Sadly, I never found Steve Kerr in Phoenix to ask him if he can bench press 250 pounds. However, I did drive past a roadside hut in Houston that had two signs out front: "Beer." "Ammunition." Supply your own punch line while I supply some answers.
With Jameer Nelson's injury, you've probably received a plethora of "Capt Kirk to Orlando" questions. According to RealGM, in order to make the finances of a "Kirk Hinrich for Courtney Lee" trade work, it has to be Michael Ruffin and Hinrich for Brian Cook, Tony Battie and Lee. No way anything works if Larry Hughes is in the mix. My point is, Orlando's high-paid players are very good. Chicago's high-paid players are sitting on the bench (or are at home). -- Baxter G; Fairfax, VA
If Phoenix is even remotely interested in moving Amare Stoudamire, why would the Bulls not go after him and offer the Suns everyone except for Derrick Rose? Could you imagine Rose and Stoudemire together for the next 10 years? -- D.G.; Chicago
The Stoudemire and Bosh situations will be fascinating to watch between now and the Feb. 19 trade deadline. If someone told me that one would be moved for sure, my money would be on Stoudemire. The intriguing element to the recent excellent analysis piece by Paul Coro, the Suns' beat writer for the Arizona Republic, is that those thoughts about moving Stoudemire now to maximize value were his but I have to believe nobody from the organization frowned upon him writing them. Now that's not to say Stoudemire will be moved, just that there's now the impression around the league that it could happen. And if it does, the Bulls would definitely have to consider it strongly. Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that the Suns are listening to proposals and their wish list -- expiring contracts, young talent, draft picks -- sound like the Bulls' laundry list of what they can offer. As fun as it would be to pair Rose and Stoudemire together, there are plenty of concerns surrounding Stoudemire too. He would need a huge extension, making this your one big move to lock in on and move forward. He's not a very interested defender. And he's had microfracture surgery. That's why Paxson makes the big bucks and I answer Q&As.
Andres Nocioni has been really frustrated by the selfish play. Do you think he needs to be traded, not because of his playing, but because of his level of frustration with his teammates? -- Martin; Buenos Aires, Argentina
That's not enough of a legitimate reason to trade him in my opinion, but you certainly touch on a point that regular observers of the team have noticed and discussed all season. Sam Smith, my great former colleague at the Tribune who now writes for www.bulls.com, and I have talked about this a lot. Something is up with Nocioni this season. I can tell you that he doesn't dislike his teammates and remains a locker room favorite with his self-deprecation and humor. But on the court, he has acted out often, drawing technicals, fouling even harder than usual and often lapsing into hoisting three-pointers. Nocioni has value around the league as well. So similar to Hinrich, if the Bulls make a major deal, I'd expect him to be in it.
Please tell me you have the ear of GM John Paxson and can convince him to get a big man coach? I know Yao Ming is an amazing player but he (and Luis Scola) made the Bulls bigs look like high school players. -- Marlon Tatum; Chicago
Actually, I thought Joakim Noah did an OK job on him the few minutes he played in terms of making Yao work for his points. It might be one reason Noah only had one rebound that game, because he expended so much energy playing defense (and fouling). As I've mentioned before in this mailbag, I think having a big man's coach would be great for this team. Bill Cartwright might've landed on Doug Collins' staff had that hire gone through. As it stands, I'd like to see someone hired along the lines of Mike Brown last season.
I think I've come up with the most perfect one for this Bulls team and the team they would be trading with -- the Utah Jazz. My guess is Paul Millsap because he is younger and would probably sign for less than Carlos Boozer. This would present the Bulls with a perfect opportunity to complete a sign and trade with the Jazz since the Bulls have three players who Jerry Sloan would absolutely love - Hinrich, Nocioni, and Thabo Sefolosha. -- Tristan; Garland, TX
Boozer gets hurt too much for my taste.
Why hasn't Ben Gordon ever been included in the 3-point contest? He is in the top 10 in the NBA in 3 pointers attempted and made, and he shoots 41% from beyond the arc. -- Sam; Chicago
I wrote about this in Thursday's Tribune. Personally, I think Ben should've been invited over Miami's Daequan Cook. I'm actually a little surprised he didn't since Ben also represents a major market. Ben certainly is deserving this season of being in the competition.
WIth Tyrus Thomas and Noah improving and producing more consistently, what happens when Drew Gooden is ready to come back? Would it be better to start bringing him off the bench, as long as they keep performing? -- Rich; Glenview
Man, you guys are good. I'm writing about this in Friday's Tribune. I think this will be one of Vinny's toughest decisions this season. My guess is Gooden eventually will return to a starting role and Thomas will come off the bench. I'd like to see Noah and Thomas play major minutes together down the stretch. If they remain consistent, this team finds another level.
Regarding certain player(s) not wanting to spend Super Bowl Sunday at home with Vinny, did the team put in a practice session instead? And if so, did all the coaches join that session, including Del and Bernie? -- Charlene; Granger, IN
Vinny made party attendance voluntary, the team didn't practice and everybody associated with the organization but Larry Hughes attended and, from all accounts, had a great time. Vinny's house reportedly is immaculate. I jokingly asked him why reporters weren't invited and he looked at me like I was from Mars. But he does that a lot because I ask a lot of silly questions.
Gotta say I like the backpack. How much do you see the impact of Gooden coming back and likewise what do you think of the possibilty of a Larry Hughes for Kenyon Martin swap? I believe K-Mart would be both a great addition to this team and would provide us with extra spring in our step, however it also might be best to stand pat as it seems as though Thomas is starting to play up to his potential. -- Bryce T. Englin; South Beloit
As a proud alum of Beloit College, I may or may not have visited establishments in your fair town once or twice during my college years. If I did, I definitely didn't have my backpack with me. I wouldn't touch Kenyon Martin with a 10-foot Benny the Bull tail. He's too disruptive for my taste.