant Hill chose to resign with them is really beyond me. They will not get past the second round of the playoffs. He could have gone to Boston and won a ring. He's got plenty of money. I don't get it.

Pete Zievers

Sam: It’s nice to be on a team that wins a title, but I actually am glad to see a guy make a lifestyle choice, a choice for life and family. Though Hill is different that way. It’s nice to hook on and get that opportunity if things work right, like P.J. Brown did. But it’s KG’s and Pierce’s and Allen’s team. Hill wasn’t going to start and who knows how much he’d play. And this still all depends on KG’s knee, an old man’s knee. Hill said he likes living in Phoenix and his family is settled in well. He likes the team and he likes his role. Remember, this was a guy who lost six years in his prime. He can’t make up for that, but he wants to play and contribute and have a major role. Only one team can win. You still have to play the season and it’s an interesting journey nonetheless. I respect someone who made a choice like that and completely understand it. Plus, who wants to hang around Rondo for seven months?

How come during all this 2010 talk Dirk Nowitzki’s name never comes up? Is it just because Dallas can pay him the most, or do you think he really likes it there that much to not consider his options? He's hands down the best scoring big man in the NBA, and could be that key piece we're missing. Derrick Rose is a much better PG than an over-the-hill Jason Kidd, Deng is at least as good as Marion, and when you include Hinrich and Noah I think the Bulls are a much better squad. Dirk is the type of player we are missing, someone to count on to take over in the 4th quarter. We would still have a young athletic lineup to push the ball on offense (which I think we need to do a lot more of this year) and play solid team defense. Throw in a Rose/Nowitzki pick and roll in half court sets and we're tough to beat. I know it's a near impossibility, but isn't worth a chance to at least attempt to get him?

Mike Smith

Sam: You never know, but he is perhaps the one that occurs to me likes where he is, gets treated well and doesn’t invite as his age having to start over and being depended upon to bring a championship. Not to say he’s not a great competitor, but I don’t think he wants the stress of having to prove himself again. And he can make more in Dallas and Mark Cuban will take care of him. Why, I’d wonder, would he want to leave?

Starting with LeBron: Following the Miami game, LeBron talked about changing to #6 (this early in the season, already talking about next year even after saying he wouldn't — and is going to focus on this year). Could he have mentioned this early to gain more "respect" in Chicago — and knowing that Jordan number is retired here? Personally, I disliked LeBron because he has that cocky attitude and considers himself the BEST. *If I'm not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it.* Meaning, if the best player can't wear it, then nobody should. D-Wade: Already a huge fanbase here, being from the Chicagoland area. A couple days ago, he decided to sign with Jordan's Jumpman shoeline. Why? Why? WHY now? He's had his own shoes, I believe, since he's been in the league. Both of these mysteries interest me A LOT. LeBron coming here would send Deng to the bench. I'm not sure about Deng's contract, but I'm sure his paychecks aren't benchable (if we can use that word). Wade coming to Chicago would bench Salmons, which would be another big playmaker off the bench with Hinrich (if he's still here). Personally, I want LeBron more.

Alex Bugg

Sam: As we know, the Bulls would take either. Salmons likely has to opt out, which is expected, for the Bulls to have a max contract possibility. And I wouldn’t worry about Deng. Players find a way to fit. LeBron plays just about every position for the Cavs but center. The Chicago angles are intriguing with James with the No. 23 gimmick and Wade with the Jordan shoes and making a move, including commercially, to be that next Jordan. It certainly seems to put Chicago in play, though these guys change their minds all the time and have so many competing forces working on them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t make decisions until after July 1.

Everybody is all blown up over Brandon Jennings, especially with his 55 points (although it did come against the Warriors, a team who couldn't guard their own shadows). Yet, watching him, he doesn't play like a true point guard, he is more of the mold of Allen Iverson, a shoot first player. Also, I was watching some of that game and a lot of times, he got the ball cleanly picked from him when he tried to go one on one without a screen. He will score points but I don't think he will be a great team distributor, your thoughts? Even though I hate Rondo, I would take him as a PG before Jennings.

Matt Scheidler

Sam: This guy has the chance to be a real star in the NBA. Rondo is terrific, though in the ideal place. I think Rondo would be a mess with a team like the Bucks. What Jennings can do which most of these top young point guards can’t do is shoot. I’ve been likening him to Tiny Archibald, a Hall of Famer from the early 1970s. Tiny was more scorer than facilitator, but so are most of the top young point guards. Already, a savvy former point guard coach Scott Skiles is letting Jennings run the team and make decisions. That tells me a lot. The Bucks need Jennings to score as with Redd out they really have no one. So Jennings has, which is impressive for a rookie. And I hear around the Bucks the kid is a really serious student of the game. He got a place near the Bucks workout facility in suburban Milwaukee so he can go to the gym every night with assistant Kelvin Samson. He saved his money and bought a Ford Focus. He has Scott Skiles raving about him. You don’t see that with Skiles and kids. He looks like the real deal to me.

