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K.C. Johnson on the Bulls
Corie Blount mentioned chemistry being a problem for the Bulls. Which Bulls play really well together chemistry-wise? Do Eddy and Tyson really compliment each other as much as management had hoped they would? --Justin Cox, Huntington, W.Va.
The record seems to indicate that nobody plays well together. Most players enjoy playing with Kirk because he is a pass-first guard who finds his teammates in good spots. Curry and Crawford occasionally show stretches of on-the-court chemistry with alley-oops and the like, but again, we're not talking Magic-Kareem here. As for Eddy and Tyson, I think Tyson has a positive effect on Eddy's game because he gets him more emotional and helps him make a more conscious effort to rebound. But those two have been on the court together so infrequently this season that it's hard to make a definitive judgement.
KC, I'm confused about Toronto's recent signing of Corie Blount. If teams are still capable about signing released players this late in the season, why was there so much commotion about the "unfortunate timing" of Blount being cut on March 1? Am I missing something here? --Jon, Chicago
Yes. The unfortunate timing of Blount getting cut on March 2 stems from him now being unable to be included on Toronto's playoff roster, should they make it. Teams needed to be with their teams as of March 1 to be eligible. That Toronto signed Blount anyway speaks to the fact that they liked him.
What "intangibles" distinguish a great NBA player from an average player and what do writers do to improve their writing "game" during the season? Thanks for your great work this season. --Glenn Wagner, North Muskegon, Mich.
No, thank you for your great work. Some of the intangibles that stand out are the ones that Paxson and Skiles consistently talk about---work ethic, accountability, and professionalism. Last week, I watched Kobe Bryant go onto the United Center court two hours before tipoff to work on his shot. He was the first player out there warming up. Many of the shots that he took were left-handed, a nod to his painful right shoulder. This is one of the game's great players making the necessary sacrifice and putting in the necessary work to better his game. Jordan was a king at it, too. As for writers, what you read is what you get, I'm afraid. Although I do plan on trying a story down the stretch without using verbs, just to spice it up a bit
What are the qualifications for putting players in the expansion draft? Could we put in E-Rob, Davis, or Jerome Williams to get rid of some bad contracts? --Neal Simons, Deerfield, Ill.
The Bulls can put in whomever they choose. They get to protect eight players. The rest are up for grabs. It's unlikely that Charlotte will take many high-salaried players, though, especially those with as bad of contracts as you list.
With the most recent strategy to look under every rock to find any potential legitimate player, did Paxson give any consideration to Vin Baker? --Michael K. VerWay, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
No. The Bulls are trying unproven players, people whom they don't know much about, to get a look at them before the summer league. There are other veterans who have been available, guys like Rod Strickland, and the Bulls haven't given them a sniff. Plus, Baker has some baggage that the Bulls weren't interested in carrying.
K.C., what's Ron Harper up to these days? I always loved the veteran savvy he brought to the court. Any chance of the Bulls hiring him as an assistant coach? --Farhan Arshad, Rio Ranch, N.M.
That's funny that you bring him up. He was sitting courtside at Tuesday's game in Cleveland, where he is from and still spends a lot of time. There was talk awhile back of bringing him in as an assistant, but that was in the Krause regime. While I know Pax likes him personally, I don't see Skiles bringing him in as his hire this summer. Look for Skiles to go after Jim Boylan of the Atlanta Hawks, whom Skiles worked with in Phoenix.
You've covered both hockey and basketball. Which do you prefer and why? Which team will get to the playoffs first, the Bulls or Blackhawks? --Jim Schwartz, Huntington Woods, Mich.
I get this question a lot, and I always answer it the same way. There are things I like and dislike about both beats. When I left hockey, I missed certain things. And if I ever left basketball, I would miss certain things. Hockey players are by far the most accessible athletes that I've dealt with. I once had Wayne Gretzky ask me, "Do you have everything that you need?" The only media crush most hockey players face is in Canada, so they are less jaded to the demands of media. But I know basketball much better because I've played it my whole life, and I enjoy relating to players that I consider some of the best athletes in the world. As for who makes the playoffs first, where's the choice, "none of the above"?
Hi K.C., imagine if the NBA had a farm system and Curry, Chandler and Crawford had spent the past two or three years playing for the Bulls farm team in Kankakee. Do you think they would be better or worse players, not just in terms of skill, but also with things like commitment and understanding of the game? --Stew Rulfs, Belton, Mo.
I know that Skiles and Paxson think they would.
Where is former Michigan State point guard Mateen Cleaves? Personally, I'm not crazy about the philosophy of the Chicago front office right now -- taking away our veteran leaders (or benching them) just to get a backup at point guard. However, I think Cleeves might be a nice addition to the Bulls. --Brad Michalak, Deerfield, Ill.
Mateen Cleaves is playing for Huntsville in the NBDL. I've never heard his name come up in conversations with team officials.
If a player like Paul Pierce, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, or Ray Allen become available, would you envision Paxson giving up Tyson and Eddy to get one of them? --Chuck, Johnstown, Ohio
Let's just say that both Tyson and Eddy will be included in trade talks this summer. Anything and anyone will be on the table. A lot will depend on where they land after the draft lottery. But packaging the No. 1 pick with players will be explored to all ends.
Thanks for all your questions. Talk to you next week,