What have you done with the real Sam Smith? The Sam Smith I know certainly didn't write suggesting the Bulls actually wait and not pull the trigger on a Kobe Bryant deal. The burner's hot. Kobe's in his prime NOW. The East is infinitely winnable NOW. Kobe's done his part -- he's lowered his trade value by speaking out against the Lakers and he has veto powers to put the brakes on any trade that would render the Bulls gutted in the process. The Lakers aren't going to keep an unhappy superstar and risk getting nothing in return when he hits free agency. They'll make one more token attempt to placate Kobe (Shawn Marion?) and if Kobe says 'too little, too late' the Bulls are the front runners and it's not even close when you look at the garbage the Knicks have to offer. And given we're bidding against ourselves, there's no reason to offer Gordon and Deng in a package. The time for Pax to act is now. Tweak the current team of over-achievers and you'll continually see a playoff team that can't win the big one. The Pistons championship teams excluded, you win with stars in this league. Let's strike while the coals are hot. Now - whoever you are - untie Sam Smith and let him work out the terms of the deal. Gordon, a sign and trade of either Noce or PJ Brown, the No. 9 pick and cap filler for Kobe and the Lakers' first-round pick is a good start. --Dan Marshe, Wheaton, Ill.
The thing I like to remember about the Celtics is that for a while, they had a backcourt of Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones and Sam Jones. I have seen many guard rotations since, but never one that came even close to that. --Richard Bentley, Tucson, Ariz.
It's why you can't compare eras. They'd be overwhelmed in this era. They were all midgets. I think Sam was the giant at about 6-2 or 6-3. Any of the backcourts with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan would dominate them on paper because they'd have no one to guard the big guys. Could they play Frazier and Monroe? Isiah, Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson were small as well, but awfully good with two Hall of Famers. What about Jason Kidd and Vince Carter? Could those guys guard them. Kidd is bigger than them all. They were the elite rotation of their era, but it would be hard to match them much beyond.
What do you think about Bulls trading for Shareef Abdur-Rahim? I still think he is a good player who has some injuries but would help us with our biggest problem. What would it take for us to get him? --Larry, Ringwood, Ill.
I think the Bulls have moved on from there. He's had increasing knee issues, and while his contract isn't big and the Kings are in turmoil, I don't see him being able to play their active style defense or truly be their offensive option going on 31. But I really do like the guy and he's a classy person and if they could pick him up as a backup, I think it would be great.
Where would some of last year's top choices go in this year's draft, like Tyrus and Thabo? And who do you think has a chance to get the Maciej Lampe Award (or Brady Quinn Award) for dropping the farthest in draft position from the expectation of the mock-availlians? My guess (and I know it hurts) is someone like Noah. --Paul, Houston
I'd say Tyrus would go about four or five and Thabo about where he was in the teens. You are right about Lampe, though I had gotten word late and moved him down. It's interesting the way scouting sometimes works. A lot of NBA teams haven't been good on Europe, and were getting burned with the likes of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. So they started to overreact. ESPN did a smart thing and started sending a reporter on international trips. Apparently to justify the expense, he's file reports ravings about these big guys like Lampe and some big stiff Podkolzin, how they were going to revolutionize the game. Several GM's had seen film and talked to their scouts, but after being burned, they'd go running off to Europe and come back fuming. I remember talking to one of the GM's when he returned and all he would say was like that jeep driver in the original MASH: "God damn, ESPN, God damn ESPN." ESPN, I noticed has pretty much stopped such international reporting. I wonder also about Brandan Wright, who has rejected working out against other players. Sometimes agents force this, though real competitors won't allow it. Could you see Jordan or Magic refusing to play against someone? Also, he's young and inexperienced, so I can see him dropping some. I agree with Noah, who doesn't have long arms and can't shoot much. But the talent thins quite a bit by 10, so I couldn't see him falling much farther.
I don't understand this talk about getting rid of the conferences. The reason explicated is that the West is better than the East so the finals aren't as competitive as they could be. But there is nothing inherently "flawed" about dividing a league into two conferences: baseball, football, and hockey do it and no one is proposing to eliminate the AL and NL. Just because the West is better right now we should radically change the playoff format? It does not strike me as obvious that there is anything fundamentally different about the game of basketball that renders a two-conference system unworkable. --Alex Hartzler, Evanston, Ill.
