Do you think Kevin Garnett finally will be traded this summer? If there's talks, the Bulls would definitely be in play with their young talent. But the only way we could trade for him now is if we trade your "golden boy" Hinrich and his bloated contract. I know it would be hard for you Sam, but you've got no choice now. Adding Tyrus and the No. 1 pick should do it, don't you think? --James, Chicago
So there. How'd you like Kirk, now, after Game 5 of the series with the Pistons. No, Hinrich isn't quite Steve Nash or the classic point guard. But he can run an offense, certainly better than anyone the Bulls have, and you'll look hard to find a guard to play defense like he does. If Nash could, he'd be a Top 10 all-time player. I don't think Hinrich is untouchable, but unless you've got a good point guard replacement, I'd be reluctant to make a deal just yet. And do you really want to start over with a rookie like, say, Mike Conley, as good as he looks? As for Garnett, I think he ends up staying with Minnesota for one more season, unless he demands a trade. Those who know him best say he won't. So we'll see.
I spent today with my uncle, who is a former sportswriter and still hosts a weekly Sunday morning sports talk show in the Minneapolis area. He firmly believes the Timberwolves will deal Kevin Garnett this off-season. I mentioned a trade to the Bulls, and he said he thought it would take Luol Deng, Thabo Sefolosha, Tyrus Thomas and the Knicks' pick for Garnett. My knee-jerk reaction was it was asking too much from the Bulls, but he pointed out that the one thing the Bulls absolutely HAD to have was a low-post presence. He suggested re-signing Andres Nocioni to play the three, have Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon at the guards, and then Ben Wallace and Garnett as the four and five. --Ryan Tennant, Rock Island, Ill.
Perhaps he knows better that I, which, I guess, would be a first for me. But that occurs to me as way too much, especially for a player who can opt out of his contract after next season. That was the huge mistake of the Timberwolves, not that they don't make plenty of them annually. The time to deal was last summer when the Bulls were desperate and they could have gotten Deng, the pick and Chandler. Now, I'd say you maybe get that package without Deng. Maybe they get Andrew Bynam and Lamar Odom from the Lakers. But that's about the best they'll be offered now. My guess based on the way they do business is let Garnett play it out and walk away and then save the money and break up the team.
In the past you have mentioned Zach Randolph as a possibility in the search for a post presence. Assuming that the Bulls don't end up with one of the top three picks in the lottery, what would they have to give up to obtain Randolph? Also, how good of fit would he be? --Steve, Des Moines, Iowa
Randolph is certainly available and his kind of game would help the Bulls, assuming, of course, they don't win the NBA championship this spring. Even if they were to spring some major upset, they are hardly a perfect team and still need that low-post or at least front-court guy. Zach seems too much of a risk to me given his continually untamed offcourt behavior. And especially back closer to home in Indiana, his posse could turn into a small army. His kind of distractions are an embarrassment to an organization and not worth the trouble. I don't see how you could devote so much money to such a risky character, though I hear it would take very little to get him because Portland is in sort of an addition by subtraction mode with him.
Do you think a trade of Hinrich and Thomas to the Celtics for Al Jefferson would be possible/smart? The Celtics need a point guard and the Bulls could use Jefferson's post presence. The Bulls could then draft Mike Conley or Acie Law for the point of the future. Both those players should be available by the time the Bulls pick comes up. --Junior Mariano, Seattle
I know there's some distrust of Hinrich, but I think we spend too much extrapolating about untested rookies and overanalyzing the players you have. Other than that, the Celtics say Jefferson is an untouchable and I tend to believe them. Though I think they also said that about Sebastian Telfair last season. They should get one of the top picks and figure to pair him with Jefferson. It makes the most sense for them to finally move Paul Pierce and move forward with a young team you can build around.
Would Memphis be willing to trade Mike Miller and Stromile Swift to the Bulls for Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon, and Viktor Khryapa during this off-season? This deal would give the Bulls a back-up big man behind both Wallace at center and Tyrus at forward. Miller would provide scoring punch as either a starter or a sixth man off the bench. Memphis would get Hinrich's scoring and a somewhat coveted point guard in Duhon who some teams covet along with some leadership which Memphis is sorely lacking. Then with the ninth pick in the draft the Bulls could select Mike Conley who is a true point guard (and will be the best available player at the time). I think the Bulls could survive with Gordon and Sefalosha at guards until Conley develops enough to take over the starting point guard role, which would probably be about February of next season. --Bob Preston, La Porte, Ill.
Have you seen Gordon dribble against the Pistons? I think the Grizzlies would love to do that because Miller is a walking cast waiting to happen. The guy's got a fragile body and could break down at any time. Plus, he's not a great defender, which is what you need in the backcourt with Gordon, assuming he remains a starter. And it's clear the Grizzlies hate Swift, whom they traded once. It's clear Duhon's time is done with the Bulls with Sefolosha coming on. But Hinrich, at least to me, is way more valuable than that.
We have seen a quite obvious trend in the first two series this post-season for the Bulls. Late in the game, the opposition will often intentionally foul Ben Wallace (off the ball, and sometimes in the back-court) to send him to the free throw line. How is this not the definition on an intentional foul? I think it is an embarrassing practice, and it damages the integrity of the game. What are your thoughts on this, and do you think it will be the subject of a possible rule-change in the off-season? --Dan Clarin, Chicago
I lobbied against this with Shaq. You are exactly right. The NBA tweaks the rules a lot and there's no reason this embarrassing rule should remain in the game. The league often counters with something about making the players learn to shoot free throws. Yes, and perhaps having the commissioner make fair decisions all the time. He just can't seem to. It's not in the spirit of the game. Many coaches won't do it because of that, and it leaves the ones who do open for criticism. Not that the tactic works often anyway. It's another case of someone being better than the league. It's long past due for a change.
