11:08 PM PST, February 12, 2009
Amare? -- Everybody, Everywhere
I figured I'd impale myself in the court of public opinion first and get it out of the way. For anyone who has heard my comments on the radio or Comcast SportsNet's "Chicago Tribune Live," I am in the rapidly shrinking minority of those who say trading for Stoudemire is the wrong move. Don't worry: Whatever you call me, my wife has called me worse.
Let's start with the well-publicized cons to acquiring Stoudemire. He's a mostly disinterested defender. He's actually not that great of a rebounder. He drives most coaches crazy. He can be distant from teammates. He underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in 2005. He's going to want more money than in Obama's stimulus package.
Now, here's some unique stuff from my occasionally-gin-soaked brain: How many championships did he win with Shawn Marion, who is better than Luol Deng, and Steve Nash, who while winning back-to-back MVPs, was better than Derrick Rose? (Before people really start bringing the hate mail, let me stress that I do believe Rose projects to be better than Nash. But nobody can say Rose is currently better than the Nash who won back-to-back MVPs.) One counterargument I heard to this is that the Suns averaged close to 60 regular-season victories and played in the brutal Western Conference, so a nucleus of Stoudemire, Rose and Deng would be enough to win the East. I don't see it. And if you're going to enter luxury tax territory, which you'd eventually do when you pay Rose and Stoudemire maximum-type contracts, isn't winning an NBA title the only justification?
Last I checked, defense wins titles. If the nucleus moving forward is Stoudemire, Deng and Rose, I'm guessing I could throw in 10.7 points per game. (I told you: I drink gin.) As I've written in previous mailbags, I see the Bulls' need for an interior player more on the defensive end than offensive. This team scores enough points with Rose and Ben Gordon and, gulp, Tyrus Thomas? (Also, for those who are wondering, Bulls management won't NOT make this trade because of Thomas' recent play. They're merely contemplating whether Stoudemire is the right move, just as Suns management is mulling whether the Bulls will ultimately make the best offer. So relax.)
Stoudemire is a wonderfully gifted offensive player. Pairing him with Rose excites the senses (and you'd think me given that I treated playing defense like the Plague during my long-ago Division III career). And you have to believe that a traded Stoudemire would be an incredibly-motivated-to-destroy-the-league Stoudemire.
I still wouldn't do it. That would be your one major move. And as I said, I don't see it winning championships.
I sent in an plan to trade Larry Hughes and Andres Nocioni to the Raptors for Jermaine O'Neal. After watching most of last night's Raptors-Spurs game, I take it back. O'Neal showed flashes of his old self (6 blocks, beating Duncan on a post move or two, hitting a 18 foot J off a pick and pop), but most of the time he looked disinterested. -- Kevin Pearce; Austin, TX
As I've written in this mailbag before, the Bulls could've had Jermaine O'Neal any number of times even when he was a better player in Indiana and never bit. They won't this time either.
Has Vinny has finally experienced the epiphany that every Bulls fan is already well aware of -- that Ben Goron should take the shot with the game on the line, not Derrick Rose? I love Rose, but he's shown multiple times he still isn't ready or capable to hit the game-winning shot. -- Lewis Reed; Long Island, NY
I wrote about this in Thursday's Tribune. I would've loved to have seen the final play from regulation in Minnesota work because it appeared that Rose and Gordon were going to run some sort of action on top to allow Rose to penetrate and kick to Gordon. Alas, Rose botched the play, dribbled towards Gordon and had to hoist a forced shot. I've written in previous mailbags that Rose has the most talent on the team and also has the best ability to penetrate and get to the rim. So I have no problem with him having the ball in his hands. But, like you, I'd like to see some plays where he penetrates and kicks to Gordon.
Derrick Rose is a phenomenal offensive player, and his demeanor on and off the court is even more impressive, but what do you think his chances are to become a dominant force on the defensive end as well? I wonder if he lacks the physical tools necessary (6-6 frame and lengthy body) to ever become elite on both ends of the floor. -- Dan; Calumet City
I think Rose will eventually be a very good defender actually BECAUSE OF his physical gifts. He's incredibly strong and quick. And, as you mention, his work ethic is great. It's going to take experience, learning NBA sets and personnel and a commitment at that end. He can do it.
Here is another loopy trade proposal: David Lee, Jerome James, and Jared Jeffries for Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas, and Michael Ruffin (the salaries match up). The deal is a no-brainer for the Bulls because they'll be adding a low-post presence that is sorely needed, while only eating one not-so-good contract. Feel free to call me crazy. -- J.R.; Chicago
I refuse to. After all, I'm the guy who won't trade for Stoudemire. That said, word around the league continues to be the Knicks won't deal Lee.
Another one: Can we get Amare without giving up Deng, Rose and TT? -- Otavio; Brazil
If the Bulls trade for Stoudemire, Thomas will definitely be in the deal.
