Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 12.24.10

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

It's kinda funny seeing coaches and players complain about Christmas games, forgetting for a moment that they're being paid millions of dollars to entertain the fans and playing a game. (Many) have to work on Christmas for less than a water boy's salary. Come on, fellas!

Jono Pech

Sam: Of course, it’s ridiculous for all the gas station guys and flight attendants and grocers and firefighters and police and… reporters. I saw where Phil Jackson objected, as he always does, though on religious grounds given the sanctity of the day, and Jackson was raised in a house of ministers. I’m not sure where the Zen relates, but I don’t go there. I also saw LeBron James said the NBA players should be home unwrapping gifts, which is sort of the rich man’s religion. The NBA is the entertainment business and the entertainment business, like the movies, goes on when people are around and looking to be entertained. Sometimes athletes forget who they are. They are not needed. They are the play toys of a wealthy society. They don’t have to be. They choose to be. Long before LeBron James brought his talents to the NBA, the NBA was playing on Christmas Day. If that was a job he didn’t care for because of the hours, he should have done something else. We all would understand. The game would progress fine. It would be nice if some of the top stars who get the most acclaim would embrace what a fabulous life they’ve been able to achieve because of pro sports and that they’d love to be able to give back, like putting on a fabulous show on Christmas Day when families were home together. Now, if James decided to go into a monastery given his ascetic lifestyle, then I, perhaps, could be a bit more sympathetic. Wouldn’t it be great if some NBA star someday talked about how lucky he was to be playing basketball for a living and being able to entertain people who might not have as much in life as they do? Oh, right, Derrick Rose told me that the other day. I knew I’d heard it somewhere.

I am past Melo and Mayo, as they are so unlikely to happen. I don't think the Bulls need to hit a homerun, because they aren't going to win the championship this year. As good as they are now, D-Rose and Noah will get better. They need to get a solid SG in place to grow with this team so they can compete for a championship in a year or 2. Go get Courtney Lee before the deadline! IIf I were the Bulls, I would not hesitate to include their 2011 first rounder, and the Charlotte pick, which is at its highest value right now (but will likely just turn into a 7-10 range pick ), plus JJ. Or offer the 2011 first rounder and Taj. I hope the Bulls don't overvalue that Charlotte pick. And they can't hold on too tight to a back-up PF. Taj is very valuable, but is a luxury. You can find a serviceable replacement to play 15 mins at backup-PF. The Bulls are trying to improve, and I think it is okay to overpay for a guy if it makes your team better. With D-Rose and Boozer drawing so much attention, I think that Lee could be a really effective scorer and be able to guard the opposing teams best perimeter scorer at the same time.

Matt Maloney

Sam: As I was saying… yes, that. I was thinking of not printing this e-mail, as it may threaten my own position here because that is what I’d do. I’m not fully sure what it would take to get Lee, as I’ve seen him lately playing in some pivotal times down the stretch in Houston wins. They do like Brooks and Lowry playing together, and with Kevin Martin there’s not much room. There are higher level guys you can try for now, like Mayo and Stephen Jackson, or maybe wait and see what Portland will do and thus whether Rudy Fernandez pops loose. Also, I think the Bulls will wait out Anthony as there is a chance. But I like Lee a lot and would be satisfied if they went that way, if possible.

Do you think the Bulls would be less inclined to deal that Bobcats 1st round pick now that the team looks to be lottery bound for years to come? Would it be worth giving up for SG help now?

Ninab Maradkel

Sam: Ah, the rub. So say the Bobcats are crap for the next five years, and then you have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and it’s the next Duncan or LeBron or Shaq. And you traded it to get Courtney Lee? I’d say if everyone promises Gar they won’t ever mention that, then he might make a trade this season for that pick. But you better not say you would have held that pick. And if you view the league analyses of teams’ futures given resources and roster strength, Charlotte looks as poor as any for the next several years. Is someone like Lee or Rudy or Jackson going to mean a championship? Then if not, can you afford to give up a draft pick that could set the team up for the following decade?