I'm having a salary cap debate with some other Bulls fans right now. I need your help here. If Salmons picks up his player option, but the Bulls get rid of Ty Thomas, will they have the room to sign a max player, say Dwyane Wade?

Christopher Wolff

Sam: They probably would be short of the maximum deal in those circumstances because what’s caught everyone by surprise is the expected 10 percent or more reduction in the salary cap. Teams had been looking at a cap around $60 million. The Bulls would have been at least $20 million under that, enough for a max deal. Now the cap, which we won’t know until next summer, could be closer to $50 million. At that figure, the Bulls would likely need to renounce Thomas and see Salmons opt out, though none of this is certain yet given the economics. The Knicks, for example, built their whole 2010 plan on $60 million and room for two free agents. Now it seems they’ll have room for one, and no top player goes to a bad team alone, as the Bulls from 2000 know. So this is changing the thinking of a lot of teams and giving the teams with those players a better chance to resign them because their own teams can pay them more than anyone else with bigger annual raises and an extra year. It’s why you could see more teams looking to trade and maybe opt out of the 2010 sweepstakes.

Is Joe Johnson worth a max deal? How do you think he fits in with the Bulls squad?

Brad Hergott

Sam: No, but I’d probably pay it. Unless, of course, you can get LeBron, Wade, Bosh, i.e., a better player. There are a few courses you can pursue in free agency if you are the Bulls. If they do reach the maximum money available, which would require things like John Salmons opting out, and they can attract a game changer and impact player, you do that. Really, to me, it’s only Wade and LeBron. Kobe, of course, but no one believes he’ll leave the Lakers. Likewise Dirk and the Mavs. Then no one is truly worth the maximum, but you have to spend your money and you should. So how best: Try to add two role type players to fill out your roster? That was the tact the Bulls were left to in 2000 when the big guys went elsewhere. You try to get the best player you can. Joe Johnson fills a nice need for the Bulls now. He’s a scorer who can make a play and has shooting range. It’s also where we really see Ben Gordon most missed: The affect on Derrick Rose with defenses crowding him by not respecting the Bulls other shooters. Plus, Johnson is 6-7, so much harder to defend. Does he make you a champion? No. Does he make you better? Yes.

It comes up a lot these days that Shaq is no longer, as you say, "That Shaq." He is a past-his-prime superstar who seems to not believe he is past his prime, therefore he does not accept a lesser role in his current team's game plan. A similar story is going on with Iverson, also past his prime, who will not play second fiddle on any team he plays on. And he's ruining what could be a decent last few years of his career. Then of course there is Marbury, who instead of settling in as a solid role player for a contender like Boston, decided he would rather sit out a year. Or for good. The reality is that many superstars simply do not age well, once they are past their primes. Which superstars have you seen, who have done the most effective job of transitioning into their past-prime roles?

Mike Gates

Sam: It’s difficult for anyone, whether in sports or not, to accept such a subsidiary role after being what they were for so many years. What makes it more difficult is that you get to places like Iverson did not with his physical talent but a unique drive and desire. You can’t just turn off the mental part, so I have some sympathy with those guys. It’s easy from the outside to say he should just accept a role, but if he were that kind of person he never would have reached the competitive level he did. It’s especially hard when you’ve been the man in charge. All anyone had to see was Jordan’s return in Washington. And if you do walk away you often have regrets, like Isiah Thomas leaving the game so early when his skill level was just starting to diminish. I thought Kareem handled it relatively well, though the process was more gradual as he ceded to Magic. I actually thought Wilt did well, though it seemed tougher. He got out of the game more quickly and toward the end became a facilitator rather acceptingly after being the greatest scorer the game has ever known. I thought Dr. J did well with it, in part, because he was such a gracious man with his teammates. Guys tended to do better with it in previous eras since the money wasn’t as big and the desire to chase those last dollars wasn’t so intense. Bird went out quickly because of injuries and didn’t fight it much, but it’s not something we see often and much more difficult to do than you think.

I know this may be a little out there but what would you think about us bringing in Iverson since clearly nobody else wants him. I know he is not the player he once was but I think he would be a good fit for us just for this season. Let’s face it, it's clear that were missing Ben Gordon's 20ppg and Iverson could do just that for us... SCORE. With Salmons struggling to be that 2nd option in the offense maybe we could bring Salmons of the bench and he would be like a 3rd which he was last year and he excelled for us. Iverson could fill that role that Gordon was for us last year and it gives Rose more time to get groomed for that "go to guy" role.

Keith Mikhail

Sam: No, no, a million times no. There’s zero chance the Bulls ever pick up a guy like Iverson, so there’s really no issue for Chicago. They don’t do things like that. But does it ever occur to all the people I keep getting these emails from that when 29 teams reject Iverson and one picks him up to be a potential attendance draw for a bad team there must be some issue. The issue, in part, is Iverson speaks his mind all the time, and his mind basically says he is the best player in the NBA and everyone else who doesn’t see that is an idiot. He’s difficult to play with because of the way he plays, a volume shooter who monopolizes the ball. Players don’t like playing with him. You didn’t hear much regret from the Grizzlies. Or Pistons or Nuggets for that matter. He’s been a remarkable player, but is no longer good enough to score those 30 or 40 points to make up for all his bad shots and lack of defense. Only the desperate will take a chance on Iverson now.

