true ios true ios true android false computer $upper($url_encode($(QUERY_STRING{'bypassCountry'}))) NONE $url_encode($(GEO{'country_code'})) $url_encode($(GEO{'country_code'})) $(bpc) true true false Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 4.1.2016 |

Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 4.1.2016

I'm guessing you're not into "turning points," but I'm going to propose one: the road trip where the Bulls lost a few close ones to Utah, Denver and other teams even though they were trying (as I observed) quite hard. In all of those games the Bulls had leads and gave them up at the end when the other team turned it up, especially on the boards. The Bulls just could not secure defensive rebounds over bigger, faster players. I really got the sense after watching those games that the team started to internalize "we're just not good enough."

--Alejandro Yegros

Sam: Yes, that turning point thing simplifies the season, but I was thinking the same thing at the time. Though there are extenuating circumstances. Some fans say they knew this wasn’t a playoff team, which is only looking backward from now. You have to expect injuries, and perhaps with this team more than most. But Joakim Noah didn’t hurt his knee. His loss even as he came off the bench was inestimable, if only given him being the only so called vocal leader whom players respected when he spoke. Though I’ll agree his voice was muted some coming off the bench.

Not coincidently, that trip was when Jimmy was hurt. There was much debate to start the season about whose team it was, who was better, whose brother is stronger, yadda, yadda. Jimmy became the All-Star and he was gone. You don’t replace that when Noah already is out. After that opening trip win over the Lakers, they were 27-21. OK, too many days off in L.A. and a four-point halftime deficit to the Clippers becomes 27. They have a win clinched in Utah after a big Rose shot, can’t get one rebound and go to overtime and lose. They beat the Kings; then Jimmy goes down. He has yet to recover.

Jimmy being carted off at halftime left the players obviously reeling, like when Rose was hurt, and they are outscored by 21 in the fourth quarter by the Nuggets and lose. They are outscored 12-0 to end the game by Minnesota and lose. Two weeks into the trip they are down 20 in the first quarter in Charlotte and lose. They come home for one game before All-Star and are out of it against the Hawks. Suddenly, they’re a .500 team struggling to stay in with Jimmy out, Gasol going through all the extra All-Star work, Gibson feeling the aches all over, Mirotic out from appendix complications, Dunleavy slow to return from back surgery, and it was the week that wasn’t. A play here or there being the difference between enough wins they wouldn’t now be sweating to just make the playoffs.

I'm starting to think more and more about this summer.What do we need, what should we do, etc. Our roster, without resigning, will be:


SG: NEED/Holiday/Snell

SF: Butler/McDermott/Dunleavy



I still think Jimmy is best suited at SF. We need a starting caliber, 2-way player, at SG. And a servicable, healthy center that is not a liability on O (Noah) or D (Gasol). Felicio has shown that in spurts, but isn't ready for 30+ minutes a night.

Perhaps we could package our draft pick with Taj, Tony, and/or Mike for Aaron Afflalo, Alan Anderson, or Terrance Ross. Then sign a worker like Meyers Leonard, Zaza or Ezeli. Resigning E'twaun seems like a good idea to back up Derrick. Retool and give it another chance.

--Matthew Mikulice

Sam: Sounds good. So how exactly do you get two starters and a high level backup point guard and a rotation player or two with $20 million? Which is basically all you’d have if you let both Noah and Gasol go. And you may not even have that much if you try to resign Moore. And you’ve given away the first round pick also? That’s why fantasy basketball is much easier.

The Bulls have about $64 million in guaranteed contracts for next season for nine players: Rose, Butler, Gibson, Mirotic, Dunleavy, McDermott, Snell, Felicio and Portis. That means you have about $26 million under the cap. You have no center and I don’t see a single competitive team without at least a solid rotation center. So that’s maybe $8 million to replace. Moore figures to get $4 million or so (I’m guessing here as no one knows this new market, but non All-Stars like Khris Middleton were getting $14 million last season). You’re already out of the market for top free agents (I assume LeBron and Durant have other plans) like Al Horford or Hassan Whiteside. Probably gives you enough for a free agent like Arron Afflalo (he has an opt out he’ll likely exercise).

