Ask Sam | 02.12.10

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

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Any truth to the rumor about charlotte offering law, murray and their 1st rounder for tyrus? if they did, why on earth would we not do that? Both guards are off the books at the end of the year and we get another 1st rounder!

D. Rinberg

Sam: I wouldn't be surprised if Charlotte talked about something like that, and I'd certainly hope the Bulls wouldn't do that. The NBA is a blood in the water league. As soon as Tyrus' suspension was announced, the Bulls got a load of calls about trading for Tyrus. Denver with Malik Allen and Renaldo Balkman and stuff like that. The point is you never trade when value is that low, and I don't expect Tyrus to be traded unless it's in a package with another player to get something the Bulls want. The point is the Bulls don't have to trade Tyrus for cap space. They don't have to count him because he is a restricted free agent and taking on expiring deals for him doesn't help their cap situation at all. Plus, why would you take more bad guards? Tyrus has value to the Bulls now. Sure, he does dumb things, but here's a team with a potentially decimated front line with Noah and Gibson with plantar fasciitis and Miller with all kinds of ailments. Any could go down any time. Tyrus is the healthiest, ironically, and he can still help himself a lot for free agency if he has two good months. And he'd help the Bulls if he does. He's not upsetting anyone on the team. They know who he is. The public and media overreact to these things. There is no overwhelming desire on the Bulls to dump him nor a feeling they have to. I don't expect him to be traded. And I wouldn't be taking on these spare parts just for the purpose of running him out of town. That would be counter-productive. Things change fast in the NBA. Plus, if Tyrus does have a strong finish and the Bulls don't get whom they want in free agency, you never know. He could stay. It's never over until it's over and it's not over yet.

How does this latest incident with Tyrus affect the Bull's strategy heading into the trade deadline? According to some of the media outlets, the Bulls will either trade Tyrus or renounce his right and lose him to free agency.

Guy Geller

Sam: I know I spend a lot of time correcting media mistakes, but someone has to be the watchdog. There seems to be this notion the Bulls have to tender Tyrus an offer and would then have to pay him $6 million. Yes, if they decide to tender him an offer to retain the right to match. But they don't have to. Their strategy remains the same to try to get under the cap enough to make a max offer to a free agent, and Tyrus was always in the background as a guy whom they could decide upon in July. Nothing's changed about that.

Is Tyrus Thomas one of the top 5 most frustrating players you've ever covered? I mean purely in a basketball sense- I know you have mentioned in the past he isn't exactly handing out hugs and kisses to the media, so I know he's frustrating/irritating in that way. What I mean is that, in your case, you've long been an advocate for him to get admittedly unearned playing time for various reasons over time. At first, it was to allow him to grow from his mistakes and see what he could do when not worried about being yanked after one mistake. Now, it's to showcase him so they can get him the heck out of there. He has cooperated in neither instance. He has immense physical ability, but from my standpoint as a fan he seems to have very little emotional ability, the epitome of the stereotypical coddled athlete.

Craig Berry

Sam: Though I have been critical of Tyrus, at the same time I have lobbied for him to play more because of the talent we all can see. So likely he's way more frustrating to his coaches since they also see it and know how much better their team can be if he would just….do some of those things! Tyrus frustrates a lot of people, though perhaps because they want him to be whom they believe he could or should be rather than who he is. And I'll get to what is the meaning of life later. We all see these great glimpses of Tyrus and cannot understand why given it's just sports he can't do it all the time, or at least more often. So maybe this is all he is. Many people have great talent that is underutilized or not utilized at all because of some issue they have. Tyrus may be one of those people. Maybe he is giving all he can give and trying as hard as he can try. Generally in the NBA, and there are some exceptions, the scouts' saying is you are who you are after three years. Meaning, we know what you'll become. You aren't going to change dramatically. Tyrus probably won't, which probably is the biggest frustration to people closest to him because he's probably going to miss out on a chance to be exceedingly wealthy. He'll just be wealthy beyond yours and my biggest dreams. Don't cry for me, NBA.

