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K.C. Johnson on the Bulls
What's the secret behind Ben Gordon? How on earth does he go off in the fourth quarter so consistently? --Prabu Durairaj, Mountain View, Calif.
That's when his pre-game Red Bull kicks in. But, seriously, there is no logical explanation for the phenomenon. Just enjoy it. He also has several double-digit quarters in quarters other than the fourth. But his league-leading number for fourth quarters is simply remarkable for a rookie, especially an undersized guard. He's got an offensive gift, that's for sure.
Reports suggest that John Paxson is interested in Fabricio Oberto, a center in the European league who played with Andres Nocioni on the gold-medal winning Argentinean team. Is he really being considered as a free agent? --Peter, Philadelphia
I don't think it's a be-all or end-all signing, but he is someone the Bulls likely will express interest in this summer with a portion of their mid-level salary-cap exception.
Chris Duhon continues to look more and more comfortable out there. He is definitely one of the unsung heroes of this team. What's his contract situation this summer? --Carl Janikowski, Seattle
He's a restricted free agent, which means the Bulls can match offers for him. About the only scenario in which they could lose him would be if a team offered more than the mid-level exception to sign him, a highly improbable case. I expect the Bulls to be fair in trying to re-sign him and Duhon likes Chicago. General manager John Paxson also has a solid working relationship with Duhon's agent, Bill Duffy. They worked together on Jay Williams' buyout.
Given Ben Gordon's emergence as one of the top rookies this season, Rookie of the Year talk should only continue to grow. When is the last time a player won the award primarily coming off of the bench? --Terry Forbes, Elmhurst
Mike Miller won the 2000-01 Rookie of the Year award with only 62 starts. Obviously, that's far more than Ben will have, but he has the lowest total of recent winners. And don't forget that no rookie ever has won the Sixth Man of the Year award, which I still think is a longshot for Gordon.
Are there any shooting guards or small forwards available whom the Bulls could bring in to provide a little more punch? Griffin is solid on defense but can't really do much on the offensive end. Piatkowski doesn't have the foot speed and often commits turnovers. --Kevin Kong, Hanover Park
As crazy as it sounds, I think Donyell Marshall would be a solid fit on this team, and he's a free-agent who might fall in the Bulls' budget. I also think Joe Johnson would be a great fit, but he's almost certain to demand a contract that the Bulls won't be able to pay. Another possibility is Bobby Simmons.
Do you think Antonio Davis, Othella Harrington, Adrian Griffin and Eric Piatkowski will be back next season? --Marc, Chino Hills, Calif.
AD and Piatkowski definitely will be back. Davis has a guaranteed contract at big money, the last year of his deal. Piatkowski also has one year remaining. I think Harrington is a strong possibility to return. Griffin will be a last-minute decision. The Bulls love his practice habits, professionalism and quiet leadership. But they also will work the free-agent market this summer and move to Griffin only if he's still available and they didn't go in another direction.
Will Ben Gordon ever succeed as a starter for the Bulls? He's great off the bench, but I don't know if a starting backcourt of Hinrich and Gordon will be able to match up against the bigger backcourts in the NBA. --Justin, Evanston
They've started to play together for longer stretches and Gordon isn't getting posted up as much. He has a strong base and is learning how to bang in the post when bigger players take him down there. I'd guess that by next season, those two could be starting together.
Do the players talk much about the NCAA tournament? I could imagine some major trash-talking with players from Illinois, Duke, Kansas and UConn. --Gary Griffin, Chicago
Funny you should say that. As of today, a Friday afternoon in Seattle, the trash talking is in full swing with the conference tournaments going on. Ben Gordon had some nice words for Othella Harrington when UConn beat Georgetown. And Scott Skiles and Jared Reiner enjoyed the Michigan State-Iowa match-up. Frank Williams has been strangely quiet about his Illinois squad.
I recognized you at Gund Arena before the Bulls-Cavs game. You looked a bit surprised. How often do you go on the road and get recognized by fans? --Prasanth Nannapaneni, Woodridge
Very rarely, which is why I looked surprised. Our job is to remain anonymous. But thanks for saying hi. I did recently get asked for an autograph by a Chicago cab driver. I couldn't believe it and was completely embarrassed, especially because my wife won't stop teasing me about it. She must be jealous