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Ask Sam Mailbag: 02.15.19 | Chicago Bulls

I remember growing up, the all-star game was always the most exciting event of the NBA season for a fan, other than the start of the playoffs. Not so much the festivities, but the game! It was always a treat to see star players from their perspective regions come join forces to battle on the court and walk away with bragging rights as to who was a part of the better conference. In years past, that has changed. The game doesn’t capture that electricity, that anticipation. Is it because we have an opportunity to watch games coast to coast all year round and it’s no longer a special treat to see these players? Has free agency contributed to that, as players are looking to team up all season long? Is it the new format of choosing teams despite of conferences? Anyway, what are some of your favorite memories from years past of the all-star game?

Christopher Billingsley

Sam: Money changes people, you might have heard, though I am not against money. Certainly for the players, who earned the right to be compensated as they are. It’s All-Star weekend and many don’t care much anymore, though like the Pro Bowl people probably will watch because it’s, well, on TV. After all, it must be something if it’s on TV. Once, and you obviously did not grow up with a cell phone, making the All-Star game and winning meant a payment for players being paid so little at the time it mattered a lot. Like baseball’s World Series share. The Yankees were the dominant team, but so cheap they would underpay their players and then say they’d be getting a World Series share so could make it up that way. Winning side in the NBA All-Star game made more money. They competed seriously for the money. Then when they began to make pretty good money in the 80s, it was a time of a greater spirit of competition because players were more linked to their teams before free agency matured.

Players from that era grew up when neighborhoods determined your school district; there was no hopping around to the high school of your choice and no AAU with players competing against and with one another routinely. Plus, you had showmen type players in that era who liked to perform on that stage, like Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas. There were more intense team rivalries then with more games between teams before all the expansions and limitations on free agency. The combination of fewer games between teams during the season and players even sitting out some to rest their loads effectively eliminated rivalries today. The AAU factor and greater freedom of movement, which was hard earned and deserved as well, led to a league with more fraternization.

So the All-Star game became more of a beauty contest. And the league is fine with that because it’s really just a giant annual convention now with players there as runway models. I watched pretty much all of them back to the 60s, though our TV screens were so small you never could quite tell who was playing. I held a media record rarely challenged and mostly mocked of having covered the last 30 consecutive All-Star games. When I discovered there’s no award for that, I decided to sit this one out as I build toward Chicago 2020. Among the ones I covered, my favorite was the Magic Johnson HIV return game when he made shot after shot and was embraced by Isiah and Michael and continued the NBA’s lead in helping erase the stigma of those with the infectious disease. The 80s games with Magic and Isiah setting up their teams with the full court bounce passes were the best All-Star games.

I had Michael as MVP in his last one in 2003 until overtime and Kevin Garnett stealing it and, of course, Jordan’s 1988 show in Chicago with the dunk contests with Dominique Wilkens those few years. I loved Kobe in his first All-Star game waving Karl Malone out of the post so he could try to dunk on Jordan, Craig Hodges making something like 19 threes in a row and 1997 with the 50 greatest and sitting listening to Wilt, Russell, West and Oscar tell stories. I also liked that Shaq dance with the mask whatever that was.


Michael Jordan participates in All Star contest.

I want a reality check – why are we bringing in role players that can win us 4 more games? Tank or bring in alphas – the only options… We cannot live in a malaise for the next decade! And binging in ‘nice’ players will do just that because we don’t have a contending core…. You say we cannot recruit alphas. I agree. so the only option is to tank… it makes no sense bringing in Porter, none whatsoever.

Tarun Kalra

Sam: Great win going into the All-Star break! That’s the way to play! What idiots! Don’t they know Zion is a once-in-a-generation talent? Lose! And so goes my teeter-totter mail these days. Everyone understands Zion Williamson potentially is a great player, and the NBA is about great players, and you need a couple, and maybe the Bulls have some pretty good ones now moving forward, but you need that No. 1. Where would Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant be without Jordan? I don’t watch much college basketball, but the consensus seems to be Williamson is the great talent while his teammates and the point guard Ja are very good top fives like in other years. OK, fine. But the way the NBA modified the lottery this year with the teams with the three poorest records having a 14 percent chance of No. 1 and No. 4 having 12.5 percent, it’s essentially the same.