While tyrus has no excuse to be cussing out the coach...i completely understand his frustration. vinny reminds me of my 7th grade coach. never played the right players. he ignores the players who needs consistent minutes to be consisent. you pointed out the philly game and i agree. he was doing great in just 19 minutes, a heck of a lot better than gibson in that game. and yet...he didnt play him. vinny has a personal beef with tyrus because of the past and wont let tyrus change. he needs to be playing the players with the better chances of suceeding no matter how he feels personally with certain players. if vinny would play him, he wouldnt have been pissed and lashed out. id be having a hard time holding my frustration, too.

Caleb Kellough

Sam: There's been this excuse for Tyrus that he was somewhat justified in his behavior both because as you say Vinny did him wrong and the unwritten rule is you don't lose your starting job when you are hurt. I do have a rare copy of the unwritten rules, and it really says you don't lose your starting job if you are hurt if you are Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Larry Bird. Not Tyrus Thomas. When you are Tyrus Thomas still on a rookie contract, you do what's best for the team and play the role that you are asked. If you succeed in that role you would get to start or play more because this is what NBA coaches care about: Wins. Nobody holds grudges that could cost them their job. I don't believe Vinny dislikes Tyrus at all. It's just there are only so many times you can put up with being cursed out to your face. Frankly, I've thought Vinny took way too much from Tyrus at times in an effort to get more from him than Scott Skiles since Skiles would have beaten up Tyrus if he ever did that, and likely told him so. Vinny is a players' coach. If you personally dislike Vinny, there aren't many coaches you are going to like. So Tyrus is suspended and Vinny goes right back and plays him a lot as he said he would. Vinny, whether you agree or not, is doing everything he believes will get the team more wins because that's how he keeps his job. Sometimes the coach is wrong. Sometimes the coach does dumb things in our view. All coaches. Eddie Jordan in Philly for some crazy reason started Royal Ivey the second half over Elton Brand. Brand did not curse out the coach. There never is an excuse for such lack of respect in a team setting.

I really enjoy what has done with their coverage of the Bulls this year. It really allows fans to see what the players they idolize are really like. I feel I learn a lot about the players based on the interviews and in the short amount of time we see them I can get a feel or what their personalities are like. That being said, Joakim Noah seems like the most fun, outgoing, and well-spoken player of the bunch.
At the same time, Tyrus really rubs me the wrong way with his interviews. He comes across as being cocky and arrogant. He doesn't seem to have a good, friendly personality what-so-ever and it seems like he always has an axe to grind... You're an NBA player making millions of dollars! Put a smile on your face and enjoy yourself for crying out loud!

Billy Habibi

Sam: I hear this kind of thing often about athletes, but when you have money you still have the same problems as others and frustrations. There's still traffic and lines and people and spouses. I know people always say if they had that money they'd never complain. But you know what? If the people in Haiti—even before the quake—had the money as much as the average worker in the U.S. they'd never have a problem again. So why do our workers? Remember, it's relative. Depression and anxiety and frustration and personality disorder have nothing to do with money. I am not diagnosing Tyrus with anything, but he showed up in Chicago an angry young man and hasn't changed.

Please tell me that Tyrus Thomas will get the help he needs and get his basketball career back on track. I imagine next year some team in free agency will take a chance solely bases on his raw talent. The question is how long will they tolerate his defiant and self destructive behavior? Will he realize that after this year he will be a former lottery pick and no longer have the extended leash? I fear that the kid is going to throw his NBA career away!

John Grim

Sam: The NBA is in some ways a lot like your friendly Sunday golf game. You usually get one mulligan. Tyrus will get his next season and we'll see if he takes advantage.

After Rose fell [Wednesday], what do the results reveal? Will he be out a while? Will he play Sunday?

Larry Barron

Sam: Well, he's sore and going to be examined again. But given Allen Iverson is out and now Rajon Rondo and Rose are the East point guards, I assume Rose will try to play. The indications are he should be able to play when the Bulls begin play Tuesday. It's too bad he had that fall as with the changes there's a good chance he would have had a big role in Sunday's game as Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is a huge Rose fan.

