I recall that at the time of the Tyson Chandler trade, many people predicted that the Bulls would regret getting Wallace in a year or two. He was already slipping. Also, obtaining Wallace did not mean the Bulls had to give away Tyson Chandler for almost nothing (one year of PJ Brown). The Bulls dealt Chandler to save money and that trade was/is regarded as a steal by the Hornets. Would anyone gives the Bulls a signed, developing, young, athletic 7-footer capable of getting 20 rebounds in a game for one year of Ben Wallace so they can write off a big contract? --Tom, Miami Beach, Fla.
It was short-term thinking, but it was much welcomed at the time. And it's still talked about around the Bulls if they'd won that last regular-season game in New Jersey and gotten into the other bracket, they could have been in the Finals, undeservedly like Cleveland. That was the thinking after failing to get Kevin Garnett. Everyone was tired of development and Wallace appeared to be instant credibility. If he'd given them two good seasons, I don't think there would be regrets. Would Chandler have developed the same here? That remains in question and it probably would have ended in his screaming for a trade last summer if he had stayed. He was quietly when he was traded. What would one more season in Chicago been like? Some guys need a new environment. He did.
Do you think the Suns would accept a trade for Amare Stoudemire and Marcus Banks for Kirk Hinrich and Ben Wallace? -- Rheneir Mora, Cebu, Philippines
No. Should I go on? I've gotten a spate of these trade-for-Stoudemire things and it's ridiculous. The Suns are not going to trade Stoudemire. Why would they? He's their best and only real big man. He's a perennial All Star and Olympian. Is he unhappy? As far as I can tell, he often is. Kobe, too. You just don't deal great talent. You put them on the court and they'll play. I could name three dozen people now miserable at The Tribune. They're not going anywhere. OK, that's a little different as the company might soon begin trading them, though I don't think they want anyone in return. The point is workers everywhere often are unhappy. But if they are pros, they play. Stoudemire is. Plus, he lives in Phoenix, is hugely popular, has his own restaurant and plays with the best point guard in the NBA. Why, exactly, would he ever want to be with the Bulls? For the nice January weather? There have been some internet reports and speculation about Stoudemire. Don't believe any of it. Imagine these media people who speculate about trades. Don't they have anything to do?
It seems that the general consensus among the national media is that John Paxson should have drafted LaMarcus Aldridge instead of Tyrus Thomas. I couldn't disagree more. In hindsight, wouldn't Brandon Roy have been the better choice? It seems that a starting backcourt of Roy and Hinrich would have eliminated some major problems that the Bulls currently have, most notably, a big guard that can score as well as defend and an athlete that can take it to the hoop and get to the foul line on a consistent basis. --Tony M., San Diego
He was my choice then, but I have to admit Paxson gets more right than I do in the draft. The Bulls commitment then was to going big and it was hard to disagree. They desperately needed size. I recall the debate well. The fear was Aldridge was soft and too much a perimeter big man like Channing Frye. They decided to take a chance on talent and athleticism, which they hadn't before. I believe Paxson is kicking himself now for varying from his own formula and beliefs. I think he probably was influenced by people saying he'd been too conservative and you can't get a star like Stoudemire that way. That's who they hoped Thomas would be. We'll see if he gets more time, though now, yes, it does look like the wrong pick.
With the rumor mill circling about with Pau Gasol's name coming back up what would it take for the Bulls to get him, and would they do it? --Josh Stapleton, West Jordan, Utah
I believe they'd do it, but Memphis will need the bottom to fall out more. Beating the Bulls the way they did hardly figured to give them motive to try to get more Bulls players. I don't think the Bulls make the deal because I think they'd like to use their so-called extra pieces like Noah, Thomas, Sefolosha, etc., and Memphis at least for now continues to overvalue Gasol. He could be dealt elsewhere. I've long thought Atlanta has the pieces and Billy Knight, who traded for the rights to Gasol when Knight was with the Grizzlies.
