Sam Smith hosts Live Chat


Jan 28

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We played hard today. We probably didn’t share the ball as much as we needed to and we had some trouble in transition defence… Oops, I thought I was Vinny Del Negro doing a post game. This is Sam Smith and I’m doing my first live chat. So let’s go…

Thanks everyone for participating and especially for all the good questions (except Moe from Minnesota, but that may not be a State since I don’t think they have a Senator anyway. Though they do want to send a comedian to the Senate and I think that’s appropriate.) I’m going to do this again soon so keep an eye on I hope the team has the passion for the game that you all have.

If Ben Gordon signs elsewhere and Hughes is not part of the Bulls future, does Rose become a 25/10 guy next year?
Cameron, Northbrook

I don’t think Rose will be that kind of a scorer and I don’t think he wants to be. He has a true point guard mentality although he doesn’t have a lot of assists yet. He wants to play with better players, which is rare. This is why, if the Bulls pursue the big free agent market they have a great selling point. “If you come to Chicago you have the chance to play with a guy that wants to make you look good.” I think Rose can average double figures in assists with a better team around him, including bigger guys who will dive for the basket and not fade away. But they’re not there yet. The least of my worries if I were the Bulls would be Rose’s stats.

Sam, I’m losing my hair! what should I do? I don’t want end up looking like you… Help!
Moe, Minnesota

Is that a basketball question? Oh that’s right basketballs don’t have hair either. There’s really no hope for you especially since you live in Minnesota, what were you thinking? My advice would be… the next time you go ice fishing just stick your head in the water for five minutes and you won’t think again about losing your hair. And by the way, what the heck is going on with the T-wolves? Am I really going to have to vote for McHale for coach of the year and will you stop calling him McFail?

Do you think it’s too much pressure on Rose yet to take last shot of the game? Is Del Negro putting him at risk of loosing confidence?
Alec, Wheeling, IL

No. I think players like Derrick relish this and you want that in a young player. Looking forward to taking that shot. I don’t know if you remember the Lakers playoffs against Utah when Kobe was a rookie or 2nd year player he took the last shot a few times and was awful. He airballed it and missed another one later. But he wanted the ball. I was glad to see Derrick take those shots eventhough they weren’t good ones. He learned from that experience. The only downside for the Bulls is maybe some of the veterans were looking and thinking ‘why didn’t I get that shot?’ but as Rose develops it will become obvious and as th team develops I think those jealousies will disappear.

Since November it has been a “competition” between Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo. But now it seems that other rookies like Eric Gordon, D.J. Augustin, and Russell Westbrook have really stepped up their game and now could possibly hurt Rose’s ROY chances since the Bulls have been playing bad. What do you think about this?
Tom, Chicago

I think you might be right and don’t forget about Kevin Love either. In games against the Bulls he looks like the ROY. That’s the problem with leading “wire-to-wire” it’s hard to win when you are the so-called favorite. Voters tend to be fickle and don’t like to be told who they should be voting for, particularly media members. So there could be some backlash toward Derrick. I do think Mayo will suffer some of the same sentiment and probably more so since his team is truly in disarray. I think Eric Gordon will have issues because of the Clippers situation. Westbrook and Love’s teams are playing well. I think Rose is still the front runner though some voters may want to vote for other players with all the fanfare for Rose. But in the end they’ll look at numbers and how many Rookie of the Month awards he’s won and will eventually be voted Rookie of the Year.

Sam, Why doesn’t Thabo get more playing time? He is clearly the bulls best defender, and when hes on he is a decent scoring option. I know that the main issue with him is lack of confidence, but wouldn’t playing time help to improve that?
Nick, Batavia

Yes, and he should get more playing time and I’m not sure he doesn’t get more PT. Del Negro falls on the answer of time for other players. I think it’s a mistake he’s not playing more. With long arms and willingness to defend he’s valuable. What hurts him is he turns down shots. So I think Del Negro fears putting him out there sometimes because Noah can’t score and you can’t count on Tyrus to score so in some line ups Thabo hurts himself when he doesn’t look to score, though I do think his minutes need to increase.