Now, I get it that you’d rather have the worst or second worst because two is better than three and three better than four. But if this is all about No. 1, as most suggest, then the Bulls likely will be there and probably with the fourth poorest record with a huge gap between them and No. 5. The Knicks seem headed toward that poorest record with the Suns and Cavs in close pursuit. The Bulls have better overall talent than those three teams, which should be a good thing. They’ll win more games. They lost so many because of the injuries to Markkanen, Dunn, Valentine and Portis. So it’s really a fluke chance at the top pick. They should be about where Orlando is without the injuries. So do what? Play Felicio 40 minutes? Rawle Alkins? Players are not about to help a team compete for their replacements. The game has to matter, and whatever the Bulls do it seems they’ll be among the four poorest records and with essentially the same chance at No. 1. That’s about as good an outlook they could have for now even with making what appears like an excellent trade for the team’s future.


The Bulls won the coin toss against the Kings and because of that they ended up with the 7th pick in the 2018 draft. If they had lost, they would have had that #2 pick, which is crazy to me to think that a coin toss decided that they picked 5 spots lower. IF the Bulls had lost that coin toss and ended up with the 2nd pick, who do you think they would have taken? Bagley or Doncic? Interesting to think about.

Justin Swiercz

Sam: The coin toss really didn’t decide it. The coin toss was just to break the tie in the standings for one extra number among the 1,000 in the hopper for the selection. It was a minuscule, fractional difference and luck just fell to the Kings. Though that’s a good question. I had heard the Bulls liked Bagley a lot, but from what I can tell from general managers these days everyone would have taken Doncic.


The 2018 draft class poses for a photo.

Despite the beating this team is taking on the airwaves and in the loss column, I like the current shape of the roster and the direction it is heading. Zach, Otto and Lauri are a formidable perimeter trio in this slash-and-kick era of the NBA. The right complement to this, I think, is a penetrating, pass-first point guard who can play defense. Kris Dunn is not that. He is a scorer, not a distributor, and is fit to anchor the second unit as a first scoring option. I see Kris as a valuable piece in this rebuild- why not exploit his strengths as a 6th man and as a closer? You don’t have to start a game to put your signature on it. There are a bevy of veteran, free agent point guards this offseason. The right signing here might offer the synergy this team needs.

Eric Cohen

Sam: I wrote something about that after the win over Memphis when Dunn didn’t play, but you never want to make a judgment about a team or game just because a player misses one game. Though Dunn more than any player on the team, in part because of how vital the position is, has been under the most scrutiny this season despite all the fits and starts, including his. So perhaps it is a greater test for the coaching staff and management. This is, after all, still a bottom five team. No one’s job should be safe. Everyone can be expendable until you are a consistent winner, and then you can make the case. You don’t want to have a player starting because he was a high draft pick, or value in trade or it might send him spiraling in the wrong direction. It’s about building the best team, which is what this post All-Star segment should be about.

With Markkanen finally healthy and Porter showing the veteran abilities missing on this young Bulls team, there’s nothing wrong with seeing what works best. If it’s Dunn off the bench, so be it. Lopez went from starting to the bench. As I mentioned in my post game report, the reserves have been dominated since Portis was traded and need leadership and someone to rely on. And don’t we hear players say all they care about is who finishes? Perhaps that’s also a better fit for Dunn. All we know is point guard is a vital, dynamic position in today’s NBA, and whomever plays that position for the Bulls needs to play that way.


Kris Dunn setups offense against Charlotte Hornets.

