Ask Sam | Week of 06.14.10

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

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With kobe winning his 5th ring a lot of media members are getting into comparing him to mj, Do you know what michael jordan thinks of the comparisons? knowing how competitive mj is, he's probably disputing the notion.

Argie Grigorakos

Sam: I don’t think Michael worries much about it as the media members and fans (at least other than in L.A.) pretty much universally dispute the possibility Kobe is better. In fact, after the game, I got several e-mails saying this game showed Kobe is no Michael. I get them every time Kobe has a bad game. I thought Kobe once said the most accurate thing about the comparison. I had spent some private time with him a few years back and brought it up. It was the real and not posed Kobe you see at press conferences. He laughed and said Jordan had become an urban legend, that it was like he never missed a shot or had a bad game. Kobe said he was no Michael, but he also said given Jordan’s legacy, he could never see anyone considered better, though he did feel someone could win more (he didn’t say he would, but I kind of guessed and he may).

Any chance the Bulls make a draft day trade with Minnesota's for Kevin Love, perhaps our 17th pick and some fillers (captain Kirk)?

James A. Valverde

Sam: No. I know people think the league should be a feeder system for the Bulls, but believe it or not other teams believe they deserve to win as well. Obviously, there’s little or no chance with dealing with the Timberwolves because they have an overflow of point guards and hardly need Hinrich and they feel Brewer making about $3 million is better than Deng. The rumor has long been they will trade Love or Jefferson, though the latest seems to be they are more likely to move Jefferson. But if they do they are looking for big time players and are going to be tough to deal with.

I understand Bosh hasn't won anything yet and should have at least took his teams to the playoffs the past couple seasons. That being said, I do believe he is a much more effective and efficient player than Lamarcus Aldridge. Bosh is a legitimate number two on a championship team and Aldridge is nothing more than a 3rd or a 4th option on a championship contender. I understand if Bosh was playing with Brandon Roy his numbers would be down but they would still be considerably better than Aldridge's. One of the reasons Portland has been running in place the past few seasons, aside from injuries, is because Aldridge has plateaued and is not getting any better. Bosh is arguably the best pure scorer for any power forward/center in the league at the moment in addition to being a much better rebounder than Aldridge. I know full well that Bosh isn't a very good defensive player but you hardly see Lamarcus changing things on that end of floor. Do you really think that Portland would be indifferent to having Bosh over Aldridge?

Michael Green

Sam: I talked about Portland in my NBA notes column last Monday as a team to look out for, and that’s an example. I mentioned the LeBron chase, but I can also see them getting involved with Bosh and Aldridge would seem an appealing sign-and-trade. I so expect Portland to try something dramatic this summer.

If we are unable to move Kirk's contract for cap space or a 
sign and trade, what do you think of moving him to PG and Derrick to 
SG. From reports I've been hearing, Derricks shot is improving every 
day, and I can see him in that slashing Kobe Bryant style of SG with a 
shot to back it up as well. And he can still carry the ball for most 
parts as well, but is taking pressure of Kirks declining shot and 
putting him in the position of passer/playmaker.

Or doyou think Derrick should stick to his advantage as a taller, 
stronger PG, rather than a shorter SG?

Daniel George

Sam: You don’t take a great player at a position and try him somewhere else to fill a need. Rose is going to be one of the best in the league and a big part is his strength and explosiveness at that position. Plus, he’s not a spot up shooter, though as good as he is I’m confident he could become one. The Bulls, as Kirk says, have tried to trade him for years and he’s still here. So he may be again, but it all depends on the big unknowns of LeBron, Joe Johnson, Bosh and the rest.

I watched every single bulls game this season and it seems to me that taj gibsons value is pretty high around the league right now, do you think the bulls should shop him around a bit and see what type of bench filler guys they could get for him or maybe a solid contributor. to me taj is solid but statistically i dont ever think he will be that great maybe a low double double guy at best.