Sam I enjoy reading your stuff. Do you think John Paxson has overrated his “CORE” players. Who was he bidding against when he gave Noce, Kirk and especially Deng all that money?
Juice, Plainfield

A legitimate quesiton. I don’t think the contracts for Hinrich and Noce are really out of line with today’s standards. Both are declining contracts which make them tradeable and in part why teams are interested. In two years Noce will be making under $7MM and Hinrich will be making $8MM which are manageable numbers for rotation players. The contract for Deng is questionable to some extent. I think what happened was the team got caught up in the fear of losing both Gordon and Deng without any compensation. You can’t allow yourself to be in position to lose core players like that. Beacuse they grew frustrated at Gordon’s demands and getting to an agreement, it’s not so much that they were bidding against someone else for Deng they were bidding against their future. Perhaps they overpaid Deng for fear of losing him. Still if they want to go into free agency in 2010 Deng’s contract will not keep them from being in position for going after two major free agents and you do have to have guys on your roster and Deng should at least be a solid rotation player so I don’t think it’s a huge problem going forward.

Am I crazy, or is TT coming on lately after finally getting some playing time? I will be frustrated if we trade him for anything but another young post player, which does not seem realistic at this time.
Chris, Bloomington

You’re crazy! No no, just kidding. Tyrus is coming along some, but comes and goes. Some games he’s aggressive and attacks the rim and other games he’s out on the perimeter shooting jumpers. Perhaps we don’t expect much from him since he hasn’t done much in previous years so maybe when her performs it seems like more. But if he’s going to be someone you want to keep he has to be more consistent, aggressive and physical than he’s been.

After watching Noah for a year and a half all I want is someone who can defend the post and rebound consistently, besides Kaman are there any other big men the Bulls might target? Przybilla perhaps?
Chris, Illinois

I’ve mentioned Przybilla but again Portland is a tough team to deal with. I don’t see Kaman as the end-all be-all but there are few big men you can get. I feel Kaman will be available since the Clippers have Randolph and Camby. Dalembert is out there, so is Brad Miller but to me those guys aren’t much more than role players and Miller is an aging player. Kaman has a chance to be a presence if you can get him. Go down the rosters of the teams and ask yourself how many big men are available. Many teams are playing PFs at Center now.

I was wondering was you thought of trading for Channing Frye of Portland? He is a free agent at the end of the year. Any way of getting him?
Rob McNamara, Springfield, IL

Frye is a guy I’ve mentioned a few times. He’d be interesting and maybe worth taking a chance on since he doesn’t play much with Portland. Portland over values their players making it difficult to deal with them. I know GMs who are talking with them now and are shocked by what they ask for in return. This is a risky strategy and to some extent one of the issues the Bulls had when they were doing so well a few years ago. You can’t value your players too highly when you are doing well. Portland has an excess of young players they don’t use yet you hear them asking for high level players in return so I think it will be tough to deal with them and not likely.

Do you feel that the Bulls properly develop young players or is it a coincidence that none of our players in recent history have improved?
Sobotka, Waterfront

I wouldn’t say that. I think the difference with some of the Bulls players is they have drafted players who are relatively close to their ceilings because they were more mature players. That lead to the drafting of Tyrus because the Bulls were urged to draft somebody who was athletic and had a chance to grow. I don’t blame the coaching staff for Tyrus’ lack of development (though he has gotten better). They coaches instruct him to do the right things and he doesn’t always do them. Is that the fault of the coach, talent evaluator, player? I don’t fault the coaches because I’ve seen great players improve without being taught. Magic, Isiah, Jordan came back each year with something new to their game. Some of these players have blown off the summer and not done a lot of work with the team. Players develop most in the summer because during the season you have to focus so much on the games.

If Hue Hollins swallowed his whistle in Game 5 of the 1994 Playoffs against the Knicks and didn’t call Scottie Pippen for that phantom call, do you think the Bulls 4-Peat? I believe they could have knocked off the Pacers and Rockets.
Dan Brecher, NY

I believe they would have gotten to the finals and it would have been one of the greatest stories in finals history going the year after Jordan (at his best) retired. I don’t think they would have beaten the Rockets. The Bulls were generally the most difficult team to match up with at the time. They had no answer for Hakeem and Otis Thorpe used to run out and give the Bulls fits. But I do believe they would have and should have gotten to the finals. That was one of the worst calls, not becuase it was wrong, but because of when it was and it allowed the ref to decide the game. I never have a problem with missed calls, as teams have a chance to make up for it with play. The Bulls didn’t get a chance to make up for that one.

