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Whether or not the Bulls ever will win a championship with him, I still believe Ben Gordon is one of the most extraordinary talents in the NBA, simply due to his uncanny scoring ability, especially when his size is factored in. (It's not a big secret that Ben is closer to 6-feet than 6-3). Since I don't have decades of basketball knowledge under my belt, I'm curious as to where BG would rank in your all-time small guy list. Iverson is probably the best small player of all-time, but I'd have to put Ben in the top 5, historically. --Derek Bergmann, Bourbonnais, Ill.
Not yet. Ben is an interesting figure. He really is a remarkable scorer, but remains something of a luxury for a good team. Because of his uncanny scoring, he's a great weapon to have and feared by opponents. But being a starter is difficult with his inability to truly run a team. The really great small men in NBA history have been able to do both. The Bulls have made it clear Ben's starting position is in jeopardy given their needs on defense in the backcourt, which raises the question of how much they can pay him. As the team's high scorer, I'm sure Ben wants to be compensated that way. It's a tremendous dilemma for the team because Gordon really is a good player to have on your team. But can the Bulls afford him? For now he's well behind Isiah Thomas, Bob Cousy, Tiny Archibald and Calvin Murphy, generally regarded as the best small men to play. And you'd have to put Gordon well behind such so-called small guards as Joe Dumars, Slater Martin, Steve Nash, Kevin Johnson, Mark Price and Tim Hardaway to just start my list. And John Stockton was only about 6-1. What about Larry Costello, Lenny Wilkens, Mo Cheeks and Gail Goodrich? Ben's got a long way to go.
Can you explain why Cleveland beat the Pistons and the Bulls didn't? Did Billups and Prince play so poorly against the Cavs because of something they did defensively, or were the Bulls simply unlucky by comparison? --Squash, Mwanza, Tanzania
I'm still mulling this over. Did the Bulls take that much out of them? There's no question those three games after the Pistons were ahead 3-0 hurt Detroit. Prince seemed exhausted most of the series, though chasing around LeBron James had something to do with that. I still believe the Bulls would have beaten the Cavs and gotten to the Finals in the other bracket, though they were outplayed by Detroit fair and square. I think Cleveland was able to lure the Pistons into a slow game which the Pistons, as usual, got cocky and overconfident and didn't take seriously. And when it came down to making big shots they tightened up and missed because it was supposed to be so easy. They left themselves with their arrogance too little margin for error.
With Gilbert Arenas making it clear that he will opt out of his deal next year because of business and family reasons, what do you think the chances are that the Bulls will try and make a package deal for him around the draft to get him? He will solve the Bulls shooting guard problems and I think a deal of Gordon, Noce, and maybe the ninth pick will be enough to get it done. The Bulls will have a 30 ppg scorer and the Wizards will get some talent back. And unlike Garnett or Kobe, this man is an All Star, but not a superstar yet so they shouldn't have to break the team up to get him. --David, Lisle, Ill.
Sorry, no chance. No one takes Gilbert very seriously. He's engaging and one of the best people around the NBA to talk with, always accommodating and fun, but he's a goofball. Tomorrow he could say he never meant it, though I assume he did. The Wizards aren't going to deal him. And there aren't teams under the salary cap who can take on his kind of salary demands and stay competitive. His issue of late there seems to be, like Kobe's, a lack of a championship-type team. Of course, what their management would like to say is "We paid you to be the anchor and you have to make it a champion." But it doesn't work that way in sports. So Gilbert will engage his ego, but in the end I believe he'll be back in D.C., where he is popular and a star. Ernie Grunfeld is one of the better GM's, and he'll make some changes. Even though he denied it, I still can see a Zach Randolph deal. Part of the problem is Gilbert, who is a miserable and disinterested defender who doesn't play championship level team ball.
What are the chances that Yi Jianlian drops to ninth pick? Could it be possible that teams 1-8 have Oden, Durant, Horford, B. Wright, Brewer, Green, Noah, J. Wright, Conley and/or Thornton higher on their radar than Jianlian? I personally think Altanta is going to shock us all and select him at 3. I mean Brady Quinn dropped, so is there any chance at all? --Mr. Jinx, Chicago
Yes. The general consensus is he'll go higher than the Bulls at No. 9, but this is a unique draft in many ways with lots of different types of good talent and teams with varying and multiple needs. I don't believe up until draft day the Bulls will know who is going to fall to them among the players they like. It will be like 2003 when they thought they had Dwyane Wade and scrambled at the last minute to select Kirk Hinrich. The question I have with Yi is his readiness to play with a team that, given the way the East is, should be a Finals competitor next season. But he is highly regarded.
