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K.C. Johnson's Bulls mailbag
This is a big moment in this mailbag's history.
Last season, a regular contributor and astute questioner asked one of the most burning--and obscure--questions in NBA history: Could Steve Kerr ever bench press 250 pounds?
I never ran into Kerr last season and chose not to burn a phone call on the subject. But there I stood last week on the Suns' practice floor, staring the former great Bull in the eye.
"Nope," Kerr said, with a cocked eyebrow. "240 was my max with Cleveland, early in my career. Never could lift 250."
And there you have it.
It's tempting to end this week's mailbag right now given the importance of such knowledge. But we, ahem, press on.
What about John Salmons, Tyrus Thomas and Jerome James to the Kings for Andres Nocioni and Kevin Martin? Maybe a dream and I know it would eat up our salary cap space but it would give us a pretty formidable young team moving forward. It would give us a big shooting guard who can score and our favorite energy guy off the bench back. Plus, you would get one of your favorite quotes back. Any chance? -- Brandon, Chicago
So you get this close to 2010 free agency or 2010 trade deadline mania and you burn it all on Kevin Martin? I love Noce as much as the next guy--mostly for interviews--but no way I do this trade. And no way the Bulls do either.
I would just like to say you are a genius. You were on Chicago Tribune Live last year and said you would rather have Noah over Thomas. At the time, I thought you were a complete fool. Your reasoning was that Noah had a true position whereas Thomas did not. I will never doubt you again. But wouldn't this team be better not to make a move at the deadline and let contracts expire for future free agents? --Ron, DeKalb
I've been called a complete fool plenty, mostly by my wife, and rarely hear the genius afterward. I'm not saying I saw Noah's progression to this point. But I did see consistent effort and hustle and size. I've supported Tyrus too; I just remember being asked on that show if I had to pick one, who would I pick? That said, Tyrus either needs to start--and the window for doing that has probably passed because now you'd be rewarding a pouter--or be traded. It's clear his time here isn't working. I think he'll become a better player elsewhere.
What's up with plantar fasciitis and athletes? It seems to be an increasing problem in sports. I have had it personally and know it is extremely painful. --Tim Grisham, Washington
The Bulls have had several cases, including Toni Kukoc, Andres Nocioni and now Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. It makes sense given the stress and wear and tear from so much lateral movement and cutting and starting and stopping. I've never had it but both Scott Skiles and Vinny Del Negro dealt with it during their playing careers. Everybody describes it as excruciatingly painful, making you barely able to walk. It's a wonder Noah played as well as he did against the Spurs when it looked like he wasn't going to play at the morning shootaround.
What is going on with Jerome James? With Aaron Gray gone, Jo and Taj with foot ailments and Miller with bad knees, you would think the Bulls would at least need a practice dummy. Is this Isiah Thomas flunky going to just collect a paycheck and go away? --Fred Longnecker, Mine Hill, N.J.
First, it's not Jerome's fault Isiah gave him that contract. Second, remember when the Bulls traded for James, they did so because of his expiring deal after this season, not as a player. They even thought insurance might pay his contract if he couldn't return from rupturing his Achilles. He is rehabbing but I'd be surprised if he plays this season. He still will be valuable, either in a trade or with his expiring deal.
Apologies for Danka's absence over the last month. Have been all over the country, as well as overseas, scouting for Gar. Have yet to find the missing piece we require for another title run this year, but I do have some tangible news. Sickey Dimpkins has legally changed his name and has thoughts of lacing them up again, preferably for an Eastern Conference contender. But I digress. With the shocking jettison of Sasquatch Gray and the obvious raising of a white flag by Bulls brass, fair to expect a dip in attendance for the remainder of the season? Is Gray to be the second coming of Lou Brock for this pained city? I knew our focus was solely on 2010 but this move sends shockwaves through the Bulls' faithful. If next we discover the Bulls have traded Lindsey "Big Game" Hunter for anything less than a box of sour patch kids, I'll know we're taking. --Danka Shane, Chicago
Thanks for topping my sarcastic lede-in about Kerr.
Last year, Derrick Rose had hardly any dunks in games and threw down two in Phoenix. This year, same result. Is there something about Phoenix that Derrick enjoys or does he just want to dunk on the Suns? --Keval, Westmont, Ill.
I do think it's just coincidence. But I'm still smiling over that dunk in Phoenix this season. There was an electricity in the arena for about 30 seconds afterward. Great stuff.
Mister KCJ. It's hard to follow the team because it costs me to have only three hours of sleep before going to work. But a Bulls fan is a Bulls fan, even in France. We are very proud of Noah, the only REAL French player! Anyway, after such a big win against Houston and Brad renewing his young performances, the idea of joining Rick Adelman is great. Does the sound of Miller and Salmons and James for Tracy McGrady sound true? And do you think such a move would upgrade us towards the heavy run for the last four spots in the East? France all behind the amazing Bulls! Thanks for your news. --Vincent, Lille, France
Let's repeat: If the Bulls trade for McGrady, it will be for his contract, not for his playing ability. I think the Bulls do that trade in a heartbeat. Right now, Houston's asking price is way higher for all teams.
Which do you prefer, acquiring a big-time free agent like Wade or Bosh or James or acquiring two quality free agents like Johnson and Lee? I'd do the Johnson-Lee combination. Do the Bulls have enough cap space to sign both of them? Nice backpack as always. --Jan Philip, Manila, Philippines
Johnson is going to want max or very-near-max money so your theory is out. I say go for the gusto, assuming you haven't made a trade to eat up cap space before then. You've come this far. Go get one of the big names. And I'd ever consider Boozer a big name at this point. So get James or Wade or Bosh or Johnson or Boozer. I'm not as big a fan of Stoudemire.
Why do I get the feeling Tyrus will not improve much if the Bulls resign him but if they don't, he will develop into a star player? --Vinnie, Chicago
Because it's very possible. I'm not sure Tyrus will be an All-Star. I do think he has the talent to be playing much better than he has. As I've said before, I think the Bulls whiffed by not starting Tyrus after he played well in his first three games back from missing seven weeks to injury. Since then, he's gone into a funk. I'm not saying that's all on the decision, but it has certainly played a part. It's clearer and clearer to me that Tyrus needs a change of address to reach his full potential.
Thanks for your questions. Talk to you next week,