Explicated? You sure you're reading the Tribune? Most of our editors are stuck on two syllables. I've been like you in the past (minus the big words), figuring there was no big deal and it would be cyclical. But what's so important about east and west? Why not north and south or shaved and bald? Explicated and elucidated? The finals have been a poor ending for the NBA season for most of the last decade and don't show much promise of changing in the next decade. Why not make it better? Who is going to complain and who is going to be hurt, other than the teams that want to get to the finals without playing the best teams? That's not the American way.
Do you think Minnesota would become a trade partner in a three-way Kobe deal? Minnesota is listening to offers for Garnett. So you could then send Gordon, Noce, PJ Brown, and the No. 9 to Minnesota. Kobe would come to Chicago, and then Garnett goes to LA. LA gets another superstar to fill the seats while getting rid of an unhappy Bryant, Minnesota gets younger talented players, and Chicago gets a superstar. I'm no basketball expert, so my logic could be flawed. --Eric B., Rockford, Ill.
If you were an expert, we'd be sure your logic would be flawed. Let's see if I get this straight: You give up Kobe for Garnett, who never has done anything, won anything, and seems quite content missing the playoffs every year. And after holding out all these years with Garnett you end up with Gordon and Nocioni? Other than that...
We've talked for years about Kevin Garnett being traded to the Bulls. Would he come here voluntarily? I mean, if he opts out of his contract next summer and is a free agent, is Chicago someplace he'd really want to play if it's his choice? --Chris Feldman, Dubuque, Iowa.
I actually doubt it. I still think he'd like to end up in L.A., where he lives. I'm guessing he's had enough of winters and great lakes. But you begin to wonder about the guy. I know Kobe's actions have been embarrassing, but at least he wants to play in the playoffs and compete. You get the sense Garnett is happy to end his season in April and have a long off-season.
We in Portland are tired of all your discussion of Randolph. There is no truth to your stories and quite frankly, Shaq was right, you have no credibility. The truth is that the Bulls need an inside scorer. Unfortunately, Randolph has not as yet been offered to the Bulls. End of story. --Rob KaSavage, Portland, Ore.
I love all these emails about sending Randolph to the Bulls from Portland people. Must be some star. Though next time I'm at a strip club on the way to a funeral while taking a leave from my team, I'll have Zach call you.
If you were Atlanta, would you trade the No. 3 and 11 picks for Pau Gasol? Billy Knight was the one who drafted Pau and I'm almost sure he'd do it in a heartbeat. Memphis could draft Horford third and Conley fourth, and possibly Noah 11th or another scorer. Would you do it if you were the Grizzlies/Atlanta? -- Demetrius Mitchell, Memphis, Tenn.
Actually, I have heard this, though with everything going on now, it could have been from a guy with a phone camera standing next to Kobe on a deli line as an old man was returning soup. I would do it if I were Memphis and put an exciting bunch of young talent in the floor. If you could pry away Lowery from Memphis in the deal to play point, I like the deal, though I'm not sure how Pau is that much happier with the Hawks.
What if Bryant pushes the Lakers management for a trade that would send him to the Bulls? What would Paxson's reaction be knowing Bryant wanted to be on the Bulls more than any other team? Would he really pull the trigger on such a trade? I can't help but think that Paxson has something up his sleeve this draft or off-season. Working out Mike Conley at 6-1 ... c'mon man!! That's just a Jerry West move waiting to happen. --Ray, The Hague, Netherlands
Jerry West's big free agent in Memphis was Brian Cardinal. You just do your due diligence since you never know who'll slip or what trade will come up. The Bulls are good at that just in case. As for Kobe, as I've long said, I don't see the Lakers panicking because Kobe has nowhere to go or play or make money without the NBA and the Lakers. Kobe seems to like the sound of the Bulls, but getting him would require losing half the top six players and then who knows how much Kobe would like the Bulls. I talked to Paxson the other day and he told me what he has up his sleeve: an elbow.
The Portuguese press wrote that Kobe might be traded for Gordon, Denq and Thomas at least. Is that for real? In my opinion it is a mistake? -- Rui Teodoro, Alpiarça, Santarém Portugal
That darned Portuguese press. Always stirring things up here.
