Well, was looking pretty good about 9 p.m. Tuesday. So anyone like Tyrus Thomas? No, it's not over yet, but this first round in six thing is getting old. Let's see what Miami has if they have to play a seventh. What the Bulls have done is show the NBA they could be the next great team. Now about getting some players to actually do it.
I've thought Scott Skiles did a bad job managing Michael Sweetney this year, but I am beginning to wonder if I was wrong. Go figure. Is it just me or has Sweetney showed some improvement toward the end of the season that bodes well for him next year. --Andrew, St. Louis
I'm not convinced we'll see more than we've gotten, which is the problem. Skiles has done the tough love thing with Sweetney, which is the best way to handle him. I think Skiles does that with everyone, and more probably need it than they believe. Sweetney just never gets in shape quite enough and Skiles makes it clear if you don't perform, you don't play. Sweetney kept running out of gas a few minutes into every game, so Skiles sat him down until at least Sweetney could give a better effort, which he has. You'd figure Shaq against Sweetney would be 40 and 20 for Shaq, though I'm not too sure whether that says more about Shaq than Sweetney. Sweetney has to lose a lot more weight to be a worthwhile player, and it's up to him. He has good hands and moves. Again like with Eddy Curry, you combine him with Tyson Chandler and you have one terrific player. If Sweetney can get his weight down, he's a nice reserve to have on the team down the road.
Do you think the Bulls will make a trade offer for Kenyon Martin? How about the Bulls trade their two first-round picks, Sweetney and Jannero Pargo for Martin? --Philip, Chicago
You don't get to the Berto Center often, so you probably don't see the sign: No Bums Allowed. Not really, but it's the philosophy. And it's the right one. Martin, if healthy, which is a big if, may have more talent than the forwards who play for the Bulls, but one very bad apple can lead to an epidemic. Sorry, if this were the newspaper, I'd try to think of something more clever. But for free, you shouldn't get all the good stuff. The Nuggets will trade Martin, and I expect it will be to the Knicks. This would be perfect as Martin can stand around near Times Square and yell at tourists, "Hey, you lookin' at me! Funny? Funny how?" He's a punk and mostly unskilled even when he wasn't hurt. Are you getting the point? You'll notice you never read him in my Bulls trade proposals.
Sam, with a possible rift between Dwyane Wade and some of the other Heat players (Payton and Shaq?) I am wondering when Wade's contract is up? Would he consider coming home to Chicago where MJ could help groom him into MJ2? Could the Bulls afford him? Would he fit in with the current nucleus? --Alex Bartkus, Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Now that's an interesting thought. But too good to be true. The Heat gambled Gary Payton wouldn't be a problem and figured they could always cut him. By the time he became an issue, it was too late. Wade is the franchise's future, much more so than Shaquille O'Neal. They'll continue to build around Wade and I expect him to sign an extension this summer. The Bulls, and most other teams, would do about anything to get him, but there's no chance. And there's no nude sunbathing at Oak Street Beach. Florida has so many beaches they even name cities after them. We have East Chicago, West Chicago and North Chicago. Now how dumb is that? I know it has nothing to do with the question, but I always wondered. Nobody could think of anything else?
Kirk Hinrich really does a good job on Dwayne Wade but why is he recognized by the people? --Carlos, Philippines
I think it's the hair. They think he's Ron Howard. Oh, that recognized. Trust me, people in the NBA know. Kirk isn't much for publicity and talking to the media. He makes Harold Baines look like Don Rickles. OK, how about, he makes Mark Prior look like Chris Rock. Anyway, I hope you get the point here. Kirk is Jerry Sloan and John Stockton. Don't talk about me! I'll show you! I wished he wanted to and could have gone to the 2008 Olympics because the USA Basketball people were so excited about having him he certainly would have been among the top 12. But he had personal commitments. Coaches admire Hinrich and, unfortunately, the media votes for most awards and spends too much time watching ESPN highlights. Hinrich will be the next Steve Nash.