Explain to me why no one has talked about trading Ben Wallace for Zach Randolph straight up? --Nick Shaw, Indian Trail, N.C.
A lot of my e-mailers do. I actually think Randolph is the keeper in New York and they'll eventually try to move Curry because Randolph finishes the games. They could keep Curry since his contract isn't ridiculous, but Wallace doesn't do much for them. David Lee does that stuff and is much better. I know we all think the Knicks are dumb, but it's still more wishing and hoping.
It appears that Joakim Noah isn't getting the ball when he had open looks. --John K. Anderson, San Francisco
I have heard this from some fans, but don't see it myself. I think it's a combination of things. One is Noah is awkward with the ball and they don't look to him much. Opponents are not sure, so they guard him more than they do Wallace, who is open and gets the ball at times. Also, one of the issues the team long has is a lack of true decision makers on the perimeter and often they don't see guys come open. And while it is lessening, there was more individual play from Deng and Gordon after their contract rejections and the turmoil with Skiles. I think that is getting better. No, I don't believe they ignore Noah, but he's not exactly an offensive option.
Now that Kobe said with his own mouth that the Lakers are a championship-caliber team with Andrew Bynum in the lineup, do you expect him to force a trade out of L.A. if things go wrong now that Bynum will be out for 8 weeks? --Ralph, Los Angeles
It no longer matters. No matter what he says, the Lakers now know they art a highly competitive team with Kobe and Bynum. So neither is going anywhere no matter what they say. It's like parents with children who are brothers. They can fight all they want, but there's nowhere to go. I would now say with fair certainty that Kobe will be a Laker for the rest of his career, which seems to me hardly punishment. Also, when you look around the NBA and see the arenas emptying as teams lose, it's more vital than ever for the Lakers to have an attraction. And that's Kobe. So enjoy.
I was upset at first that Joe Dumars didn't offer Ben more than $12 million a year but I bet Joe D had some sleepless nights wondering if he made the right decision, letting a piece of his championship team go to his archrival. But as you can see, things have worked out quite nicely for Detroit. But that doesn't mean Joe hasn't screwed up. I bet he regrets the Darko pick. Chris Bosh would of looked good on the Pistons now. Dumars has made more good decisions than bad ones, live, learn, and move on. --John, Detroit
That's the point. Talent evaluation is tricky. Dumars may be the best right now, but hardly perfect. Carmelo Anthony was the pick, but he had Prince and he was better than we thought. Had they taken Anthony, they'd have a better player now, but they might not have won once with Anthony's issues when he came to the NBA and without Prince's key defense since Anthony isn't a very interested defender. Yes, you could say Bosh or Wade, but few had them at the time as can't-miss talents. He took a shot at Darko for upside, just as Paxson did with Tyrus Thomas. Sometimes it doesn't work. No one gets them all except the fans after the fact.
I have noticed Thabo's minutes have increased with Hinrich's recent back spasms. Is there or would there be any interest in Kirk as far as a trade is concerned? I know his value is low and his contract is high, but I believe he has plateaued as a player. I would like to see JamesOn Curry come up and give us some minutes. --Russell, Lansing, Ill.
Hinrich will be one of the big questions post season. Hardly the only one, I should add. Hinrich isn't a classic point guard, and the Bulls have been concerned about whether he can fill that role. He's more a Danny Ainge type and probably could be more effective in an old Phil Jackson-style two guard front. But his value isn't low. Teams like him for his work ethic, but you don't get stars or top big men for combo guards. One of the Bulls biggest issues is no one quite knows who their best player is. They have to solve that.
Do you think that it is time to change the Bulls' defensive philosophy in regards to their double teaming? It seems that the guards constantly help the post and against drives, but their attempts to help defend are usually poor. Then, as the defense collapses the opponent's shooters are left wide open on the three-point arc. Isn't time for the Bulls players to stay on their men? --Brian Katz, Lawrence, Kan.
