I was wondering if you could update the status of Bulls players from the Tim Floyd era? Elton Brand is with the Clippers and Ron Artest with the Kings, but I am interested in finding out where some of the players that assembled the worst Bulls teams of all time ended up. --Tony, Evanston
There are way too many to remember. With Floyd having success in the NCAA tournament, we were just talking around the Bulls of the big Elton Brand trade. Floyd was the one pushing it the hardest at the time, despite what he says now, though I doubt drafting two high schoolers was his idea of what they'd go for after trading Brand. He used to come up with more trades per week than Larry Brown, always trying to reshape the roster. The general feeling was Krause was up for the deal and jumped on it when Floyd heartily agreed, though someone was telling me after the draft Floyd was having second thoughts and wondered if Chandler would be the next Mikki Moore.
NBA, Tim is an excellent college coach. When you look at the players Tim had, you can see why he was a lousy pro coach. The teams shouldn't have been as bad. With Brand, Artest, Fred Hoiberg, Michael Ruffin and even Hersey Hawkins and B.J. Armstrong at the end, that was no 17-win team in 1999-2000 and with Brand and Artest in their second seasons in 2000-01 along with Jamal Crawford, Marcus Fizer, Hoiberg, Brad Miller and Jake Voskuhl, that might have been one of the worst coaching jobs ever for that team to win 15 games in a pretty weak East, in which Milwaukee led by Glenn Robinson was the second best team.
Chandler is with the Hornets, Curry and Crawford with the Knicks, Hoiberg retired with a heart problem and is a Timberwolves executive, Charles Oakley hangs around with Michael Jordan, Ron Artest, well, who knows from day to day, Ron Mercer, Corey Benjamin, A.J. Guyton, who knows. Fizer plays in Europe, so does Dalibor Bagaric and Dragan Tarlac, Miller is with Artest in Sacramento, Voskuhl is in Charlotte, Eddie Robinson is in the NBDL, Trenton Hassell is with the Timberwolves.
With the playoffs just around the corner, which teams do you think the Bulls best match up against? Who do we want to see most? --Michael Choi, Burke, Va.
This is going to change almost daily. I believe the best matchup is Washington because of their injuries and defense, which amazingly, continues to get worse. I know they beat the Bulls in the playoffs two seasons ago, but I think they've regressed and remain undisciplined with Gilbert Arenas. Probably next is Toronto given the lack of playoff experience, the Bulls success against them for years and now a succession of injuries and illness to their rookies. Actually, they probably become the best matchup with Jorge Garbajosa now gone with a broken leg. If Orlando could get to seven, you'd want to get to second since they are awful. I assume New Jersey makes the playoffs, but they could be tough with Kidd having a great season. Also, the Pacers seem about to give up for the season, but if they make the playoffs, you'd want them. Other than Orlando, there's probably no real easy matchup and while the Bulls will be favorites in the first round, the East is so open they could lose a first round matchup if their shots aren't falling.
After Wilt, where is Bill Walton in your ranking of all-time centers? --Florida Jim, Viera, Fla.
If not for the agony of the feet, as it were. I think hardly anyone knows Bill Walton's career anymore, though there's a terrific show on UCLA's dynasty on HBO that gives a glimpse. Walton was the Sandy Koufax of basketball. For six years, there probably wasn't a better pitcher in baseball history. And then he was gone. Walton absolutely dominated Kareem in big games. He's known now for his bold and often outrageous TV style, but had he stayed healthy--a ridiculous idea since he had more than 30 foot operations--he might have been the best player ever. He was the perfect center, rebounding high like Tim Duncan--Duncan looks like some AAU dropout on fundamentals compared with Walton--shooting, handling, outlet passing, seeing the court like a point guard with the dominance of a center. You had to see him in the '70s to know. When he made that miracle comeback with the Celtics for one season, he wasn't near the player he was. If you could make the perfect player, with enthusiasm, drive, heart, commitment, all the intangibles, and with size given it is a big man's game, it would be Walton.