Is Derrick Rose as nice as he seems? Why does it come off that the other players aren’t as fond of him as I would’ve hoped they’d be?
Albert, Chicago

He really seems to be a genuinely nice kid. He seems respectful and polite and serious. He does all the rookie things unlike other rookies that have been through the organization in the past. He’s been respectful of teammates and coaches. I think his teammates do like him I just think there’s natural jealousy when new guy comes to work who is younger and gets more attention than anybody else. I saw it many times at the Tribune and I’m sure others see it at their offices. I don’t think it’s a “major” issue with the Bulls because Derrick is such a good guy and as the rost begins to change and the pecking order becomes clearer I think that will all go away.

Sam, what do you think about Lamar Odom? He’s been getting trashed a lot around the league for soft play, but there are not many better power forwards in the East. Summertime sign and trade for Hinrich?
Matt, Evanston

Odom is an interesting guy. He’s really a small forward because he wants to handle the ball a lot and that would be an issue with Deng under a long-term deal. He can play power forward but tends to be a player who is not “there” every game. I like his game but he needs the ball in his hands and may not be as effective with a ball control guard like Rose. He’d be a nice player to have and I know the Lakers really like Hinrich and would like to get another PG because Fisher is not a true point guards. If I’m the Bulls I’m not sure that would be the best I could do for Kirk.

With cleveland being a true contender to win it all, how likely is it that lebron will leave? If not very likely, then are gm’s finally coming to this realization and not putting all their chips on 2010?
pm, Chicago

It is a good question and it’s got me thinking the same thing as well. Everyone has been assuming he’s going to NY, but if you look at the Knicks roster, other than David Lee, there’s not much there. I think LeBron is going to be like Kobe and look for his best chance to with a title. He may look at NY and not see a good chance. Also he’s pretty famous now, I don’t see how going to NY will make him more famous or get him more endorsements. So that’s the fear. If the top players stay with their teams and the field narrows than several teams will be shut out of the market that year. I think Bosh will go but there may be 10 teams bidding for him and he’s not that good. If you can make a trade that helps you now or short-term that might be the way to go.

It seems to me that Derrick Rose always starts to take control of the game in the late 4th quarter. What percent of Derrick’s shot attempts come in the 4th? And better yet, why doesn’t he take control of the game for all 48 minutes?
San, Evanston, IL

I don’t know the stat on that but Derrick is a point guard at heart. You saw it at Memphis and he didn’t have big numbers there. He went to teammates when he could. There’s also the issue of having veteran players. Derrick is sensitive of the players around him and wants to be a good teammate. He dosn’t want to show guys up by dominating the offense. It’s too much to ask of anyone, especially a 20 year old rookie, to carry an offense for an entire game. He is unusually mature to pick his spots and sense when the team needs him. He had more success earlier in the season because teams are ganging up on him more now. For the Bulls to have success the offense needs to be shared and he understand that though there are times that I too would like to see him more aggressive.

Why do you think the Bull’s should trade Kirk Hinrich? I mean he is probably the best all-around player on the Bulls. He passes,shoots,rebounds and is one of the best guard defends I have ever seen.
Yash, Naperville

I don’t think they should but if you want to get something you probably have to because he is an all around player. The truth is they are buildind around Rose, who is a point guard. He is too good and valuable of a player to be a back up. I also think it will be better for his career to be a starter somewhere else. I’ve supported Kirk more than most over the years but the Bulls are not so deep and talented that they can afford to have two of their best players playing the same positon. They have obvious needs in the front court and if you intend to address those trades a team will want Hinrich.

Whats the most urgent problem that needs to be addressed?
Obi Ekwueme, Chicago

Other than moving Larry Hughes I’d say would be establishing a set rotation. Ther seems to be constant change in who, when and where players are playing. I think players perform best when they know what their role is, when and where they’ll play. I understand some of this couldn’t be avoided because of early injuries and a new coach and desire to get minutes for younger guys. But I think it’s time, for the rest of the season with a chance to make a playoff run, to establish more definition of roles.

