Ask Sam | 01.08.10

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

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Interesting column on Tyrus: I think you can draft on potential, but not pay for it w/a new contract. He's had plenty of time to perform consistently but hasn't. He's let us know who he is. Actions not words.
And has a big contract ever incentivized anyone who needed to be?

Robert Learner

Sam: That’s the question for the Bulls. Can you trust Thomas after you pay him? Perhaps if you saw consistency and big men do mature later. But as he drifts in and out again—and I detailed that the column you mention this past week—what do you do? It’s not like other teams don’t notice. Here’s the issue. The Bulls will make him a qualifying offer, I assume, because they don’t want to lose him for nothing. I question whether there’s much significant market for him. The Bulls then might be in position to pull the offer and renounce Tyrus if they can hit a home run, say Wade or LeBron or Bosh (I know, dreaming). But say they don’t. What do you do then? Let him go for nothing? Renounce him and hope you can sign someone? And then what if you don’t? And when what if the light bulb goes on and he’s an All-Star somewhere else? I know there’ll be plenty of time to answer second guess questions from fans.

Is Pargo really hurting bad enough to not be able to contribute? I know he really only does one thing well but when he's on he can be a game changer. Vinny has got to learn how to use spot players off the bench. Bring Pargo in and let him jack up two shots, if he hits one give him more, if he’s cold, put him back on the bench. Give Gray a few spot minutes against big centers, he has post moves that are effective and 6 fouls to use. I agree with you on Hunter as not even the CIA can locate his shot but after watching Phil use spot players off the bench so effectively for his whole career, even his first few years, it really seems Vinny doesn't really have a clue how to use his bench. Do you think that management should have more input on coaching as they do pay their salaries and they have to see this, especially after Pax has played for the master.

Greg Wright

Sam: Pargo can play and I’d like to see him get some time like you suggest and I’ve suggested as well. It’s the young coach syndrome with Vinny as he’s working hard now to get other guys in whom managements wants playing, like Johnson, and hasn’t developed the trust and confidence in himself that veteran coaches have. It’s the price all teams pay when they develop young coaches. The other point is interesting as traditionally in the NBA management is prohibited in one of those unwritten rules from advising on coaching. It’s a big reason D’Antoni left the Suns when Steve Kerr, rather mildly I thought at the time, began suggesting substitutions. Coaches are a very insecure breed for obvious reasons. When a GM and coach are extremely close, there is a better exchange of ideas. That doesn’t exist now on the Bulls for obvious reasons given the controversy over Del Negro’s tenure. I know every loss changes the fans’ thinking on that, though I’d assume Vinny is OK unless there’s some huge collapse. The Bulls have lost a few lately, but been in games. It’s what happens with teams with .500 level talent. It makes sense for GM’s to play a larger role and I’m not opposed to that, but it just doesn’t work that way.

Had a question about the Thunder game which I was at. You note this on Twitter (3rd quarter was so brutal I had to find a distraction) that the Bulls pretty much lost the game when Noah was taken out and the Thunder went on a 15-4 run. Didn't help that for a few minutes Rose was out as well, and those two seemed to be the key to the lead in the first. Anyway, I'm not singling out Vinny, because I see this all the time, but he pulls Noah after his 4th foul, probably midway through the 3rd. By the time he comes back in, the game is essentially over. I never understood this...wouldn't you rather risk Noah fouling out, maybe mid 4th, and keep him in the game and probably keep the game close, versus taking him out and having virtually no chance? I feel like if he stays in, you keep it in single digits, and who knows what can happen in the last few minutes. But I see this all time in the NBA, and it always seems the guy comes back in when it’s too late and he ends up not fouling out anyway.