As a huge Bulls fan, the trade of Bobby Portis really hurt me. I thought Gar/Pax again made another fashionably stupid deal by giving away 2 double double a night players even with Parker’s bad defense. I really felt like they should have tried to throw Felicio’s contract in the deal instead. Given the early returns of Otto Porter, I have been more than impressed after years watching him here in the DC area. The Bulls are using him more than a spot up shooter. With that being said and still not totally happy about it, who are some free agents at the backup power position they could sign this off-season to help kind of make of the void left on the bench. My assumption is that unless they get the #1 pick they will pick the best wing wing player available to develop and resign Arcidiacono as the back up.

Thomas Brackeen

Sam: I think it’s all up in the air about positions and summer since there’s still the draft, free agents, buyouts, trades, surprises. As I wrote after the Memphis game, it wasn’t personal with Bobby as much as he felt so. I understood that. We all feel that way when the place or person that embraced us moves on. We all felt that at The Chicago Tribune even though it was hardly the company and more the market and economics. You give your soul and spirit to the company and you love being there and sacrifice—we wore Tribune across our chests—and then everything keeps moving on without you. It hurts. Everyone feels they are irreplaceable because they are, certainty to them and their families, but the larger picture always leaves us at the margins. Bobby just duplicated what the Bulls had; Porter didn’t. He filled a need with no small forward and the experiment trying Jabari Parker there unsuccessful.

Life also is all about opportunity. Otto really didn’t have it in DC with John Wall and Braley Beal the favored players and assigned the majority of the scoring and ball handling responsibilities. We’d hear it with Michael Jordan in the 80s if the Bulls lost and Paxson or Craig Hodges had four points. Fans would say they needed to score more. But they might be getting three shots. How were they supposed to score more? They used to make fun of Porter in Washington for just standing in the corner waiting to shoot. But that’s what they told him to do. It’s also why he’s been bristling here when asked about being a reluctant scorer as they said in Washington. With the Bulls now, he’s being asked to do more, and he’s showing he can, he wants to and it should be helpful for the Bulls.


Bobby Portis celebrates play.

Keep seeing this written or hearing it said as if this is obvious, so am curious as to why? “Portis Projects as a Bench Player” What is it about his game, size, athleticism, work ethic and impressive improvement trajectory that makes it clear to folks that sixth man is his destiny and ceiling? How sure should we be that in future matchups between Portis and Markkanen or Carter Jr. that Lauri or Wendell will prevail?

Peter Laundy

Sam: At least we should have a nice, regular rivalry between the Bulls and Wizards. Bobby clearly doesn’t forget. Would he be a starter without Markkanen? Perhaps. Would the Bulls be good enough to be a serious contender? I suspect they felt without offending Bobby too much, no. Great teams have had great sixth men, like Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce, Jamal Crawford, Bobby Jones, Detlef Schrempf, Manu Ginobili. There no shame, and Bobby was proud. But the Bulls filled a need and got a starter who fits. Got to give something good to get something good.


Could u imagine if Bulls bring back portis as a free agent! I could see the Bulls sending him an offer for $12 million per year. Then just get vet minimum guys. We would have a legit team.

Ryan Carpel

Sam: I guess it’s possible since the Bulls can be in the other-than-superstar free agent market. Perhaps Bobby should not burn all his old Bulls stuff yet. You never say never in the NBA, and as Boylen likes to say the Bulls want those guys with the Bulls across their chests, and few have worn it more proudly than Bobby.


Thanks for the article about Noah. So life relatable and we know his outside story so well. Total good natured leader and warrior. I always thought has to be the most interesting guy to have a one on one interview or just have dinner with. How cool to bring him and Derrick back next year in supporting roles for a young team with top pick. Maybe a jersey that should be retired?

Jeff Lichtenstein

Sam: The Bulls do need to loosen up on that jersey retirement thing a bit, I agree. As much as it would be wonderful to see Rose and Noah in Bulls jerseys again, those things generally do not work out well. Because we always remember them as they were and not as they are now. Like trying to date your also divorced high school sweetheart after divorce. Generally seems like a better idea than it is. Rose and Noah could have several more productive years in the NBA, and I’d love for them to be contented doing so. It seems to be it would be more difficult in Chicago considering who they were and what they accomplished. I am for the jersey retirements because it was a memorable decade.


