Could give me your list of Bulls, among Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni and Tyrus Thomas, whom you would trade? Most people I've asked want Hinrich gone first or second, but I think he's been one of the best Bulls over the past few years and is in a slump that he will eventually snap out of. --Drew, Chicago
This is a great question I'm sure John Paxson is asking as well now that there's talk the Bulls could get Pau Gasol. Ben Gordon is invaluable with his scoring, but doesn't do that much else. He doesn't really run the offense, pass or defend. But they do count the points at the end of the game and no one on the Bulls does it better. Hinrich isn't quite the scorer, but is a better defender but probably doesn't quite have the point guard mentality of Duhon. Deng is the most consistent, able to do a little bit of everything. I know I still haven't answered. Nocioni is a nice specialist, tough guy and good shooter and Thomas is the best athlete of all but a bit away in skills.
I'd put Hinrich, Gordon and Deng together at the top and find them almost inseparable in value. If I had to I'd probably keep Gordon because of his unique scoring ability and Hinrich because he defends the best and can play point and score, though he's more an old-time guard like Danny Ainge. Good guards are harder to come by than good small forwards, which makes it tough because Deng might have a higher ceiling than Hinrich and Gordon and could improve the most, but it depends on whom you're trading for.
With a low-post scorer, I'd want to keep Gordon most to spread the floor. With a big guard scorer like Jason Richardson or Ray Allen, I'd want to keep Hinrich or Deng. I'd trade Nocioni and Thomas if I could get a power forward. I'd probably let Deng go first of the big three with regret, then Hinrich and Gordon -- and still not be sure. That's why the Gasol thing is going to be difficult, if not impossible.
Do you think Pau Gasol could be had for Tyrus Thomas, Andres Nocioni, Chris Duhon and a future first round pick? Or am I dreaming? --Curt, Farmington, N.M.
It's a nice dream for the Bulls. This is why this isn't going to happen soon, if at all. The Grizzlies apparently are asking for at least two of three from among Gordon, Deng and Hinrich. If that doesn't change, there will be no deal for the Bulls. I don't believe they'd give up two of the three. They'd like to keep all three, but might have to give up one. It will probably come down to the trading deadline, and if the Grizzlies don't have a better deal, then maybe the Bulls do it without disturbing their main core, though I doubt that.
What other teams will be competing with the Bulls for Gasol? Who, if anyone, can offer a package comparable to that of the Bulls? --Tim, Evergreen Park, Ill.
He's a nice piece, but the Bulls seem to have the most assets a team like that could use. If only they realized that as much as we do. Toronto has several young big men and could get in it. The Nets have talked about dealing Vince Carter, who is a bigger name than anyone the Bulls can offer. The Celtics have offered just about everyone but Paul Pierce. I can see the Cavs making a big offer or maybe Washington. The Bobcats and Hawks have plenty of young assets. They're unlikely to deal him West, but Portland would give them Zach Randolph, I assume Seattle would offer Rashard Lewis and the Warriors any number of players. It's going to get busy for the Grizzlies.
Why does John Paxson get a free pass for trading J.R. Smith and getting exactly nothing for him? I am sure he is not a Skiles/Paxson guy, but I think that quality is overrated. By my account, he was given to Denver and the Bulls have zero to show for it. Are the Bulls here to win games or pass judgment on character? --David Cox, Chicago
I can't say I disagree. The Bulls are loaded with guards and Smith never would have played. Who are you going to sit, Gordon? Hinrich? And Sefolosha eventually will be the bigger defensive guard they need. I'm interested to see how Smith does with Anthony and Iverson firing now. It's not like I heard a lot of people saying the team had to keep him after the trade. The fact is there are some issues with the guy; he's already stated he doesn't like to get up early to come to practice and character does matter. Not for the sake of judging someone or making the world better, but you need people you can count on and are reliable. Smith had not shown any of that with the Hornets and I'm interested to see what happens now with Anthony and Iverson running everything in Denver.