Erik Johnson

Sam: The losses this past week to the Thunder and Bobcats brought out the Vinny second guessers again, which is the fate of all coaches with losing teams. That’s a judgment call and Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich usually do that with their best players. So you can’t hold Vinny accountable on that one. In fact, whether leading or trailing Phil always took Jordan out to start the fourth and now does the same with Kobe. Coaches can’t win, which is part of the deal. You play your best players 40 plus minutes and everyone says you are taking the short term and overplaying them. So now you’re down and take Noah out with a fourth foul in the third (I questioned also taking out Taj with Tyrus in one of his trances again) and that’s questioned. Vinny did not lose either of those games. Those games were lost by players not competing at a high level and, as I recall, missing a bunch of free throws and firing up some ugly long shots.

I just read an article about the Jazz shopping Boozer. It’s obvious they will trade him. But it has been said there asking for too much in return. They also want someone they think they can re sign. After watching Tyrus last night. His inconsistencies really hurt this team. I think it’s time to let go. I think Tyrus could excel in the Utah system and learn a lot under Sloan. Because no one is gonna learn anything from VDN. Now look how well Deron Williams and Boozer play together. Is it a dream to think Rose and Boozer can play like that together? Someone who can actually knock down a jump shot off a pick and roll! This would hurt Chicago in no way right? Boozer has an expiring contract. With him this year could propel the Bulls into the 2nd round. Which makes the Bulls even more attractive next year. Plus if Boozer works out, they could possibly keep him and even be able to afford Joe Johnson. So Tyrus and James for Boozer and whatever else works to make this deal happen.

P.J. Bracero

Sam: Yeah, Tyrus with Jerry Sloan, whom Scott Skiles is most compared with. I seriously doubt the Jazz would want any part of Tyrus given the inconsistencies you discuss. There’s been much speculation about Boozer for a year now since he said he was playing out his option and then no one seemed interested in him, so he opted in. He seems to be playing selfishly now to boost his numbers for free agency, which is one reason the Jazz has struggled and another reason they may well let him go. His contract is expiring, so there is no urgency to move him as the Jazz need to save money. My guess is they’d want something useful going forward and someone to take a bad contract, like maybe Kirilenko’s. I thought for awhile they were interested in Hinrich, though that no longer seems the case with his long term deal. This is much much easier said than done and more and more impossible the more lackluster games Tyrus has.

A friend of mine said he just heard that there is some conversation going around at the Berto Center about Hinrich and Thomas plus draft picks in exchange for Bosh. Please tell me this is credible??

Dan Abdo

Sam: I got a few emails on this one last week and later heard it was talked about on sports radio. I’m always glad when they take a three-minute break from discussing Bears assistant coaches. Yes, it’s being discussed as with, “Could the Raptors be so crazy to take Hinrich and Thomas for Bosh?” I’d say no. Let me rethink that: Could that be the stupidest speculation ever? They are decent players and have some value, but first the Raptors have done reasonably well of late and moving up in the standings. I know there’s some mixture within the Raptors organization to trade Bosh before risk losing him for nothing in the summer, but that would signal giving up the season and GM Bryan Colangelo isn’t about to do that with the best player in franchise history. And if he does trade Bosh can he come back to season ticket holders and management and say how lucky he was to get two injury plagued backups on a losing team. That should guarantee an extension. If the Raptors collapse, there might be talk come February, which is why the Bulls have been holding off doing anything yet so they’d have money available to make up the difference in a trade. The belief in Toronto is they make a full court press to resign him and they can offer the most by far. If that fails, they look into a sign and trade in the summer so Bosh can make the max money. Players always go for that. Such talk as you heard only make sense from a Bulls perspective in their dreams and fantasies.

I wanted to know your thoughts on the rumor that Milwaukee is shopping Michael Redd. Any chance the Bucks would listen if the Bulls came calling? He could be that outside threat the Bulls so desperately lack. Would a deal for Redd take us out of the 2010 sweepstakes?