Is a guy like Carlos Boozer a scoring big the bulls could target? he has already came out and said he was going to test the free agent waters this upcoming offseason and it appears the jazz have a very capable replacement in Millsap, any chance the bulls could swing a sign and trade for him in the offseason?
Adam, Lawrence, KS

Interstingly I was just reading a stat in the Salt Lake Tribune that Boozer has missed half the games since he’s been there. I’d be weary of taking a guy that is injured so much who wants a long term deal and doesn’t exactly seem to rush back from injuries. He wouldn’t be my free agent of choice.

I like the way you wore willing to break up the Bulls roster in your last column do you think the Bulls will actually do it?
Sandin, Chicago

I really don’t know. That’s why I play shadow-GM. I did it for Jerry Krause for a number of years and he didn’t listen. Look where he ended up? Just kidding! One reason I came up with that scenario is because I continue to grow weary about persuing a 2010 free agent. We’ve seen it collapse twice. In 2000 and the trades for Curry & Chandler. As you can tell from some of the questions today fans aren’t excited about the way things are going this season. It’s a long way until 2010. If you get there with a stripped roster and don’t get anything it’s a long long way back up again. The key with Derrick Rose is to get another player that is a chance All-Star which is why I suggested Monta Ellis. There are issues with his team and contract. Most around the league feel the Warriors will move him at some point. He’s not perfect with Rose becuase he’s a small-ish shooting guard but is a dynamic player and a chance to be a star. What the Bulls need is a player with a “chance” to be a star. The chances of getting one now (Stoudamire, Nowitski, Bosh) is pretty slim. To get a player like that you have to give up a star and the Bulls don’t have one to give up. I think there’s Ellis and some other good pieces that make sense like Kaman, who also seems to be wearing out his welcome with the Clippers. The Bulls have pieces that teams like and can plug in right away, Noc & Hinrich. The competition in 2010 will be fierce and maybe not wortht the risk.

Have you heard any news on our second round pick Omer Asik?
Larry David, Naperville

Not much. He was injured this season and hasn’t played so I do know he’s been up at Berto getting treatment and working with strength coaches. The Bulls tell me they are high on him and that he’ll be a player. But I reserve judgement on that stuff until I see it. I heard the same on Drajan Tralac.

Sam, do you believe that Derrick Rose has been held back in any way by Vinny DelNegro’s coaching? It’s obvious at this point that defense is not a strong point of this team or coaching staff, but Rose looks especially overwhelmed on fighting screens and taking angles.
Mike, South Loop, Chicago

Tough question because Rose has gotten so much time to play. Usually players are held back by lack of PT. Rose is finishing games and being put in position to take big shots, but I do agree that on defence he needs some more coaching. He is a quick learner and I think will be a good defender because he is strong, quick, and willing. But you can’t ask a head coach to do everything. One flaw in the Bulls staff has been the veteran assistants. It seems they were brought in for guidance. But Harris and Bickerstaff don’t seem to work with players much so I would like to see someone perhaps brought in to do that more. Mike Wilhelm and Pete Meyers are widely respected but they have to do a lot of the advance scouting and game prep. It seems the Bulls need a little more help working with the players on the floor.

Do you think Vinny will make a change to the starting lineup to possibly get us off to a better start?
Marc, Oak Forest

I hope so. I still cannot quite understand why Vinny keeps Gordon in the starting lineup along side another small guard in Rose. I think it hurts the team and I think you need more defence to start the games. Vinny seems to believe he needs Gordon out there for scoring. If that’s the issue I might consider starting Noc at 4 with Thabo or Hinrich at 2. I do think this current starting lineup needs to be shaken up a bit.