You've previously suggested that the Jazz may be looking to deal Kirilenko. What do you think of signing and trading Brown and Nocioni in such a deal? Kirilenko would have a good chance to return to his old form as the principal interior scoring threat for the Bulls, while Brown could finish out his career as a valuable reserve for a contending team. --Brent Finger, Flagstaff, Ariz.
I think that's something the Bulls would consider, though I'm not certain with Kirilenko. He makes an awful lot of money and doesn't have much offensive game, but he is coming back in the playoffs again and showing great defensive versatility. I think the Bulls could pursue that kind of route for perhaps some other big man. But with the league wide open, as the Bulls success has shown, there'll be plenty of talk of deals this summer with a lot of players and teams.
Everyone suddenly is down on the Bulls because they are getting crushed by the Pistons. The assumption is that the East is terrible, and the Bulls are getting crushed by a mediocre Eastern conference team, and therefore the Bulls are nowhere near a championship team. My contention is that the West is vastly superior in the regular season when teams can run the break and offense rules, but in the playoffs when teams in the Eastern conference can up the intensity on defense, the East may be superior. The Pistons crushed the Lakers in 2004 so badly that the Lakers broke up a great team. The Pistons were a couple of points away from winning in 2005 over a tough Spurs team in 7 games. The Heat had a tougher time with the East than they had with the Mavs last season. Perhaps Bulls fans should reserve judgment on this team until we see if the Pistons crush their next two playoff opponents as well. The Pistons may be the best team in the league, and the Bulls may be a little better than we all think. -- Mark, Annapolis, Md.
Clearly you wrote this after the first few games, and you were hardly in the minority. But the point is right and who knows what will happen now with the Bulls. They should get to the Finals if they get through this series because neither the Cavs or Nets are very good. Did you see that fourth quarter of Game 4 with the Nets and Cavs. It was James gagging free throws and throwing up bad shots, then Vince Carter doing the same and even worse. It was horrendous play by two supposed stars of the game. The West is way overrated in a condescending sort of way. It's true the all-NBA first team was all Western players, but we see lots of stars not playing anymore in the playoffs. They'll say in the West the team beat one another up and lose by the time they get to the East. So maybe they aren't that good. The Bulls were far better than the Warriors this season. Nellie gave his surrender speech after losing to the Bulls after the All Star break. And the Mavs, the West's best, were far outplayed. What is clear in all this is there are no truly great teams anymore, so anyone can win. Also, I think they feel better about themselves all the time because the weather is better.
Why does Skiles allow Ben Gordon to handle the ball so much? It is usually an accident waiting to happen. If Ben has the ball in his hands and the shot clock in under 10 it usually results in a turnover or poor shot. Wouldn't Skiles be better off using Gordon like the Pistons use Hamilton or the Pacers used to with Miller? --Bruce, New Canaan, Conn.
Ben hasn't been at his best in this series with the ball. There are times he's been better, though usually against smaller guards. Detroit's guards give him problems. I think you've seen Skiles going away from that more. Sometimes it does truly take a few games to adjust.
I'm depressed. I honestly didn't think the Bulls would win this series, but I did think it would be competitive. To make things worse my co-worker I sit next to is a trash talking Pistons fan. What do I do? --Adam, Omaha, Neb.
Make sure he taped (I don't have Tivo yet) the last two games. My guess is he hasn't much to say, like the Pistons fans who emptied the arena early in the fourth quarter Tuesday. Now they're looking at historical embarrassment. You should yell "Who da Man?" now at work a lot. It's stupid, but you'd make it a symbol for your coworker.
Considering how high the Bulls were on Sefalosha and Thomas, I was surprised that they didn't get more playing time during the season. It seemed like the philosophy was to ride veterans who were on the downside of their careers, like Brown, Allen and Sweetney, while playing the rookies sparingly. This is just the opposite of what Detroit did this year, playing their younger players much more and sacrificing the regular season record somewhat so that when the playoffs rolled around they had a bench that was more confident and able to contribute at a much higher level. I know the teams and organizations are at different places in their development, but it looks like the Detroit approach is giving them a clear advantage in this playoff series. --Butch W., Dana Point, Calif.
So we'll see. Yes, the Pistons did ride their bench more this season, though I think that was more because Rasheed Wallace takes about 20 games off. He doesn't do it like Shaq by going home with an injury. He likes to be around the team. He just takes quick fouls to sit down. But as you're seeing now after Game 3, the Pistons desperately need their starters and when, especially, Billups is out they can't function. They woefully lack a backup point, and Chris Webber's lack of movement now is catching up with them as they have to go to Antonio McDyess too much and he hasn't played well. I don't blame Skiles for going slow with rookies as this Bulls team was pushing this season and they weren't ready for much more play. But they will be after these playoffs and we'll see plenty of them next season.
Do the Bulls really need a low-post scoring big man? Only one team alive in the playoffs has one (San Antonio). Detroit gets most of its post play from Prince and Billups (Wallace goes there once or twice a game). Shouldn't the Bulls instead focus on getting a perimeter player capable of commanding double teams? It seems to me that's easier, and less expensive, to accomplish than getting a Pau Gasol. --Alex, Boston
I think they'll make another run at Gasol if he is available. A lot depends on how the lottery picks go next week. You're right -- it's not so much some classic low-post threat like Kareem. It's not essential. The point is to get more size and someone you can throw it to inside to slow the game on those occasions and shift the defense from the perimeter. More to balance the floor and the lineup since the emphasis on is on the perimeter now with no true back-to-the basket big men learning the game, there are never going to be many of those classic old post players anymore. P.J. Brown five years younger may even have been good enough for the Bulls this season.