More realistically, if the Suns make a move for Kobe, could the Bulls be involved in a multi-team trade involved Marion? --Damon, Australia
I don't see the Suns and Lakers doing any dealings, though Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson are friends. You get the feeling the way the Suns went out they want to make another strong run. Marion has been somewhat of an internal issue, though he always seems to play hard. I don't see the Suns being interested in Bryant--everyone mostly agrees if the Lakers ever do trade him it will be to the East--and one theory continues to be if they make a deal they'll try to put something together for Garnett.
Let's assume that Lakers owner Jerry Buss starts drinking the stupidity potion that John Paxson has been feeding Isiah Thomas over the past few seasons, do you think the Bulls could get Kobe by packaging Deng, Gordon, Nocioni and the No. 9 pick? The Bulls could use their mid-level exception on a player like James Posey. I would think that a lineup of Bryant, Hinrich, Posey, Thomas and Wallace would be incredible defensively and make them instant title contenders. --Tony Maro, San Diego
A. Might work in theory, but as I've been saying I don't see the Lakers trading for players without general star power who have never been All Stars. Certainly not this season with two years left on his contract. It's amusing to make up all these scenarios, but my rule is they have to make sense for both teams. If you don't, you end up writing emails to someone like me. What's the attractiveness of the Lakers with Deng, Gordon and Nocioni along with Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown or Andrew Bynum in a conference loaded with stars for a franchise that has built its history on playing and marketing stars?
Reading up on the draft prospects, I saw that some think that Jeff Green has some decent post-up skills. Which got me to thinking -- how necessary is it that the Bulls add a 7-footer to score down low? If Deng can add a post game, and they bring in someone like Green, you play them at the same time and post whoever has the better match-up. Green seems to fit everything else the Bulls seem to like -- good attitude, unselfish, good all-around game. Do you think he'd be a good pick for the Bulls at No. 9? --Dennis, Knoxville, Tenn.
I also don't believe you force a bad 7-footer into a square low post scoring hole. I'd rather go with the player and figure it out. I like the guys who put their five best players on the floor and let them make plays. Sure, if you could get a terrific big man, though I don't see one where the Bulls pick. I'd go with the best player and fit him in. I haven't heard that Green, more than he is an all-around facilitator.
Let's say you are the GM of a expansion team and are looking to draft the first player for your organization in this upcoming draft. Let's say that a 21- year old Tim Duncan and a 21-year old Shaq O'Neal are in the draft for you to decide on. Minus marketing and popularity and solely based off on-court abilities, who would you take to start your franchise if you had the first pick? --Scott, Pasadena, Calif.
Good one. Duncan. Shaq is better, but Shaq can't be counted upon because he doesn't love the game like Duncan does. I like the player who wants to play, not the guy who wants to play and do all the other things. Shaq in his prime remains the hardest guy to play against and scheme for, but Duncan is reliable and consistent and doesn't ever cause you problems. No matter what Kobe might have done, you could never see him involved in that kind of internal struggle. And I believe Kobe never would have with a guy who works as hard as Duncan. I'd just ask Duncan to do one rap song in his career. And dance to it. His teammates say he's funny. But funny how? Funny ha ha? I'd love to see him even do that movie bit once.
If they get Kobe, I suggest they go grab Mike Brown too. Then everyone can watch 1 on 5 the whole season. You notice I said "they" cause I won't be watching anymore. --Al, Chicago
A man of my own conviction. But I do think Kobe watched the playoffs and saw that miserably coached Cavs team with one All Star make the Finals and it drove him farther over the edge.
Everyone assumes the Bulls are exploring deals for a veteran big that can score down low. What if the Bulls use this Kobe situation to grab a young big like Andrew Bynum? How about Ben Gordon for Bynum straight up? Gordon is a proven big-time scorer who would give the Lakers a three-pronged attack. Thabo could move into the 2 guard spot to improve the D and Bynum is a legitimate low-post scorer that can rebound and block shots. --Mike Hasemann, Manteno, Ill.
