How come the Phoenix suns have three All Stars and the Bulls none? --Vince, Dubai
If Deng had started out like he's played the last month, I think he would have had a good chance over Wasington's Caron Butler. The Suns are deserving with the way they've played and the Bulls still are five or six over .500 in a weak conference, so it''s no scandal for them not to have an All Star.
Wow, a prima donna athlete. What a scoop. Why do you waste valuable internet real estate with such a story? --Paul Pecilunas, Woodville, Wis.
Thanks for making my point. Most of the players in the NBA don't act like that and are not prima donnas. That your view is solidified by Thomas' comments justifies my thinking. And c'mon, buy the damn newspaper. This internet is killing us.
If "Thomas has been difficult, often rude and condescending to the team's staff and the NBA. He often acts like he has little time or interest for anyone but himself" as your latest column indicates, why choose not to write about it until Dunk Contest-Gate? If Thomas' behavior and attitude have been this poor all season long, then the fans deserve to know that this has been since the preseason, not in early February. --Andrew Janoff, Livingston, N.J.
A good point, though we did give him the benefit of the doubt. You see things often you don't write about because we are not, despite what some accuse the media of being, scandal sheets. I'd seen Thomas like this, but saw no reason to write it because it didn't seem to be affecting the team or anyone but making the jobs of some people more unpleasant. But when he offered that the dunk contest was ajoke and he'd take the money and not care much about his effort, it did affect the team because it suggested he wasn't the type of player who might fit in and he was saying it. I saw no option but to comment at that point as he opened up the issue in response to a routine question that never has had an answer like that with any Bull.
Going into the draft last year it was said the Bulls needed a big 2 guard or a low-post scorer. There were no low-post scorers available but there was a big 2 guard that could have helped the Bulls named Brandon Roy, who everyone was saying was NBA ready and picking him to win R.O.Y (which he is on his way to doing). So who did the Bulls draft Tyrus Thomas? As I watched Thomas play last recently against the Kings, when he got the steal and was on break away, my first thought was he is going to lose his handle on the ball, but somehow he made it down to the rim just in time to twist his ankle. But my points are Thomas can't shoot, dribble, score, or shoot free throws. So when the Bulls had all these players in before the draft what exactly did Thomas show the Bulls to want them to pick him over Roy or Aldrige? Because I just can't see it. I heard Vancouver offered Gasol for Aldrige, Magloire and that other rookie Portland has. Just imagine if the Bulls would've drafted Aldrige they could've traded Aldridge, Nocioni and P.J. for Gasol, which is a much better offer than what they wanted from Portland and still had their young nucleus together. Or if you want you can replace Aldrige with Roy or Hinrich or Gordon because we would still have two of them in Chicago. So did the Bulls blow this by drafting Tyrus Thomas? --Derek, Netherlands
Probably not, though I was on record for Roy then. I don't think Thomas is a washout and I think he has a chance to be good. And, I think that attitude channeled the right way could help some because a little lack of respect is good at times on the court. The Bulls didn't need any more guards, so they were looking big. Would Aldridge have made a big difference? I doubt it. They decided to go for the jackpot instead of the easy money for limited returns. I can see why they did it and I cannot fault the reasoning or the pick still. I don't think Memphis would take Aldridge and Nocioni because neither is even a true starter.
The Bulls are showing their biggest flaw with their streakiness and inconsistency as an over reliant jump shooting team, especially on the road. I'd like to get your opinion on the possibility acquiring Brand from the Clippers. I know he may be one of the most untouchable players in the league, but I read quotes of him saying it wouldn't be out of the question as it is a business and the Clippers would have to receive an overwhelming offer. What about Gordon, Deng, PJ, Tyrus, Sweets and the Knicks' pick for Brand and Maggette. We get a fan favorite back in Brand, and a Chicago product and Pax can add to his collection of Dukies. --Andy, Chicago
That train has left the station. It isn't coming back. And as much as I like Elton personally and there's few better people in sports, the original thinking was not that flawed. He's 6-8 and had to develop a good jump shot to be truly elite. I'd rather have Gasol for basketball purposes, Elton for personal reasons and basketball. There's a big difference in the NBA between seven foot and 6-8.
