Can the Bulls afford to let Eddy Curry walk this summer if he gets offered "big money" somewhere else? Even when he's not scoring, he demands so much attention and it opens up the outside shooters. --Brian Tracy, Davenport, Iowa
My answer is no. John Paxson's answer appears to be no. But who knows what the market will say? My biggest thing---and I know Paxson feels this way because we've talked about it---is that the Bulls can no longer afford to lose assets for nothing. That basically happened with Marcus Fizer, Eddie Robinson, Jay Williams, two lottery picks and a major free-agent signing. So forget all of Curry's strengths and weaknesses. Just that simple fact---a No. 4 pick whom you've worked to develop for four years---would seem to preclude them letting him walk for nothing.
What is the story behind Kirk Hinrich's shooting woes this season? Are his defensive assignments wearing him down? I know that Scott Skiles does not like the distinction between point guard and shooting guard, but I feel that Kirk's strengths are creating for his teammates and generally running the show. --Nancy, New York
Skiles answers all questions about that subject this way: What did Kirk shoot last year? I know he was a solid shooter in college, but maybe he's destined to be a high 30 percent shooter in the NBA. Who knows? I do know that Hinrich contributes enough in other areas that he needs to play major minutes regardless of his shooting percentage.
Gary Payton being waived by Atlanta and re-acquired by the Celtics seems to make no sense to me as a casual NBA fan. Can you explain why a bottom-dweller would simply give up on a premier player to allow him to go back to a perennial playoff team (for nothing in return)? How come the Bulls couldn't be on the receiving end of such a sweetheart deal? --A. Arain, Lombard, Ill.
Atlanta is playing out the string to have a high draft pick and salary cap room this summer. It doesn't want to win games. The league didn't find any wrongdoing with the transaction, so supposedly it was legitimate. The Bulls didn't need to make any kind of moves.
I am interested in how many of the players lift weights during the season. Do they have a training schedule? --Louie Gugliuzza, Machesney Park, Ill.
Absolutely. The players typically lift every day during the season. In fact, the Bulls had a day off Thursday in Boston, but several players went to lift weights after a team meeting at the hotel. A strength coach travels with the team to supervise workouts. In the off-season, most of the players continue to work out at the team's training facility in Deerfield. They may take some time off and go on some vacations. But the strength coaches, training staff and assistant coaches all work with the players during the summer, and weights are definitely part of the program.
Why do you think it is a to win the Sixth Man award? Who will compete with him for the honor? --Mark, Schaumburg, Ill.
He's going to get a lot of competition from Jerry Stackhouse (although his injury has hurt his chances), Vladimir Radmanovich (same thing), Earl Boykins, Donyell Marshall and Ricky Davis. He certainly has a chance.
Could you compare and contrast Dwyane Wade and Ben Gordon? They are a similar size and athletic ability, but Gordon seems to have a more explosive offensive game while Wade is more complete at this point. Which do you think has more potential? --Tim Gregoerk, Chicago
I'd take issue with saying that Gordon has a more explosive offensive game. Wade is one of the best in the league at getting to the rim and getting fouled. And he's so strong. Gordon has the ability to score bigger points in bigger bunches at times. But Wade is no slouch at scoring, either. I'd take either player, but Wade is going to be a superstar in this league for a long, long time.
Considering that the Bulls were not even expected to smell success or the playoffs, if the Bulls fail to make the playoffs, would you consider this to be a major disappointment or a step forward? --Ira L. McCray II, Alsip, Ill.
At this point, you'd have to call it a major disappointment. The expectations have changed quickly this season and the focus has to adjust. They're tied for the fifth seed with 16 games to go. It would take a pretty major collapse at this point, especially in a conference as weak as the Eastern Conference. That's why I'd call it a disappointment.
Many people want to see Ben Gordon start, but I think Tyson Chandler should start. I know Skiles likes his energy off the bench, but the Bulls have enough of a bench spark with Gordon and Nocioni. Having Tyson in the game from the beginning would set a defensive tone from the opening tip. I think he should start now, but if not, do you foresee Tyson starting at the beginning of next season? --Travis Smith, Burlington, Vt.
It's certainly a possibility. Don't forget that he started at the beginning of this season. But Skiles found a rotation that he liked and how can you question its success? Plus, in most big games, Tyson plays almost the entire fourth quarter. Even he will say that if he had to pick one, he'd rather finish games than start them.
After the Raptors game on March 23, the cameras showed Eddy Curry putting up seven fingers and waving them around. He even turned to Chandler and motioned to him the seven fingers. Any idea what that was about? --Michael DesEnfants, Chicago
None, but I can ask Curry at the Celtics game tonight and let you know next week. Maybe he's a fan of the movie starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman?
The Bulls could play the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. If the Bulls lose at Boston on March 25, they would be 1-3 against them this season. Can you give us a quick analysis of that possible series? --David Smith, Rockford
Well, the fourth game will be the only game that features Boston with Antoine Walker, so that adds a new wrinkle. The Celtics already posed matchup problems because Raef LaFrentz isn't your typical big man and Paul Pierce has always played well against the Bulls. But adding Walker makes those matchup problems even more severe. The Bulls struggle with athletic and high-scoring teams, and Boston certainly fits that bill. If he can stay out of foul trouble, Curry should be a force down low. And the Bulls' backcourt has played well in the season series. It'd be a great first-round playoff matchup if it happens.
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