Matt McCreary

Sam: My assumption is not only are they shopping Redd, but they would drive him to your city if you’d take him. He certainly doesn’t fit well with the way Scott Skiles likes to play, he seems to be injury prone or having difficulty recovering and makes $18 million next season. Want to make him your highest paid player? That doesn’t go over well with others playing better. And unless you deal him for, say, Deng and Hinrich, you are basically out of free agency. If then if you do what sort of team do you have left? It’s pretty much why he’ll likely finish out his deal in Milwaukee, though in his last contract season next season I wouldn’t be surprised to see him recover his game.

If we were to play fantasy-land (because this would NEVER) happen, what do you think the impact of having Phil Jackson come back to coach the bulls would be? Would he entice any of the big names in the 2010 FA class to sign? What type of record and how far do you think he would be able to take the collection of talent the Bulls have on their roster? Obviously, this is 100% fantasy because I am not sure Phil and Jerry would ever allow one another to be in the same room as each other, but I would love to hear what you think someone like Phil would do for the state of the Bulls.

Justin Schneider

Sam: Actually Phil and Jerry Reinsdorf have a great relationship and talk regularly. Phil’s leaving had nothing to do with Reinsdorf as Michael was leaving, too. I know it’s a better story, if not true. Anyway, I think the effect of coaches on free agents is way overrated. Think Hedo Turkoglu said, “I have to play for Jay Triano.” I’m fairly sure Hedo never had heard of him. Phil’s, in my view, the greatest coach in the game’s history. I assume the Bulls would be better, though not contending for a first round playoff home court advantage. It’s about talent. It is a fantasy as Phil might come back to Albany as well as Chicago. He has now coached more games for the Lakers than the Bulls. It isn’t even certain how much longer he’ll coach the Lakers. He had a huge offer to coach the Bulls after Jordan left in 1998 and rejected it, saying he doesn’t want any part of rebuilding projects or young teams. I’d guess this. If Dwyane Wade wants, Pat Riley will be coaching the Heat next season. And then we’ll see if that means anything to LeBron James.

Let's suppose that the Bulls next summer won't be able to sign neither LeBron or Wade. How do you see them in the eastern conference adding David Lee and Joe Johnson? I really hope they don't let Tyrus walk away because he is too important for us on the you think he will stay?

Lorenzo Giulianotti

Sam: I don’t think a lot of fans understand this. Unless the Bulls can move Salmons or Hinrich for an expiring contract they won’t even have enough money for one max free agent. Johnson is likely to command a max deal and Lee probably eight figures annually. The Bulls hope to add one top player this summer. They don’t have room at this point for more than that. But it’s still early. If they were to trade players for McGrady’s expiring deal they could have enough for two guys, but then they’d have almost no roster. I’m not sure how this happened, but most fans seem to have been unclear on this and thinking the Bulls have a chance to add two major players. As I said, if nothing changes at this point they’d be fortunate to add one. But I do expect changes to come by the February trade deadline, so we’ll see.

With the way the Bulls bigs are playing, a low post scorer isn't a 
priority, but rather a consistent outside shooter. Guys like Joe 
Johnson and Kevin Martin demand a premium and restricts cap 
flexibility, so the Bulls should look into underrated players (just 
like what Daryl Morey does) like GS's Anthony Morrow. He led the 
league in 3PT Pct last year and is capable of putting up big numbers 
consistently as long as he just shoots. Another is Rasual Butler of LAC.

Jerry Hizon

Sam: I’ve looked at it that way some when Tyrus is playing well. When he is and if you were to keep him, he, Taj and Noah are a pretty good threesome and your weakness would be perimeter shooting and spacing the floor with scoring. But if Tyrus isn’t playing at a high level on either end, you have a low post flaw on offense or defense. Golden State is willing to trade guys, but they seem intent on keeping their low cost guys. You can get Maggette. I know the guy in Houston gets a lot of credit for being the NBA moneyball guy, but as you see in baseball Oakland doesn’t win anything and Houston won’t either. You can compete with those guys and have a fun team. You can’t go anywhere. You’ve got to get stars, and it seems after the nice little teams under Skiles everyone here should understand that. The Bulls do and that’s what 2010 free agency is all about and why they won’t and shouldn’t be shortcutting it. There’s no guarantees, but they are proceeding the best way unless someone like Bosh or Joe Johnson or Amar’e Stoudemire comes available in February, which is highly unlikely given all are with teams contending for high playoff spots.