It's amazing to me to hear Paxson and experts say that the Bulls should be leery about trading some of their "assets" for Gasol, in fear they may "mortgage their future." What future are they mortgaging? It's clear from losing like they have on the road that they are nothing more then a mediocre team benefiting from playing in the Leastern Conference. Even so, it is far from a given the Bulls will get out of the first round! I believe unless Jerry West is asking for the house, Paxson should deal one of his inconsistent young "stars" in a package for the big Spaniard, who could actually provide the Bulls with a future. Because at this rate, it looks like the Bulls are going to frustrate the hell out of their fans all season, until they merciful put us out of our misery with another first-round exit. --Dan Brecher, Scarsdale, N.Y.
Ouch. That is the issue. Are the Bulls overvaluing what they have as much as the Grizzlies are overvaluing what they have? Fans--and teams--tend to fall in love with their players when they are doing well. It's why the job is so difficult. Who wants to trade the next Kobe or McGrady or Arenas or Joe Johnson or Ray Allen or Elton Brand. You get the point. A lot of teams regret the moves they make when players are young. It's easy to go for a quick fix and sports is about instant gratification. Coaches are geniuses when they win. We work backward. We see who won and then decide they know how to do the job the best. I've been high on the Bulls this season because I felt they could outplay and outhustle teams with their style and depth, like Dallas. But it hasn't quite worked out that way. Quick fix? I'll get back to you.
You hear about Michael, Scottie and Dennis nowadays, but what's Horace up to? --Travis Smith, Burlington, Vt.
Horace has become a mench. Excuse my Yiddish. Most guys say they can't wait to get away and then can't wait to get back. They miss the guys, the attention. It's like Andy Pettite who signed with Houston to be home with the family and then went back to the Yankees. Those kids can be a distraction. Horace is living quietly in northern California with his new family and building a home. He has a son playing high school ball here and another playing college football at Louisville and visits them. He doesn't keep much in contact with people around the NBA and does some volunteer work at a local high school. What do you know. Horace was the most mature of them al.
I'm a big Luol Deng fan, but I think the Bulls should include him in the Gasol deal. He's a solid mid-range shooter, who lacks the explosive athleticsm to break down defenders off the dribble. Will Memphis accept a deal with Deng, Knicks pick, and PJ Brown? --Bob, Highland Park, Ill.
A. I think they would.
What blogs do you read for sports, basketball or the bulls? How much do you trust their analysis/inside information? Personally I find them great aggregations of information and alternative perspectives, but most of the basketball sites, in particular, are full of unsupported trade speculation. I've started to wonder about how sports sections from newspapers will interact with sports blogs. This came about because I've been noticing how sports sites are increasingly referenced in newspaper articles, especially as points for controversy (deadspin vs. Stephen A. Smith for example). In spite of this, they always seemed to be mentioned in a tongue-in-cheek way, such as when they are referenced as hosting pictures of a partying Kyle Orton. --Chris Balmes, Champaign
I like this question because I don't read any blogs. I find it interesting the way the national political campaigns (my first love and job) have hired people to interact with the blogosphere. You may say I'm old, out of touch and cranky, and I probably would have to agree. I'm also probably resentful on some level as I see this unsubstantiated, personal opinion passing for journalism and weep for America and the world. People do seem to read this stuff and equate it with what we do at The Tribune or other media and don't make much distinction.
How is it I can work for decades developing contacts around the NBA and traveling regularly around the NBA and talking with the decision makers and some guy in his basement in his underwear is writing something that has credibility? As close as I can figure, these bloggers are the electronic version of the neighborhood tavern. You used to go in and hear people wailing about sports or politics and offering opinions on all the major issues. We did our man in the street interviews when such issues came up. Now, these people we used to ask for opinion started these blogs and are supposed to be experts. How can that be? I never see any of them, I never hear the coaches and general managers and players I talk to saying they talked to them. So where do they get their information?
People often doubt the traditional media, but we are out asking questions, developing sources of information and interacting with the participants. What are these bloggers doing? I'm fortunate on some level to be getting close to retirement because if these blogs are credible sources of information, there's no point in spending all the time on the road that I do. And did you see that kid eating his ice cream and putting his hands on everything and can't someone shut that baby up and whose idea is it to give these kids a snow day and when I was their age I used to walk 15 miles to school in the snow. And without shoes!