What is the criteria for retiring a jersey number? I'm an old school NBA fan and Norm Van Lier was as good as it got in the 70's. Do you think he'll get the honor as did Jerry Sloan and Butterbean? How about Chet or Big Daddy Boerwinkle? -- Rico DeLorenze; Deep River, CT
It's strictly an organizational decision and, sadly, Norm didn't do himself any favors this week with his comments about not getting invited to Red Kerr's night. Personally, I'd love to see Stormin' Norman's number up in the rafters alongside Jerry Sloan's because those two forever will be linked in my young fan's mind. But I don't see it happening. Walker won a title with another team, so I'm guessing the Bulls don't see him as uniquely enough Chicagoan. My guess is the next number to be retired will be Pippen's.
With all the talk about possible trades, one scenario I never hear discussed is signing Paul Milsap this summer as a restricted free agent. He actually likes to play defense. Plus, he comes much more cheaply than someone such as Amare Stoudemire. -- Michael J; Chicago
Utah will do everything possible to re-sign Millsap. Plus, teams rarely like to pursue restricted free agents because it ties up money in an offer sheet that the other team almost always matches.
I agree with your comments that the Bulls should not trade Tyrus, et al for Amare. Do you know how motivated the Suns are to his dump salary? They must be very motivated or else trading Amare makes absolutely no sense. Is this another Kobe deal? -- Bob Preston; La Porte, IN
If the Suns trade Amare, it's strictly a financial and chemistry issue, not a basketball move. He'd be the best player moved in the trade.
I was wondering if either of our two 7-footers (Aaron Gray or Joakim Noah) can reach the rim without jumping. -- Ken; Chicago
Isn't it the perfect time to trade away Gooden? The team is playing very well without him and the two young big men are playing well too. And it would be awfully hard to send Thomas back to the bench after this great stretch. -- Gerry; Chicago
And if the Bulls make a trade, I think he will be moved.
I think Marcus Camby is actually a better fit for the Bulls than Amare. Why aren't the Bulls going after him? -- Juan Valentin; Chicago
As of now, he hasn't been made available. I agree completely that he's a better fit because he's a defense-first player who is very athletic. He does get hurt a lot though.
If Amare Stoudemire is traded to the Bulls before the All-Star Game, would he play for the Western Conference squad? -- Eric; Aurora
No. Exhibit A: Allen Iverson. He received most of his votes while playing for Denver in the West.
Do you think Chicago fans would ever truely embrace an offense-oriented team, such as the Suns or Mavs of former years? Chicago fans have always been more interested in defense, but I much appreciate the Skiles teams to the Del Negro. But maybe thats just me. -- Justin; Huntington, WV
It's not just you. General manager John Paxson and team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf share the same philosophy. It's one reason I'm mildly surprised the Bulls are pursuing Amare the way they are.
How are none of our 2-guards -- namely Larry Hughes -- involved in trade talk? -- Dan Gould; Gilberts
Bulls are working hard to move Hughes and have basically told teams they'll take anything that doesn't add money or years to their payroll. Talent isn't the issue. They just want to get rid of Hughes for chemistry and because they genuinely want to move him along for his career.
Don't know how many of these questions you get, but is there any word on Omer Asik? Will his contract in Europe be over by 2010 or did he sign an extension til 2013? What player would you compare him at this stage of the game? Also, what's going on with our other 2nd round pick never turned pro, Mario Austin? -- Mark; Berlin, VT
Asik is supposed to coming to the Bulls following the 2010 season. The Bulls remain quite high on him. Haven't heard Mario's name in a long time, but I can tell you where he won't be playing: Here.
I'm not a big Deng fan, especially after Paxson's "good citizen" gave up last year when he didn't get his contract. But, I'm really tired of all the praise he recieves as a player. He's just not that good offensively. But more importantly, why doesn't anyone point out how terrible a defensive player he is? -- Jeff; St. Louis
You just did.
Actually, I think Deng's defense has improved this season. He's playing less upright and getting into some passing lanes. He still struggles to defend quicker, more athletic players, which, at his position, is a lot. But from my view, he's improved.
This is more of a rant than a question: As an international fan of the NBA, I'm sick and tired of the U.S. media referring to whoever wins the NBA title as the "World Champions". It's wrong, and it's a slap in the face to the entire rest of the basketball world. -- Simon; Brisbane, Australia
We hope you and Luc Longley feel better.
In the limited number of games I've watched, when the Bulls are winning and you just begin to sense the other team starting to make a run, Vinny calls a timeout. The only other coach I've seen that is able to sense the momentum shift before it's obvious to the world is Pat Riley. Phil Jackson seemed to do the opposite -- letting the players ride out the storm. Is there something to this? -- Dan Sauberlich; Rockford
I have noticed that Vinny is an early timeout guy. Personally, I kind of liked Phil's approach, although, obviously, he had a much better and more veteran team. With a younger team, you probably do need to stem the tide more quickly. I've said before that Vinny has done some nice things this season, particularly for a coach with no previous experience. Holding players accountable with playing time without holding a grudge has been one. And I like how he's finally shortened his rotation.
Have you ever sung the song "Ben" ( Michael Jackson's version), played the harmonica and danced around like the kid in the movie "Ben" when you interviewed Ben Gordon? -- Ron Bruno; Glendale Heights
No. But I did once have a dream about beating him in HORSE.
Thanks for your ridiculous amount of questions this week. Sorry for the shortened mailbag but I'm on my way to Phoenix to placate all of you and personally bring back Stoudemire home, I mean, cover the All-Star game. Talk to you next week.
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