If we can't swing a deal to get a legitimate big man before the draft (Al Jefferson?), then I think that Corey Brewer would be an AMAZING fit for the Bulls. Nocioni's not gonna be effective as he is now in a couple of years (plantar fasciitis really slowed him down), plus, he could play the SG position giving them a bigger backcourt; and backup Deng if in foul trouble. I just think that defensively, he's way too talented to pass up and is better than Deng defensively, too. What would it take to possibly land him if he's not available at No. 9? Duhon plus the pick? --Zack, Dolton, Ill.
The Bulls tend not to move up by offering a player, and I don't think a minor player would get you up in this draft. The general consensus is Brewer will be gone by the time the Bulls pick and not get past Jordan at No. 8 with Charlotte. You'd have to deal No. 9 and a high level player to move up in this draft, and that's hardly worth it.
Are you kidding me? Noah? How can you want another bricklayer on the Bulls? While Noah hustles and plays good defense, he can't shoot. Aren't Thomas and Wallace enough for you? Can you imagine a front line of Thomas-Wallace-Noah? If they don't dunk, they can't score. If not a low-post presence in the draft, wouldn't it be better for the Bulls to draft a big PG and move either Hinrich or Gordon? --Wuman, New York
I am re-evaluating this, and in part given that lineup. I have liked Noah because of his play and the Bulls need size, which has pushed me toward him. I've had doubts about Hawes because he probably couldn't give you more than 10 minutes a game for the next two seasons. It's also why in my mock draft on lottery night I went with Julian Wright, though he's not much of a scorer, either. It's possible the Bulls go in that direction and it would be hard to argue, though he'd have to be awfully good to want to put a rookie in the lineup so quickly. Though Cleveland seems to be doing OK with Boobie Gibson. I'm busy asking and answering my own questions, so give me some time here. I suppose it's why we can see the Bulls dealing the pick.
For weeks all the talk is of bigs, bigs, bigs. And I know the Bulls need one, but if Horford is gone and Conley is available, do the Bulls dare take him, give him the rock, and trade Kirk and some other part like Noce for an established big? --Dan Cronin, Sarasota, Fla.
I can see that, but I can't see Conley going that far down. No one has a good feel for this draft yet, but given that Mo Williams is a free agent, you can see the Bucks at No. 6 jumping at Conley or maybe picking him for Portland and dealing. The Hawks need a point guard as well, and they could do something with Portland at No. 3. In the end, I expect Hinrich to be back next season with Gordon less likely starting next to him whether traded or perhaps back to Sixth Man of the Year. Hey, Manu Ginobili doesn't seem to mind. I hardly see it as a big negative.
Is there any way the Bulls would be able to move up to grab Al Horford? It seems like he would be the perfect fit but I haven't heard any buzz about it. --Max, Asheville, N.C.
No. Man, I am Mr. Downer. The talk is the Grizzlies at No. 4 want Horford and he won't get past there. He's moved up by many to be the third top player behind Oden and Durant because Horford appears to be a classic power forward about ready to step in. The Hawks took Shelden Williams last year, and no one ever knows what they'll do because they have a team filled with forwards, though mostly threes, so it's still wide open.
I was wondering whether the Bulls may make a run for Rasheed Wallace. Could they get him without having to trade anyone? --Cameron Read, Melbourne. Australia
Anyone but the team psychiatrist. I believe you can get him, which is why you won't want him. If the Pistons are truly done with him, and they've had him three years, you know. They are a smart organization. You can see Rasheed slipping from a basketball standpoint, and otherwise you never know with him. The Pistons had the ideal environment with veterans and a mature administration. He's a huge risk and I doubt he'd fit in with the Bulls, where he knows his buddy Ben Wallace had some issues. I've felt in the end he goes to the Knicks. He'd help at power forward, though he doesn't always care to. Not the right attitude for the Bulls.