Derrick Rose and Joakim Noach check into game against Cavaliers.

When is the last time the Bulls starting front line combined for 83 points? Loved your comparison of Lauris stats to Giannis’s career arc. Also looks good compared to that of love who is also a stretch 4 and was also a one and done in the pac 10/12 so similar in that respect. We would all be thrilled if Lauri became either Giannis or love, excited to watch him progress and hoping for good health.

Guy Danilowitz

Sam: Since it included Lopez’ 25 points against Memphis, it may be an outlier. Nate Thurmond, Love and Walker? Gilmore, Greenwood and Larry Kenon? It’s not that rich a history. But the possibilities seem intriguing for LaVine, Porter and Markkanen, and especially the way Markkanen has played lately, and not even shooting as well as he can. The way the game is being played these days, he needs to take at least 10 threes every game with his shooting ability. He’s just now getting into shape after his injury. We are an in-the-moment society, I understand, which is why I offered the comparison. Not to say Markkanen could be that good, but we never thought Giannis would be. Nor Curry or Westbrook or Harden. Markkanen’s got some amazing skills and he’s barely off his rookie season and rookie language.


Lauri Markkanen take a jump shot.

Regarding tanking and the draft: Divide the teams into three draft tiers. The first group is the fourteen teams that did not make the playoffs, the so-called lottery teams. The second group is the five through eight seeds. The third group is the one through four seeds. Each group has its own draft lottery to determine selection order, with the same odds for each member of the group. The big difference is that each group does its complete draft before the next group begins its draft. The fourteen non-playoff teams make their first and second round picks. Next, the eight first round road teams make their first and second round picks. Last, the eight first round home teams make their first and second round picks. By giving all the non-playoff teams the same odds of getting the first overall pick the league will eliminate most of the tanking incentive. By giving the league’s worst teams essentially two first round picks the league will allow them to improve more rapidly. Also, by allowing the worst teams a better opportunity to assemble a talented nucleus quickly, the league increases the likelihood that nucleus will stay together. I think that will enable small market teams to compete more effectively than they can now.

Michael Murden

Sam: Defeating human greed and wickedness never has succeeded. Hey, I read that in the Bible. And quantity never beats quality. It’s a nice try, but the flaw is like this year. Everyone wants Zion or maybe one or two others. By equalizing the odds, you give a .500 or better team the same chance for the potential superstar as the 10-72 team. Multiple No. 1 picks out of the top 5 or 7 don’t guarantee much as we see with the Bulls picks out of the top 10; some good players; mostly reserves. Teams really shouldn’t be tanking this season with the odds for the bottom 5 similar. But they still do. It’s become a rebuilding blueprint if you are bad, so teams would be doing it anyway. Long before the lottery, teams were losing 65 to 70 games a year also. There’s always poverty, there’s always corruption, there’s always bad teams that don’t seem to be trying. It’s the imperfection of humanity and the NBA draft. Let’s just accept it. Hey, is that a sermon?


If Valentine comes back healthy for 2019/20 season, could / should bulls use him as point guard plus put responsibility on Carter as a point center. Starting Valentine, LaVine, Porter, Markkanen, and Carter gives Bulls length and capability for switching on defense plus all are scorers. Reminds me of years when Harper started; thus no “real” PG for those years with Jordan. Valentine has the three point range. If want to go slightly smaller & faster then can sub in Hutchison for either Carter or Markkanen to give a different look. Then look to sign a free agent high volume scoring small guard for bench scoring.

Wayne Warner

Sam: Oh yeah, Denzel. I believe he is in the Bulls plans. He is a good three-point shooter and passer. Quick enough to defend after all those ankle surgeries? That’s for next season. But thanks for mentioning him. You feel badly seeing him sitting around all the time with nothing to do. Though the team said he is out of his boot and working out some finally. Though with the snow still piled up perhaps he could have kept the boot longer.