They are not a double-teaming type team. Boylan is doing most of the same stuff Skiles did and they like to stunt, which means make a move at the big man when he puts the ball down and then retreat. The retreat hasn't been as good this season and no one is quite sure why.
I know that Top 10 draft picks don't always pan out, but with good inside moves and at 7-feet, I thought that Bradley's Patrick O'Bryant would be a little better in the NBA. Is he that bad and weak, or is it that he is on a run-and-gun Golden State team and he is more of a half-court player? --Al, Streamwood, Ill.
He's playing for the wrong coach, first of all, in Don Nelson, who doesn't use big-man post play. Plus, O'Bryant isn't ready. He's weak and should have stayed in college, but the money is tough to turn down. I didn't think he was a first-round pick at the time, but I'm guessing the Warriors hang onto him and then give him a run with Nellie's successor.
Ben Wallace's two years in Chicago remind of two other names who went into semi-retirement after signing huge deals: Vin Baker and Shawn Kemp. The numbers don't lie, neither does the drama that follows this high maintenance player. Where does his FA signing rate in worst? --Robuka Konderle, Montreal, Canada
It looks worse now than it is. The fact is there are very few good free agent signings. That summer, the Bulls' alternatives were Nazr Mohammed and Joel Przybilla. Which one would you rather have had? The Grizzlies are trying to get rid of Jerry West's big free agent, Brian Cardinal. How about Speedy Claxton in Atlanta, Darko Milicic in Memphis, Damon Jones, Donyell Marhall and Ira Newble in Cleveland, Erik Dampier in Dallas, Kenyon Martin in Denver, Bobby Simmons in Milwaukee, Eddy Curry in New York, Marcus Banks in Phoenix? At least they signed Ben for only four years. They wanted three, but Detroit was offering four at the time and wouldn't have gotten him. I know, I know, but it was considered the coup of that summer.
Do you think Ben Gordon missed the boat on his big pay day when he turned down the Bulls' offer last fall? Do you think there are teams out there that are willing to pay big bucks for his scoring given that he's an undersized guard who can't defend or run the team on the floor? --Joe Hoyle, Chicago
I still believe Gordon is the most difficult decision the Bulls have to make. I'd say he missed the boat because if the Bulls let him go, it's difficult to see who gives him an eight-figure annual deal. But Ben is a tough guy and amazingly confident and I think he believes he did the right thing. He may be one of the few. I know he's got a lot of weaknesses, but no one on the Bulls can score like he does, and even though he has missed some game winners of late, he makes more big shots at big times than anyone on the team. They'd lose a lot of scoring and a big weapon without him.
If the Clippers let Corey Maggette walk after this year, do you think the Bulls would take a look at him? He is a big guard that gets to the line consistently, and he has shown some post moves. --Jim, La Grange, Ill.
I haven't seen those post moves. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling likes him and he's expected to return. The Bulls would take a look, but will only have their exception and the Clippers should beat that easily. Plus, Maggette plays a bit head down and doesn't have that much range on his shot.
As Sir Charles keeps asking, did Paxson really have a chance to trade for Kevin Garnett? If so, which players did McHale want in return and why didn't this trade work out? --Jay Choi, Glenview, Ill.
No, no, no. Barkley is great on TV and that is the best NBA highlight show there ever was. But Charles only has a casual relationship with facts and actual information.
I'm not really surprised by the Bulls sudden unraveling. We all knew that they were a group of overachieving role-players. By definition, overachievement is temporal; reversion to the mean will eventually catch up with you. Which of these guys has any trade-value left (because of talent or contract features) and who should be keepers? --Fernando, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Hey, I'm supposed to use the esoteric words. I believe all the main players plus Noah have trade value, except perhaps for Wallace. The question is how much? You generally are undervalued when you lose and overvalued when you win (see Luc Longley). That's going to be the big issue for the Bulls. Teams don't pine for players on losing teams and generally low ball you. The Bulls will have difficulty putting together a good deal involving major players. I probably would try to keep Deng, Noah, Gordon and Hinrich, which leaves several missing pieces. Though I believe it's clear now no one is untouchable and anyone could be traded.