Jesse Hernandez

Sam: I think one of the big questions in free agency will be if they cannot get LeBron do you want Bosh replacing Taj, who becomes a backup, or Johnson to fill the open shooting guard spot as Kirk obviously is not a classic shooting guard and play Gibson with Noah as they worked well defensively and were mostly responsible for the Bulls defensive improvement. As much as we like him, it wasn’t because of Rose. I wouldn’t look to give up Gibson so quickly. He doesn’t have a huge ceiling given his advanced age for a rookie, but he will get better. Horace Grant came to the Bulls when he was 22 and he improved quite a bit.

If you had a choice from Xavier Henry, Paul George, James Anderson, and Avery Bradley with the 17th pick, who would you take? I've seen all four slip to the Bulls in some mocks, and all but Bradley be taken in the top 10 in others.

Daniel Shapiro

Sam: Those are some good names, though I don’t think Henry or George fall to 17. My order would probably be Henry, George, Bradley and Anderson. I know there’s some local sentiment about Anderson, who I think will be there, but most scouts told me Anderson isn’t good enough to be a starting quality NBA player. Though scouts said neither was Gibson.

If it comes down to this, which I hope it won't, who would we rather have: Boozer or Lee?

Christian Boblink

Sam: That was a wince when I read that. Actually, if it does I’d probably prefer to pursue other trades around the league, as I see Boozer as a guy who you’ll vastly overpay and whom you cannot trust to stay healthy given his past. I might take a shot at Lee, though, frankly, I don’t see why you wouldn’t stay with Gibson and go in a different direction, as the cliché goes. One problem the Bulls face, I believe, is they’ve put themselves in a corner with all the free agency talk and the expectation is they have to get a free agent. But I’d rather not overpay for one and if I cannot get LeBron, Bosh or Joe Johnson I might look into trades and even, horrors, moving up in the draft, which I usually lobby against. But you don’t want to be tied up with a bad contract just to so-called win a press conference.

Why do people keep saying no college coaches have had success in the nba? I recognize there are more failures than successes, but what about Larry Brown?

Bradley Hergott

Sam: Larry started his coaching career as a pro coach in the ABA and then went to UCLA and Kansas. The reason they have so much trouble succeeding is they generally get bad teams, though a lot of NBA assistants do as well. But more so they are accustomed to being in complete charge, which you cannot be in the NBA. They use the scholarship as a hammer, and in the pros it’s the opposite. Players can make it clear their contracts are longer. You need an ego to coach in the pros, but also an ability to understand you have to share responsibility. Though perhaps bigger is the NBA game is faster and the college coaches simply do not know the NBA personnel and the rhythm of the game. By the time they begin to get comfortable they usually have too many losses to survive. The Cavs got a break when Izzo turned them down. I still expect Calipari’s name to come up again before this is done.

I know this is a pessimistic attitude but this a scenario I keep envisioning. It starts with Lebron verbally committing to the bulls during week # 1 of free agency. However before the bulls are allowed to sign Lebron someone possibly the Lakers or Trailblazers comes along and offers Lebron a better situation than bulls in terms of both having a better roster and most importantly more money via sign and trade, since Cleveland won't sign and trade with the bulls. Lebron then pulls a "Carlos Boozer" / "Hedo Turkoglu" and burns the bulls. Meanwhile Joe Johnson and others already moved on since the bulls passed on them. The bulls are then stuck with either badly overpaying David Lee or worse getting completely shut out in free agency. Is my concern legitimate and how much can a verbal commitment given by Lebron or any other free agent during July 1st- July 8th period be trusted?

John Swank

Sam: That is what every team faces now as everyone knows until a player is signed the commitment means little. You can get a lot of assurances, but none are binding. It’s the issue I’ve been writing about for months and have long said given my conservative nature that I’d rather have someone for sure than take a shot at the so called brass ring. But I believe the Bulls are set on going for the jackpot and risking missing out and then worrying about it afterward, so get ready for the ride.

It appears to me that you either A.) Do not believe LeBron James will be a bull and don't want to get your hopes up or B.) Do not want LeBron on the Bulls at all. You talk down the LeBron to the bulls talk and speak of it as a "fantasy", but you have no problem bringing Portland in the mix. Can you please explain yourself?