Ross also is a free agent, so there’ll be some interesting possibilities all over the league with perhaps two thirds of the teams having $20 million or more in potential cap room. It should be an intriguing summer of free agency musical chairs with basically none or few true impact players on the market. For the Bulls, I see the beginning of a two-year process of changing the chemistry and character of the team, which was Thibodeau’s team. You can’t change it in one off season.

We came into the season with a former MVP who had the entire summer to train after beating LeBron several times off the dribble, showing flashes of the MVP version of himself. We just signed one of the most complete players in the game to a max contract; one who made significant improvement each summer since he came into the league. We were positioned to free Pau "The Great" Gasol (I just read another one of your flowering descriptions) from the pressure of being anything more than being the 3rd best player on our team after going to yet another All-Star game.

Mirotic was the second best rookie last year, reaching a dropped ceiling installed by management who rationed his minutes. Noah was a season removed from DPOY and was injured last year. I assume you forget the chorus sung by the players after losses about how talented they are. We were meeting expectations, not exceeding them. I'm disappointed. The organization that screamed players don't build championships looks in the mirror and sees a 76ers logo on their polo. First poor play was a consequence of their focus on pace. Then, it became about the injuries. Now, it's "we never thought we were good enough." It seems we're going through the 5 stages of being a loser.

--Joseph Hollis

Sam: Well, how is your day going? So probably everyone should have come into the season and said, “Look, we have no chance to do anything. Maybe we could make the playoffs, if we’re lucky.” And then everyone would scream about having a losing mentality. Why does Bernie Sanders keep saying he can win? He probably has his doubts, but, hey stuff happens and you have to try. This was no championship team last season or the season before or the season before that. They pushed hard, extra hard, at the end of last season when teams began resting players (I hate that, by the way, so I had no issue) and won something like eight of their last 11 to get to that 50 wins when they played at a 45, 46-win pace all season, like they did the previous few seasons.

They lost a bunch of those games to teams they should have beaten. And then they got to the playoffs gassed, almost got beaten by the Bucks and collapsed against the Cavs without Love, Irving; Matthew Delavadova looked fast. So it was time for a change. Shouldn’t have been that complicated.

Yes, the former MVP came in looking great and then had surgery after the first day and despite the criticism of injury again he shouldn’t have played in November. He insisted on it and it was comical up close to watch him closing one eye just to try to see the basket. But he so badly wanted to play because he finally did have a summer with no rehab. So he starts to get going and Mirotic goes in the hospital with surgery and loses 20 pounds and can’t eat for a week or more and then Jimmy goes out and basically never has come back. And Noah didn’t. Your All-Star comes back averaging eight fewer points, shooting 20 percent on threes and going to the free throw line half as many times. You can’t make that up.

Look what happened to Oklahoma City and Indiana when one player—Durant and Paul George—were lost. They went from conference finals to out of the playoffs. Now, Pau has knee swelling and acknowledges it’s not getting better this season. They were about 10 games over .500 with Noah and Jimmy and at that pace good enough for second in the East, which is where the ESPN power rating had them after 35 games. Changing coaches was just the first step in an overhaul that takes a few years. Once you step up and pay your main guys max deals and your top reserve a long term security and add the best free agent you could get whom the Spurs and Thunder chased—which the Bulls did when everyone screamed you had to reward the MVP and the surprise 30th pick—then you have to live with them as they run it out.

The Bulls wouldn't seriously consider trading Jimmy would they? In your honest opinion which is best for the Bulls this season - making the playoffs or gearing up for the lottery?