Keep dreaming. The Lakers continue to push Kobe over the edge because they don't want to trade Bynum because if Kobe does leave in two years they do need someone with at least a chance to be special. Plus, you rarely see smalls traded for bigs, and Kobe needs a point guard and we know Ben isn't quite there. Again, other than that...
It seems as if more people have e-mailed you on what to do about the Bulls than actually watched the Finals. What kind of draft pick could we get for Gordon? Do you think we could grab the seventh from Minny? They would have a real scorer outside of Garnett so when he gets tripled teamed every play down at least Gordon will be there to shoot. Or do you think we would need to add in Noce to get the seventh? --Corey Boebinger, Norfolk, Va.
You're right. I didn't get much mail on the Finals, which should further worry the NBA. I don't see the Bulls trading a player for a pick at that spot who would be, at best, a question mark. Though I've put Gordon in some deals, he really is good and you don't give someone like that up easily. Plus, obviously fans are more excited about prospects. So there's Minnesota with this dysfunctional, boring team and they're supposed to give up a chance at a top pick for backup Nocioni? And I wouldn't even give him up for that as I see Noce better than what comes at seven, at least for a few years.
Everybody seem to think the Bulls need a tall guard and a low-post scorer, so what was the point in taking Thabo (tall guard) and Tyrus (supposed low-post scorer)? Do you consider them worthless? --Clement, Paris, France
Not yet. I see Thabo playing much more this season, which is why Duhon is expendable. Skiles trusts Duhon more, which us understandable given his experience. Sometimes a GM has to get rid of a player like that so the coach can't use him. Tyrus is not a low-post scorer. They saw him, I believe, as an eventual defensive replacement for Ben Wallace and a guy off the bench who could defend and provide energy for now.
What's the possibility of the Bulls going after Chauncey Billups as a free agent and basically keeping their draft pick and core players intact? I'm thinking with the Detroit collapse in the playoffs and possible changes, Chauncey's friendship with Ben Wallace and the Bulls strong window for another championship run in 2007/08, there is a possibility that Chauncey could be swayed. --Art Moore, Chicago
My guess is in all those phone calls, dinners and emails, Ben hasn't been exactly that complimentary of the Bulls, other than their largesse. Plus the Bulls won't be far enough under the salary cap to make an offer without renouncing Nocioni and losing him for nothing. Billups will re-sign. Plus, I think he wears head bands in the shower.
What do you think it would take to get Nene? Would the Ninth pick, duhon, and maybe a sign-and-trade with PJ Brown do the trick? Also, any chance the pacers are thinking about giving up Troy Murphy? --Kevin E., Westmont, Ill.
I see Camby as the guy they'll give up and move Nene inside since he is the better post scorer. Troy Murphy is more available, but his skills have diminished and he's owed a huge amount of money for four more years and I don't think the Bulls have much interest in him anymore.
I've been watching Noah very closely for the last two years and I understand that his jumper is not that great, but one thing I do know is that he is a winner an he did all the dirty work needed to get two championships. He has worked tremendously hard and it takes a lot of guts to give up the NBA draft for one more college year. Coming out of the Florida system don't you think that he would be smart enough to develop a shot because he has higher Basketball IQ than Chandler and more determination? --Nick, Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Just like I thought Billy Donovan was smart enough to take a great NBA offer and then not change his mind. I think Shaq's a smart guy and Ben Wallace isn't exactly dumb. And Chris Dudley was from Yale and he may have been the worst free throw shooter ever. If he can't make 'em by now, he probably never will.
You've made it clear that you don't want Kobe Bryant in Chicago. Why not explore the options and see what the Lakers are asking for? I think trading Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon, either Noce/or Tyrus Thomas and the ninth pick would get the deal done. Both teams would benefit greatly from the trade. Lakers need a true point and the ninth pick would address that need. Gordon has the ability to score and Tyrus Thomas can provide the energy and rebounding. Bulls still need a bigger guard who has the ability to command double teams and that's where Kobe comes in. It's almost certain that Paxson will shop Duhon, Gordon is a liability defensively in the East where the play is big-guard oriented, and Tyrus has the athletic ability and the upside to entertain the Hollywood fans. --Arif, Aurora, Ill.