Denzel Valentine and team celebrate from bench.

Why didn’t the bulls go after Markelle Fultz? There is a lot of uncertainty at point guard for the bulls. Getting a former talented number 1 pick in Fultz could’ve solved our point guard situation. Much like what the nets did with D-Russ. I think Fultz is still going to be a great player in this league.
And say the Knicks held on to Porzingis. Wouldn’t a trade to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis work for both teams? KP, a couple of first rounders and Tim Hardaway for Anthony Davis. Pelicans get a Star to build around with picks.

Bilal Muhammad

Sam: I assume it was too uncertain regarding Fultz as he’s another young player who is injured and has to start over again, and I don’t think the Bulls want to keep adding such inexperience, especially with another top five pick likely coming this season. The 76ers got a useable veteran for their playoff run and a first-round pick to replace some they gave up for Tobias Harris. The Bulls didn’t want to give up a first, I’d guess, and really didn’t have the kind of veteran wing the 76ers needed for now. It’s a gamble that could pay off, though I suspect the Bulls are losing patience with waiting out uncertain 20-year-olds. The fan base seems to be. As for Porzingis, he’s a big risk coming up for free agency off a serious knee injury. The chances he’d sign with a depleted Pelicans team seemed remote. Though this gives me a chance to condemn the league for its unequal decision to force the Pelicans to play Davis, who seemed out of it along with his teammates, and understandably after asking out like he did.

The league long has been firm on not interfering in team business (the league owned the New Orleans franchise when it rejected the Chris Paul trade), which is why it never punished the 76ers for their four years of trying to lose. Teams routinely rest players in big games and send players home, like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith this season. Yet the Pelicans had to play Davis, which presumably lessened their chances for a good lottery pick and took playing time from a player they want to develop. It’s patently unfair and inappropriate, and needs to change. It’s a bad precedent for other owners to allow the league to dictate who can and should play. And Davis could get hurt, affecting his value. Ooops. He did Thursday against theThunder, leaving the arena with an apparent shoulder injury. It seems unconceivable now he’ll play for New Orleans again this season, and probably not in Sunday’s All-Star game. But he’ll likely go and work on trade machine suggestions for LeBron.


I’m reading comments from Bobby Portis about reassurances he got from Gar Foreman, and yet he was still traded. I actually like Otto Porter so far, and we will surely miss Bobby’s energy. What’s your take on Bobby’s description of the situation?

Anthony Reed

Sam: Don’t we always hear the players say that it’s a business? It strikes me as naive and misunderstanding how the world works to believe you cannot be traded. I don’t know what was said, but I basically never have heard any team telling a player who is not basically all-NBA first team they cannot be traded. I find it hard to believe Bobby playing off the bench for a team straining to win 20 games truly believed there was no chance he could be traded. Especially for a young starter who was a top five lottery pick. Seriously?

Otto Porter dribbling

The Lakers fell below .500 and the natives are getting restless. Surprisingly though, the Los Angeles Times column wasn’t blaming Magic, it was LeBron. The complaints were about all the ‘turmoil’ he’s caused (trying to get Walton fired, trading away all the kids for AD, etc.) without bringing them on-court success. I guess 27 pts, 9 boards & 8 assists per game on 51% shooting isn’t enough. Oh, and he’s been hurt too. Can’t forgive him for that! The latest poop is that LeBron doesn’t care about winning in LA. He made some comment when he came here about having everything he wants and this being “the icing on the cake”. LA fans the column points out don’t think of the Lakers as “icing”. To them, they are the cake. Apparently, LeBron sat on the bench a few chairs away from his teammates during the last game. I’m sure those ‘LeBron’s gonna trade you’ chants from the stands don’t help.
this quote from the column…
“For all his greatness, James is not this team’s veteran leader. That role has been taken by Rajon Rondo,
who has become the most respected and trusted figure in the young locker room…”

Art Alenik

Sam: What a way to brighten up a Chicago winter day. The fans of the team that got LeBron James are mad, also. Perhaps not exactly an endorsement for the Bulls, but it’s refreshing to know other fan bases and media are angry. And they got LeBron!