What are the reasons for the difference between playing at home or on the road in NBA? I think it's ridiculous how much teams depend on this factor sometimes. Is it a mental issue, lack of confidence, bad luck, psychological? --Sergio, Granada, Spain
Sometimes it seems like that. Travel in the NBA, though easier than ever with charter aircraft, is tougher than in other American sports because teams play one game in a city and move several times a week. There's also the crowd factor, given that it's an energy game and a crowd can carry a team through a dry spot. Vice versa for a road team if things start going badly. Also, you are more familiar with the rims and shooting spots at home. There's some gamesmanship that goes on. While everything is supposed to be standard, some teams tighten the rim if they are a small running team so shots bounce out farther and they can start fast breaks. Others subtly vary the air pressure in balls maybe to deaden a ball some to get it to stay on the rim if they are a good, big rebounding team. The NBA monitors this, but teams sometimes get away with little tricks. And with the Bulls, who are a jump shooting team without a star to throw the ball to for a play at the end, they have to rely on a lot of different players and it's more difficult.
If this Gasol trade falls through like most superstar trades do, what do you think of making a less flashy step forward like some combination of Gordon, Duhon, Sweetney, Brown, Thomas, and the pick to address their two needs (big shooting guard and post-up power forward)? What do you think of Maggette/Kaman, Pietrus/Biedrins, Hughes/Gooden, Roy/Randolph, or even Quentin Richardson/David Lee? --Jim, La Grange
I don't see the Bulls desperate to go out and deal. The whole point with Gasol was the chance to get a seven footer who can score, while maybe getting a deal because the team is in financial trouble and he wants to be traded. If the Bulls cannot get a deal, I don't see them searching around for any other big deal.
After watching that joke of a game against Sacramento, the no-brainer: the Bulls really need a low post threat to open up that offense and actually make point blank shots. --John, Iowa City
That gamewhich is the Bulls' Achilles heel gamescreamed for Gasol. When the shots aren't going from the outside, they don't have anyone to slow the game, throw it in to and make the defense react. It's all about the cost of that and whether it can be obtained elsewhere. It's awfully hard to come by. The question for the Bulls is can they endure deep through the playoffs without anyone to go to inside. No one really can.
Say the Bulls don't get Gasol, I still believe an inside presence is what is missing. I love the core, and hate to break them up, but how about this trade that leaves the core intact: Thomas and Brown to Seattle for Wilcox and Fortson and a future No. 1protected, of course. They would not be adding much in salary, Seattle gets a Shawn Kemp clone, and the Bulls get a little something back in an open court runner and a soild addtion to Wallace in the front court, not to mention a pick down the road. --Joe Ueberacher, Brewster, N.Y.
I'm not sure Wilcox is the classic inside presence they seek and has some work issues that probably wouldn't fit with this group. I think they might be interested, which also would worry me.
Can you explain the difference between Eddy Curry the Bull and Eddy Curry the Knick? --Bill, Chicago
I assume you don't mean the part about being on a losing team. It's not all Eddy's fault, and Isiah Thomas, to his credit, has made sure everyone on the team understands Eddy is the first and last option. If the offense goes through you and you don't pass much you're going to score. We always knew Eddy could score, and he was good with the Bulls in 2004-05 until the heart issue. He didn't have the drive and desire they sought on the Bulls and I'm still not certain he does. But he is very talented and a good guy and I hope he does well.
Paxson likes the roster. Skiles likes the roster. I don't like it. They have three guards (Hinrich, Gordon, and Sefolosha) who turn the ball over too much to play the 1 guard, and do not shoot consistently enough to play the 2 guard. They have four forwards (Deng, Nocioni, Khryapa, and Allen) who do the same function. They do not show a low post game and they are not known for their rebounding. Do you feel it is time to trade the core players for a low post scorer like Garnett or Gasol? --Perry, Chicago
That was the theory about being willing to give up Deng because they have so much duplication at that position, though no one quite as good. But because they are so team-oriented and get major contributions from different players each game, I think they can't figure out who they'd miss most. They do need that type of player and will walk up to the trading deadline trying to do something for Gasol, though the odds may be against it now with Memphis overvaluing him.