I work for (a suburban) Police Department...patrol, night shift. I'm very curious to see how they handle the gun situation with Arenas. I dealt with drugs and gang bangers on a regular basis. On a few occasions I had to deal with people carrying or concealing guns. It amazes me how comfortable and casual people act when they are in possession of drugs and weapons. Just a few months ago we stopped a group of guys who had a loaded shotgun which was on the floor in the back of the car. Everyone in the car was calm as can be! When I got hired and I first held my duty weapon, I was nervous. I wanted to be sure I was handling it properly. I've dealt with kids on the street that know more about my gun than I do. A friend that I got hired with told me about the time he volunteered to speak to the kids at (an) Elementary School . He said several kids looked at his gun on his hip and said outloud.."that's a Glock 17!". I always thought "Glock" was a word Snoop Dogg made up! lol So, imagine my surprise when I ordered my first duty weapon, a Glock 17. My point is, it's getting scary how casual and comfortable people are with weapons and especially guns. At work I go into many homes for different reasons but it bothers me when so many young kids of today show so much excitement when they see my gun and try and touch it and ask questions about it. Those same kids will be watching the news or ESPN too see what happens with Arenas. I'll be watching...and hoping it is handled properly. You'd be surprised how many people we hear excusing their behavior because of what they saw on the news. "So and So beat that, so I know I can too." I'm Hispanic. I already have to deal with Hispanics expecting me to give them a break because they think I'm "one of them", and even better, blacks often tell me that they will successfully sue me because Obama is president...and now all police are in trouble! The last thing we need is a high profile athlete to break a gun law and get away with it.

Vic D.

Sam: Thanks for the real life experience. I’m hoping many saw my plea in my Monday column for the NBA to take a hard line. I’m hoping the indefinite suspension isn’t only because Arenas was mocking Stern and the charges in Philadelphia. That’s exactly the point. The NBA has a responsibility, like it or not asked for it or not, of transcending the infraction and the league. Kids do look to the athletes and entertainers and we’ve had way too much hand gun violence. It’s frightening to hear your experience with kids and their ease with weapons. It’s no surprise what follows is so much school violence. I’m hoping we don’t see Arenas again this season and he loses his contract. I’m all for second chances and I’d be fine with him trying to come back as a free agent and earn a new deal next year. I also hope the local authorities in D.C. take this seriously and charge him and Crittenton with felonies. Everyone needs to know weapons possession is no joking matter, and I think Arenas has the league’s attention now. I hope others will learn from it, in the NBA and outside.

How come everyone is so keen on trading Kirk? It's not like the dude can't play, and since he was recently put back in the starting line-up the bulls are on a winning streak. I mean it isn't his fault that the bulls paid him the kind of money he played like early in his career (being the starting point guard of the all-rookie team along with Wade, Melo, LeBron and Bosh). I get that he is a small 2 guard but he is a combo guard the can move to the 1 when Rose takes a breather. Why not let him continue to improve at shooting guard and bank on getting a solid forward in 10-11?

Tommy Hess

Sam: I’ve gotten some emails to the effect he’s lost it, especially after missing those point blank shots against the Bobcats. I actually think he’s done well and is hardly a problem. Actually, I think he’s been one of the better players this season. The ball moves better with him on the floor and the lineup change was a good one. He can make a shot and comes out and plays hard and competes all the time. And if he didn’t take the money then I’d trade him because it would have demonstrated he’s too stupid to have. They may have to deal him to have enough money under the salary cap to pay a max free agent. But he has a declining contract that pays $9 million next season and $8 million after that and if they could keep him around he’d be a good third guard to have.