AJ Barthold

Sam: Yes, your honor. I do solemnly swear… I have come around more in the last month, given the curious behavior in Cleveland, that LeBron could sign with the Bulls. But I view it at best a 25 percent chance. I’d love for him to sign with the Bulls because as I found out when the Bulls were winning, and which players eventually learn, everyone’s boat rises. When there’s more attention for a team because it is winning, everyone benefits. Who the heck even knew Wirtz had a kid a few years back? But I fear so many fans are getting caught up with this all or nothing summer the view will be a failure if the Bulls fail to get James. What I believe will happen is once the top teams get in like Chicago and New York, the Cavs and LeBron are going to have offers coming from everywhere and it will bust wide open.

Fire up the presses--I figure that it is slightly better than 50/50 that we read a bold print headline that says, "LeBron Chooses the Bulls" in early July. Unfortunately, that does not mean that he is coming here. I figure that there is a roughly 33% chance that he re-signs in Cleveland (no headlines in that scenario). If he wants to go to any team other than Cleveland he needs to first declare that he is signing with a team that can offer him a max contract. The Bulls are likely to be the team that Cleveland wants to eliminate from the LeBron game, so he maximizes his leverage by picking the Bulls (and they are a credible plan if Cleveland attempts to call his bluff). Now the fun begins, every GM in the league calls the Cavs with offers (only a handful of guys wouldn't be offered for LeBron) and the Cavs begin talking with LeBron to work out a package that lets him sign for max money (and his desired contract length), get the Cavs value, but doesn't so decimate the team that LeBron no longer wants to join. I'm anticipating after LeBron's Chicago visit we will find out what is important to him. If he joins a team where the Cavs get nothing, then he wants his new team to be as strong as possible (winning trumps everything). If he lets them clean out his new team's assets he is driven other motivations. On a related thought, I suspect that LeBron, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade talked late at night in a hotel room during the Olympics about all taking a slight pay cut from the max to build a super-team. LeBron thought the Knicks would be that team and he is now discovering that Wade wants max money in Miami and Bosh just wants max money someplace.

Bob Berlin

Sam: Now, that’s a scenario I can believe. It’s a bit on the dramatic side, as I don’t see LeBron making such a commitment to anyone until the first week of July is over. But I can see once he starts out and those “sources” begin to report how much he likes someplace that everyone starts swooping in with offers. I think you’re right in one thing working big against the Bulls as well as the Knicks and Heat is the Cavs don’t want him, if they are losing him, in the East. So I don’t see them accommodating him in any way to get that sixth year. And I do think LeBron wants it as there will be a new labor deal after next summer which likely will reduce the maximum salaries. People ask why LeBron needs six years. That’s why. LeBron’s smart, and it’s smart to get as much guaranteed as you can. Which is why he won’t work for less to put his new team, assuming he leaves, in position to be stronger. His view will be that’s their job and that’s what they have to prove to him going in. It’s also why I don’t see him going to Miami as well. I think he does see Wade likes the idea of the max money and being the star and he’d have to be second highest paid, and likely at least for South Florida, second most famous. He’s not having any of that. And joining Wade is risky for anyone given he’ll be 29 next January and doesn’t have a body built for a long career. Still, it’s going to be the wildest week in NBA history and better than waiting for the ending of The Da Vinci Code.

I know from reading you're not a fan of Izzo as an NBA head coach, but their search for a top name and willingness to pay a high salary for a coach in CLE has me thinking: (1)You can't fault the commitment by their management to pay (was it $30 mil/5yrs?) for a general--the Bulls only shelled out 3yrs/$6.5m. (2) If LeBron were going back to Cleveland, or even if he were considering it, wouldn't he be lobbying more for a guy there? His lack of clarity cost them their top coaching choice--and no top guy's going there without him. (3) If LeBron does stay, putting the team in limbo for months (years?) would prove to be a selfish act and cry out for attention by him that killed Cleveland's chances of getting a good coach. If he wanted to win in Cleveland he'd be lobbying for coaches and players NOW. Incredibly I seem to be saying that I'm gonna give him more credit as a rational, responsible individual than to act like that. (4) If he were staying, he'd just sign the max deal now. Whether or not he knows where he's going, I think Lebron's made up his mind to leave and he doesn't want to say it to hurt his fans any more than he already will in July. If I were him I wouldn't want to live or play there either. Plus his ego must make him lean toward "grass is always greener" thinking. Worldsportsexchange still has odds on Cleveland as the favorite to retain LBJ but with the Bulls a close 2nd and by far ahead of any other destination. I don't want to get my hopes up but in reading the tea leaves it's hard for me not to think the Bulls have a very, very good chance to land him now. I'd say much better than 50-50. What do you think?