I'm really upset. I can't believe that Dwight Howard didn't get a flagrant foul for pushing Derrick Rose while he was in midair and 40 inches off the ground. If you look closely at the replay you clearly see Howard pushing Rose away from the basket which prevents him from landing on his feet and forces him to absorb the impact of his fall on his back. Howard should have been tossed from the game. It's sooo freaking dangerous to cut someone's legs out from under them when they're so high off the ground. Rose could have been seriously injured. I would think the league would want to protect their "assets". I'm sick of preferential treatment for nba stars. I was so disgusted I turned the game off.

Margaret Norton

Sam: I raised the issue after the game and no one seemed to feel Howard was being malicious. Though I could see a flagrant one call for a technical and not a flagrant two. I don't believe Howard tried to hurt Rose. But I do believe the swinging action of his arm, allegedly at the ball, could have been interpreted as excess aggression, which the NBA has tried to curtail. You play at some risk when you play like Rose attacking the basket as he does. Though generally overlooked, it was a special kind of play because the Bulls fell behind quickly and it seemed to me everyone but Rose was happy to have won in Indiana and ready to surrender and go home for the break. So the Bulls fell behind 9-3 with no interest and Rose took it upon himself to take the team back with what was looking like a brilliant play at the basket. After Rose bounced into Howard, I thought Howard swiped at the ball without much thought about what he was hitting. Despite what he said about being friends with Rose, I saw it as not letting Rose show him up with a dunk or such strong move. Howard does get fouled a lot, but he also swings his elbows in a violent way too often. It is the risk of the game to go up in the air like that, and eventually you see the high flyers pick their spots more. Rose will eventually do that, and perhaps starting soon after this. Howard didn't have to be as aggressive as he was, but generally in basketball it's considered part of the game.

Let's keep this simple: Vinnie has done a great job bringing Derrick along. Isn't that the number one priority this year? When the players are healthy, they play well and maybe a 6 seed. With players hurt, they may miss the playoffs. You can't just snap your fingers and produce talent. Our depth is not our strong suit. Pretty basic. Why does everyone try and confuse common sense?

Rex Doty

Sam: Because being a fan isn't about being reasonable or logical. It's about being passionate, and passion is akin to success. The Bulls hoped they had more depth this season, but it hasn't worked out that way with the slow start of James Johnson and the injuries and Vinny's lack of confidence in players like Pargo and before Aaron Gray. But Vinny says what you do: Rose has developed, which is what he was supposed to be doing. It will be his argument after the season to try to finish his contract.

Can you give us your thoughts on Joe Johnson as a FA? My impression has been formed by a couple of stats-heavy blog articles that I've read. Essentially, they argue (strongly) that signing JJ to a max/near-max contract would be a "Ben-Wallace-signing"-level of disaster. JJ's PER is 18, which is good, not great, and we'd be paying a lot of money to a guy whose performance is probably going to start to fall off soon when compared to similar guards (Finley, Hamilton, Stackhouse) whose games broke down sharply at ages 30-31. They argue for spending the money on younger veterans like Rudy Gay (who is both good and likely to improve through the contract), or David Lee. It'd be one thing if you're spending the max to get a HoF when he's about to start to decline (like Boston with Garnett), but spending the max on a guy at Joe Johnson's tier could cripple us like Ben Wallace did.

Alejandro Yegros

Sam: I don't happen to agree and don't measure players by pure stat guidelines. I've mentioned this at times, but if I were the Bulls, I'd make Johnson my No. 1 priority. No, he's not the best potential free agent, but I see him as by far the most likely to go. I think the key is to get a high level talent. Sure, you might prefer Wade or LeBron or Bosh, but my personal feeling is two and maybe all could stay where they are. I don't see Johnson doing that given Atlanta's ownership morass and financial issues and declining attendance, which also bothers Johnson. Plus, it's clear to him they got Jamal Crawford as insurance in case he leaves. Yes, guards can have a decline in their 30s, but he's no Ben Wallace, who was supported by so much talent around him. And this notion that David Lee is some star baffles me. The guy gets yanked in fourth quarters at times. Yes, I like Rudy Gay, but he's restricted and also a gamble. I'd want to assure myself one top free agent, and I think a big guard who spreads the court and isn't selfish works great with Rose. I'd declare my allegiance to Johnson on July1 and probably not even pursue anyone else. But that's me. I bet place.