With everything going in with the Wizards right now and talks that they want to dismantle their team, how possible do you think this trade is? Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler for John Salmons, Kirk Hinrich, and James Johnson. The money works and I think it could be potentially what both sides are looking for in a trade. We get two scorers and outside threats and they get a solid pg, a serviceable replacement for butler, and a player with gobs of potential (even though he hasn't really shown it yet).

Mike Smith

Sam: I know everyone always assumes when a team goes bad they are going to trade you their best players for nothing. Maybe you can give them Jerome James, Aaron Gray and Lindsey Hunter. And then you’d be even better. Sure, they’re under siege there and I’m sure they’re listening to deals. But those are big time assets, as they are called, and if the Wizards make a move it’s going to be for something. Ernie Grunfeld is one of the more patient GM’s. Their season is done and they don’t have to be in a hurry now. They’ll probably look to rebuild at some level with draft picks and young players. I think if you’d give them a good expiring deal like Miller’s along with Taj and an unprotected No. 1 you can make a deal. But then you are out of free agency and have your team for the future. And you are the Wizards with Rose instead of Arenas. There also was a rumor floating around a week ago about Butler to the Bulls. That just makes no sense as Butler is a small forward who doesn’t shoot threes that well. The Bulls have two of those already. What exactly would the point be as the Wizards aren’t going to take back Salmons, who isn’t as good as Butler. This is not fantasy basketball. I know GM’s aren’t geniuses, but you at last have to have some logic in a deal from both sides.

I know you said you don't like the idea of Tmac on the Bulls but how bad could it be to have him on our starting line up playing the 2 spot?! ... after seeing how bad Hinrich gets whooped by these taller SG it makes you wonder how having Tmac in his place would be. .. dont get me wrong i'm not picking on Hinrich, I've always been a fan but I'd try to dump him and Miller for Tmac right NOW. .. the NBA is about creating matchup problems and the Bulls always seem to be on the losing end of those. ... I believe we would be on the winning end with DRose and TMac in the backcourt. ... and I know youre thinking , well Houton would never go for that, so then SWEETEN the deal. .. throw in J.J. !

Edwin Pacheco

Sam: I don’t fully get this McGrady stuff as the Rockets openly said he couldn’t play, and they want to trade him. Doesn’t that tell you something? Even healthy he’d be problematic the way the Bulls need to play, fast, which is why the Rockets don’t want him around. Everyone keeps mistaking him for McGrady of five years ago. Seen Iverson lately? You get old, you get hurt and you don’t play and that’s natural. Plus, McGrady has a reputation as one of the lazier players who doesn’t keep in shape or care much. Why else was Houston so glad to be rid of him? It’s not like they’re playing All-Stars at two guard. I have no doubt Hinrich would kick McGrady’s butt one-on-one all day long.

I teach Quality Assurance at a college in the midwest and just couldn’t help doing a little statistical analysis of the Bulls over the holidays, hoping to find opportunities for improvement. It would appear the Bulls don't really need to change personnel this season to be competitive and be in the playoffs.With the frustrating season the Bulls have had so far, I was surprised to see they are 7 in the East as of 1/3/2010. An analysis of some team statistics reveals the following.