Jeff Johnson

Sam: I get a few dozen of these pleading, please, please, please emails every week. I know everyone wants LeBron to come to the Bulls, though no offense to Thibodeau, whom I like a lot, but it’s hardly like LeBron picked him. He could have committed to a max deal anytime and offered his intentions anytime this season, but he wants the attention, the world tour, the recruitment and the media that results from that. I’m not suggesting it’s serious, but the only true hint he’s really given is officially asking the NBA for a number change to 6. The only team he’d have to do that for is the Cavs. If he were leaving, he could have any number he wants with his new team. I’d do the same to keep my options open, but it certainly is the strongest hint that he hasn’t omitted the Cavs.

Seriously, I do not see how LeBron could even think about ANYWHERE but the Lakers. Sign-in-trade or not. He needs to put his "camp" in check, stop listening to the media and understand Wilt went to the Lakers and became 1A, Kareem went to Lakers and started at 1 and ended at 3, MacAdoo & Thompson came off the bench, and Karl Malone became 3. As for Shaq the reason he is not there is because he could not allow Kobe to become 1AA with the potential to go to 1! And you could imagine while I would enjoy Kobe to have two rings & 3 Finals w/o Shaq as of 06/17/2010, having LeBron & Kobe go for 2-3 more rings together would really rub it in on Shaq while he tries to milk two more years out of the Nets, Cavs, Mavs, whomever is the sucker "born" one minute after 07/15/2010! I can hear Avery now: "I need the big fella!!!!!"

Lawrence M. Bentley

Sam: As I’ve long stated, it is the only real choice if LeBron wants to win. If he doesn’t go there he is taking a chance, especially as just about every team would have to break itself down with sign and trades or dumping players and fill their roster with rookie and minimum paid vets. All LeBron has to do is approach Kobe and say he wants to join the team, and I think Kobe would be fine. After all, Kobe is not about teammates but about winning. What a rush it would be for him to blow by Jordan’s six titles and no one can ever say he needed help as if the Lakers win Thursday that would make it two without any true star to play with. No one diminished Magic’s titles because he had Kareem and Worthy nor Bird’s with McHale and Parish nor Russell’s with a half dozen hall of famers. Maybe that’s why LeBron isn’t starting his movie he’s making this summer until August, that he knows he won’t have to leave L.A.

I would like to bring up the issue of Derrick Rose's tattoos. I personally am not a fan of Tattoo's as a i believe it is often associated with selfish and self centered personalities, i.e those with the bad attitudes ( see Iverson, Kenyon martin, rodman, boozer, monta ellis, carmelo, even lebron to a degree with his tattoo of "the chosen one" sprawled across his back). Not for one second do i believe Derrick is in this category as you couldn't find a more unselfish and team orientated person as Derrick and his drive to win, however i am wondering if team management ever has input into the image being portrayed to the media by their players, especially their top tier players. One of the reasons i believe Jordan was such a marketable person was his clean image, Jordan does not have any visible tattoos and thus could be marketed accordingly. Derrick has slowly but surely added more and more tattoo's which i believe is a negative, his arms may soon resemble those who fall under the bad attitude category and something which for me personally detracts from his obvious positive characteristics.

Ed Lyon

Sam: You’ll find this hard to believe, but I have just one tattoo and it reads, “I love Dalibor Bagaric.” Nah, I don’t like needles. Never would get one. I come from a generation that clearly had a limited amount of tongue and belly button piercing, though I did once switch the labels in a store from caffeine tea to non caffeine. I considered it one of the early acts of tea party defiance. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not even sure Derrick has tattoos. I don’t even notice them they are so common and actually I feel a bit sorry for guys who get them for both how long and painful it is (some guys say it takes all day) and how they run out of room. I can say I know where the tattoos are for Kenyon Martin and Mike Tyson, though I cannot fully explain them. Actually, some are quite thoughtful and sentimental regarding their feelings for loved ones and deceased friends. I find it quite a sacrifice to do so, actually. I do wince when I see the kids with the pierced tongues as I’m not sure how you talk. I’ve never seen an NBA player that way, but every generation has its mores and customs and my parents were horrified when we did the twist, at least the way I did. Among the many young men in sports I’ve been around, Derrick is one of the best, well mannered, respectful, polite and responsible. That he’s a great basketball player only makes it better.