I like Kobe. I've defended him more than any national writer and continue to say he is the true heir (if there is one) to the Jordan playing legacy. But since the Bulls want to dump Duhon, the Lakers will want him? And since Gordon is a defensive liability the Lakers would want him? The reason I've been opposed is the Lakers have made it clear a deal just starts with Deng, Hinrich, Thomas and a No. 1 pick. And what if Kobe doesn't like it in Chicago and wants to leave and can opt out? What do you have left? He'd have to drop the opt out first. Would he do that? And after the Lakers treated him so well in his trial time could he turn on the Bulls, too? It's a huge risk at this point for any team, which is why it makes more sense after next season.
Do you think Dalibor Bagaric was the worst player ever for the Bulls? And is there any way you could see the Bulls go after Jalen Rose again? I loved him when he was with the Bulls. He was the only guy we could depend on back then. And he did a lot of charity work when he was in Chicago. --Justin, Tempe, Ariz.
Hard to crack that list. Maybe in the new era with Dragan Tarlac. Actually, Dali was one of the better people the Bulls ever have had. I wish he were a better player and don't like to criticize him. I also thought Jalen got too much criticism and could have been handled better, but I still believe it was the right thing to do because Ron Artest eventually ended up destroying the Pacers and Brad Miller is a drag on the Kings organization with his contract. The Bulls needed a 20-point scorer and go-to guy then. Jalen was the best they could get, though he wasn't the perfect guy, as we found out. But he was more involved in the community than almost anyone in team history. I assume he will retire, but he says he'd like to try one more season. He thought the Suns would win, and they might have. Had he chosen to go to Miami after being released he would have played more, but he knew they weren't going to get back.
With all the chatter about the Bulls interest in Yi Jianlian, I wonder if there has been any internal discussion over the potential marketing/exposure/revenue boost for the team that drafts him. When Yao Ming was taken five years ago we heard a lot about the boost it would give the Rockets. Have there been any studies or numbers released on Yao's financial impact on that team's revenue in the years since he arrived? Obviously the NBA is more popular than ever in Asia, but have the Rockets seen a big increase themselves? Does this factor into Pax's decision on draft day? --Chris, Pasadena, Calif.
It won't and I think what marketing has helped the NBA, not specifically Houston. There's talk it would help the Warriors with the big Asian population in the Bay Area, though I think a healthy Baron Davis would do more. People support success, not people who look like them.
He is the Bulls kind of guy: a jump shooter. They have enough.
What is your opinion on the rumors about MJ retiring in 1993 due to his excessive gambling? Was it part of some large conspiracy to force him out to protect the league's image? --Ray, New Jersey
This doesn't come up as much as it once did. David Stern is businessman before basketball man. Having Jordan away from the NBA cost too much. I remember when the Tribune began to look into the Slim Bouler (he was the gambling guy at the center of it all) thing and we talked to him and his associates and the NBA's "investigators" didn't. How'd they miss that? Michael left the NBA several times and returned. It's being like Mike. It's what he does. And by the way, how is that image?
With so many trade rumors surrounding the Nets and the poor post-season they had it seems like a trade is imminent. Carter, although he is a great player and fun to watch, is not worth $60 million over three years. He proved that in the playoffs. Although Kidd had an incredible season, he is getting older and right now seems like the time to trade him, unless the Nets are somehow able to assemble a championship level team. The one trade rumor I hear, Jefferson for Randolph, in my opinion is ridiculous. I know the Nets need a big man but Jefferson is so underrated, he is an incredible player and athlete and could be a big part of the Nets future success. What do you see happening to the Nets this off-season? --Adam, Endwell, N.J.
The Nets are one of the big question marks that have flown under the radar (bad cliché. Same on me). They have those big names and big contracts (Carter can be a free agent but wants big money to re-sign) and that move in a few years to Brooklyn. Is it better to ride it out in New Jersey with a competitive team that can compete in the weak East and then have little left to move? Or scale it down now with the idea of building toward the future? I'd do the latter. I'd try to push Kidd onto the Lakers for Andrew Bynum since Kidd will be going down in the next few years. It's a step back for now, but I continue to hear the owner doesn't want to strip the thing after the criticism following the Kenyon Martin situation, which was the right thing for the Nets. I assume if they resign Carter, they keep it together. If not, then they'll try to deal Kidd to, I assume, the Lakers or Warriors.