Hypothetically speaking, lets say Derrick Rose is a free agent this summer and the old CBA doesnt expire for a couple years and is essentially a non-factor in signing free agents. What type of deal do you think he would get? Something like what Rondo makes or more along the lines of CP3 and Deron Williams money.

John Lafoone

Sam: Of course, it’s obvious Rose would get the maximum money as he is a top 10 player already for sure. But this also raises the back question hanging over the Bulls. Rose is going to be a “victim” of the new labor deal in that it will attempt to cut the top salaries. What teams with young players who have not been paid yet fear is there’ll be some sort of limitation on teams already with multiple eight figure deals and the Bulls won’t even be in position to offer Rose enough. I know. I cannot see the league doing that to a main franchise, but it’s not like the other teams will defend the Bulls right to retain Rose. It’s why the Bulls have to be cautious in taking on big contracts this season in trade if they are available. You cannot see the NBA breaking up teams, but until the rules are clear, things can change. This is much more complicated than just saying, so and so is available, “Let’s go get him!”

Come on, plant the seed with Bulls Management: Larry Brown just quit, they want to rebuild....what better way than to get their own draft pick back (probably top10) and getting Jackson's salary off the books? Adding Jackson to the Bulls starting lineup would make them just as good as any other team in the NBA.

Jason Quaid

Sam: You plant the seed. Ok, done. Now we’ve just got to get Gar a computer so he can read this. There’s the other side of the argument: Maybe Charlotte will have a fire sale and here’s an All-Star level classic shooting guard, maybe 6-8, who can defend, make threes and a tough guy who’s a little nuts so opponents generally fear him, but while somewhat overheated at times is regarded as a popular teammate, and a very good guy with the media and fans. Hey, Boston is old and Orlando is now small and Miami is weak inside and why not us why not now, eh? With Jackson making $8.4 million, matching salaries to give them anything could also be an issue.

I keep hearing rumors of J.R. Smith. They're not really looking into getting him are they? i know he can shoot the 3 and is athletic and has an expiring contract, but i don't even know how you'd acquire him. Watson and Bogans?

Mike Kay

Sam: And there’s him, too. There is a fire sale there, from what I’ve heard, and this one keeps coming up on the internet bad rumor of the week category. From all I’ve heard, the Bulls have no interest in him and have not pursued him. There’s an old saying in the newspaper business, “95 percent of what you read is true except the 5 percent you have personal knowledge about.” This is a 5 percenter.

As we all know by now....the Blazers are a shell of what they could have been. Brandon Roy is done, Greg Oden is done....& those were suppose to be they're anchor stars. How long is Mr. Cho going to deny that this team needs to start rebuilding? Is Rudy any more available now then he was in the summer?

Erik Garcia

Sam: Maybe less since if they are in trouble with guys like Roy. Maybe now they have more need to keep a shooting guard like Rudy, who didn’t play because Roy ate up so many minutes.

With all this talk about Da Bullz needing a 2 guard, I've been doubting lately that any of the available options provide an upgrade over Ronnie Brewer. His defense is as good as advertised, his ball-handling is well above average for a 2, he is crazy athletic, and surprise- he has been hitting his outside shot with remarkable accuracy! I really don't think any of the guys that have been discussed in trade scenarios are going to make this team better than they already are with Ronnie. I actually look forward to seeing him in iso situations, as he knows when to pick his spots and usually ends up embarrassing his defender.

Brian Becker

Sam: Yeah, he’s not bad. No, he isn’t getting those 20 point Ray Allen big shot games, but in a platoon with Kyle Korver, that shooting guard spot doesn’t look that bad. Oh, right, Keith Bogans is starting. I forgot. No one ever brings it up. Ideally, the Bulls probably would like to have Brewer as a backup two and Korver as a backup three for better bench strength and depth and a high level shooting guard, but like with Miami, which also went under the cap, you cannot do it all in one season after going into free agency. You think Miami likes Ilgauskas and Chalmers or Arroyo starting?

With the recent additions in Orlando, there's talk that J.J Redick might be on the trade block. Any chance we go after him?

Mike Kedzorski

Sam: I don’t believe you can for one year—like a traded player—trade for a restricted free agent whose offer was matched to keep him from going to your team.