No offense to your readers Sam, but even I am dumbfounded by some of the proposed deals I keep seeing. Why not just offer the Lakers a rack of basketballs for Kobe and if they refuse we could always swap picks this season? Heck maybe we could add courtside seats and see if they will add Bynum to the deal although I am leery about dealing those seats as I have an inside source that told me they are the major part of a deal for Garnett. --Rich, Albuquerque, N.M.
Is that my source who may or may not know?
OK , I think I have figured it out. All the talk about trades and the No. 9 pick, I have got it. After much deliberation I have put the pieces together. The Bulls will trade out of the No. 9 pick with maybe New Jersey, New Orleans or the Lakers. Each team has a big man interesting to the Bulls: Hilton Armstrong , Josh Boone and Andrew Bynum. The may have to throw in Duhon to make the deal. Maybe even to the Clippers for Chris Kaman. --James, Valparaiso, Ill.
I do think the Bulls will come up with a big man who is something of a surprise, sort of in the P.J. Brown mold. Bynam, if he goes, will be in a major deal, and frankly, Duhon doesn't get you much. Like my friend above says, you're shooting way too high for what you are giving up.
On a recent TNT telecast, George Gervin said Tim Duncan was one of the 5 greatest big men of all time, regardless of position. That's quite a statement, considering the long, illustrious line of NBA big men who have played the game. Do you agree with Gervin's assertion and where you would rank Duncan on the all-time list of great power forwards/centers? --Leon, Washington, D.C.
Getting close. I'd have to go Wilt, Kareem, Russell as the top three. Perhaps Mikan for effect in his era, which is the only way we can truly measure players. Duncan is way more talented than Mikan was, but Mikan's impact far exceed's Duncan's. I'd probably still rate Shaq slightly ahead of Duncan and then Duncan in there with Hakeem, Moses and Bill Walton had he been healthy, though he falls down without the longevity. As a power forward, which Duncan technically plays, he's easily No. 1 ahead of Malone and Pettit.
Could Garnett agree in advance of a trade to waive his opt-out clause? I know renegotiations are barred in the NBA. While it may be in KG's next team's best interest to get him with opt-out rather than trading assets, it's hard for me to believe that KG would encourage leaving the cupboard bare like that. --John, Minneapolis, Minn.
Yes, he can. It's been done in the NBA. I think Antonio McDyess did that when he was traded to the Knicks and I think Nick Van Exel gave up an option year to go to the Mavs. But it's doubtful Garnett would and I agree he's not the kind of guy who would try to hurt his former team, though I hear his relations with McHale aren't that good anymore.
Do you think the Bulls will trade the ninth pick for Zach Randolph? It would be a great move. I know what has been said about the guy but he is a good low-post scorer and gets you 20/10 a night and fills the Bulls' biggest need. His bad rep aside, the guy still gets it done and with a new start I think he could be great for the Bulls. Randolph, Wallace, Deng and Thomas coming off the bench sounds like a pretty good front court to me. --Dougie, Scotland
Actually, I am less interested in him because of his game. I don't like the way he pounds the ball when he plays, over-dribbles to get in position. Everything stops when he has the ball and it retards the movement of the team. I like the way the Bulls play with their ball and player movement and think he would get in the way of that. Yes, you need a player to get the ball into because there's so much halfcourt play and also for a change of pace. But I don't like the way he stops the ball so much. I care more about his issues on the court.
Seeing as we have to get bigger in the back court what do you think about Gordon and Nocioni for Jason Richardson? This would give us the big scoring and defending guard that we desperately need. -- Paris Daniel, Osan, South Korea
I've mentioned Jason Richardson at times, and they always say they're not going to deal him. I don't fully believe that. I'd have some interest in that.
What is the possibility the Bulls take Glen Davis in the second round? At the very least he can fill Sweetney's shoes, but with Wallace around to mimic he may become more. Plus the obvious ties to Thomas. --Justin, Chicago, Ill.
A. I suppose it's possible, though I think the Bulls would want to get all images of Sweetney out of their mind. After having so many issues with a player with weight problems, though Davis reportedly has gotten under 300, I'd seriously doubt the Bulls would go through that again with another player, especially a small one.
With Ben Gordon entering his final year on his contract, I think it is safe to say that he is trade bait. Do you think that the Bulls might try to offer him with a package to advance higher in the draft? --Steve, Wilmington, N.C.