Did someone notice Gasol's stats in his last 10 games? 25.2 points, 3.78 blocks and 11.4 rebounds. I think the Bulls would wait until the last moment to make Memphis a fair offer, in order to give as little as possible. But how could they not accept to let Luol Deng go to make the deal possible? Even if he becomes an all-star, he will never bring what Gasol can bring to the Bulls. --Nicolas, Switzerland
That is the issue. They believe Deng could be close in impact. Deng has been brilliant the last few weeks and rarely does a team trade someone playing like that, even for someone considered better. If Deng can average 20 to 22 per game, which he seems capable of, how much more are you getting with Gasol? Is the height difference enough? The post play? But Deng can eventually learn to play out of the post more. Decisions, decisions.
What is the story with Greg Oden? He looks like a tired uninterested giant with the charisma of Eddy Curry. He doesn't score a lot in college and he seems to lack toughness. So why is he the second coming of Wilt or Russell? --Joel Krinsky, Lincolnwood
It is a good question. Watching him, he seems to have that slow, loping way about him. So, no, he's not Wilt or Russell. But big time defensive centers never come along anymore and if you have one you have a great asset few teams have. Teams believe they can make him a better scorer since his form is good and supposedly has a good work ethic. Remember, though he looks 35 this is his first year of college. He'll be the top pick.
In watching Big Ben play, it seems like he's capable of scoring more points than he does. When he gets open under the basket and attempts a shot, more often than not, he tries to lay it up, which is not a high percentage shot for him. He's strong enough to be able to slam it. Even if he misses, he's likely to get fouled. His free-throw percentage notwithstanding, it adds to the opposing team's foul total. He's not as tall as some other big men, so getting up there might take more energy. However, it doesn't seem unreasonable that he could put in at least 10+ points a game on a consistent basis. --Rich Baines, Glenview
I don't know what to make of him because he catches the ball well for a big man on the floor but can't seem to handle it on the move. He plays like a man with bad hands, but they don't seem that bad. The Bulls guards do throw him the ball and he either doesn't seem to want it or when he makes a play with it invariably loses the ball. I'd say he'll be fine sticking to defense.
You're coming off as a jilted old man with these slaps at Ty Thomas. If he's a jerk, then that first column was enough. But are you going to keep taking these little swipes at him as you did in ? He's 20 years old, and he's a jerk. You've made that known. But it is really possible that he understands that now. Give him a reasonable amount of time to change. And if he doesn't, then bring it back up. --Tim, St. Louis
I've gotten a lot of mail, predictably, about the column I wrote about Thomas, which was tougher than most that I do. Quite a bit was supportive, but I didn't want to continue the assault. I felt strongly because of the way I'd been watching him behave and treat many of the staff and so-called "little people" with contempt. But I did not mean to pile on and have tried to be appreciative when he's done well since, like in Phoenix.
When I write here it is more directed to individuals who ask questions and appreciative of the fact that people take the time to write and are interested. After my column in the newspaper, I have laid off of Thomas and have noticed a change, though not so much that he has to be nice to the media. We don't really care, as there are plenty of guys to talk to and he's not a major player on the team yet. In fact, as a result of the column I've talked to him more than I ever would have because I didn't want him to think I didn't stand by what I wrote and wanted to be there if he had any issues and wanted to challenge me. He's been professional since and I hope he goes on to have a great career. I always feel with players we each have our say and then move on.
Wow, way to unload on the kid. Any denigrations left out? Who drafted him by the way? Wished guys like you worked on the national political beat. Lots of lying dirty rotten, condescending outright scandalous stuff going on there facing a lot less outrage. Is this still the USA? It's always about money. --Askins, Marietta, Ga.
I used to work in politics. I covered Congress in the 1970's and did some national presidential campaigns and even worked on the staff of a U.S. senator. I came to sports for the civility and honesty. The issue wasn't about money with Thomas because we all work for the money. I understand that. But we also usually have pride in what we do. I can honestly sayfor someone formerly in politicsI never have seen a rookie come into the NBA with such an attitude. I'd been shocked watching him and never understood all the anger with having one of the great jobs in the history of the world. I also felt by his comments he was demeaning NBA players, lumping all in as mercenaries and while they will pursue all they can get as we all will. They are basically a good and decent universe of people. I never hear comments like he made from veterans, and they don't have to be political with me as I know them. No one has to fall to their knees and thank David Stern every day, but don't also throw your colleagues under the bus.