Since you brought it up I have always wanted to ask, back when you were second in literary circles to Salmon Rushdie, what was life like? I was a teenager and hated you for attacking my childhood idol; everyone I knew had negative things to say about you. All of the male elders in my family were avid readers of the daily papers and they spoke of you in the same terms that they spoke of Hub Arkush in those days (who is to Bear fans what Jerry Krause was to Bulls fans). Only dear ole Hub had no power over the team and typically a journalist doesn't either but there was a dislike of you I think because people felt you could some how disrupt the apple cart and erode the chance at a dynasty by turning Michael into ... I don't know Kobe??? --Peter, Chicago
So they were wrong, eh? Actually my friend Mike Imrem from the Herald still calls me Salmon from those days when I was undercover. It was a while back, 1991, even before sports talk radio, and I can image how crazy it would have been now. There was a huge outrage at the time, though mostly from people who didn't read the book. Jay Mariotti from the Sun Times got hysterical about it at the time and wrote a bunch of columns about how it would ruin the Bulls. He, too, apparently didn't read it for quite as while as he had a bunch of stuff in there that wasn't. It tells you a lot about the media we don't like to admit. Then the Boston Globe, which was a respected, profitable paper, had a columnist pick up from Mariotti's comments about things in the book which weren't and condemned me for writing it. I'm trying to tell everyone the stuff wasn't in there and I never wrote it. That said, Jay and I get along fine now.
But you can understand how athletes feel when something is reported wrong and picked up in this open, often irresponsible internet era of journalism. All of it sold a lot of books, and my publisher kept asking if they could send champagne to the Sun-Times, but I held them off. It was a little uncomfortable for me and for a week I didn't work.
The Bulls were out of town when the stories began before the book was available, which is why I stayed away. But when they came back, I walked into the locker room and right up to Jordan and asked if he had any issues, I was here and he could address them to me. He didn't say anything and that was that. I had good relationships with the rest of the players, and there never was an issue.
I felt it was like when Ball Four came out and I saw Willie Mays on TV condemning the book, though admitting he'd never read it. If you read "The Jordan Rules" now you'd wonder what the fuss was, which wouldn't have been good for sales. I liked Michael and still do. I think what he was most upset about was I think he liked me as well and felt what I had done was a betrayal. I think it's one reason he keeps his distance from the media now. But I also felt it was a sympathetic portrayal of Jordan and depicted him as more like us. Perhaps the public didn't want that, but I always believed him to be a likeable, decent man and never felt I wrote anything, which would hurt his career or family. And nothing in the book did.
I have to give him credit. I no longer could make small talk with him, but he always was professional and answered my questions as he would anyone else's no matter how he might have felt. It spoke to the true decency in the man. I never have talked with him about the book and he never asked me, and I doubt it ever will come up. I still feel good about the book and wouldn't change a thing. Jordan seems to have done well for himself as well. The Kobe Rules? Nah.
Grant Hill just said he wants to come back next year and not necessarily with the Magic. Where do you think he'll go? Do you think he'd be open to coming to Chicago and how would he fit in? He might be a calming veteran force coming in off the bench at the 2 and 3 spots. Add a post player to the mix and the Bulls would be looking pretty good next year to make a run in the East. --Nate, York, Pa.
I think he still wants a lot of playing time, but also a team that is close. His wife is from Canada and I can even see him going there before Chicago. I don't think he's ever wanted any part of the Jordan legacy or comparisons.
Detroit is old and fading, Cleveland is really only the LeBron show (let's face it, the supporting cast is far weaker than what Jordan had), Miami is done and the Nets are a mess. Aren't the Bulls the only team in the East that is really improving and becoming a contender to challenge the West? --P. Hopson, Newcastle, Australia
There'll be changes, and despite what the Spurs did to James, he is a force. And Wade will return and if he is healthy with Shaq and they add someone, they'll be OK. The Bulls will be in the mix, as they were this season, but not quite yet head of the class.