Actually, the Bulls can have Ben two more seasons without paying him and then he'd become an unrestricted free agent, though they never let those kinds of things happen. They don't give up players just to move up in the draft, and I agree with that philosophy unless it's for an Oden or Shaq type player, and then you can't move up. The last time that truly happened was Brad Daugherty in 1986 and no one has given up a chance at a top No. l since.
Would Mike Bibby be someone the Bulls look at trading Ben Gordon and draft pick for? I feel he and Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas could run the floor for years to come. That would allow Bibby and Hinrich to both play the point at times and not wear down as the season goes on. --Mike, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Don't see that. Bibby is a small guard who probably is a poorer defender than Gordon. He makes a lot, is represented by David Falk and generally seems to be a pain in the butt to be around, though I don't know him personally. Just has always seemed to be a remote type and hardly the fit with the Bulls. You may be getting the picture I don't come up with trade scenarios for him.
Is there a chance the Bulls can sign Jerry Stackhouse? Would the mid-level exception be enough money for him at this sage of his career? --Greg, Chesterton, Ind.
That's an interesting name. I really like Stack and think he's one of the smartest and toughest guys in the NBA. But he seems way out of the Bulls price range making almost $10 million last season, and I assume the Mavs will bring him back at more than the Bulls can afford.
Sam what do you think of the Suns signing of Steve Kerr as GM? Good, bad or ugly? And what kind of moves do you expect Kerr to make this off-season? Major? Minor changes? --Marlon, Glendale Heights, Ill.
Steve tends to be conservative, except in his politics. He's more like John Paxson, the kind of guard his coach would beg to shoot because they always wanted to take the perfect shot at the perfect time, sort of the ultimate team guys. There had been some talk of dealing Amare Stoudemire, which I think is done with Steve coming in. I don't see major changes with him starting out and with the way the playoffs worked and the Suns feeling cheated over the suspensions with the Spurs, I think they believe they are right there without many major changes.
How was former Illini James Augustine's first season as a pro? Would he be a nice fit in the Bulls system? --Gary B., Eagle River, Wis.
. I think he was in a bad situation in Orlando with a coach who didn't trust him. It almost seemed like in Orlando they'd draft guys knowing the coach hated them. I believe it will be different with Stan Van Gundy and he'll get a chance, but he's not a scorer and not much help for a team like the Bulls. But he should have a place in the NBA.
Plant the seed now! The Bulls are an Antonio McDyess away from the Finals. --Tim, San Antonio
It's a weed. His option for next season is about $1 million more than the Bulls could even pay him. I don't see him going anywhere.
Why hasn't any one mentioned the Bulls trying to sign Chris Webber when he becomes a free agent this summer? I know he's not that good on defense, but he could be the post presence the Bulls need. What do you think? --Brian Brewster, Columbia, Mo.
No chance. It was sad given he was once one of the most athletic and graceful players in the NBA to watch him stumble around in the playoffs. The other problem with Chris is he still believes he was that player and tends to be a distraction if he doesn't get big minutes and opportunities. He probably will retire.
With all the Talk about Jermaine O'Neal being traded to Lakers for Odom and Bynam, do you think it is a smart move for the Lakers to give up both Lamar and Bynam for him? --Cyrus L. Santoriello, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
No. It seems likely he'll be traded, and the Lakers remain the best guess. But that's too much to give up, given Odom will give you just about the same stats as O'Neal. If I were the Lakers, I'd try to split the deals and get O'Neal in an Odom deal and move Bynam to the Nets for Jason Kidd, though I don't know if they have enough salaries to make that work.
The last time somebody created so much expectation as Greg Oden in the draft it was Lebron James. Now, with all the talk about who should go No. 1 between Oden and Durant and the comparison with the old Olajuwon-Jordan times, we all know that when such two superstars are arriving in the league, the teams normally choose the center first. Do you think that if James and Oden would have been in the same draft class, the first team to pick would have taken Oden? Because the buzz was perhaps even bigger with James that it is with Oden. --Nicolas, Switzerland
Yes, NBA types always go with the center and I believe would go with Oden over James. The general feeling is great centers are less likely to miss and it's more difficult to build around a guard or forward than a center. True, Jordan turned out better than Olajuwon and James probably will be more substantive than Oden. But the old saw in the NBA is, "If you are going to make a mistake, make it big." It means error on the side of taking a big man and not make a big mistake, which at least Portland did in passing on Jordan. The Trailblazers will take Oden.