If Lebron James never wins an NBA Championship, will his career statistics and achievements be overshadowed by him not winning one? Would he go down in history as the "Dan Marino" of Basketball? This is just a "What If?" question because I believe he will win a couple whether it is on Cleveland or maybe, if the Bulls are lucky, Chicago.

Matt Griswold

Sam: Exactly. They said the same about Michael in the late 1980s. I recall even a column in a Chicago paper after one of those losses to the Pistons saying Jordan never would win a championship, which is why it often was said you never can believe what you read. Michael was viewed in the 1980s as a great player who'd never be the best player in the league—forget ever—because he couldn't win the big ones. Yes, Michael Jordan. It's fairly clear the Cavs are at the top of the East now and it appears they're in good position to get to the Finals with the Celtics breaking down and the Magic still having some difficulties playing together. I admit I had Cleveland third and out before the conference finals, but it seems clear now Garnett likely won't get back to being anywhere near where he was. LeBron is going to get some titles and he's in a place, at least for now, the luxury tax is irrelevant. There seems virtually no chance he plays anywhere else. Should he, he actually could lose some endorsements, some people around basketball feel, because he'd then look more like a mercenary than a guy trying to win for his home town and a place desperate for success. So the legitimate question in 2019 could be who is better, and then even half the people watching the games ever saw Jordan play.

The list of Olympic participants for the next three years came out this week and I noticed Kobe Bryant was named to the team. In your opinion do you think that Kobe will decide to "retire" from international competition? If you consider his age and the fact that he has suffered from one type of injury or another for the past two or three seasons wouldn't he even think that it would be in his best interest not to put his body through that strain every summer? He has already won a gold medal and it seems that winning more NBA championships then other legends like Magic and Jordan (and Shaq) is more important to him. Wouldn't resting in the summer be the best way to achieve that goal?

Barry Burman

Sam: I believe the Lakers think so. I could see Kobe opting out of the 2010 World Championships and coming back for one more shot in the 2012 Olympics. The other factor often overlooked in these things is the players' sponsors. Jordan had won a gold medal by 1992 and had two rough seasons winning titles. He was exhausted and opted out of what then wasn't known yet as the Dream Team. He wanted to rest to go for more championships. But Nike and other sponsors put heavy pressure on Jordan to play because the international exposure meant so much. It's why these players so often make international trips in the summer. Always remember: Follow the money. Jordan probably would have played once the team came together like it did with all the game's stars. But he didn't want to in order to rest for the future. It's why he was somewhat cranky when he finally agreed and helped push Isiah Thomas off the team. I remember the press conference to announce the team and mentioning to Jordan he'd said 20 times he wasn't playing. He smiled and said he does have the right to change his mind. I think Kobe's companies also need that exposure at least one more time.

I never miss a game, even though I live in Colorado. Organic Food, etc is so big here, and so is health, but it bums me out that Jordan, Le Bron, and others have signed w/ mac Ds, now that our society is facing an obesity epidemic,, what are your thoughts on le Brons (bad in my opinion) decision to hoc big macs, and what do these kids that play on the Bulls eat? Do trainers push good foods, etc...or do players eat their age?

Jason Downing

Sam: What, no fat people in Colorado? Ever been to the Longmont Wal-Mart? Actually, most teams now have something of training table and some players have private chefs, though very few second round picks. The Bulls have a chef at the Berto Center who prepares healthy meals for them there and all they want to take home. But they also are kids and like the occasional cheeseburger. Nothing wrong with that in my view. Plus, they get plenty of exercise. OK, maybe not Jerome James, but most of them. Don't worry about the players endorsing fast food. That's the business of parents and if they can't monitor their kids' diets it's their fault. It seems to me McDonalds gets a bad rap. Now if only the movies would stop serving popcorn we'd be a much healthier country. You know what Gilbert Arenas says, "Cheeseburgers don't kill; people kill people."