Can you name the last NBA championship team to start TWO small guards? The answer is probably the Philadelphia 76ers with Mo Cheeks and Anthony Toney. An argument could be made for the Pistons with Thomas and Dumars, but Dumars played much bigger than his 6-3. My point in this is that the Bulls, as much as anything else, need a big guard and probably one with more experience or more skills than Thabo. This is why a guy like Corey Brewer may make sense if they could move up a few slots to take him. I know he technically played three at Florida but he's a two in the NBA. --James Douglas, Toluca Lake, Calif.
Yes, they have needs and no they are not a championship team yet. Clearly Paxson has acknowledged that by saying post-season they need to be bigger in the backcourt. The talk around the NBA is Brewer doesn't get past Charlotte at No. 8 and it will be hard to trade up in this draft without giving up too much.
Would you trade for Randolph for some of Rodman's hair dye and a bottle of Gatorade? --Scott, Portland, Ore.
Now that seems fair value. I know Zach feels the love out there.
Could you see Tony Parker coming over to Chicago sometime in his career? His dad, Tony Parker Sr. once played at Loyola and his little brother, Pierre, plays at Loyola Chicago right now. His family lives here so it makes it likely he wouldn't mind playing for the Bulls. --Philip Khalily, Chicago
I suppose it's possible once Duncan retires, but by then the Bulls probably will be drafting one of Jordan's kids and we don't know how Tony would feel about that. You get the feeling with Tony and marrying Eva Longoria that he's not exactly the homebody type.
You are dead on in your assertion that Noah would be a great fit for the Bulls. Fans around the country seem to be missing the boat on him. Yes, he has an ugly shot but he also can bring the ball up the court and has great court vision. He also can drive to his left or right, allowing him to operate out the high post very well despite his shooting woes. Add in his obvious defensive and leadership traits and you have a great fit for the Bulls and what I feel would be a bargain at the No. 9 pick. --Jeff, Orlando, Fla.
A. I'm starting to have second thoughts. Sorry. I was looking at the measurements from the draft camp and he is short armed, about six inches shorter than Oden for about the same size. I think he'd make himself a pest with his size and activity and could step in, but I think there's concern of putting him, Wallace and Thomas in the game and being shut out for a quarter for the first time in NBA history.
It's reported that the stock of Colorado State's Jason Smith has risen to equal or surpass that of Noah, Hawes and Yi because of his workout with the Bulls. If he equals Yi, for example, who is projected to go fourth, and Noah, projected to go eighth, then the Bulls better make sure he does not make it past number nine. -- Walter E. Schroeder, Indianapolis
I haven't exactly heard that, though his stock seems to be rising quite a bit.
Will you please tell me (if you know) what the difference is between Jason Smith and Yi Jianlian? Both are 7-footers, skinny, athletic, with a good shooting touch, good hands, face-up game more than post-up, so why is Yi rated so highly and Smith rated nearer the mid- to late-first round? --Bradley, Northbrook, Ill.
Sounds more mysterious. I'm told Yi is a better shooter and more appealing prospect, but the history of the draft is guys get it wrong. Karl Malone was about the fifth power forward that season behind Oakley, Ed Pinckney and Keith Lee. Though I'm hearing Smith moving up. I like the sound of that, personally.
As I sit here watching Tiger Woods move up the leaderboard at the U.S. Open, I find it so remarkable the similarities he has with Michael Jordan when he was in his prime. Physically gifted, always focused, and without a doubt, intimidating to all of his competitors. I don't think Tiger has ever been in a field and not favored to win that tournament, kind of like Jordan and his Bulls during the title runs. Who do you think is/was more dominant in their prime? Tiger today or MJ back in the late '80s and '90s? --Nate E., Ames, Iowa
Are my readers thinking again? This is getting harder for me. Probably Jordan, though that is a tough one. It's difficult for Woods because he has so many players to play against in an individual sport. It may have been more difficult for Jordan--as it is for Kobe at times--because of the lack of perfection of so many around him. It's difficult for me to compare a team sport to an individual sport (game?), though they were the most revered sports figures of their eras and turned on the most TVs. It did take Jordan longer, but when he retired and was coming back there never was anything like that and then that 72-win season. If Tiger gets the one season grand slam, perhaps he moves ahead.
Do you think if MJ is on the fence between Noah and Green, he would take Noah to keep him from the Bulls. Just a little gamesmanship with Paxson and Reinsdorf. --Ron Artz, Waynesboro, Va.