Lebron and Rajon Rondo talk courtside during Lakers game.

Watching the Grizzlies game was more fun than most have been, even the last couple of wins. The Bulls looked like a basketball team, running, moving the ball on offense, driving to the basket, and, like you said, playing competent defense. As I watched Zach LaVine last night and over the past month or so, I kept recalling a comment Bill Walton once made about Michael Jordan: “He just moves so much better than anyone else.” Not to curse Zach with an MJ comparison, but his movement on the basketball court seems both effortless when he runs and cuts, and other-worldly when he leaps. He has the potential to be special, and I see what you see. I just hope he and his teammates can stay healthy.

Kirk Landers

Sam: I have found it interesting the nitpicking about Zach, the bad shots thing and the defense and the passing and the…Hey, wait! I heard the Lakers fans hate LeBron! Zach’s one of the world’s great athletes; that he’s come back from his ACL like he has is truly amazing. He plays through injuries as he could have sat the last few weeks with ankle issues. He is a player the community should be embracing for wanting to play, wanting to succeed, standing up without complaint as all fell around him and there was nothing but losses, and that you rarely can find athletes of that level. Zach has a chance to be great. What the reaction mostly means is, “We are losing and I don’t like that! Excuse me while I stamp my feet, hold my breath and bang my head against the wall.”


Do you reckon the Bulls will take a look at the buyout market now that the trade deadline has passed?

Shaun Chalmer

Sam: Mostly to see where the top players go for their fantasy league teams, I’d guess.


Zach LaVine dribbling against Memphis Grizzlies

This season is one of the worst seasons for a Bulls fan. Lots of expectations for an improved season came short. I still do not understand the change of head coach. As I read comments on social media I get the feeling that the fanbase thinks that the ones to blame are GarPax. The general feeling is that with them no big names will ever chose the Bulls and that with them we are stacked at mediocrity.

Stefanos Panayiotides

Sam: Despite some of the conventional wisdom and the woe is us stuff, I don’t think that influences player decisions. It’s more the record, and because of factors like injury and rebuilding, it’s been bad this season. The Bulls got hammered pretty good for saying, in effect, Porter was like a free agent for them. You want transparency? Except of course when it’s not what you might want to hear. Though it seems I often hear why try the free agent market since no one comes. So make a trade! No, what about Durant and Kyrie? Oh, man. The Porter deal really seemed to make sense because with all the talk about free agency, the history is the best ones never go to losing teams. So we’ll see with Durant this summer and all the rumors about New York. I don’t believe it, in part because he is so sensitive and he has no idea how you are treated in New York with a bad team and big salary. The 76ers have done a great recovery, but they could not get free agents because of their youth and record. So what you usually have to do is improve and become competitive before seriously having a chance in the free agent market. Or making trades. There is no real next man up when that next man previously was in the G-league. Injuries wiped out this season for the Bulls. But in Markkanen and LaVine, the Bulls appear to have potential All-Star talents. Porter is a nice addition to that. Wendell Carter Jr. could be.

It’s Year two of a rebuilding; the Bulls did say they’d be bad for three or four years. So it’s really no surprise; obviously, difficult if you’ve been watching the games. Heck, maybe they’re really a year ahead and deserve your praise. You can get back to me on that.


Wendell Carter Jr. scores against the Lakers

Additional information has surfaced about the Bulls acquisition of Porter. Apparently Washington had no intention of trading Otto until Wall reinjured his leg and they concluded they would not be a serious contender, making Otto available. The Bulls action was prompt in response and not a panic reaction to the scrambled free agent market. Trading a rotation player at an overstocked position approaching free agency for a starting quality player at a position of need was opportunistic and applause is appropriate.