What about Chris Kaman? Do you think the Bulls can benefit from him if he is healthy? I don't even know who I could give up because I would really like to see the Bulls keep Brad Miller. Watching Miller play I believe he knows his starting days are behind him, but he can be a great bench player and clubhouse leader. So do you think starting Kaman with Noah would be a good lineup to go along with Deng, Salmons, and Rose? Maybe we can send Thomas and a draft pick. By no mean though would I want to assume too much salary for next summer FA's. I think Kaman has a decent size contract with only 2 years left.

Alfredo Rivas

Sam: That was last year. The Bulls have moved on. Kaman is having a terrific season, but I think the Bulls are set with Noah at center and would like to have a power four who can step outside and shoot. Yes, dream on. So would everyone else. OK, Chris Bosh. In any case, Kaman plays primarily inside, has a big contract and hasn’t proven he can play full seasons yet without being hurt. Next!

With Sefolosha getting, what I would consider, a bum contract ($11-12 / 3 yrs), what is the market for Ty Thomas. Maybe sign and trade?

Jim Brinkman

Sam: Sounded pretty good to me. What the players don’t understand yet, but will, and which Sefolosha did, is that the money is going to be there for the stars and then fall way off. Teams are going to with the declining cap and luxury tax go for stars and a bunch of minimum contracts. Thomas needs to understand that as well as he has little market now and which is why this season is so important to him and why the Bulls believed they’d get a good season from him. We’ll see when he returns from injury.

What's Plan B? Much as I want to see it, I just don't see DWade or LBJ coming to Chicago. And as you rightly point out, they're the only difference makers out there this year. Do the Bulls resign/extend Salmons and shoot for a guy like David Lee? Do they try to upgrade Salmons to Joe Johnson and... I don't even know what the second half of that is. I'm not questioning the wisdom of trying to be a player at the trading deadline or waiting until next summer; I'm just wondering what Plan B is. One-year extensions and going after 'Melo? Rose for CP3?

Andrew Hartnett

Sam: I doubt there is a serious so-called Plan B. What it generally comes down to is you have lists, like with the draft. You go after the players at the top of your list and as they disappear you keep moving down. The Bulls will rate the free agents to their needs, desires, likes and possibilities and go from there. Look, you’ve got to take a shot at the top guys because you owe yourself and you fans that. Then you go down the list. There’s questions about retaining Salmons and Tyrus Thomas and that will play out more as the season goes on and into the playoffs. I remember the Bulls being uncertain of keeping Paxson in 1991 and then he goes in and has that Finals and the Bulls win the title and they end up paying him almost double what he first asked for. So things will change, but we know the list for now and the Bulls will be among many in the July recruiting bazaar.

Do you think the Bulls would or should sign a shooting coach like Mark Price?

Sergio Fierro

Sam: I’ve thought of it as well, though I have my doubts on how much it accomplishes. Shooting is generally repetition, and I doubt anything can be done for Noah. Plus, what shooting coach would want to come in and say he coached the team that has Noah as a shooter.

So a friend of mine, let’s call him Sam Smith, suggested a trade for Monta Ellis last year. Would I be giving up to early on this year’s Bulls if I suggested Kirk for Ellis? We could throw in our number one pick next year. It would keep some guaranteed money off the books for the 2010 free agents. It means a lot less D but a lot more scoring. It would take some pressure off Rose. Monta has that scorers mentality that we lack. It opens up the court to run more. It gives us one of the fastest back courts. But also one of the smallest. Really we are doing well this year. We are over 500 and playing suffocating defense that i didn't think we were capable of.

Bryan Scott

Sam: I did mention that last year and got a bunch of angry responses from San Francisco that the Warriors never would deal Ellis, which they appear ready to do. I think they like Hinrich and they need a better point guard than they have, though they actually don’t have one. So I think it’s conceivable and I’d do it. Straight up it would take the Bulls into the luxury tax this year, which I doubt they’d do. But they might be able to throw in something to equalize the deal. I’d love to have Ellis with Rose as though that would be a small backcourt, it would be high powered and that’s the way the league is going. You see even Portland playing two small guards. I’d try to get it done, even if it’s a year late.

I've been trying to come up with moves the Bulls could make in order to be legit contenders. We all know that the team they have is not going to get them anything better than a 5 seed this year, most likely. I am thinking for next year. I have heard that Al Jefferson is not working out well in the triangle that Rambis runs.

Bulls offer:
Tyrus Thomas (when recovered)
John Salmons (I assume he will opt out anyway)
Jerome James (Wolves will want an expiring contract)
A draft pick if necessary

Wolves offer:
Al Jefferson
Corey Brewer

Christopher Edgar

Sam: So you think Tyrus would run it better?


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