Why can't, for example, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade call each other up and say, "Hey Dwayne, or Hey Chris, why don't we both take enough money so that the Bulls can afford us both, that way, we can play along with Rose and win a championship". Why don't NBA players, like Duncan did, take less money so the team has money left to sign more stars....its money vs. rings

Sujit Johnston

Sam: So you figured it out. It's not about rings; it's about money. The general consensus is guys from the Olympic team like Wade and Bosh and LeBron will talk some about playing together, but each will do what's best for him personally. They also tend to look at it as it's the team job to get them help, not theirs. Based on your model, why don't they say, "Let's go for history and go play with Kobe and Pau and Lamar in L.A. and the heck with the money." It never has happened. Plus there's no way you have a team when Bosh and Wade are making less than Deng, for one obvious thing. The best players also demand to be making the most money and when they aren't, they aren't happy, and generally aren't on your team. There were a few instances where guys like Magic and Michael gave back some money in a different era with different rules for their team to put together enough to add another player, but it usually was a limited amount and for a role player. Jordan gave up on that after he gave up $100,000 and the team went for Dennis Hopson. It's always possible something like that could happen. Hey, was that a pig flying?

We should not trade Luol. There's only one reason the Bulls would ever trade Luol and that's if they knew we were getting LeBron. Other then that he's the best sf we're going to have to go along with either D wade, Bosh, or Johnson.

Dylan Silver

Sam: Lu is finally starting to get some grudging respect. He has been Chicago Rodney Dangerfield for some time now given the contract and the mistaken notion that the Bulls could have traded for Kobe Bryant if they'd only given up Deng. All fiction, but as someone once told me, the facts mess up a good column. Many still pick on Deng for scoring early and not at the end, though you have to get some in the first quarter as well. Derrick Rose has been doing fine down the stretch. I often get emails about trading Deng and going to get….whom? The fact is Deng has proven productive, he works hard, he rebounds, defends and shoots well. He probably isn't an All-Star talent, but he's a heck of a nice player to have and if he was gone I'm not sure the Bulls would replace him so quickly. I don't hear of any imminent plans to move him.

What happens if the free-trade bonanza that's supposed to go off this summer doesn't actually...go off? Aren't a lot of teams in the east going to just plain stink? Like the Knicks or Nets for example. Who is going to be attracted to New Jersey(Or wherever it moves to, Brooklyn I heard once) with a 7-65 season?

Chris Densborn

Sam: The interesting part is what so many of these teams will do with money after getting stood up. Say the Knicks don't lure anyone. Do they throw fortune at Carlos Boozer to get someone? That's what guys like Boozer and Stoudemire are counting on, I'd say. Though one intriguing team is the Nets. That's because with the worst record they could get the No. 1 pick and John Wall. Then they do a sign and trade with Devin Harris, say for a free agent who may be leaving, like Chris Bosh. They have Brook Lopez and then they'd still have cap room to add Dwyane Wade. They're moving to a new arena in Newark, most likely, next season and then Brooklyn to a palace. They've got an owner who has billions and will spend and say he offers $20 million to Phil Jackson to finish his coaching career where he started as a Nets assistant. Losing 75 games would then turn out to be worth it.

Highlight after highlight, dunk of the night after dunk of the night, I started wondering... who do you think is the last point guard to have as much power, leaping, and explosion at the rim as Rose?

Nick Shab

Sam: I don't know when we'll next see that after that fall against the Magic Wednesday. Rose could well be careful for awhile. But there's really never been a point guard who explodes to the basket like that. There were athletic guys like Isiah, Tim Hardaway, Spud Webb, Kevin Johnson, Oscar, but really never anyone with that kind of explosiveness from the point guard position who I can think of. Rose is more like a David Thompson the way he explodes to the basket.

MJ had one of the most competitive mentalities in all sports, of all time. Some call it ego, but I wouldn't, because I think the greatest player of all time is allowed to have a big ego. Where did that mentality go? I mean at all-star weekend he would participate in most of the events, dunk contest, the game you name it. But now we have these players like Lebron and D-Wade who not only don't try in the game but don't participate in anything during all-star weekend.

