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I like John Paxson and all but when is he going to realize you can't do anything in the playoffs without a star? This team is talented but we have heard it a million times, there is absolutely no star. First round playoff exits is not something I want to get used to. Personally, I would rather see the Bulls in the lottery every year taking a chance on getting a star in the draft. We have not had an All-Star player since MJ and I ask the question every year, when is Paxson going to go out and get one? Or does he think role players win championships? We hear Al Harrington signing, Nazr Mohammed coming but still no All-Stars in the talks. Garnett? Peja? Pierce? JO'Neal? --Ryan Zapata, Elk Grove, Ill.
I don't think Paxson necessarily disagrees with you, but it is difficult to get those guys and some, like O'Neal, I wouldn't really want. Remember, the Bulls got lucky when Portland passed on Jordan. Maybe they'll get lucky with Tyrus Thomas from LSU or Brandon Roy from Washington or Aldridge or maybe Adam Morrison if they go best player available when they pick. Meanwhile, you have to play the seasons and I think they're proving they'll be competitive, which is a very good thing.
Yikes, how stupid was Mike Sweetney's layup attempt straight after getting a crucial rebound at the end of the Washington match? So fortunate that Jeffries made just as silly a move to offset it. Otherwise, we'd all be discussing about another late game brain meltdown. Deng's errant pass against Utah and pass to Duhon's back in playoffs last season comes to mind. Is it really just youth? Or could there be another reason? This should be fundamental. --Philip, Sydney, Australia
Yes, it was amazing as we all were sitting there going, "Hold it!" You would be surprised how many NBA players don't realize situations and time. It's why coaches are always yelling. Not that they are dumb, but there is a lot going on out there. As I've told friends who make fun of such things, "How would you do on deadline with 20,000 people yelling, 'Verb, stupid, verb!'"
Assuming the lottery is according to rank, would the Bulls and Golden State be interested in swapping picks? The Bulls would get Troy Murphy in return and send Sweetney to G.S. With the G.S. pick, the Bulls take Brandon Roy. Could it happen? Roy and Murphy are probably better than any of the top five suspects. And none of the free-agent/trade possible PFs are as interesting as Murphy. Also do you think that Toronto's Charlie Villanueva is on the market? Would the Bulls be interested, since he's had an unexpectedly solid year and is friends with Luol Deng? --Derek, New York
No, Villanueva isn't on the market, but that's a very interesting proposal that makes sense, at least to me. Roy could be that two guard they miss and Murphy could be that power forward who can shoot, whom they'd want. Good idea. Why aren't you running the Knicks?
Sam, Rashard Lewis is an interesting idea, but I don't think the Bulls should trade the Knicks pick. Paxson has arguably gotten the best player available with all three of his first round picks (Hinrich, Gordon and Deng). So due to his prowess at drafting, Bulls picks will probably be more valuable after he makes them. --Jesse, Chicago
The Knicks pick is the one with value, so if you want something special you have to consider that. And I believe the Bulls will, but in the end use the pick themselves. Yes, Paxson's been very good in the draft and knows what he wants and I'd trust him to make those picks.
Hi, Sam, I recently read in the N.Y. Times that the Bulls can get no better then the sixth pick in the draft from the Eddy Curry trade. Is this so and why? --Ken Penkaty, South Elgin, Ill.
That's your first mistake, reading the New York Times when the Chicago Tribune is available. Not sure what it said though you have to be careful when you read the New York Times about reading between the lies. This is the way the lottery works: Three teams from the lottery are eligible for any of the top three picks, and then it goes by poorest record. The Knicks and Portland will have the two poorest records, so the Bulls are guaranteed no lower than five. They likely will get a top three pick and odds favor them getting 1 or 2.
Is it just me or is Scott Skiles starting to look more and more like George Costanza? --Inj Choi, Glenview, Ill.
It may be me, but I could swear I heard Skiles say the other day he always wanted to be an architect and wished he were named Art Vandelay.