Let’s say LeBron does end up in Chicago, what would the Bulls do with their “no headband” policy?

Rahim Gilani

Sam: There’s a web site,, that is selling tshirts with Jerry Reinsdorf wearing a headband. I believe I saw an internal memo that if LeBron signs with the Bulls, all senior management will be required to wear head bands to work daily. I’m told Danny Ferry and Mike Brown only had to at home on weekends.

I was wondering if Tom Izzo not taking the Cavs offer helps the Bulls chances at getting LeBron. Their backup is Byron Scott but I don't feel like he will be "LeBron endorsed". I guess their only chance would be to see if the Zen master would like take up the job.

Mary ann Palmer

Sam: I think it hurts some. I’ve long said I believed Izzo would be a detriment to LeBron returning to Cleveland as no college coaches basically since Motta and Bill Fitch have had NBA success. LeBron needs to get closer to winning to retain his credibility and I don’t see how you can with a coach in training wheels. Then I heard Izzo was asking former players who went to the NBA what the NBA was like. Uh oh. Now, I expect the Cavs will hire a former player, someone like Byron Scott, and that will be more appealing to LeBron and I figure the Cavs retain the edge, though also because of being able to offer the most money and his home town connections.

If Lebron comes to Chicago, I still think the Bull's are Derrick's team for two primary reasons:

1. Derrick's home town.
2. But more importantly, nothing I have seen from Lebron (especially this year's playoffs) has shown me that he is a team leader. He's the best player on the team/featured player, but not necessarily the leader.

I think that being point guard will favor Derrick as the team leader, even though he would be the second best player on the team. Look at the Stockton/Malone Jazz. Malone was the featured player, but Stockton was the team leader. I think the Bulls would be very similar and would be a stark contrast to the Jordan Bulls, where he was the best player and team leader. What do you think?

Taylor White

Sam: I think if LeBron believes that, he’s not coming to the Bulls. You don’t call yourself “King,” which remains truly amazing, and accept secondary status to anyone, perhaps expect the most successful player in the league, Kobe.

I would enjoy the coming free agent process and draft night sign and trade bedlam much more if people could just agree on one thing: Clearing cap space for two max guys. Is that priority number one? Do you agree that the best way to accomplish this is by dumping the contracts of Deng and Hinrich? If Minny liked Deng, just for example as they once did, we show we mean business by offering the Charlotte 2011(possible lotto), James Johnson(despite his rookie year I'd be interested and he did show a few signs), and take back Gomes(two years $ 4.5 Mil). Possibly their No.23

Mark Norman

Sam: Yes, I think that will be the top priority, but I think it’s a long shot because teams like Minnesota and Sacramento don’t look at themselves like you do. They believe they deserve to be winners more than the Bulls. They say you have championships; now it’s our turn. They have players and they want to turn them into stars who’ll attract top free agents. They don’t see themselves as dumping grounds so big city teams can pursue championships. In fact, that will work against teams like the Bulls as teams don’t want to be seen around the NBA as helping build a champion. The Grizzlies still haven’t gotten over the league wide condemnation over the Pau deal. And you take a risk dumping Deng and Hinrich, two guys who play hard, for say, someone like Bosh, who doesn’t particularly play that hard. And if you get rid of those guys and then don’t get two free agents, you might have trouble finding someone to replace those guys.

What happened with Steve Kerr?