Jack Simborg

Sam: Yeah, it's never like it used to be. But you are right. Guys then delighted in pure competition, proving you are the best and not being afraid to fail. That obviously doesn't exist anymore given the huge contracts, endorsements and endless reels of highlights (lowlights?) to show if you failed. Players today are more businessmen than ever measuring the effect of their acts on their earnings power off the court. All guys like Jordan and Bird and Dr. J needed was a challenge. Jordan was glad to try dunking at his home All-Star game in 1988. There may never have been anything better than not only Bird going into the three point contest, but then telling everyone, including the players, publicly he'd win and then making the last shot to do so. That remains my personal stupid human tricks All-Star highlight. Guys today may be bigger and stronger and more overpowering, but no one can say they generally are better competitors. Though give Kobe credit because he did do those contests when he was younger. And Howard did take on the dunk, and even get cheated out of winning as the outcome seemed pre-determined for the little guys (it's an exhibition. You can do that). LeBron's a bit more of looking in the mirror to see how nice he looks. He doesn't like that disturbed.

You mentioned that players cannot run for 48 minutes, but professional soccer players do it for 90 minutes. Even Steve Nash who used to play soccer, said that he was shocked at the poor stamina of NBA players. It seems like unbalanced training (too much pumping iron).

Michael Kaven

Sam: Flopping weenies. Ask Derrick Rose about the lack of stamina and how tough soccer players are after his collision with Dwight Howard. That's why they have to be strong. If Rose weren't, he'd never gotten up. Soccer players are nice little athletes, about a step ahead of 1,500 meter track guys. Compared to NBA players, they are eighth grade school yard sissies. If it were about simple stamina, the Kenyans would be the only ones playing sports.

Is Jerome James ever going to play for the Bulls? When I got his autograph at the Bulls preseason practice/scrimmage and asked when he was going to be ready to play, he said in a month. That was almost four months ago. His name is mentioned in every trade rumor due to his expiring contract. Does he even practice and/or travel with the team? Now that Noah is injured and Gray traded, I would rather see a veteran than a D-leaguer, while trying to improve their playoff position.

John Minardi

Sam: You may have misunderstood him. I think he probably said a month of Sundays. Keep your memory banks clear. James already has played his last NBA game. He seems like a nice fella and smiles a lot, I assume, because he is collecting $6.6 million this season for watching home games. He does not travel with the team and is a big part of the Bulls future in that they need his expiring contract to pursue free agents.

David Thorpe from ESPN has repeatedly stated that neither Wade or LeBron is coming to the Bulls this offseason as if he knows for a fact. Being as he works with players like Deng and others, does he have information that no one else does?

Daniel Brecher

Sam: I think David must be a popular read because I also got a lot of emails this week about him writing that Brook Lopez was better than Rose. When I find the first coach who would take Lopez over Rose, I'll let you know. David does a good job because he produces response, which is, in part, the job of a columnist. He's not a reporter and I don't believe he pretends to talk to that many people. There's an old saying about opinions and, well, arm pits. Everyone has one. And then some who do have a column on ESPN, which is a very nice place to be to get noticed. Though he is hardly the first who has postulated that free agency occurrence.

I was watching the Bulls vs Pacers game yesterday and can't believe how bad Rose is on defense. I mean I knew he needed work but he always struggles off that screen. So my question is, do you think he will ever be a legit defender in the league, and if so how do you learn that stuff?

Ninab Maradkel

Sam: Sadly, I have to agree. But I also don't think Derrick should be eligible for the Hall of Fame before the end of his second season. I'm fairly satisfied he does quite enough. He hasn't been a good defender, but everything I can tell from around the team he hasn't been taught much or asked much. And I can't blame anyone given he has to do so much and is responsible for so much on offense and was injured early in the season it's a lot to ask. He's quick and strong and I have no doubt he'll be a good defender. If he concentrated on that I think he'd be a great defender, but the Bulls need him in many other areas. "I know you got 100, Wilt, but didn't you miss four free throws?"

If you were to create a list of players you'd want to build a franchise around today, where would Derek Rose place? Lebron is the obvious #1, and I'd say Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard are 2 & 3. But given age, skillset, injury histories for guys like DWade, etc I don't see any other really obvious choices above Derek.