Would you be willing to give up JJ to get Thabeet? Can't teach size.....

James Vender

Sam: Yes, that is one of the better NBA clichés, and this the latest of the “Can we get him?” I know fans generally like whoever is the next guy, which pretty much qualifies everyone to write for New York tabloid newspapers. Forget whom we’ve got—let’s get that guy! As it pertains to the Bulls, it will be difficult to make any trade given the roster is pretty bare of so-called assets anyone much cares about. It’s not the Bulls’ fault. They cashed them in to get into free agency for a shot at the biggest free agent class ever. They missed on their priorities, but Boozer is proving a good addition. When you go under the salary cap to do what the Bulls did, you don’t get any exceptions, so their payroll stays below $60 million and their depth is thus limited. It is why the Magic can make the kind of trades they did with a deep roster. The Bulls had to flush theirs, so there’s not much to trade, especially with Noah out two months. When the Bulls call anyone, they generally ask for Taj and Korver. You are not getting high level players with draft picks. As for Thabeet, he is not, and if the Bulls have decided they are never going to use J.J., which I think would be a mistake, but if they have then, OK. I’d take a shot. The problem dealing with Memphis is after the Pau deal they are gun shy about looking like they lost on a deal again (suddenly Mayo for Love isn’t looking so great, either). So since Thabeet was a No. 2 overall pick they’ll be looking for close to equal value, which would likely mean J.J and a No. 1. That’s not worth a shot for a guy who can’t get on the floor for a losing team.

I haven't seen much of Tracy McGrady this year, I've looked at his numbers and they have not been impressive at all but he had a real nice game Wednesday against Toronto with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Could he finally be getting his legs back under him? I've also read that he's been a great team mate and mentor to the younger players.

Eddie James

Sam: I assume you’ve been reading McGrady’s tweets to himself. He has had the occasional quarter, which was where those numbers came from, but when he does it’s because he monopolizes the ball and runs the offense through himself. Detroit has only been good when at least two and sometimes three wing players are out because they have so many and guys are fighting over minutes and shots. McGrady’s knees are never coming back and basically all he does is get in the way. The Bulls are fortunate in my view they passed on him.

The Spurs are 23-3 right now. The 95-96 Bulls on Dec. 22 were 22-2. Why aren't the Spurs getting the recognition they deserve and is it possible for them to come close to the 72 win mark?

Joe Jarosz

Sam: I guess the best question is whether you’d like to wager, say, your home and car on whether they win 70 games. I guess I’d say to write back when they are 41-3. When the Bulls were 22-2, no one was predicting any such 70-win season. Other than my old colleague Lacy Banks, who got it right. The Spurs have been a major surprise, I’ll admit that, but so far have played the 17th toughest schedule with their opponents with a combined record below .500. It doesn’t take anything away from what they’ve done and how well Ginoboli has played in that he’s an MVP candidate. But 70 wins is a remarkable achievement and the Spurs haven’t shown me anything to suggest they are that kind of team.

Now that Noah is out for a while the minutes of our big men and probably the

rest of the team are going to go up or will be pretty high compared to

average. Too many seemed concerned about this issue. I know 46 minutes is a

lot for Boozer, but watching the game last night, it wasn't 46 minutes of

playing the Phoenix Suns or the New York Knicks who will just run run run.

It was 46 minutes of standing waiting for a play on one end, and then

standing and waiting for a play on the other end.

I really just think that people are making too big a deal

about box scores. High

minutes against teams that have no offense doesn't seem like that many

minutes to me.

Francis Manaloto

Sam: I sort of felt the same sitting and watching. I wasn’t tired at all and I also got up to get a piece of pizza and a drink.

Sorry, that’s just my Brooklyn wise guy view of the world. But, seriously, folks, I am grateful for all the responses and the readers’ and everyone’s interest. It’s enabled me to continue in this profession at a time when not only a lot of people don’t have jobs they love, as I do, but don’t even have jobs. So I am particularly appreciative and know without the readers and fans none of this would be possible. So let me say thanks and have a good holiday season. And about Keith Bogans…