It seems like everyone is piling on Ben Wallace for his lack of scoring but didn't they know that was going to be the case when we signed him? Duhon is just as useless on offense but nobody says boo about him. Why not trade Duhon and his expiring contract for Damon Stoudamire to give us a point guard who can dribble and shoot. We clearly don't have one on this team. --Mike, Manteno, Ill.
I don't think the Bulls idea of improvement is to add a 5-9 shooting guard.
I'm not a fan of Danny Ainge. He needed Kevin McHale to bail him out, but do you think John Paxson should have borrowed some of Danny's evaluation methods like brain-typing, i.e. Meyers-Briggs personality tests, to assess player's drive and ability to achieve a physical potential? --Joseph, Gilroy, Calif.
After all these years, all Ainge needed was McHale's brain type. In regards to that deal, it had to be not ENTP or ISTP but EMPTY.
I consider myself to be the biggest Bulls fan in the world. I cheered for Ron Mercer, Eddie Robinson, and Dalibor Bagaric just as hard and just as much as Michael, Scottie and Dennis. After falling in love with this hard working group of the past few years, I can't believe this is the same team rumored to make the Eastern Conference Finals. Hinrich got married and his wife stole his game. Ben Gordon is trying to shoot his way to a new $30-million contract. Luol Deng is a solid scorer but not an all-star. Joe Smith has been the most consistent Bull this year. Ben Wallace cares about anything and everything except performing on the court. Chris Duhon will make an excellent back-up point guard on another team some day. Aaron Gray is the new Will Perdue. Joakim Noah is Dennis Rodman without the talent. Tyrus Thomas is the most athletic on the roster, but also the worst player. Andres Nocioni is the most entertaining player to watch since Michael Jordan. With all that being said, we're not winning. Just one question, what do we do now? --Cury, Bermuda Dunes, Calif.
While I always appreciate a Dalibor mention, your analysis was too jarring to respond to. I get a lot like this from Bulls fans these days. I know fans generally overreact to wins or losses, but the level of despair this season ranks with the Tim Floyd days.
With Duhon's injury and Thabo's emergence as a potential starter, do you think Thabo can surpass Duhon in the rotation? And FYI I'm not sure if you've noticed that whenever Thabo comes in off the bench a bunch of fans would call out his name in delight. I'm not sure how often this happens but that is due to the Filipinos in Chicago. Thabo is pronounced "ta-bo" which in the Philippines is a pail we use to wash our behinds. --Marlon Umali, Manila, Philippines
I'm sure Thabo will be flattered. Don't you have bathtubs? I believe this is another reason I rarely leave the U.S. Or my room. I believe the transition is heading that way. It's what management hoped would occur this season, but Sefolosha regressed under Skiles and was losing his confidence and desire like Tyson Chandler. This time the team kept the player and fired the coach.
I have been reading a lot about the Clippers over-hauling the team. What do you think it would take to bring in Chris Kaman or Elton Brand? --Tony, Chicago
Jordan in his prime.
