Of all the trades you've proposed for the Bulls -- say, in the post-Jordan era -- which one would you really have liked to see happen? What do you think was the worst proposal you offered? Sounds like this could be a whole column revisiting your best/worst trade proposals. --Adam Kress, Tempe, Ariz.
How about a contest? The Tribune is getting into this personality journalism thing lately on the Internet so we can compete with all those guys sitting in the basement in their underwear stealing our advertisers. So how about my best and worst? I really wish I could remember, though they all seemed good to me at the time. Like the time, I think it was Sam Cassell, shooting 0-for-13 and saying they all felt good leaving his hand. Someone wrote me recently taunting me about a Brian Grant-Eddy Curry proposal. I cannot recall it, though I'm not saying I might have suggested it, but with other pieces involved. I get a lot of kidding about my trades. But, like me, this is a multi-layered thing.
I know most people in America do not like to think, but then what about sports-page readers? They do, though, keep it a secret so all our self-righteous editors can keep thinking they are doing important work on the news pages. The idea is to think about what if, to discuss other teams and their needs and situations. The deal must make sense for both teams. At least to me they do as I always figure in finances, which most fans don't. As much as fans might demand it, teams don't like losing money and will avoid it if they can. Like Memphis now declining to go after Allen Iverson. I'm much remembered for lobbying for Jalen Rose, and still don't regret that as I knew the Bulls wouldn't keep Ron Artest and they couldn't afford Brad Miller while sitting Curry and Tyson Chandler. And they still need a 20-point-per-game guy, and Jalen was that. Just not the right one. The theory made sense. I remember lobbying Jerry Krause hard for Jermaine O'Neal, who was very available in 1999, but Krause was saving money for that fateful free-agent summer of 2000. If you can think of any, send them in and I'll run the best and worst. And it will all be about my favorite topic: Me. But I've talked about myself enough, so now it's your turn.
Am I the only Bulls fan who gets upset when hearing management hint they may not keep all the key players in order to avoid the luxury tax? For numerous years (post-Jordan) me and many other Bulls fans supported cheap, losing teams waiting for the Bulls to gather talent. My suggestion to the Bulls is that they owe their fans by using the financial surplus from those bad years to reward those fans by spending in the coming years. Anything else will be a slap in the face for those of us who watched Khalid el-Amin and Paul Shirley.--Matt Risley, Arlington, Va.
No one has the responsibility to lose money to provide people better entertainment. The movie industry doesn't do it. Not even the school system. No one had to go to Bulls games then. This is a longtime pet peeve of mine: the notion that sports teams are civic properties existing to make fans feel warm and happy, and enable them to run amok in the streets when they win. So buy this player and that player. Do everything, in other words, but what we would do in our lives.
Who, exactly, runs their life as a civic enterprise? Sure, there are charitable people, but few who are homeless. It's great Bill Gates and Warren Buffett give away as much money as they do. But it's not like they're traveling coach to get there. Sure, municipalities build stadiums, but with the plan to support local business and provide the amenities of a city with their budget. I wish our country wasn't in such a big deficit, but that's another issue and I believe a huge mistake.
The luxury tax is exceptionally penal in the NBA and would cost a franchise millions. I have no doubt if the Bulls were on the verge of a championship, they would spend into the luxury tax. But you don't do it on speculation. If you spent money to watch Tim Floyd-coached teams and were disappointed, you made the mistake and it's one you should remember. Send that message to the team next time: Don't go! Any business only owes you a good product. If they cannot provide that, you should choose another. OK, now who's next! Step up, punks! Anyone seen Carmelo Anthony? I'm ready to throw down.
Compare and contrast Phil Jackson verus Scott Skiles. What do you like about them as coaches? What are their similarities? What are their differences, above, and beyond the obvious? --Joseph A., Oak Park, Ill.
I assume the obvious -- meaning championships and the Zen prayer carpet Phil uses. Both are really good coaches, though Phil is clearly in the elite because of his ability to work better with players. Jackson is underrated as a strategist and screamer. He does scream way more than it looks and teaches the game as good as any. Skiles is one of the best I've ever seen at coming up with unusual angles of attack in a game. He is blunt and demanding, which is hardly unusual as a coach, but gets in trouble with players sometimes because he is so smart and hones in on players' biggest weaknesses and worst sensitivities and notes them. Phil does, as well, but has a gentler way of putting it. Skiles' test is to endure with a good team, but he's still a young coach and figures to be around the NBA a long time. Phil is the first coach I'd hire if I had a team.
If the Bulls can't pull off a trade for Kevin Garnett by February, any chance they still try to trade the expiring contracts of P.J. Brown and Michael Sweetney for a younger big man who has fallen out of favor, like Nene or Zach Randolph? -Anuj, Peoria, Ill.
I doubt they'd go for the high maintenance Randolph or that Denver would give up Nene with Marcus Camby always getting hurt. I know there's been much talk about dealing Brown, but he still could be a valuable player in a halfcourt playoff game and I don't see him being a distraction despite his stupid comments about wanting to be traded. All it really showed was that if you play against guys like Artest or Anthony or Fortson, stuff can rub off on you.
Who do you think Wallace will guard when they play the Pistons this year, Sheed or Nazr? --Chuck Armstrong, Harbor Springs, Mich.
I've noticed Rasheed playing more center these days with the Pistons playing smaller, which doesn't hurt much with few real centers or big guys in the East. I'd like to see Ben play Rasheed because he's more a threat, but Rasheed likes to drift out to the perimeter. Rasheed embarrassed Nocioni last season, so I'm guessing P.J. Brown, assuming he's still around, gets time on Rasheed and Ben on Mohammed when he's in the game to keep Ben near the basket. I'm looking forward to that first game here Jan. 6 and believe that's the conference finals we'll be seeing in May.
Looking backwards, do you think Tyrus Thomas was the wisest pick for the Bulls in the draft? I mean LaMarcus Aldridge is having better numbers (far from shinning, but better than TT) and he seems to have a promising future. --Martin, Argentina
I think what's becoming clear is it's a better pick than we thought. Maybe. By that I mean, there probably isn't a player in the 2006 draft who'd be in the top five in 2007. It wasn't a great draft and no one is really having much impact. I think the Bulls figured that out and decided Thomas might become a terrific player, but no one they saw would be because players like Morrison were close to their ceiling already. Aldridge looks OK, but I think you'd rather have four centers from this draft ahead of him.
We've now watched Ben Gordon for the last few years. He clearly does better off the bench versus starting. Does anyone have a good theory why? Does Ben admit this as well? Do you think he would be happy with this role his entire career? --Junior Mariano, Seattle
I don't see him being happy, but he is getting minutes and leading the team in scoring. I think if he got paid on the level of a starter he'd be OK. He seems to want to be a starting point guard and when he does start, he appears hesitant to shoot and moves the ball. It doesn't always get back to him. When he comes off the bench, the team looks for him more and he's quicker too shoot. He's a great asset to have with a good team, but a luxury of sorts for a team that doesn't have every starting position set.
This is the first year watching Ben Wallace on a nightly basis and I can't figure him out. Despite the free-throw shooting, and poor shooting in general, he seems genuinely agile and skilled, with good passing and ballhandling skills, and occasional deft moves to the hoop. He's far more skilled than Tyson Chandler. What gives? Is he late to basketball and never learned to shoot? --Mark Bires, Oak Park, Ill.
Darned if anyone can figure that out. There's really no excuse for someone whose job is basketball and practices it every day to shoot like that. My guess is he is so unskilled and generally uncoordinated, that we should be applauding him for even standing up.
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