I'm sorry, Sam, but I'm definitely glad the Bulls GM is John Paxson and not you. I think the vast majority of your trade proposals would be foolish for the Bulls. Any thought of trading Ben Gordon for an aging maximum contract player like Ray Allen or Paul Pierce is ridiculous. Where are the Sonics and Celtics with them? What you should be looking for is a big man like Toronto's Chris Bosh. This kid is coming into his own, and if he's going to shine, he needs to get out of Canada. I would like to see the Bulls offer both of their first-round picks and a quality role player like Duhon for Bosh. You always state that you like to make an offer that works for both sides. If Bosh lets Toronto know that he doesn't want to resign with them, wouldn't this be a great deal for the Raptors? They would get a quality player in Duhon and two first-round picks to build around. Plus the rookie contracts would help them financially. The Bulls meanwhile would add the post presence they're looking for without dealing their core of Hinrich, Gordon, Deng, and Chandler. Add Bosh to those four and you're looking at one of the youngest and most talented starting 5 in the league. --Scott, Palatine, Ill.
Thanks for the "sorry," at least. John Paxson is glad as well, he tells me. That's a hopeful thought, but unrealistic. Teams are reluctant to give up stars. They only will when there is an underlying reason, like when a guy wants to go like Shaq. The 'Sonics have financial problems, so I believed they could put Allen in play and still might. The Celtics' vision has generally been described as a young, aggressive, up-tempo team without Pierce. Though they keep saying they will keep him.
You're right, neither team has done much this season with them. But I like the Bulls complementary pieces and coaching staff better than those teams and believe the Bulls' missing piece is the high-level player for the complementary pieces to work with. The Raptors would give up everything including the CN Tower before Bosh. He'll probably sign an extension this summer. Why would they, with a young star, want to start over again? And in a not-so-great draft? Likewise, I think the Kevin Garnett-to-the-Bulls stuff also remains wishful thinking and believe the Timberwolves will try to add someone to help Garnett rather than trade him this summer unless Garnett absolutely demands it. He insists for now he won't.
I was wondering what ever happened to Othello Harrington. He played such a prominent role last year behind Antonio Davis and Eddy Curry. Where has he gone this year? I also am curious about the chances of the Bulls trying to work something out for Michael Pietrus of Golden State. He's a tall, athletic shooting guard who can defend. This is exactly what the Bulls need. With Golden State's plethora of swing men, do you think the Bulls even have a remote interest? --Neeraj, University Park, Penn.
I think he's doing Shakespeare in the park. Othella? His knees are very bad and it's been hard for him to move around enough the way the Bulls play to make a solid contribution. As for Pietrus, I agree and have mentioned him in some of my trade scenarios. The Bulls even thought seriously about drafting him when they took Kirk Hinrich. I can see him as the big shooting guard they need and then with Ben Gordon in a very good three-guard rotation. The Warriors do have considerable duplication and will be making some moves, but the word is they'll want to move Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy.
Could Ben Gordon play point? And if so, why not trade Hinrich because he has the most value? It's not like the Bulls would miss any player...except MJ. --Gerard, Tinley Park, Ill.
That's an interesting thought. From the conversations I have had with other general managers, I believe Hinrich does have the most value, in part because of the scarcity and great value of point guards. But I don't think Gordon is ready to play point and run a team. I've had questions about letting Chris Duhon run the team, play Gordon at shooting guard and deal Hinrich or keep Hinrich at shooting guard and Duhon at point with Gordon off the bench, which worked pretty well last season. I think the future, if it involves all those guys, is Hinrich at point, a big guard at two, Gordon as the third guard and Duhon as a fill in and emergency fourth guard. One of the Bulls' biggest issues this season, even though they are one of the top rebounding teams, has been size, especially in the backcourt and at the power forward positions. I believe that's what they'll look to address first in the offseason.
Thought only Knicks fans and writers suggested one-sided trades. Why would the Knicks give up Marbury for unusable parts of Eddie Griffin, Troy Hudson, Marko Jaric and Trenton Hassell, as you suggested last week? --Jim, New York
Are they still not showing the Knicks on cable there? The Knicks have one shot to come out of their mess: Give Larry Brown his type of team. Brown is an army drill sergeant of a coach. He needs to break down the players and have them buy in to his program of defend, pass, work the clock. Everyone has to "Yes, sir." Like in the military, he cannot have contrary thought even if it makes sense. Everyone has to respond on command. So Stephon Marbury has to go even if for nothing. They'd be better off sending him home and paying him like the Bulls did with Tim Thomas. They need a sharing point guard and a rebounding forward. They've got some pieces and talent, but they've got to get in line. Right now, it's Stripes and too many people are touching each other's stuff. Right, Francis? Err, Jim.
I've been reading you for years, and I think your columns are as informative as any NBA writer's out there. However, I don't think there's a sportswriter in America who is as consistently negative about the sports he covers than you. I've always been amazed by how little you seem to enjoy the sport you cover, and wanted to ask you about this. I'm not trying to be snarky; I honestly just wanted you to talk about the extent to which you enjoy NBA basketball. --Alex, Boston
Good question. And there's always the gratuitous compliment before the slam. I like that as well. I love the NBA. I haven't missed a Finals or All Star game in more than 20 years and have not awakened one day not looking forward to my job. That makes me more fortunate than most. Though I think the NBA could be much better. Much as I believe America can. Because you criticize the U.S. doesn't mean you hate the U.S. I've been in most of the so-called sophisticated countries and find none more preferable than the U.S. Though I differ on many aspects of foreign and domestic policy and don't always favor our leaders. Likewise, I'd love to see for the NBA: shorter guaranteed contracts, players ineligible for at least three years after high school, more palming and traveling violations, less contact in the post, no more cheap step in offensive fouls, a longer and wider court, a shorter time clock, no trade demands, no salary complaints, no trash talking, coaches who don't slow the game and call every play, players who don't scream and gyrate every time they dunk. It's still the greatest basketball in the world and the best of the sports leagues for its honesty and general decency of its players. Really. I've been around them all. You town hall New England guys should understand dispute without revolution by now.
Ask Sam Smith
The Tribune's NBA writer answers his e-mail
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