Tony Reed

Sam: In order no, yes. I saw that story and it said the Celtics and Magic were going to ask about Butler. So what? The Bulls may ask about LeBron and Durant. Everyone asks about everyone all season long. Those sorts of stories/speculation don’t seem to have an understanding of how the NBA works. Every time something happens with a player, be it injury or controversy or bad play, a half dozen GMs call and say if you are interested in trading let me know, or say would you be interested in so and so for whats his name? It’s called doing your job because your owner may say, “Did you ask about so and so?” You have to have an answer.

Look, on .500 teams just trying to make the playoffs, there are no untouchables. Would OKC give you Russell Westbrook? OK, I’d interested. The Bulls want to get better. Trading Butler for other than some extraordinary talent makes them worse. They are not much interested in worse. Plus, what’s so great about what they have in Orlando? They’re winning 35 games. Or Boston, who’s winning more but freely admits they need a better player like Butler. If they had better stuff why aren’t they keeping it? I don’t see anything going on with Butler, but the Bulls wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t listen to what teams had to offer. And, playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. Once you begin to lose, you become a loser.

Sure, the Bulls got lucky missing the playoffs in 2008 and got Derrick Rose and could launch hope. It’s too much to expect to jump up to the top pick again, and they are not regarded as players of that caliber and this is not considered a great draft. Plus, it’s not like the East is so great you get into the playoffs and have no chance. Sports is about competing. When you stop competing, that’s when you don’t deserve respect.

I'm totally amazed how this season has gone. I don't see any direction from management, coaching, or from the team leaders. At this point the Bulls would be better off not making the playoffs and making some wholesale changes in the offseason.

Noah can't come back based on the new NBA play, he can't score and therefore he is a liability. Gasol cannot defend the pick and role well, but probably keeps a team neutral in terms of scoring as many points as he gives up. Other teams will be looking at him as well.
The big question is what to do with Rose and Butler? Can these guys play together or not? The numbers seem to suggest they cannot, which is disappointing, though I suspect Gar/Pax will give that one more year. Do you think they would have enough nerve to trade Rose if they can find a taker?

There is some talent here, we need health, better coaching, and a little more tenacity from the players.

--Steve Fulton

Sam: I don’t see Rose tradable making more than $20 million given he has to pass a team physical after three knee surgeries. The Pistons’ doctors wouldn’t even take Montiejunas from Houston with one surgery. I do believe Rose and Butler can coexist, but Jimmy is a small forward playing shooting guard because the team didn’t have one. It’s not like he asked. He’s a good soldier.

It’s why I see athletic shooting guard the primary short term need. Actually, I’d try to bring back Noah short term—maybe even Gasol for a year—if I can add a shooting guard and maybe cheap athletic wing player (if there is such a thing). Maybe in the draft. Once Jimmy moves to the front court as he’s a good rebounder he won’t be walking out of the backcourt with the ball. Rose can push or throw ahead, which he has done, and the court will open if they had someone in the backcourt who can make a three. Look what happened at the end of the Indiana game just with the threat of Mirotic’s shooting. The Pacers reacted to his movement and Jimmy was all of a sudden wide open for the winner.

Defenses don’t react now to the Bulls backcourt at the three-point line. I think Noah brings so much in leadership and team bonding, though the issue is also the plan. With Rose’s contract expiring after the 2017 season, the Bulls could have cap room for two free agents. But they also better get a high level point guard (or two) if they can’t or decide not to keep him. He still draws more defensive attention than anyone on the team with defenses reacting to his drives with interior help more than any of the other current players. You also don’t want to get caught up in giving long term contracts this summer and not be in the bidding in 2017.The thinking is with this new rush of money so many teams will overspend this summer and be out of play for 2017 when teams who have been patient can swoop in and pick off players in a better free agency class

Who'd have thought that losing a defensive player of the year for the season would have such an impact? No one could have seen this coming.

This season shows how important of a player Noah is and that should be kept in mind in the off season. He doesn't give you the numbers Gasol does, but a Noah anchored defense hasn't missed the playoffs yet if I'm not mistaken.