Mike Sutera

Sam: I think it was multiple factors; some basketball and some not. Steve’s a dad. His son is a basketball player and going to be a senior and he really wants to be there. He lives in San Diego and commutes, which hasn’t been easy on each side. The people in the office on Phoenix mildly resent him there three or four days a week, and then when he’s in Phoenix all week the family feels left out. It’s a dilemma he’s never quite been able to figure out as much as he’s tried. Plus, the TV job is open with Doug Collins coaching again, and it might not be if Doc Rivers leaves the Celtics. But I do think there was some stuff from the basketball side. This suggests to me, although I do not know firsthand, that the owner doesn’t want to pay Stoudemire the max. Kerr’s been in a tough position and done a terrific job as GM with an owner always trying to get him to see off draft picks and limit deals. Sarver overpaid for the franchise, in effect, like buying a house at the top of the market. I think getting Nash and Grant Hill back kept Kerr going, but my guess—and just a guess—is he sees a tough negotiation with Stoudemire and the likelihood he won’t be able to pay Stoudemire. So what better time to get out after an overachieving, surprise season. I’d do the same given his family situation and ability to get a great TV gig. The surprise to me might have been had he stayed.

Why would Toronto be interested in Bynum with all the leg problems he's having? If I were Toronto, I'd forget about Bynum. Wouldn't Portland be a better option with Aldridge? I know this is all ends with where Bosh wants to we'll see.

Victor Devaldivielso

Sam: Bynum may be easier to get. And he’s a real center who’d fit better with Bargnani. Plus, from Portland’s standpoint, why would you want Bosh over Aldridge? It’s not like Bosh has taken a team anywhere but to the lottery.

I’m guessing the Bulls are just letting Thibodeau concentrate on the finals. But how much of the teams personnel strategy with the draft and free agency will depend upon his input? Will there be any time to conduct workouts with guys between the finals and draft? Do the Bulls keep tapes of the workouts that Thibs can watch?

Brad Hergott

Sam: I don’t’ expect Thibodeau to have much or any. Phil Jackson used to go home before the draft process. There’s a danger in consulting coaches, anyway, especially a new one. I don’t think Thibodeau is in any position to have much knowledge on the draft and I don’t expect the Bulls to include him much Plus, it’s the organization’s job to produce the players and his to coach them. They got in some trouble trying to fit players around Scott Skiles and gave up on some players who may have helped. But come free agency I expect Thibodeau to be more involved given his greater NBA experience.

Do you think the bulls could bring back chris duhon, even though he started for the knicks for a brief time i think he would be a perfect backup for the bulls so kirk can play more off the ball shooting guard

Brandon Buerger

Sam: Well, they’d like someone who could shoot better. The Bulls usually don’t go back to guys they let go, but I assume they’ll move on from Pargo, who really isn’t a point guard. Duhon probably will look for more money than they can afford for bench guys, though I’ve gotten this suggestion from a few fans. I see them going more for one of those veteran minimum types, like Kevin Ollie.

What do you make of a "high level source" claiming that Lebron 100% endorses Izzo for the job? I heard another report that Izzo is questioning how strong a relationship Lebron even has with the Cavs organization right now. The article went on to say that Izzo's concern in taking the job is that he is unsure who within the Cavs organization even has a relationship with James or has had any contact with him. As a result, he needs to look at the job as if Lebron may not be there.

Dan Abdo

Sam: Likely it’s speculation, guessing and third hand stuff. But this is clear: LeBron isn’t giving Izzo the slightest hint about what he’ll do. Hasn’t Izzo figured this out? I’ve heard unlike most college coaches, he is more of a regular guy and with not quite the ego that fells so many. But LeBron hasn’t slipped to anyone and has been chasing this mysterious free agency destination for years. So now he’s going to spill to Tom Izzo? You can spend years on a college campus and not learn anything. I cannot believe Izzo is this naïve. LeBron isn’t giving him or anyone the slightest hint what he’ll do because he wants to revel in that free agency and keep everyone guessing. LeBron knows drama. It seems already Izzo may be a bit over his head.

I thought the Lakers were the better team going in; however, the refs are letting them play and it looks more like the world cup, holding, bumping. Maybe its time to give out yellow cards. But it is tough to find a rooting interest with Artest on one side and Wallace on the other.