Points Per Shot (PPS) and Effective Field Goal Average(EFGA): These are much better indicators of the shooting of a team as they takes into account the added scoring due to made 3 point attempts.
The Bulls are 29th at 45.3%. Only the Nets are worse at 44.3%. It should be noted that these good teams are attempting at least 20 3 pointers per game. The Bulls are averaging 11.
The top EFGA teams are some of the most successful teams this year, with a few exceptions such as New York. But, statistically, it is very clear that there is absolutely no scoring similarity between the Bulls and the elite teams in the league. However, while the Bulls have been disappointing in their ability to score, their ability to limit their opponents’ scoring combined with good rebounding allows them to be somewhat competitive.
The Bulls are in the top ten among teams with much better records in points per game given up.
In rebounding, the Bulls are 2nd in the league. 
Of course some very bad teams do well in this category due to lots of missed shots. But the combination of low PPG allowed and total rebounding is unusual. This may be an indication of good defense and defensive discipline and it may be what is allowing them to be in the mix at this point in the season.
The Bulls are competitive in the Eastern Division as they are now configured. Their biggest strengths seem to be that while they play a fairly fast game, they don’t give up a lot of points, and they rebound well.
Field goal average is almost completely misunderstood by most fans. But, statistically, if you can shoot 33% from 3 point, that is equal to shooting 50% from 2 point range. So, this nonsense that shooting 35% from 3 point is bad, is ridiculous. Of course this assumes you can effectively rebound 3 point misses, which is not that easy.
But, the Bulls are only attempting 11 3 point shots per game, the lowest in the league. Their percentage is 32%, which is not bad at all considering they rarely get to do it. They are a good rebounding team with good defensive discipline. It would make sense that they could shoot more 3 point shots with their current personnel. This would raise their EFGA and allow them to score more points. Rose should be looking for Salmons, Hinrich and Deng for more 3 pointers when he drives. Contested fast breaks could result in more 3 attempts with an emphasis on long rebounds.
With the existing personnel on the team, continued good defense and increased EFGA due to more planned 3 point attempts could be enough to move the Bulls into competitiveness with some of the top teams in the East.

Bill Palmer

Sam: Well, this does cinch it that professors and teachers get too much time off. I’m not that big on saber metrics, especially in basketball where team play supercedes stats. The NBA’s plus/minus stats often are ridiculous and I’ve lately seen the ESPN stat formula where Rose is one of the league’s poorest point guards (they had him seventh or eighth among rookies last year) and they then had Ben Gordon as the Bulls best defender. Some of those stats are a good guide, but you do best with the eye test. Yes, the Bulls would do better to shoot more threes, though as Phil Jackson always said, it’s about shots made not shots attempted. The Bulls simply don’t have anyone who is a reliable three point shooter or who even feels comfortable taking the shot. Kirk probably is closest, but doesn’t get a lot of shots. Deng doesn’t like to step out that far and Salmons likes to do that spin move and step in. The Bulls have improved defensively, which they said they would after last season and letting go Ben Gordon, and it has happened. But in this NBA you need to score the way the rules have changed. In some sense the Bulls are being caught as they were in their 2000 free agency plan by a change in rules. In 1999, the league put a ceiling on salaries. If there wasn’t one the Bulls would have had the top free agent in 2000 because they could pay the most. All things being equal, who wanted to play for that team? Defense is vital to a championship team, but you can compete now by scoring as Toronto does, for example. Threes are a huge part of the game. Way too much for me, but that’s the way it is and that has to be a priority for the Bulls next summer.

Celtics fan here. I want to give you Ray Allen’s expiring contract.
I just ask that you send Brad Miller and Salmons to Toronto with the Cs #1 so we can land Bosh in a sign and trade.

Do you at least agree Toronto needs to trade Bosh in a deal like this one?

Brian McDevitt

Sam: This is what Bulls fans forget. There are a lot of teams who’ll make bids for guys like Bosh. The assumption is Boston loaded up for a short term run and will run it out and then drop back to the bottom. That’s what happened with the run of the 80’s. I remember when there was interest in Kevin McHale around ‘87 when he was starting to break down and the Celts wouldn’t deal and came apart as everyone declined. They may be smarter now, though it’s not popular and somewhat ruthless. But it’s the right thing to do in the long run. Is Danny Ainge that smart and daring? That would be the move for the Celts, though Toronto never would do that. Miller and Salmons? I know we all think Canadians are thick from all the ice, but Bryan Colangelo is from Phoenix. The intriguing part will be to watch teams like Boston if they don’t make it all the way begin to break up and cash in big time parts, perhaps even KG.