--Wesley Davis

Sam: Now comes the tricky part for the Bulls because there’s only so much planning you can do. Noah may want to move; same with Pau. Even if you want one back. It’s unlikely one would return if the other also came back. I can’t blame Hoiberg since we saw last season the Gasol/Noah combination didn’t work with both starting. Both want to start. Both are centers. Gasol can’t defend the perimeter and Noah can’t shoot from the perimeter. But you need a center.

The Warriors have Bogut, the Cavs added Mozgov, the Raptors have Valanciunas, the Spurs have Duncan plus, the Thunder has Adams and Kanter and even Ibaka. I’ve heard this theory of playing this non-center wide open style. OK, what do you do against Karl Anthony-Towns? You need a big guy. Felicio has been a nice pickup for spot minutes, but serious contenders all have a serious big man. You’re never going to have a perfect team; Noah is very imperfect. But he adds quite a bit.

For what Gasol doesn’t do, he still has the interest of teams competing for titles. He may even be the best bet for now as he could be more inclined to take a one-year deal to get through next season and then make a big splash in 2017. You’re a more attractive team if you can tell a free agent to bring his buddy. Durant and Westbrook? Look, no one has any idea what’s coming or what will happen, and I have no idea about the Bulls’ plan. They wanted to let this team play itself out. They earned that and they are finding out.

Michael Beasley is playing himself into a multi year contract. I feel bad for any GM who gives it to him though.

--Mike Sutera

Sam: So is he the guy some among the Bulls believed they should pick ahead of Rose in 2008? Or the guy who had to play in China after stints with six NBA teams (a few twice) and playing in six high schools. And from getting caught with drugs at NBA rookie orientation he’s had drug incidents at least through 2013. Beasley has been having a rebirth with the Rockets. Has he really changed? People do. Still, he doesn’t know much defense—which fits with them—and always could shoot and score. But that is the point? Do people (and players) change? Or just until they get paid?

Is there a chance we could let both Noah and Pau go and make a big play for Whiteside this off season??

--Shaun Chalmer

Sam: Speaking of paying guys. If Miami won’t then you have to wonder. If they do, then, well, it doesn’t matter. So you’re really lonely and desperate and are the last one to leave the party. You want to go home with someone, but do you want to be married? In the NBA, you have to marry. And that’s a four-year commitment. And no one’s taking your mistakes.

Whiteside has been a great find, though he still comes off the bench. He puts up great rebound and block numbers, but he played for four different D-league teams and in Lebanon and China before Miami took a chance at a minimum salary. He’s earned the big pay with his play, but are you sure you want him to be your highest paid player and with his history, the foundation of your franchise, the model of your future culture and the style you want to play? You better be sure because it’s a marriage and not a date. Plus, the Bulls top priority is not a center.

Tony Snell came into the league red hot/was a scoring powerhouse. He was hitting 3s, left, right, center. And now in his 4th season with the Bulls, what happened?

--Kieron Smith

Sam: The red flag was on Tony in college as a guy who played somewhat without emotion. Sort of like former teammate Kawhi Leonard. Some have it in them; some don’t. Tony still works as hard as ever, is a supportive teammate, good in the locker room. But can’t get to the basket. Or seem to try. You never really know--especially with players leaving school early and with the declining level of play in college now that rivals community college play of 20 years ago--until you get them and see what they can and will do against serious competition.

Tony should have been everything the Bulls still need, a long, athletic, defensive oriented wing player who can shoot from outside. But he just doesn’t do it. Unfortunately. It’s why those who say teams should know because it’s their job are wrong. You never really know except in the obvious cases until they are with you. Just like you generally don’t know your spouse until after the marriage. Sometimes they aren’t what you thought they were.

I know we can't quite figure out what is wrong with the Bulls, but at least we can claim injuries. What is wrong with the Wizards? Will Whitman survive this? They have a lot of talent- especially backcourt and center. They also seem to have been fairly healthy this year.