You say this could be the beginning of Lebron's reign over the Eastern Conference. Well, in the West, there are the alleged "Kobe-stoppers," Raja Bell and Bruce Bowen. Who do you see in the East, that has the best chance to be a Lebron-stopper for the next several years? Who matches up the best against him? Who gives him the most trouble? Could the Bulls possibly land one of these guys? --Hawk Gates, Grand Rapids, Mich.
I have changed my mind. Hey, we were just trying to give the kid some credit for a big game since I have been somewhat critical of him since he's been in the NBA. When you earn your due, you should get it. I still believe LeBron will be an issue, but I don't think much of his team, which should hold him back. There are no true stoppers the way the rules are now and with a player like James. There were no Jordan stoppers, and Bruce Bowen is just working hard, but one-on-one LeBron would average 50 on him. The Spurs team defense is beautiful to watch they way they double and recover.
Word has gotten around in Portland that the Chicago media is portraying Zach Randolph as someone with "questionable" practice habits. I don't know if this is a form of gamesmanship to lower Zach's trade value or not, but from all accounts here in Portland, Z-Bo is an absolute gym rat. Granted, he's made some mistakes but Skiles has made the same mistakes when he was playing: (drugs/alcohol abuse, fightinig w/ teammates, etc). Heck, even your buddy Scottie Pippen has said how hard Z-Bo works in practice. I think he would be a solid fit in Chicago if a trade could be worked out cap-wise. I think a trade including Hinrich, Nocioni (sign and trade), and the No. 9 pick for Randolph, Jarret Jack, and a future pick would work nicely for both teams. --Dan, Portland, Ore.
Interesting how eager you are to be rid of such a hard worker and valuable scoring veteran.
With the Bulls' need for a low-post scoring presence, do you think the Bulls and the Hawks would be able to pull of a draft -day trade that would send Chris Duhon and the ninth pick to Atlanta for Atlanta's third overall pick? Chris Duhon would immediately be an upgrade over every other point guard on Atlanta's roster. Plus they would have the ninth and 11th pick to address other areas of need. The Bulls would then be able to choose Al Horford who would meet their need for a strong post player who can score and rebound. --Kevin Pierce, Belleville, N.J.
I get this one a lot because the Hawks need a point guard and I believe everyone thinks they're idiots. Sorry to say Duhon has just marginal value around the NBA and isn't likely to bring much in a deal. Atlanta does dumb deals, so there's always hope. But I wouldn't count on it.
Is it smart for the Bulls to draft for need? Or would it help us to draft the best player at any position? J.J., Woodstock, Ill.
The Bulls tend to look for need, which they did with Tyrus Thomas, but I think they also believed he was the best player in the draft based on potential. They may not be right, but I think they believed that. I think you make mistakes going by need and I believe they'll only do that if they see a tie and will go for the best player when it comes down to them. The biggest mistakes teams make in drafting are going for need or position and refusing to take a player they like because he's a 16 and you have 9. You take the player you like and who fits best with you, but too many GM's get caught up in media criticism or the reaction of their colleagues.
Isn't Joakim Noah, just Mikki Moore minus the reliable jumper . So why not sign unrestricted free agent Moore, then draft the best player available. Moore would be a perfect fit for Skiles pick-and-pop offense. He also seems the kind of all out hustle player the Bulls love. I can't imagine it would cost all that much to sign him. --Mike, Annapolis, Md.
That one hurt. Yes, I also have my doubts about Noah even though I like his demeanor and aggressiveness. You usually go for that in the CBA or the D-league. If they take him I believe they'll have decided he's way better than Moore, who I assume can be gotten cheaply this summer. It's also why people get too excited about the draft and then find out there are a heck of a lot of NBA veterans just as good. Take a look at last year's first round and what people thought about Patrick O'Bryant, Rodney Carney, Hilton Armstrong, Adam Morrison and Ronnie Brewer and what they did.
What happened to Tony Soprano? Is there an NBA writers consensus? --Tom, Miami Beach, Fla.
Yes. We think he watched Game 3 of the Finals and killed himself.