A couple questions on Jermaine O'Neal: I love his game but he's also a frustrating player to watch sometimes, like an SF in a center's body. He's got a great shooting touch and blocks like crazy, but seems to hate all the shoving in the post. What's with that? You beat on him some earlier this week for complaining about his team, which was a tacky thing for him to do. But O'Neal does work with some certifiable knuckleheads while he's been quite classy as he's literally grown up in the spotlight. How much of this "disgruntled player" stuff is manufactured by bored reporters with inches to fill and not much to say about a .500 team during the regular season? --Chris R., Chicago
With all the talk about Garnett, he may be the one to be traded because it seems clear the Pacers are close to breaking up their team. The big problem with O'Neal is the way you opened: He should be a power post player, but he doesn't like the contact. He prefers to wander outside and shoot jumpers. You don't need an $18 million power forward to do that. It's probably the big reason why the Pacers never have gone far in the playoffs with him despite that great talent. So they get rid of another of the knuckleheads in Stephen Jackson and I heard O'Neal was fine with letting Harrington go because Harrington was clogging things up for him in his 15-foot range and then O'Neal complains about the team being close and now having to start over. He's a guy who always seems to be upset with something, though he is not a major distraction. It's frustrating for a team and I wouldn't be surprised if the Pacers quietly begin taking bids on him.
Do you think both the Bulls and the Nuggets would trade Marcus Camby and Reggie Evans for Chris Duhon, PJ Brown and Tyrus Thomas? The Bulls would get a big guy who's an excellent defender and can score more than Brown to pair with Big Ben and the Nuggets would get a defensive-minded point guard, a project in Thomas and salary cap flexibility with Brown's contract. --Vasco Curado, Lisboa, Portugal
At least you're thinking from both sides, which is vital. But I doubt the Nuggets would give up their best defender for a project and a short term guy in P.J. I can tell you are a Bulls fan and not a Nuggets fan.
Are the Bulls too nice? Ben Wallace was brought in to add some toughness and grit to this squad. Instead, it appears that this team has softened up Wallace. Scott Skiles was the type of player who ate nails for breakfast. Why doesn't the character of this team reflect its leader? I'm not saying that these guys should play like thugs. There's no place for that in basketball. Gangsta-like stupidity aside, there does not seem to be much NBA-caliber backbone on Skiles' roster. Tough teams grab loose balls and finish lay-ups. Sans Andres Nocioni, could somebody on this team ingest some testosterone. --F.A. Bartkus, Coconut Creek, Fla.
I think this is frustrating to Skiles, who again talked about it after the loss to the Jazz. But I think there is a paradox in the Bulls' philosophy. The Bulls have made a point to try to build their team with high character people from good programs whom you can count on, players who love the game and love to practice and with whom you won't have problems. I agree with that. Yet, those types of people tend to avoid the physical nature of the game and like to play. Remember, Skiles was no angel in college. It's not like Hinrich, Gordon and Deng aren't tough guys. They get beat up pretty good and play very hard and aggressively and you see teams upset and take shots at them, like Miami, Detroit and Washington. But they're not by nature, other than Nocioni, physical people who look to mix it up. Ben looks the part, but it was always more image than reality. And he had crazy guys behind him like Rasheed Wallace.
Do you need it to win? I think the Bulls are OK, though still seem one guy short -- that tough power forward to score and throw his weight around. Maybe if Thomas gains some it will be him.
I'm frustrated the Bulls aren't beating the top-tier teams. From my vantage point, they'll always be an above-average team but will never seriously challenge for the NBA crown. The way the Knicks are playing, their pick probably won't land them an impact draft player. To stay the course, they won't beat any teams from the West. I say take a chance and make a deal for a proven scorer even if you have to trade some of the young talent. I think Hinrich, Nocioni, Duhon and Thomas are all expendable. Paxson's philosophy can only go so far. They really need to get an elite player that can score consistently. --Ron, Pasadena, Calif.
Perhaps Pau Gasol, who seems available now. Those guys don't seem to move too often. And if you think those guys are all expendable, why would a team give up a star for one? There are other reasons, like a guy wanting to be traded, which has been the hope for Garnett and Gasol. Kirilenko? Jermaine O'Neal? Zach Randolph? None seem to be the ideal fit over Garnett or Gasol, two role-playing stars who can't carry a team but need the kind of supporting players the Bulls have. The fact is the Bulls have beaten the elite teams from the East. They've had big games against Miami, Detroit, Cleveland and Indiana. They clearly are a notch below the top Western teams, but you get to the Finals by beating the teams in your conference. Not to say the Bulls are the favorite, but they have a chance against any of those teams. And if you get to the Finals, you only have to beat one Western team, which could panic, like Dallas did last season.
Ask Sam Smith
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