--Adnaan Hamid

Sam: So so healthy. They have some big issues as well as a team, like the Bulls, predicted by basically everyone for top four that also may not make the playoffs. Of course, Hoiberg is inheriting another coach’s players and in a first year. Wittman is one of the senior coaches now, five as head coach in Washington, seven years on the staff. The fans always want the coach fired first, so I assume that’s going on there as well. But you better have a replacement. I don’t see great change with all the changes that were made lately, like in Houston, Cleveland and Phoenix. Actually, all have gotten worse.

Yes, John Wall has been healthy and good. But Bradley Beal was hurt again and they have a big decision to make on him as a free agent given injuries every season. Like Anthony Davis. The Bulls aren’t the only team hurt by injuries. Davis was rated much higher than anyone on the Bulls, and he has been hurt every season—his body may never be able to stand up to NBA full seasons—and his team collapsed in a not so great Western Conference. Plus, Nene as a free agent has declined. They changed the rotation with Paul Pierce leaving and Gortat hasn’t had a great impact. And really never did. So it’s not quite the powerhouse, either. They’ll be another intriguing offseason team to watch.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has become the new starting point guard for the Bucks after MCW was ruled out for the season and he seems to be thriving there as a playmaker and scorer (even though his team isn't). Do you think that it is possible that we may see Anthony Davis become the next oversized point guard?

When he was in high school, he played point guard before growing about a foot, but you can definitely tell that some of that ability stuck with him at least in the form of ball handling, his decent range, and lateral quickness. For coach Gentry, this might be something to consider given the fact that he already has two capable big men in Ryan Anderson, and matching Davis up against smaller players might help him be injured less frequently than he is when he plays down low.

--Adam Chin

Sam: Davis was a point guard in high school because he was 6-1. Scottie Pippen had that advantage and became, in effect, the Bulls point guard at 6-8. But Davis is taller and doesn’t handle the ball or pass quite as well.

The interesting experiment is Antetokounmpo. I don’t see him as a point guard. He is an unusual talent, but I’ve never seen enough of not only the playmaking ability. but what to do with the ball when he gets on the run. He’s a great finisher and I’d work on his shooting. I know Jason Kidd was one of the great point guards ever and knows the position as well as anybody. But there’s also a lot of political stuff going on there behind the scenes with Kidd and it sounds like another power struggle with him. I suspect we’ll be hearing more about the Bucks.

Any chance the Bulls fire Hoiberg after one season?

--Mike Kay

Sam: No. Nor should they. I know it’s always fashionable to blame the coach, and I’m sure there are things Fred would do differently. But to me he’s nowhere near on the clock. It’s a process, as we hear so often, and his hiring was the first step. But the Bulls still have Thibodeau’s team. I don’t see how you can begin to judge Hoiberg until the roster more reflects the way he wants to play. It took awhile for Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta to come in and develop his chemistry.

No one in the last few seasons believed the Bulls’ slow paced, mid range shooting game was championship material. Competitive certainly, though not ultimately. So they began to change. Do they still have players who cannot play another way? Or do not care to? They’ve been in the process of determining that, and it has gone more slowly with the injuries and forced changing rotations, the starting lineup playing six games together. So the roster will begin to change, and Hoiberg will be and should be judged on coaching that team. I think he will become a very good coach because he has been in college, has played in the NBA and knows the game and is confident in what he can do. He remains the right choice even if he at this point may not be the perfect choice. Like maybe Tyronn Lue or Earl Watson or Bernie Bickerstaff Jr., the last three coaches hired.

Don't you think Thibs would have had this team in the playoffs? He was a leader. We all know Thibs was super stubborn, but he was a winner, and Chicago fans appreciate his style.

--Raj Sheth

Sam: I know there’s been this narrative of if-only-we-had-Thibs to save the day. It kind of reminds me of all those who are wistful about their high school or college sweethearts. Oh, those were such pleasant memories. Yeah, I’ll get back with them. Memories tend to be much sweeter.