Do you think a package with Hinrich, NY's No. 1 and maybe a Chandler would be realistic for Tracy McGrady... I just think McGrady would be a great fit for this team - and think Hinrich would help the Rockets get more out of Yao. TMac would command fouls, double teams, he'd be guarded by the Tayshaun Prince-type guys and then Gordon, Nocioni and Deng would overwhelm a lot of teams. He's just the only guy in the class of a Kobe or a Wade or a LeBron whom I can see we have a shot at w/o mortgaging our entire team. Your thoughts? --J.D., Chicago
See, it's not just me who wants to deal. I can't stand watching McGrady play and would take Hinrich any day over him. First of all, McGrady likely has a short career tenure because of his back problems. Part of the issue is he doesn't work much on rehabilitation and it often keeps him from practicing, so it never gets better and it's hard for your team to get better. And he still hasn't even been out of the first round of the playoffs. He's a fabulous talent, way better than anyone on the Bulls. He was at his best in Toronto when he played with Vince Carter. He worked hard and defended then and with his long arms and quickness, he was amazing. But he decided to become just a scorer. He could be even better, virtually unstoppable, but he mostly runs the perimeter and shoots. He doesn't like the contact going to the basket. He's one of those players of which the NBA has too many now, more promise than reality. Hey, get me, the one who keep arguing against trades.
Sam, I've enjoyed watching the Bulls overachieve against the Heat, but it's also been surreal to watch Tim Thomas tear it up in the Suns-Lakers series. This brings up a couple of questions. First, did Thomas really have that horrible of a work ethic that the Bulls had to send him home while still paying him the highest salary on the team? Second, if the Bulls had received the production out of Thomas that he is currently providing to the Suns, could the Bulls have gone from an overachieving team that could pull an upset or two in the playoffs to a talented group that would have been a legitimate threat to the Pistons this season (especially in light of Tyson Chandler's latest injury)? --Frank Talaga, Naperville, Ill.
I get asked this a lot and this is one of those, "You had to be there" things. Look, the Bulls never wanted Thomas. They wanted the draft picks, and they could be great. He just came to fill out the NBA mathematics of the deal. They thought they'd take a look, but he was hurt and indifferent. It's the story of his career and why he was traded several times. It's not like he was in great demand.
The NBA is more of a team sport than almost every team sport. Screens, boxing out, helping on defense, passing, those so-called little things. You have to rely on your teammates. It's why you see so many dysfunctional teams with talent. Match the talent of teams out of the playoffs, like the 76ers, even Boston, Orlando, Minnesota, Houston, with the Bulls. It's certainly not less.
The Bulls established a standard of play. They practice hard and you have seen the effects on Miami. They work on offense and defense and help one another. Thomas doesn't play that way and never has. He has more talent than anyone on the Bulls, a big man who can shoot from outside and go to the basket. If he had the ethic of Chris Duhon, he'd be LeBron James. But he usually asked out of practice or ran lazily. He told players they didn't have to work hard after big games. He told the team he was a star and should be treated like one. You don't need that with a young team, and what would have gone on during the season between he and Scott Skiles? Did the Heat need Gary Payton yelling at Dwyane Wade? You're always better off with less talent and more character.
Thomas is a great rental for the Suns. They rarely practice because of the way they play, don't push for defense and were desperate for size with injuries. He was an ideal fit for them. He would have been a disaster for the Bulls. They don't want to get in a dispute bringing it up again and I don't blame them. But they did the right thing.
Sam, can you trade for a rookie under contract? I don't see any teams that trade their rookies under contract away. If it can be done, how about Bulls trade their No.1 pick plus another player for Andrew Bogut from Milwaukee? Looks like NY will be better next year and Bulls won't be able to get that Oden centre guy in the lottery. The Bulls would know how to utilize his talents better than what Milwaukee are doing now. Thanks. --Louis, Sydney, Australia
Yes, you can trade for rookies, but teams usually pick them for a reason and want to see what they have. Why would the Bucks trade a legitimate center for a chance to draft a legitimate center? I agree Milwaukee hasn't done great with Bogut, which is because they traded for center Jamaal Magloire before the season. Magloire was hurt last season and no one had seen how much he deteriorated. The Bucks hoped to get something out of him and it didn't work, which slowed the development of Bogut. The Bucks will dump Magloire in the summer and Bogut will move to center, where he can be a multiple threat player with his passing. The Bulls still have a chance to get someone like LaMarcus Aldridge in the draft and some reasonable big men in free agency, like Joel Przybilla or Nazr Mohammed.
Hi, Sam, I been reading some of your articles regarding the unrestricted-free agents after this season for the Chicago Bulls. You mention Al Harrington's name. I don't see the fascination of having Harrington if Loul Deng and Andres Nocioni are young players who display value at the small forward position. What do you see from Al Harrington in which you do not see with Deng and Nocioni? --Perry, Chicago