Does John Paxson scout outside of the Final Four? With the exception of Thabo Sefolosha every one of his draft picks played in the previous year's Final Four. Up until last year, they played in the previous year's National Championship game. So for fun, of the players left in the Final Four, whom do you think would be the best fit for the Bulls? Roy Hibbert has nice size, but seems like a project offensively. --Louie Correa, Indianapolis
I think there's a reason for that, and it has worked out. Bulls players come in more ready than most and have been better citizens, comfortable with discipline and hard work after staying in tough, high-quality programs. It's too early to say. Tyler Hansbrough fits their hard working profile and there aren't exactly NBA-ready post players after the top pick in the draft. Jeff Green from Georgetown is intriguing. Tiago Splitter? I doubt it. Get back to me in June.
Who is the better ball handler at this point of their career, Luol Deng or Ben Gordon? I know, it's kind of like the New Hampshire beauty contest. Gordon certainly looks sloppy at times handling the ball, but he does a better job of breaking down his defender off the dribble and getting to the line. Luol often looks stiff and awkward when he tries dribble penetration, but is great within the structure of the offense. Can you be a go-to guy when you can't create your own shot? So when it comes to ball handling, who's your tallest midget? I would still trade Luol in the off-season for a post player like KG or JO. I think Paxson should sell high on Luol, before his deficiencies are exposed. --Bob, Chicago
Are you sure you're not a New Englander? Yes, sigh, Ben, though I don't think you'd want him running your team. They criticize Kirk Hinrich for his decision making, and he isn't the best when the game is slower. But Ben does a lot of dribbling between his legs while standing still, which I hate. He can find a guy coming off a screen, but you can see him trying to think. Actually, he still makes the better play for himself off the dribble, and handles well enough to do that. And does it impressively well. The off-season is going to depend on the playoffs. Out in one and everyone is available. Make it to the conference finals and there'll just be some tweaking and more patience while waiting for Shaq and the Pistons to age.
Do you think Luol Deng can be an All Star next season? What do you think he can and must improve? --Simone, Milan, Italy
Deng is opening some eyes around the NBA, but not until he has a good playoff run. So it's almost there. He'll work on his shooting range and post-ups, but has a solid game inside 20 feet now, which is rare for someone that young.
The Bulls need depth on the front line. Did they try to get Randolph Morris? Why would he go to the Knicks over the Bulls? --Alan Rubenstein, Glenview, Ill.
Everyone in New York never understands why anyone goes anywhere but New York. As a native, keep the secret. Let them keep thinking it is the place to be while everyone in the U.S. but New Yorkers enjoys a quality of life. How about this one: The Bulls, with almost a third of the payroll of the Knicks, didn't have the salary space. The NBA has a soft cap, which means there are exceptions. One is the biannual. Because the Bulls were under the cap last summer, they had no exceptions. The Knicks had their biannual and were able to use part on Morris to pay him more than the Bulls could have. They did look into it, but were essentially outbid and there was nothing they could do.
With all the talk of the Bulls getting that low-post presence they need this off-season no one mentions Rashard Lewis, who had said he is going to opt out of his contract. I think he would be a perfect fit for the Bulls if they could pull a sign and trade for Noce and next year's No. 1. --Ryan, Evergreen Park, Ill.
For one thing, Lewis is more a perimeter player who sits on the three-point line and is among the leaders in three-point attempts. Also, the Bulls will not be under the cap after signing Ben Wallace last summer. He, essentially, was their final big free agent signing. Now, it's trades and players who might sign for the salary cap exception, and you can still get a good one there by going out five years.
LI don't want to sound like as if I don't like Tyrus Thomas. I actually think he'll be a good replacement for Ben Wallace, as Big Ben is on the downside of his career. (Ty needs to gain weight though.) But in a fantasy world if Chris Bosh and Shawn Marion were available, the Bulls would take Bosh because he fits the requirement that the Bulls need the most. LaMarcus Aldridge was mostly being compared to Bosh so therefore I thought they should've kept him. --Jesse Miller, Washington, D.C.