Look, Thibodeau is a terrific coach. If he gets the Minnesota job, I see them in the playoffs. But it was time to break up. There’s my student manager theory. Those are the non-playing coaches like Van Gundy, Fratello, Lawrence Frank. They know basketball. They’ve been drawing plays since they were 10. But their pro life cycle is four to five years since they wear everyone out with their dawn-to-dark (Thibodeau wasn’t the only one) work and single mindedness. They see players like chessboard pieces to move around in plays and rotations and formations and they just wear everyone down. Plus, it was Thibodeau’s first head job and you change after that as Jerry Sloan often said he did as well after his first stint with the Bulls. And there was Thibodeau at odds with his bosses.

Right or wrong, they were the bosses. There are only so many times you can spit in the wind and not have it hit you. Thibodeau did a great job with the Bulls; they gave him his first job when many teams were warned off him for years because of that relentless work habit and communication issues. They helped one another. Maybe Thibodeau got the big break not having to ride it out, which was inevitable. Sure, it may have seemed like it would have worked like it did back in high school. Until you actually try it again.

I love the way Justin Holiday has played since coming on board. He's built like a toothpick, but he has a good all-round skill-set and what seems like a great basketball IQ. On that note, I think the silver lining from this season has been Hoiberg's willingness to give players a chance to prove themselves. I feel like we know so much more about the potential of the roster than at any point in Thibs' tenure.

Holiday, Moore and Felicio have all shown some great promise and should be locked in as bench depth. Snell, Brooks and Bairstow surely will be let go. And when only one of Gasol/Noah is re-signed, we should have 4 open roster spots. I'd love to see us target some proven senior players (PG, SG, C) to balance some of the discipline and consistency shortcomings of the roster. Do you think the current management group will get a chance to make these changes or will they end up as the scapegoat for this lost season?

--Blake Gillespie

Sam: No one is being penalized as much as some may want it. As you note, it’s one season in transition. With record injuries. Have to relax. But, yes, the point is right that the Bulls had to begin to see these guys play so they could make some decisions before having to pay them and they weren’t getting to do that. There’s always a balance, and winning games has to be the first priority. But for the long term you have to see and know what you have. At least they should have a better idea now and certainly begin to know the needs.

When are they going to stop allowing people to hit Derrick and take him out of the air without caling fouls? He was bound to get hurt and luckily it doesn't look like the elbow injury is severe, though he couldn't move the arm so it must be at least painful. In a league where you just have to throw yourself at the opponent and swing your arms around to get a call, the situation with Derrick is becoming ridiculous. Just because he's faster and has way more body control than other guards it doesn't mean he's not getting hit, and if officials don't blow the whistle consistently when he drives then opponents think they're allowed to do whatever they want with him. It's both frustrating and dangerous. And for Derrick to draw all the technicals he drew this season, he must be very upset and rightfully so.

--Cosimo Sarti

Sam: It is the most vocal we’ve seen Rose about this in his career, probably a combination of his frustration at the team’s season, being unable to finish as strongly as he’d like to and taking those hits. It’s exactly wrong, but I think the officials have taken advantage of him just because he doesn’t complain. You should never reward those who complain the most, but there was a reason someone came up with “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It’s unfortunate that Rose has to begin to get technical fouls to make his point rather than playing the right way and respecting the officials’ view point. But after all, at most jobs, who gets the most attention? Isn’t it the person always complaining instead of being the most classy?

I wish Hoiberg would just go to Mirotic and McDermott as the starters. They just bring a dynamic to the bulls game that we don't normally. They spread the offense so much and create so many lanes. Plus, when I see them play defense against most teams their defense isn't horrid. The bulls are 18-10 when Niko scores double figures this season. I think bringing Taj and Dunleavy would bring experience off the bench so that we don't have those lulls in the game.