Hey Sam, Matt here from Lombard. Long time fan and dedicated reader of your blog. I just have one question about this current team from owner all the way down to the last player on the bench. Is there any Truth to the rumors around the NBA about Paxson’s career being held in the success of the team this season, or in other words, will he get a one way ticket out of Chicago if this team does not improve soon and step it up.
Matt Neal, Lombard

No. As anybody who has watched Jerry Reinsdorf over the years, he’s not quick to pull the trigger on his management. You have to consider management of an organization over the long term. Paxson took over when the team was in shambles, got it in order and made progress to the point that before last season almost everyone in the NBA was predicting the Bulls to be a top four team in the East. Obviously they weren’t and things changed. New coach, some new players. Every GM makes mistakes. Dumars, regarded as perhaps the best today, passed on Carmelo, Wade and Bosh to take Darko. Jerry West in Memphis had Pao Gasol when he got there and when he left, no notable players. Bulls, like everybody else, have made mistakes in the draft but mostly did well in drafts where there weren’t many franchise players. Now they have a potential franchise player in Derrick Rose and I believe Paxson will get the chance to build something around him. I don’t believe his job to be in jeopardy from above.

Any news on whether the Bulls are interested in Elton Brand?
Edgar, Chicago

There were some rumors again today on the web about the 76ers maybe wanting to trade Brand. I haven’t heard that and frankly I don’t believe it. He’s hardly played at all for them and they have to give it a chance, given this was their biggest ever free agent investment. One issue with Elton remains health. The time he missed lately has nothing to do with the achilles injury from last year but before his shoulder injury it seemed he was still missing some lift. So any team looking at him would have to see him play for a length of time now given his six-year deal. I don’t see the 76ers trying to move him and I don’t see the Bulls interested since the injuries and nearly a decade since they first had him.

Neil, Stacey, Bill and I want to know why you don’t pick up the bill for lunch now that you’re a famous blogger?!
Chuck Swirsky, Staples Center, Los Angeles

Good to hear from you Chuck. Someone told me you were hoping to get a job doing radio with the Bulls. Has that come up yet? If you need a recommendation I don’t know if I can give you one, but I’ll check around Canada for you. I recall your work around WFCL in the ’70s and it seemed it was pretty good then but I’ll have to find out if you have enthusiasm for the game still. As for picking up the tab, since you’ve fallen on hard times perhaps we can get together at In ‘N Out burger tonight after the game. On me.

Would Scottie Pippen have been a better fit to coach this team? He would have more respect from the players because Skiles and Del Negro cannot seem to control them.
Terrence, Alpharetta, GA

No. He would not have been better. I think he has a chance to be a coach. But like Del Negro, had never coached before. Scottie is at a greater disadvantage without working with any teams. Vinny had been working in Phoenix with the coaching staff. Scottie has been out of the game for a while. He left the Bulls the second time in a bad way without finishing out his contract and at that time not willing to work with the younger players because he didn’t get along with Skiles. I hope Scottie gets back in the league because he’s one of the smarted players I’ve dealt with but it takes a lot of work to be a coach and we’ll see if he’s willing to do the work first.

What is Paxson going to do this trade deadline, we’ve seen this before with little willingness to take action. Thoughts?
several emailers

Obviously the first priority is to trade Hughes. That’s no secret. It’s going to be difficult and I wouldn’t worry about that much. If they don’t trade him they can send him home after the deadline and he’ll have value next season because of the expiring contract. The Bulls will look to make a deal, the most likely players to be available will be Noc and Hinrich, not because they’re not valuable but because the ar valuable. Teams are intersted in them and routinely ask the Bulls about them. If you want to make a deal to get something you have to give up something. However, if a deal doesn’t involve Hughes I’m now thinking that there’s less than a 50% the Bulls would do something now. I don’t think it’s vital to, at this point. The key is this summer with the draft and potential free agency with expiring deals of Gooden and Gordon. That’s when I would expect to see more moves as much as everyone would like to make the playoffs, just getting in for a first round exit it not crucial to the development of this team.

Sam, Charley Rosen had an article today on MSN/FoxSports regarding how he thinks Michael Jordan would have fared in today’s game. What are your thoughts, particularly in light of the use of occasional zone defenses, and players such as Kobe, Lebron and Wade?
Tony, Los Angeles

Well if you’re considered the greatest player of “all time” I don’t know how you could do better. Some say Jordan would be a greater offensive threat because of the lack of hand checking and the cut down of physical play. Jordan used to get mauled by the Pistons and other teams. Especially now with the rules changes limiting any contact at all above the free throw line. At the same time allowing zone defenses now enable teams to clog the middle more and set up a wall that makes it more difficult to get to the basket. My guess… if Jordan played today he’d have six championships, average 30 pts/game for his career, about 8 scoring titles… about what he had then. He’d still be the best, with statistically little difference.