Steve Volper

Sam: That’s in part what I felt about the Finals going in. The Celtics basically act like a bunch of punks all the time and the Lakers have too much of that L.A. smug. I’m guessing Kobe has told Pau and Odom he’s seen enough of that cool act. That is the issue with Pau. He’s too fundamentally sound. Every time he sees a double he throws the ball back out. He doesn’t have that attack gene. Yes, the officials, I’m guessing, were told to stop putting the stars out of the game as they did in the first four, though they were basically told to call everything going in. I’m saying Lakers in seven for now as Lakers in six no longer looks possible. I had Celtics in six going in, but I didn’t believe it then and I still can’t believe they are ahead.

Why does the NBA do the 2-3-2 format for the finals, unlike the seemingly more fair 2-2-1-1-1 it does for every other round, and how long have they been doing it?

Ryan Schlanser

Sam: They’ve mentioned this on TV many times, but it changed to 2-3-2 in the mid-80s when it was Boston/L.A. a few times and the teams were dragging back and forth across country those last few games. Even on private aircraft, it’s still tiring and unnecessary. I don’t know what the issue is. You don’t have home court you get three home games. It shouldn’t matter in what order or when. If you are a worthy champion, you win on the road as well as at home. The games are not being called one sided to favor the home teams. As Kobe says, “Man up and play.” Plus, it’s better for the environment, if not the economy, to waste less jet fuel.

The 2010 trading deadline was February 18th, after which NBA teams could no longer make trades. When are teams again allowed to make trades? It seems some trades that impact the July 1 free agency period could be made on draft night June 24th.

Edward Richards

Sam: Once teams are eliminated from the playoffs or don’t make it, they can make trades. But everyone waits, like for the trading deadline, until the end because they generally feel they’ll get a better deal. And more teams are involved. Now, only the Lakers and Celtics cannot deal. Several teams, I believe including the Bulls, will make this one of the most active draft trading periods as they try to either clear more cap space or land others players to make themselves more appealing to the free agents.

Although the NBA would never admit it, do you believe make up calls exist? From watching games, especially the playoffs, I see it all the time. They are more prevalent for the home team, especially if there was just a questionable/difficult call made in favor of the other team.

Abram Bachtiar

Sam: Yes, there are so-called makeup calls and always have been because the refs want to make it right. And I’m for it. As I always say, go down to a park or gym and ask to ref and see if you get them right. Impossible. They know when they miss one and they don’t want to influence the game, so often they’ll call one the other way to even it back up. It’s an unspoken part of basketball and the right thing to do.

Just wondering about the bulls take on Demarcus Cousins. Do you believe that in the right enviroment (playoff team,Rose,Noah,whoever we sign,) cousins could make a smoother transition to the league?. We have never had a post presence like this guy and could you imagine a core of Rose,Noah,Bosh or Johnson and cousins? Im hearing that Minn has settled on Wesley Johnson so could you see any dealing with Sacramento? maybe deng,hinrich and 17 for Nocioni,udrih and 5. He's a huge man with real skill.

Drew Williams

Sam: I don’t think the Bulls are very high on him given his behavior and attitude and fear another Tyrus Thomas mess. But bigger than that, you likely cannot get into the top five or six with an offer of anything less than Noah. Teams up there are generally not contenders, so there’s no chance they are going to take veterans with big contracts like Deng or Hinrich. Gibson is a possibility, but you cannot justify taking on a former No. 26 pick and this year’s pick for a top lottery pick. There is virtually no chance with what the Bulls have they could get high in the lottery, and Cousins certainly will be gone by No. 7 and Detroit. It’s more likely the Bulls move their pick and get out of the draft than investing assets either in another pick or to move up. Their focus will be free agency.

The Lakers were embarrassing. MJs guys guy never let him down like Kobe’s guys are. Pathetic effort by Pau, Artest, Odom Sunday.

Mike Sutera

Sam: Where are you, Trevor Ariza? It’s not over, as it reminds me some of 1994 when the Knicks went back to Houston up 3-2 and got John Starks-ed. Kobe took just about every shot in the third quarter, but it seemed by then he had to. And you know he’s killing his teammates now. There’s been a debate in L.A., at least with the fans and media that changes depending on whether the Lakers win or lose, about whether the Lakers have to make a big sign and trade offer for Chris Bosh after the season with Andrew Bynum. If the Lakers lose the series, there’ll be a lot of screaming, likely from Kobe as well, to make that move. But bench players and supporting cast play better at home, and I’m looking for a seventh game.