What are we missing? We obviously have the grit (effectively displayed against Washington and Orlando) but we are obviously missing something. I like the Vinnie Johnson comparisons to Ben Gordon and the fact that we have a quality point and two excellent small forwards. I am really excited about our prospects of developing a dynasty but tell me what we need to get there and please do not say trade any of the people that I named. And can we do it through the draft (Adam Morrison?) --David Arnold, Chicago
The Pistons seem on the verge of becoming the NBA's first so-called dynasty without a true star player -- by our definition a certain Hall of Famer. I think the Bulls will follow that model and if they get lucky with a draft pick or a player who falls though the cracks and seems cracked, like Wallace was for the Pistons, hey, it could be. With his size, post-up ability and defense, Wallace was the missing piece for Detroit. For now, the Pistons are set for the next three years with Billups, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince in their primes as players, which comes at about 28-30. The problem the Bulls face is growing with so many young players. It's takes players into their mid 20s to mature in the NBA game. High draft picks sound fun to fans, but the Bulls know you need some veterans to win and not more kids.
Why is Scott Skiles not in the running for coach of the year? The Bulls don't have as much talent as a lot of the other non-playoff teams and are significantly undersized. Yet, they have led the league in opponents' field goal percentage for the second straight year. Plus, they are $20 million under the cap! --Chester Choi, Ann Arbor, Mich.
I think Scott would be embarrassed to be in consideration. I know he's done a terrific job, but he is a big believer in winning. He even keeps handy the career winning records of his players. He votes in the coach voting on various awards and gives extra attention to winners. After all, it's the object of the game. The Bulls weren't even certain of making the playoffs until a few days ago and still need to win a game to be a .500 team. His peers know he's done a good job, which, I believe, is enough for him.
Hello. Again, could you tell me what's the "deal" between Andrei Kirilenko and he's wife? --John, Finland
We're a Puritanical country. This seems to be a European thing to me. You might be able to explain it better, though the question we ask here is what's the deal with his wife and where do you get one like that?
I've heard it said the Bulls need a superstar. Which raises the point: What superstar would want to play in a town where perfection is demanded as well as a commitment to work hard, play hard and leave your ego by the side of the road? --Dave Carroll, Round Lake Beach, Ill.
Michael Jordan, except for the ego part. The fact is that's the kind of player you want and if they're not willing to be part of that kind of team, I doubt we'll see them in Bulls uniforms. It may not work, but the Bulls are not going cater to spoiled stars. It may not get you to a championship, but you won't have any Zach Randolphs, Stephon Marburys and Darius Miles on your team.
What's your take on the trend of ex-Bulls as analysts? Pip, BJ, G. Anthony at ESPN and Kerr on TNT. Finally, which of the last three books you've read would you recommend? --Lazy, Raleigh, N.C.
Pippen is the one who amazes me. When he came to the Bulls in 1987, he had this southern accent with the deep voice and slurred his words and you could make out maybe one in three words he said. He seemed stupid and we love in the northern and Midwestern big cities to doubt the intelligence of athletes and Southerners. Sorry, we can be stupid as well. But Scottie was one of the smartest guys about basketball and the game I knew in the NBA and enjoyable company. He was quiet and secretive, but if he'd let you spend time with him it was eye-opening and I think he's a good broadcaster who is going to get much better. Kerr, of course, is a natural and a guy who succeeds at everything he does. He's the guy you want to go on a golf trip with. Just good company at about anything.
As for my literary interests, well there's the NBA Register, the NBA Encyclopedia...I read a lot about the NBA. Let's call this Sam's Book Club, and if it were I'd recommend "The Jordan Rules" to Oprah. I read political fiction since I used to be a political writer and it's all too unbelievable, anyway. Just read a series by Richard North Patterson. I don't read many sports books since I know the people who write them. It's one of the reasons I decided to write a book. I figured, "If THAT GUY can write a book, who couldn't?" Though my favorite basketball figure was Wilt and I read Gary Pomerantz' book on Wilt.
I have a daughter adopted from China and read about China, recently, "Falling Leaves" by Adeline Yen Mah. I like American history and recently read a book on Jefferson. I'm intrigued by the Whigs as I continue to lose my hair. It seems now to me to be a good idea for all men.