Do you think Ben Gordon is young and worthy enough for the Bulls to keep around as a starter/backup at both guard positions?
Jim, Chicago

At one time I would have liked to have done that and I’ve recommended it before because I’ve always felt it would be difficult to replace his scoring, but I think relations between Ben and the team especially in light of the latest little incident with the team fine for being late, have detiorated. I’m not sure Ben would embrace the kind of 6th man role with the Bulls that he might now somewhere else. He’s turned down big contracts twice and the Bulls rejected one once apparently. So there’s a growing history here that would make me nervous about bringing him back. I like Ben as a player and if he embraced the 6th man role he’d be one of the best of all time but he doesn’t seem to want to do that.

What is your two cents on the whole Stephon Marbury saga? How is there any way an NBA team touches him, let alone a good one like the Celtics?
Tuscon, AZ

Actually it would be a great move for the Celtics. If you are the Bulls you don’t want to be near a guy like that. As one GM told you “life is too short to have Marbury near your team.” But Boston’s bench is depleted compared to last season and they don’t have a true back up point. Marbuary would be sort of like Rodman with his last chance and as dumb as he is sometimes he’s not stupid. Plus if you have a solid team with a leader like the Bulls had with Jordan and the Celtics have with Garnett you can control one player like him. I think he’d be on his best behavior like Rodman was (or at least for him). If I’m the Knicks and have a chance to make the playoffs with a low seed and possibly play Boston in the first round I’d never let him go now. Maybe after the March date. He’s done enough damage and I wouldn’t want to help him or the Celtics.

What do you think is bugging Nocioni this season? I know they’re losing, but he’s seemed abnormally upset over it. I’ve found it strange.
Cameron, Chicago

I think you’re exactly right. I’ve noticed a much higher level of frustration from him this season which is why I think he’s most likely to be traded. In part because he has a lot of value in the league and you can get something for him and also his increasing frustration level. He’s had a lot of success in basketball, a gold medal with Argentina, and a playoff run with the Bulls. It’s tough for a veteran like him who plays with a high level of energy, almost a frenzy, to play with so many young players who make mistakes on the court, particularly Noah & Thomas who are getting more time now.

With all the talent on the the Bulls roster why can’t they close out a game? The games they have lost are within reach to win, it’s time to make a change and start trading players who are not doing ther job, the public is starting to get tired of it and cheering for the other teams, I love the Bulls, but they really need to get it together before it’s too late.
gw, chicago

I understand the frustration, but if this helps, this wasn’t supposed to be a playoff team anyway. If you are projected to win 35-40 games with a rookie point guard and coach you are going to lose some of these games. The basketball issue is they don’t have a ‘closer’ that can finish games like the Bulls did with Jordan. Gordon is their best scorer but he can’t do that. Rose has tried lately, and he has done that at times, but is not the guy to do that yet. As we know there’s no true low post presence.

Sam, I’ve heard Amar’e is unhappy or can be had from Phoenix. Do you think the Bulls can do something to get him?
paraphrased from every Bulls fan

No. I get this question a lot and sometimes I’m unhappy in my neighborhood but it doesn’t mean I’m moving. Just because a guy is unhappy doesn’t mean he’s getting traded. If you were the Suns with Shaq and Nash getting near the end of their careers, why trade the only All-Star you’ve got. There are issues with Stoudamire like rebounding and defense and sometimes being a paing to deal with but he’s got start talent and they have no intention of trading him.

The NBA decides it’s going to start from scratch, re-shuffle the deck, and your team gets the first pick of all available players. Who do you take? Kobe, LeBron… or other?
Ryan VanDeWoestyne, Manhattan, IL

Right now, as much as I hate to admit this, I would probably take LeBron because of his age. Kobe is in his prime and has a few good years. LeBron has another decade coming. Pretty amazing to think about.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: