K.C. Johnson on the Bulls

Chicago BullsContractsEddy CurryTyson ChandlerKirk HinrichNBARodney Rogers

Which of the top teams in the Eastern Conference do you think the Bulls would match up against the best in the playoffs? --Mike Jolly, Edwardsville, Ill.

They haven't really played well against any of them, except Detroit. Miami has had their number, despite the recent overtime victory. Boston is tied for first in the Atlantic as of this typing and the Bulls have struggled against them. They've defeated Detroit twice on the road, but the Pistons are playing much better now. Their best hope is for another team to win the meager Atlantic and then finish with the sixth seed so they match up against that team.

If the Bulls re-sign both Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, how does that affect the potential re-signing of Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon or Luol Deng in the following years when their contracts are up? --Terry Cvengros, Zion, Ill.

It doesn't. The Bulls have budgeted for the future with the goal of resigning their young core. Now that's not saying it will happen. But they have the ability to do so if they choose. Also, don't forget that they won't be making decisions on Gordon and Deng for a few more seasons.

One of the concerns regarding Curry has to be his weight (after all, he was not fit until his contract year). Any chance the Bulls can include a "weight clause" in his next contract whereby the value of the deal decreases or the Bulls have an out if Curry does not maintain a certain weight? --Ryan Logsdon, Denver

It's an interesting idea. Nothing would prevent them from doing so, other than objections from Curry's camp in the negotiation process. The Bulls monitored Curry's weight last summer, and he responded well to that. I actually see the negotiations going smoothly this summer for Curry and the Bulls.

Who is the biggest practical joker on the team and the guy who is loosest? --Drew Sydney, Chicago

The Bulls have a tight-knit and friendly locker room. Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler and Kirk Hinrich probably draw the most regular laughs, although Nocioni's English gets teased a lot, too, in a good-natured way. Curry has a very keen sense of humor, which may not be known to those who just listen to him in interviews.

Scott Skiles has often been described as an X's and O's-type coach, who really knows the details of the game. I would really like to know what he thinks of the triangle offense. Would he ever reinstate it for use with these players? --Craig Dillon, Chicago

I've never asked Skiles specifically about the triangle, but he hasn't run it in his two coaching stints, obviously. He does tend to tailor his offensive sets around his personnel. In Phoenix, he ran pick-and-roll sets with big men popping out for perimeter shots because he had shooters like Rodney Rogers, Tom Gugliotta and Cliff Robinson who could do that. With the Bulls, he tries to work inside-out with a lot of weak-side reversal to free his wing players for perimeter shots.

The Bulls needs in the future seem to include a young, bruising inside presence who can rebound and score from the post, and a tall off-guard who can defend in the perimeter and post. Do the Bulls own the rights to any players, including Mario Austin, who might appear in training camp next year or even help in the postseason? --Ira Shucker, Atlanta

Mario Austin is a second-round pick who has yet to play an NBA minute. He's not the answer. I actually see the majority of this year's team returning next season.

Not too long ago Damon Stoudamire said that the Bulls have some of the best spacing he's seen. Brian James wrote on ESPN.com that the Bulls are successful because they are unpredictable coming out of their sets. As someone who is not able to watch the Bulls on TV consistently, I am wondering if you can elaborate on that further with your own observations. --Lee Bass, St. Louis

See the above answer as to what Skiles tries to do offensively. The Bulls also try to penetrate for draw-and-kick action to create mismatches off defensive closeouts.

What are your favorite arenas, both in terms of watching a game and in terms of covering it? --Brian L., Lincoln, Ill.

I'm a traditionalist, so my favorite arena is Madison Square Garden, even though the locker rooms are cramped and the media room is awful. You also have to walk through the crowd to get to the locker rooms and media room. But I'll take that any day over the cookie-cutter arenas of today. Of the newer arenas, I do like Staples Center in L.A. and the Delta Center in Utah.

Isn't part of the reason that John Paxson is waiting to re-sign Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler is due to the looming new collective bargaining agreement? As I recall, Pax and his fellow GM's loathe the current system that only gives a team the edge in re-signing their own free agents by offering a longer, more lucrative "full boat" contract. Do you think the owners will negotiate a new pact to protect them from giving out way too many long-term deals? --Jack Lucas, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Well, the main reason he waited is because he didn't want to give them long-term extensions last summer. He wanted to have each player prove his worth this season. They've mostly responded, and the plan now is to re-sign both players. That the CBA is almost certain to change benefiting management is a bonus. Expect shorter contract lengths and smaller raises.

Thanks for the questions. Sorry for the lack of creative answers. I think my mind is still on All-Star break.
K.C.

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