--Rocky Rosado

Sam: As Mirotic did say after his 28 points against Indiana, the Bulls usually win when he has those kinds of games. And he did again against Houston and they did again. Niko the irreplaceable? The defensive issue would be too great, however. Hoiberg was smart Thursday to keep him coming off the bench. Plus, Gibson has been terrific, as good as anyone on the team in impact the last month or more.

Mirotic is a bit more aggressive to take his shot and often too much so by forcing something off the dribble. He needs to do a bit less, but he’s so anxious to help. And he seemed to do better at that this week. McDermott needs to take more shots and the team has to work harder to find him, though opponents don’t leave him as much. Still, you can find him over screens and he needs to take that shot. He’s sometimes too unselfish. And it was impressive the way he actually dominated the boards late against the Rockets. Playing him at four some would also work in some interesting lineups.

Are the Bulls the team with the most injuries this season? Besides Rose being in and out of the lineup this must be the most injured season ever as it seems like players are taking turns being in out of the injured list as well.

--Tom Choi

Sam: The Suns and Grizzlies probably would argue that, but I saw a stat the other day that combined games missed with salaries of players and even with Rose playing more than anytime since 2010-11, the Bulls have the most games/money missed. I get mail about the training staff needs to do more and I will defend them. I think they’ve done great things to keep guys playing as much as they have given the playing pressure on them the last few years.

Plus, look at the injuries this season. Dunleavy had back surgery, Mirotic had appendix and complications, Noah had a shoulder injury. Those have nothing to do with the training staff and regimen. Whereas Rose coming back to be on pace to play 68-70 games is a minor miracle. When the season started the Bulls would have signed up for that in a second. And that’s even with facial surgery. The training staff has done great work with him. And with Gasol at 35 having arguably two of the most productive seasons of his career when the talk from L.A. when the Bulls got him was he was broken down. There aren’t many 35-year-old big guys in the history of the game doing as much and playing as much.

The training staff turned over in the last few years, and a lot of injuries were inherited, and many more have been of the arcane kind, like an appendix or a spinal tap. The training staff was tasked with getting them ready late, and they basically are. It’s a different issue from the mental and emotional and dramatic fatigue of the past six years.

How would you feel if Pop sits guys versus the Warriors? Tony Parker seems to think that's the move.

The Bulls lost twice by 1 point their last 10 games (or so -leaning too much to take the time to Google the record). I remember the Colts coach sitting guys down when they were like 14-0. I've considered (coach)Caldwell a bum ever since. I will look at Pop through a squinty eye too. Big records should not result from forfeit. Somewhere Ayn Rand is smiling. If I'm Silver, don't you have to "frozen envelope" the Spurs into playing: I.e. make a call that's best for the future of the NBA. If best record in the history of the NBA is sullied from forfeit, isn't that a big deal?

--Jo Hollis

Sam: Not sure that will get an asterisk. But my first Ayn Rand reference. Thanks. You egotistical, objectivist.

I do hate that method, and for all those rooting against the Warriors breaking the Bulls 72-win record, which seems certain by now and I’m sure Popovich will sit those guys, I have to admire the Warriors for playing it out, going for the record. I’m rooting for them to win the title. We all should be to call out this popular notion that the world’s best athletes, even those in their 20s or 30, need to sit and rest late in the season. Especially given the first round of the playoffs takes about a month. And that’s after four off days.

Most American workers don’t get as much vacation time as NBA players get during the playoffs. It is a stain on the NBA, but given Popovich and the Spurs are so popular and successful and a first class group of people, it’s mostly let go. Adam Silver is less hands on with the teams than David Stern was and prefers the states rights approach of letting them handle their own business. Often we know from American history it leads to problems. Variations of this have gone on over the years, though to a lesser extent and usually not the stars.

There was once an injury list which mandated five games missed. But you basically had to get a doctors’ note. It wasn’t that difficult. There was so much misdirection the league finally did away with it. But as for history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar last year did a panel on the greatest teams in NBA history. Cases were still made despite the Bulls record for Celtics, Lakers and 76ers teams. The debate will continue.