K.C. Johnson's answers

Do the Bulls have any chance at making the playoffs this year? Is Eddie Robinson going to be in the All-Star slam-dunk contest? He had a great dunk versus the Hawks! --Matt Silver, Highland Park

No. And no. But that's just me. And Jason Terry disagrees with your assessment of the dunk. As for the playoffs, the Bulls are 2-20 on the road. End of argument. They are about to go on another West Coast trip, too. They have established a nice homecourt advantage, which is what young teams showing signs of awakening do. But until they win on the road, forget about the postseason.

ERob is one of the most spectacular jumpers I've seen in six years around the NBA. I had no problem with that dunk at the end of the Atlanta game--how many times have the Bulls been able to have fun in recent seasons?--but Terry said the Hawks would remember it the next time they play. Stay tuned.

How come Eddie Robinson hasn't turned out to be the explosive star player that many envisioned him to be when Krause signed him? If he's got a great shot and obviously a ridiculously freakish ability to get up in the air, then how come he can't create off the dribble and make his own shot? Is his lackluster career in Chicago due to his inability to dribble well enough to get around defenders or is it simply a question of confidence? --Ethan, Glen Cove. N.Y.

I think it's more a reflection of his not feeling comfortable in the offense. In Charlotte, where we have to remember he also was a bit player, he had success playing in an up-tempo style and shooting jumpers off screens. He doesn't get plays called for him in Chicago. And the Bulls don't fast-break as much as the Hornets did. This is crazy, but in Orlando last week, he stayed on the court because of defense! He played McGrady fairly tough in the fourth quarter and only took two shots all game. Cartwright left him out because he obviously has the athletic ability to be a decent defender.

K.C., when Marcus Fizer moved back into the rotation, there was some early thought that he was just "on display" for potential trade partners. But his play since then has been great; he's showing more offensive savvy, loads of energy, and has shown the ability to overwhelm other teams' reserve forwards. Is he still considered "on display," or he viewed as a keeper, and a legitimate cog on this young team? Thanks much. --J.K., Chicago

That's a good question and the answer depends on the day. If the Bulls make any move before the Feb. 20 trade deadline, I'd have to think Fizer would be included. He's playing better, his contract is manageable and he's one of the team's few tradeable assets. That said, Krause hates giving up on his draft picks, as we all know. And Fizer is one of the team's few consistent offensive threats. Krause is a tormented GM when it comes to making trades (I'm still stunned he pulled the trigger on both the Brand and Rose deals) so we'll see what happens.

K.C., I enjoy reading your stuff, but I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with the Bulls organization as a whole. Have you ever seen two guys who know less about what the other one is doing? Krause: "The triangle is interchangeable, Michael and Scottie made each other better like Jay and Jamal will." Cartwright: "They'll never play together, they're both point guards." Do these two ever sit down and talk to each other about the direction of this pathetic team? Trenton Hassell is an over-rated defensive player, not even in the same gym with Ron Artest, and an inept offensive player that can't dribble, constantly throws the ball away and shoots .386 from the field. Hassell and Hoiberg are identical players and neither should start. One must go and the other should be playing Judd Buechler minutes at the end of the bench. What do you think? --JayMan, Salt Lake City

I think you're frustrated. I also think that Hassell has probably played more minutes than he has deserved to this season. Hassell is a great guy and a tireless worker and is one of the few Bulls who gives consistent effort defensively. But he's not a defensive stopper so why not try Eddie Robinson more? That's my opinion. It appears to be yours as well.

Hi, I just wanted to make a correction and say that Michael Ruffin is not playing in Italy. This is actually the third time that I've read about him playing professionally in Italy, but Michael is not playing in Italy, he is actually playing for Caprabo LLeida in Spain, he has played for Caprabo since last season. This year he is averaging 7.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.00 bpg, 1.65 spg, and 27.7 mpg in 17 games. Last season he averaged 5.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.75 bpg, 1.50 spg, and 28.9 mpg in 20 games. You can find his player profile at the following address: --Jose A. Colomer-Rosa, Barcelona

Thanks for the correction and the help.

I was wondering, K.C., does Trenton Hassell have compromising photos of Bill Cartwright? What else could possibly explain Bill giving this guy 27 minutes a game? As of Jan. 18 there were 129 players in the NBA who averaged more than 25 minutes a game. Of those players, Hassell is far and away the lowest scorer at barely 5 ppg. And as for his supposedly tenacious defense, who exactly has he shut down? Since when does holding David Wesley to 34 make you a defensive specialist? I think the Bulls will continue to struggle until they address the gaping hole at shooting guard. --Chris Belanetta, New York

See my above answer. I agree. I think one hesitation Cartwright has in sitting Hassell down is the message it would send. Hassell isn't a stopper, but he does give consistent effort defensively and that is a quality that Cartwright admires. To sit him would be to sit one of the few players that gives Bill that. I'm not basing that guess on any discussion I've had with Bill on the subject. That's just a hunch on how Bill works.

Cheerleader Question! I have a sneaky suspicion that the Bulls' cheerleaders make below minimum wage. The U.S. office of fair labor standards and states straight out that if any employee doesn't make at least the equivalent of minimum wage for everything they do (even dancing) then they are breaking the law. Why are NBA teams allowed to violate the rights of the cheerleaders? Are they not part of the marketing machine? --Richard Laskowski, Seattle

I proclaim a ban on all cheerleader questions from now on. This is my second one this season and last time, my mother got mad at me for my smart-aleck answer.

K.C., what does the question mark tattooed on Marcus Fizer's neck mean or represent? --Daniel Brescher, Scarsdale, N.Y.

He said he got it to motivate himself because the jury is still out on his career. OK, I made that up. I forgot to ask him. But I will.

Thanks for your question. Talk to you next week,