I can usually predict what Scott Skiles is going to do out there as the game progresses with regards to his rotation. How often do you find yourself second-guessing his personnel moves throughout each game? It seems as though Tyrus Thomas should get action early every game since his impact can be so powerful. I really have to question Skiles handling of this young player. --Ed G., Chicago
Actually, I questioned why he was in at the end of the Toronto game. I usually tend to agree with Skiles and for the most part like his view of the game. No one is perfect in running a game with hundreds of possessions. There's nothing like the second-guessing that can go on in basketball. I find even when I disagree and bring it upand he never backs off answeringhe has a good reason which makes sense for what he did, even if I don't always agree. That's the test of a good coach. He believes in something and pursues it. Sometimes he goes small too long, but he thinks like a guard and many former players who are coaches do coach through their view of the game.
I have come down decidedly on the "" side for what the Bulls should do, mainly due to the length of Gasol's contract. You listed an interesting name, Shareef Abdur-Rahim. How realistic is it that he could end up in a Bulls uniform in a week? What would it cost? What is his contract status? And last but not least, is he defensive oriented enough to coexist with Skiles? --Richard Heyn, Skedsmokorset, Norway
I've pushed for Shareef quite a bit and can see him coming available given the free fall Sacramento is in. He has three years left at reasonable money (for the NBA, about $6 million per year). But his knees are going bad. I'd give up Duhon and throw in an expiring contract, but my guess is they'd want Sefolosha or Thomas as they're unathletic. I'm not sure I'd do that.
Hello Sam, it blows my mind when I hear the Bulls talk about making a trade, considering their past trades and moves. Start with the Tim Thomas move, never even played him (because of Skiles), 10 and 5 for the Clippers off the bench and the Bulls got nothing. Eddy Curry traded (because of Skiles), 20 and 8 with 58 percent shooting for the Knicks and we got Tyrus Thomas. Tyson Chandler traded (because of Skiles) 8 and 12 with 61 percent shooting for New Orleans and we got P.J. Brown for a year, J.R. Smith released for nothing, and he's getting 16 points off the bench a game for Denver. Now all I read about in Chicago is that all the sportswriters that endorsed these deals want to trade half the team and what talent they have left for Pau Gasol, who does not play as well or put up the numbers that Curry does (New York made out on that deal). The Bulls should get out of the trade business. --Chicago Joe, Palmdale, Calif.
I can understand your points, but I'm not sure the Clippers are thrilled with that Thomas signing and I didn't hear much objection when Curry and Chandler were dealt and the Bulls picked up the four-time Defensive Player of the Year. I didn't object, so I'm not about to now. I think they've made mostly the right moves and while I hear some around the NBA say the Bulls only now need Curry to be complete, I don't see his generally casual way about the game as fitting in with the way the Bulls play. They have a philosophy and I think you still give it a chance to work. If they are a first-round playoff elimination again, then I think you begin to ask some tough questions.
Looking at the season Tyson Chandler is having when compared to Ben Wallace, was it a necessary move? Certainly, financially speaking, Wallace is a huge investment. Chandler is also a legitimate 7-footer while Wallace is 6-9. And at this point, would not a Chandler plus a few parts and maybe a draft pick had been enough to wrestle Pau Gasol from Memphis? --Alan, Franklin, Mich.
Perhaps. But no one, not even me, saw Gasol coming available last summer before the same stuff in Memphis came up. It's easy to second guess with Chandler's numbers, as with Curry's, but their teams aren't doing that well despite talent around them and sometimes it's best to move on. It was with the Bulls and I don't like to second-guess when I agreed in the first place.
A reader suggested to you that Marcus Fizer may be an interesting player for the Bulls. I thought that you may be interested in knowing where Fizer is playing now. He's playing for Murcia in the ACB Spanish League, where he's the leading scorer (18.3 ppg) and the 13th-best rebounder (6.3). He has missed at least 20 percent of the games because of his constant injuries. --Javi, Spain
Thanks for the information. Marcus' injuries were always a major issue as well as his size for power forward in the NBA.
Today's Headlines Newsletter
A digest of essential news, insight and analysis from L.A. Times editors.