Michael's relationship is good with the Bulls now. He actually helped them last draft in the deal that eventually got them Khryapa as well as Thomas since by Jordan not letting it be known he'd take Morrison, Portland couldn't be sure and had to get ahead of him and give up something for No. 2. The Bulls would have taken Thomas No. 2 anyway, and it's too bad Skiles didn't like Khryapa because I felt it was a good deal and a clever way to get a player. I thought Michael helped facilitate it and see him as an ally, as much as he can be in his position, of the franchise.
Kobe not to the Bulls, but to the Blazers for the No. 1 pick (Oden) and perhaps some other players (Randolph, Jack, Rodriguez?). The Blazers get Kobe, and the young nucleus they have now with Roy and Aldridge. The Lakers get somebody who could be a superstar in the league and perhaps Jarrett Jack or Sergio Rodriguez to run point or Randolph to complement Bynum. And Paul Allen has the dough to make such a thing work. --Andrew PDX, Porltand, Ore.
A. I think that's the one deal the Lakers might make, but no one has ever given up a potential superstar center with the first pick in the draft. And no one is this season. And Kobe closer to Nike headquarters to get more free sneakers faster?
After listening to all the trade rumors over the past few weeks, I'm curious as to why Kirk Hinrich's name hasn't really been mentioned. I know he's the kind of guy that both Skiles and Paxon love, but he too is undersized, and unlike Gordon who even on bad nights seems to put up 15 or 20, Hinrich can really disappear from games. I also think he would be valued more by other teams than Gordon, and would bring more in return. -- Rob Beckwith, Athens, Ga.
A. His name has come up in Kobe connections as the Lakers like Kirk. The point for the Bulls is they're not about to deal Kirk unless they have another point guard, which Gordon isn't. It's unlikely they could draft Mike Conley at No. 9, and it's difficult to get a point guard. I expect Deng and Hinrich to be with the Bulls next season under any circumstance.
I don't write to entertain you with the usual trade proposals like getting Kobe Bryant for Chris Duhon, Martynas Andriuskevicius and thousands of photos of thankful Chicago fans. It will take them the entire franchise, not just the entire roster, to move to Los Angeles for Kobe to play for Chicago. He'll have no choice but to play for the Chicago Sky. I write to ask you this: Why Gasol Jr. is not considered as a possible Bulls player? Isn't his skill level and frame similar to those of his big brother? Looks like every big man Bulls tried out will be taken before they get to choose, so why not the Spanish giant? -- Val Lykholap, Odessa, Ukraine
Are you really the Ukrainian Seinfeld? I think he is, though the Bulls wouldn't want him at nine and would need to trade down some. He doesn't last until their later picks in the second, but I'm hearing he's in better shape and could move up in the draft.
So is the James era you declared open on June 2, now officially over? --Donovan Fechner, Lisle, Ill.
A. Yes, that was fast. Fun for one night, though, wasn't it?
It's early, but I'd lay a few dollars on a Dan Marino career rather than a Michael Jordan career for LeBron. --Mick, San Francisco
Hey, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has been carrying him for four years. Isn't that obvious?
I got a source that Kobe was with his wife here in Orange County a few days ago shopping. Few fans came up to get his autograph, which he nicely stopped and signed. One guy told him, "Kobe please don't leave. we want you to stay a Lakers for life." Kobe then responded with, "You must be joking, man, you must be joking. There's no way. We're moving to Chicago." That source is from a friend of mine who works at that place and is one of the BIGGEST Lakers fan I know. What do you think that means? Do you hear anything going on there in Chicago? --Ancel, Santa Ana, Calif.
There's a thing floating around on the internet of a fan who claims to have a cell phone video and audio of Kobe trashing his team and is trying to sell it to a media organization. What, that's news? You should have heard Jordan in the locker room. Or Bird trying to get McHale to work hard. It happens all the time. Kobe has made it clear he's not happy with his team. How many more times do we need to hear it? But your friend has it wrong. Kobe is a huge fan of the old Chicago Transit Authority band, which later became Chicago. He always says, "We're grooving to Chicago."
This will be the last Ask Sam of the season. For those of you on hold, hang in there and I'll get to you in October.