Tony Ferraro

Sam: It's what the Bulls hope they have going for them as their calling card for free agency. I believe in the next year or so, or even now as one coach told me recently, Rose will be the best point guard in the NBA, though Tyreke Evans is awfully good. And we'll see about Kentucky's John Wall. Though for now, you'd go with Rose.

Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson are huge black holes; they never pass. Ellis needs the ball in his hands at all times; he and Rose would fight each other for the ball or worse Rose would let Ellis run the team. Jefferson never passes and is coming off knee surgery for a guy who never played above the rim anyway. Also, he would clog up the middle thus keeping Rose from the paint. Plus, you always make comments slighting Bosh and Wade for being the best players on bad teams and not lifting their teams. What about Ellis and Jefferson? Ellis is pre-Larry Brown Allen Iverson, why would you want that?

Rod Blanck

Sam: And people thought I was tough. This obviously was in reference to my column Monday suggesting possible deals, though I basically raised and then discounted the chances of acquiring Ellis or Jefferson. But that is the point with most players. There are negatives. I'd say there are maybe five or six max players in the league: Kobe, LeBron, Howard, Wade. Maybe Chris Paul, Maybe Bosh, maybe Anthony. At one time Garnett and Duncan but not anymore. But there are way more guys who will get max deals because the system puts teams in position to pay their stars when they really aren't true stars. It's another reason there'll be some big pay changes coming in the next collective bargaining agreement. Ellis doesn't have much range as well and Jefferson is small for his position, which probably should be center. But you just try to add talent to your team and hope for the best, to stay healthy and get lucky. That's what it's about, not talking championships.

If Miami does land Stoudemire, that should put a dent in the Bulls plan of getting Wade in the offseason. What's more attractive to a free agent...a team with Rose and cap space, or a team they are familiar with that just added Stoudemire and has cap space? Miami is in serious need of talent. If they get Stat, and if they lure a free agent like Bosh with that cap space, I can't see Wade leaving that team.

Victor Devaldivielso

Sam: Yes, some big ifs there. And if and buts were candy and nuts… Hey, who wants more candy and nuts, anyway? But the point is about ifs. Yes, if the Heat were to get Stoudemire and then could add another free agent with Wade, sure. But if Phoenix were to take any of the pile of extras Miami has it would be as bad a deal as there's been in league history, Steve Kerr would be fired, Alvin Gentry would soon be fired and Nash and Hill probably would retire. Miami's roster is so bereft of talent to think of it is skin to saying maybe the Bulls could get LeBron for some expiring deals and Jannero Pargo. After all, the Cavs always could use shooting to replace James. The Heat is sweating the loss of Wade, who has given Miami no reason to believe he'll stay by continually challenging them to upgrade the team. How about trading for Stoudemire and then Wade leaving?

Can you please give me your top 5 nba players of all time, or at least since you started watching?

Yousuf Shamsie

Sam: I generally go with Oscar and Michael in the backcourt, Bird and Duncan at forward and Wilt at center. That's by position for my dream team, but by no means everyone's choice. I was fortunate to see all play in person.

Craig Sager just sent me a text message asking me to get his yellow oxford back from you. Please advise.


Sam: They're more chartreuse or canary.

In anticipation of Tyrus' departure, why don't you put to words a song about him to the tune of "Maria" from the Sound of Music? To be sung by Vinny and the Bulls brass, standing in for the nuns.

She climbs a tree
And scrapes her knee
Her dress has got a tear
She waltzs on her way to mass
And whistles on the stair
And underneath her wimple
She has curlers in her hair!
I've even heard her singing in the abbey
She's always late for chappe,
But her penitence is real
She's always late for everything
Except for every meal
I hate to have to say it but I very firmly feel
Maria's not an asset to the abbey

I'd like to say a word in her behalf:
Maria makes me laugh

How do you solve a problem like maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?

A flibbertajibbit?

A will of a whisp

A clown

Stuart Leichenko

Sam: I'm pleased to feature show tunes for the first time in an NBA Q & A session. It is among my favorite things.


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