John Petersen

Sam: Was that you applauding with one hand?


Otto Porter Jr. scores against Memphis Grizzlies

From reading your mailbags it seems clear a lot of people are frustrated with Gar and Pax and feel they can do nothing right and should be shipped out. At the risk of disrupting the #FireGarPax narrative, there are a few things people should remember:

Since 2008, only two teams have drafted an MVP, a Defensive Player of the Year, and an All-Star who was picked outside of the lottery. One was the Golden State Warriors. The other was the Chicago Bulls (Rose, Noah, and Butler). But, the Bulls apparently can’t draft anyone good?
In 2013 the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two future Hall of Famers and recent All-Stars (Pierce was a reserve in 2012, Garnett was a starter in 2013) in a deal with the Nets that netted them multiple lottery picks. Danny Ainge is considered a genius for that move. In 2005 the Bulls made a trade with the Knicks turning Eddy Curry, a solid player but nowhere as accomplished as those two, into two Top 10 lottery picks, one of whom became Joakim Noah. But the Bulls apparently always lose trades? Between 2008 and 2017, the Bulls had the ninth best winning percentage in the NBA, despite Rose’s many absences. Yet, the Bulls apparently aren’t committed to fielding a winning team?

Oh, but the Bulls didn’t sign Lebron James or Kevin Durant as free agents, so they can’t sign the major players. Fair enough. You know who else didn’t sign them? The San Antonio Spurs or Boston Celtics, who reportedly are two of the top front offices in the NBA. Where’s the call for their heads? By the way, Lebron not signing with the Bulls is viewed as a Bulls failure. Maybe it’s a Lebron mistake. You can’t argue that he made four trips to the NBA finals with Miami and won two titles, but the Bulls had room for two max free agents in 2010. You’re telling me if Lebron/Wade or Lebron/Bosh signed in Chicago, with future MVP Rose, with future Defensive Player of the Year Noah, with future all-star Luol Deng, with the opportunity to draft Gibson and Butler based on the fact they were taken at the end of the first round, where the Bulls would most likely be drafting, that team wouldn’t have done as well, if not better? I mean, the Bulls got to the Eastern Conference Finals WITHOUT those guys. Are the Bulls to blame because NBA players have the right to make their own choices? Besides that, the Bulls have brought in accomplished All-Stars like Ben Wallace, Pau Gasol, Carlos Boozer, even Dwayne Wade. Think back–who was the most notable free agent acquisition during Jordan’s run, before Gar/Pax got in the front office?

But, the Bulls had the second pick in the 2006 draft, could have had LaMarcus Aldridge, but they traded it for Tyrus Thomas. Good GMs don’t do that. Except in 2008 Pat Riley, viewed as one of the all-time great GMs, picked #2 and passed over Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love . . . even Serge Ibaka . . . to select Michael Beasley. Do good GMs, let alone all-time great ones with incredible talent evaluation skills, do that?

But, the Bulls don’t spend money. Would you prefer they spend it foolishly? Would you like to have John Wall and his $40 million contract eating up your cap space when he can’t get his team to the NBA Finals? Do you want to be the Timberwolves, who invested a max deal in Andrew Wiggins that to date hasn’t paid off with anything more than one playoff appearance? Do you want to be the Heat, who have one of the top payrolls in the league and are fielding at best a borderline playoff team? When your worst deal is Felicio at around $9 million a season, that’s not a bad place to be in. I can think of a lot of teams who would love that problem.

I’m not saying the Bulls are perfect, but the impression they can’t do anything right is short sighted, and I don’t believe if you make great decisions at one point you suddenly forget how to do that. It seems people have very short memories . . . although considering sports media is obsessing over whether Anthony Davis should just be sat when just a year ago the Bulls were prevented from doing that exact same thing with Lopez and Holiday, maybe everyone has a short memory. OK, I’m done venting.

Chris Feldman

Sam: You interested in conducting some of those Bulls media conferences?

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