Sam Smith's NBA mailbag
So word on the street is Larry Brown wants back into coaching. Any chance of seeing Larry on the bench next year? --Jon Wormsley, Boulder, Colo.

Park bench? Larry is one of the best coaching minds in the history of the game, but I question whether he'll get another job now approaching 70. He's gone over a lot of bridges and burned them. He comes with a lot of baggage after being fired in Detroit and New York. Owners talk to other owners. He usually comes with a high price tag. I hope he coaches again. It won't be for the Bulls.

You say the Bulls would be foolish to enter luxury tax area, unless the player could put them over the top. How do you or anyone else know if a player could put the team over the top or not without taking a chance? Picking up Pau Gasol certainly would have been worth the risk. If the Bulls had resigned P.J. Brown I'm sure John Paxson could have found a way to make a deal with the Grizzlies if he had been persistent enough. Right now we've got a nothing team, going nowhere and a GM willing to let the status quo continue. These fans have been loyal to Jerry Reinsdorf and the Bulls for years, and this is the thanks we get? I say phooey on it all. --Rod G., Mascot, Tenn.

This is the point. Pau is a good player. I've lobbied for him for some time and was the first to say Memphis would trade him despite its denials. I always ask fans why they believe coaches or players or general managers more than me. If I lie once, I'm fired. There are no second chances in the newspaper business for that crime. If they lie, they justify it in numerous ways. Yes, they know more of what their team is doing, but they don't tell you. Anyway, Pau has proven he's not up to being the best player on your team, a leader or a go-to guy. If the Bulls went well into the luxury tax to get him, which they'd have to, that would be your team going forward built around him. I didn't think that was worth the investment.

Any news on the whereabouts of our old friend Michael Sweetney? He probably saw this nightmare season coming and ran (for a few seconds anyways). --Bob, Wilmette, Ill.

I'm looking. I contacted the players' association and they hadn't heard anything about him. It don't believe he's playing anywhere.

Would it be possible that fans could sue the Bulls players for non-performance of their contracts? --Jim Poulsen, Viera, Fla.

I'm not sure what loss you would be claiming. Cable TV and satellite costs? Though this is also why the NFL will remain king of sports. They don't have long-term guaranteed contracts. They are the fans' worst enemy, yet fans always support players getting them. David Stern's greatest mistake was in the last negotiations not shutting down the league to get the contracts down to three years. But the NHL was out and Stern didn't want to risk the bad publicity. As you can see with the Gasol deal, expiring contracts are valuable and without longterm commitments, teams would have flexibility and players would have to play for their contracts more often. I don't advocate one year deals like the NFL, but it seems three years in a league where the average salary is almost $5 million is fair.

With the Bulls being borderline unwatchable, I've seen a lot of Hornets' games and the unstoppable pick and rolls between Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul. Unstoppable. I know Tyson needed a change, but watching the simplicity and beauty of using Tyson this way makes you wonder if the problem with the Bulls was ever really Tyson's. --Lyn Fox, Santa Fe, N.M.

Not completely, as those things never are. But the Bulls still don't have the true point guard to put Tyson in that position. Chris Paul is playing like an MVP. I always believed Tyson would be a solid player and I always said I'd keep him of the two between he and Curry. But it was never going to happen under Skiles and the Bulls were at a point where with all the down years had to make a move in the standings when they did. It was short term, but no one thought it would be this short term.

Is there any other available retired big men would would want to coach besides Mike Brown? Why would Paxson bring in a guy that averaged only 5 points and had 4.4 rebounds in his career to coach? Who would want to listen to his advice when he couldn't even score? --Mi, Chicago

Give him a chance. The Bulls have pushed for this for some time, though Skiles was dead set against it. I'm a believer and Clifford Ray has been good and was never a big scorer. It's the right move and Brown has good coaching experience and I remember him as a good guy when he was here in the '80s.

The Portland Trailblazers have followed the Bulls plan of building with a core of young players with the exception being they've found their star player and leader. I think if Wallace and Griffin were gone you'd see Noah emerge as the leader and then we'd be back to the one issue that's plagued us the past four years, a go-to guy who can create on his own. Is there anyone on our team or in free agency that will fill this void? --Tim K., Mountain View, Calif.

Not really in free agency. The unrestricted guys are like Jamison, Ricky Davis, Sam Cassell, Gerald Green. I don't see the opt-out guys like Arenas and Elton Brand leaving. And the Bulls don't have the money to go that route. They could miss the playoffs and perhaps will get someone in the draft, which remains the best chance for now. Though I believe they will make the playoffs. They really are too good not to in the East, for whatever that's worth.

What are your thoughts on a Tyrus Thomas for Brandan Wright trade with Golden State? --Brian, Boulder, Colo.

I'd do it in a heartbeat. Is it done yet? I like Wright and think Nelson in his disdain for rookies hasn't given him a chance to help. I'd rather see him playing than Webber if I were them. I believe Warriors management has no intention of letting Wright go. I believe they know Nelson will be gone first and Nelson pushing for Webber suggests Nellie may be in it for just one more run. Warriors' management has become too solid to give up on Wright, whom some scouts are saying will be like Chris Bosh.

In Portugal runs the rumor that T-Mac is going to our Bulls. Is That True? --Rui Teodoro, Alpiarça, Portugal

I doubt it. Houston has played better of late and does need his scoring. But he is in and out and I believe they would like to trade him, but understand they might not be offered much given what teams are getting offered for even top players. The bigger issue is he has serious back problems that could end his career or severely debilitate him at any time. Coming out after high school, he's played some 25,000 minutes and isn't at the stage of his career to begin again with a young team. He remains a huge risk.

I know you have touted keeping Luol Deng in the past, but why not trade him? He appears to have the most value in the league and can provide a nice return at a spot where you have more of a need (legit big guard or inside big man who can score). The reason I think it'd be a good idea is Nocioni is arguably the best backup on the team and could be a solid NBA starter. Not to mention Noc is already signed to a reasonable contract. --Drew, Chicago