Most of my least favorite players in the NBA are on the Celtics. I remember Paul Pierce overly taunting the bulls, Kevin Garnett going out of his way to taunt us from the bench, Rondo throwing Hinrich over the scorers table, and on and on. Then the Celtics added Rasheed Wallace. Watching the Celtics throughout the playoffs, it seems like these actions were no fluke. Obviously there is a lot of taunting and complaining in basketball, but it seems to me that Boston is on a completely different scale. How much of this do you think is my bias against the Celtics for that playoff round, or do you think that the Celtics actually do have a lot more taunting, whining, unnecessary roughness, etc. than the other basketball teams?

Josh Sitrick

Sam: Yes, they do. It’s actually a credit to Doc Rivers the way he has kept a bunch like that together. And the way he doesn’t defend it. I’ve talked with a lot of longtime Celtics fans this season and most don’t like the team because of the punkish behavior of so many and then adding bad actors like Nate Robinson and Rasheed. This Celtics group is notorious for low class behavior, but in sports the clichéd bottom line is winning. They are winning and it’s always said to be the great cleanser. Even Doc said after Game 5 he’s tried in vain to calm down his players. So you put them in position to win and hope they don’t melt down along the way, and the record books will show the accomplishment, if it should occur, and not the behavior. We celebrate winners primarily and work backward, and if they win then it generally is said to mean they did it the right way.

Is david lee that much better than taj gibson?? he is clearly better offensively, but way worse defensively. if you factor in the salary differnence between the 2, i would think you could make a pretty solid argument that gibson is the more valuable to a team (including cap number).

Mitchell Wu

Sam: That’s been my point about Joe Johnson. It’s why I view him as a top choice because you could miss on LeBron and Bosh, though I would try as well, and then be stuck with someone like Lee. Lee’s a nice addition for someone, but overall I like Taj just as well or better because defensively he fits with Noah well. I think he’ll get bigger and stronger and improve his offensive game. Lee’s a hard worker and I think there’s a chance he can improve defensively, though I’ve noted he talks more this summer about improving his three point range and doesn’t talk about defense much. You can add a four like Lee or Boozer, say, and still have a big hole at shooting guard. Kirk isn’t a long term solution. If you add Johnson, you can get away with Gibson. It’s why I wouldn’t wait long for LeBron or Bosh’s drama unless I could guarantee two maximum salary spots by getting a lot farther under the cap.

Is there some salary cap handbook you had to study to gain the knowledge? It seems so complicated!

Billy Habibi

Sam: It is complicated because the NBA simply made up the rules as they went along. No one had a salary cap before. They just weren’t as smart as the Founding Fathers, who made up the Constitution when none like it existed before. But there’s a valuable guide to help. A guy named Larry Coon, as far as I can tell as a hobby, has a web site called NBA salary cap FAQ. It answers most questions and gives the best in depth look at the cap, including what the NBA provides the media. I know I call the league all the time asking for clarifications. But there is no ultimate guide, like when Toni Kukoc was eligible to be signed the first time and the NBA decided the Bulls had a three week window to sign him. Why? Because. The Bulls didn’t sign him then. But the reason for changes is teams often find ways around it and the league is forever closing loopholes.

What teams will have cap space on draft night? I read where one writer thinks that the Bulls will offer their 1st round pick to a team in an effort to clear cap space so I was curious where these potential salary dumping grounds were located.

Kyle Smith

Sam: I can see that among the carrots, including the 2012 first the Bulls got from the Bobcats in the Tyrus Thomas deal. The Bulls will be among the teams trying to persuade teams like the Timberwolves and Kings and perhaps Clippers to take on players under the assumption those teams cannot get free agents. One idea is to try to get room for a second max salary so you can tell two free agents they can join Rose and Noah. That would be the ultimate recruiting. But you figure those teams know they’ll be in demand and will try to make it a bidding war. It’s like the way the Lakers kept giving up players in 1996 when Shaq was a free agent and every time the potential contract went up the Lakers would offload someone else. The difference is a lot of teams will be trying, and some of those teams will be trying to dump contacts, like Nocioni in Sacramento, and the Bulls likely could not take on such deals.

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