Do you think Derrick Rose deserves to be on the All-Star team this year?? I certainly do he's been great lately and if he keeps it up he deserves to be on the All-Star team considering we really don’t have many great point guards in the eastern conference. Also where do you rank him right now among point guards? I would say:

1. Chris Paul
2. Deron Williams
3. Steve Nash
4. Derrick Rose
5. Chauncey Billups
6. Rajon Rondo
7. Jason Kidd
8. Devin Harris
9. Baron Davis
10.Monte Ellis

Zaid Rafiti

Sam: If I were starting a team now and picked a point guard to go forward with I’d pick Rose No. 1 for the future. Probably now given experience and accomplishment you’d rate Paul, Williams, Nash, Rondo and Billups ahead. Rose has played much more aggressively coming off injury, but he’s still just barely past rookie status.

Can you please please please explain to me why do I keep seeing on that McGrady is a potential all-star this year? He hasn’t played in god knows how long and is now not even with a team. And Iverson as well? Why are people such morons?

Aaron Ward

Sam: People, yes, they’re the worst. The McGrady effect basically is explained, if that is reasonable, for playing with the Rockets and Yao. Yao has been a cottage industry for Rockets players because of Yao. They get all kinds of endorsement deals in China as a result and I believe a big reason why Trevor Ariza turned down the same money not to stay with the Lakers. So Tracy gets a lot of those votes. It’s why in recent years Tim Duncan, whom we didn’t even think cared about such stuff, requested the NBA keep him on the All-Star ballot as a forward so he didn’t have to compete with the Yao center vote from China. As for the Bulls guys, Rose and Noah have a chance to be added to the All-Star team by the coaches as reserves. But it’s probably a bit of a longshot given the team’s record. The coaches like to go with players from winning teams unless the players have huge numbers like Danny Granger and Devin Harris last season. It’s why Rondo probably would get the nod over Rose as Iverson probably gets voted in. He wouldn’t make it on coach picks. The Bulls also are on the road in the west as the coaches vote, which figures to further hurt their chances. The roster of good big men is weak in the East, so I think Noah has a better shot on that level. Iverson seems a lock to be a starting guard, so that hurts Rose. I can see the Celts having four All-Stars, including Rondo. Noah might have a better shot given the lack of big men as I can’t see Shaq getting the nod the way he’s played. So the question is whether the coaches go for Horford and/or Josh Smith. They’ll always want to find a second Orlando player, which won’t be easy.

If Vinny Del Negro, John Paxson, Craig Hodges, and Steve Kerr were to have a three point contest present day, who would win?

Matt Griswold

Sam: Vinny wasn’t a bad three point shooter, but didn’t shoot many. He had a nice mid range game and was smart about what were good shots. He wouldn’t win. I’d go with Hodges if it were the three point contest because he was the strongest shooter and your legs get rubbery in that contest. If you needed a three to win the game, we’ve seen Paxson and Kerr do it in the biggest of times, and that’s what the game is about. I’d probably take Kerr just a bit over Paxson because Paxson passed up too many shots because he wanted to make sure a shot was the right shot. He was such a smart player, always waiting until guys were in rebounding position and guys could get back and protect him when he shot. He might not shoot in this era at all given how fundamentally unsound players are now.

I saw an ESPN interview with Derrick Rose and two out of three times he mentioned Hinrich, he called him "Kurt". See, the players haven't quit on Vinny. They're listening to him so closely that they're even renaming teammates based on Vinny's preferences.

Cameron Watkins

Sam: Thanks for noticing. Now I hope this finally puts an end to the Vinny speculation and the notion this team has tuned him out. I’m still talking with Hinrich about changing his first name, or at least the pronunciation. He tells me he wants to change it to “Doce" Hinrich.


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