In the last five years the team with the best record did not even make it to the finals. Detroit and Boston will run away with the top 2 seeds in the East but both teams are flawed. Rasheed and Prince have been awful for Detroit this year. Only an overachieving bench and great guard play has hidden their weak frontcourt production. Now that our bench is struggling, Rasheed and Prince's horrid play is exposing us. An NBA scout recently made some interesting observations about Boston in their recent losses to the Wizards. He said without a legitimate point guard in close and end-of-game situations, Pierce dominates the ball to the detriment of Allen and KG. He also said the Celts play a 1-3-1 offense against zone defenses and struggle with it without a true PG. Players like Posey and House either make all thier shots or miss them. Allen is the best outside shooter but can be bothered by big guards.Here's the thing, Rasheed is frustrated by high energy guys like Noah and Varejao. Wallace hates body contact and will give up his advantage in the post and drift to the three-point line. Second, big guards like the Swiss guy the Bulls have bother Hamilton's shot who is basically a catch-and-shoot guy. Thus, Chicago and Cleveland have the matchups to make Detroit's offense putrid looking. And with Boston's weakness at the point I would not be surprised this year if both the Celts and the Pistons get beat by lower seeds and someone like Chicago and Cleveland end up in the ECF's. Cleveland can beat Boston in the playoffs and Chicago could easily beat Detroit in a seven-game series. Dumars may be seeing the same thing you're seeing about Detroit and maybe make a risky blockbuster trade. Like Hamilton and Prince? --John, Detroit
See, everyone, the Bulls do get to the Finals. We know it's unlikely, but I see many of the same things you do. Watching Detroit regularly you sometimes wonder how they beat anyone with their deliberate offense and lack of easy points. And Rondo will be a problem if they don't get a point guard. Plus, he misses free throws at the end and won't be guarded. Boston looks like the real thing, though, but beyond that I still think the East is open. Dumars has proven to be one of the best and I wouldn't be surprised if he does make a major move. You can see the Pistons after a fast start are growing complacent again and need some new life injected into them. As comprised, they'll have a lot of playoff issues. You are right about Rasheed, who has melted down in the conference finals in consecutive seasons. I thought that's where someone like Noah would have an edge as Rasheed also doesn't like to run the court. It does make for an interesting trading deadline.
The GM of the Utah Jazz said the team would be interested in adding a defensive-minded center who could rotate in with Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer. I seem to know of one team that would like to unload a defensive-minded center who would be good in a rotation with Okur and Boozer. The Jazz don't want to part with any of their young players, and have luxury tax concerns. What if the Bulls sent Wallace to Utah along with cash and maybe another player for the "AK-47," Andrei Kirilenko? The Jazz gets bigger upfront; we unload a bad contract and recent distraction, and get a good all around weapon in return. Everybody wins, right? --Ryan "Digbee" Sellers, Makanda, Ill.
Like a true student of Sam Smith, I can see you are trying to help everyone. It's an intriguing thought. Kirilenko has one more year than Wallace, so that probably would take the Bulls out of any sweepstakes for Dwyane Wade, which is a longshot, anyway. Yes, I read those comments in the Salt Lake City media, but perhaps it's wishful thinking that you can sell Wallace as a shot blocking defensive stopper. At one time, though it hasn't been that way lately. I'd probably look seriously at it since Kirilenko is probably out of position with the Jazz; I think he needs to play four. Maybe you take Jarron Collins off their hands and with a year saved down the road on contracts, maybe they go for it. I'd certainly give it a look if I were the Bulls. And then Viktor Khryapa gets someone to talk to. I admit feeling badly for the guy, as much as you can for pro players, a she always the first one out of the locker room alone as I've never seen him speaking to anyone on the team.
We are big Bears fans as well and watched Lovie show no emotion on the sidelines during the Bears embarrassing season and we are starting to wonder if maybe it's time to stop worrying about how you "Look" on the sidelines and get your players motivated. These guys are getting paid big money and I don't mind losing if they show they are busting their butts but unfortunately we are not seeing it. It's not too late for the Bulls to make a run but if they continue to play like against Memphis we are putting away our Bulls shirts and starting the search for our Cubs hats and jersey. --Greg Porter, Collierville, Tenn.
And that has worked for you before? It's not college, and that's been Noah's biggest problem. He hasn't adjusted to the pro life and doesn't understand the length of the season. That supposedly was the essence of his "discussion" with Ben Wallace after the Orlando loss. You do have to watch putting too much into body language in the pros, but from the preseason this Bulls team, which never was very emotional, has been pretty dead for whatever reason.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times