Ask Sam Mailbag: 06.14.2019

Sam opens his mailbag and answers your questions about the upcoming draft, the Raptors' win, and other stories around the NBA
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by Sam Smith

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Rocky Rosado

Should the bulls consider using the Atlanta Hawks approach and be calculated with its cap space to add draft capital. OKC is said to want cap relief and willing to tie the #21 pick. I'd take Andre Robersons 1 yr 10 million dollar contract if it meant adding the 21st pick. I'd also consider a trade with boston. How about the #38 pick, Cash to boston for the #20th pick.

Sam:

I think this draft is wide open for the Bulls because of falling to No. 7, where it's questionable about getting an immediate difference maker. And that in this kind of draft you might find just about the same talent at 17. Figuring out which one is the problem. I've gotten a lot of mail lately about swapping 7 for 10 and 17, which apparently has been rumored by sources who may or may not know. I'm usually not for trading down. As we know, the NBA is about the best talent perhaps more than most leagues because of the effect the individuals can have. But when the draft isn't so deep, your scouting could make the difference. I'll admit I liked the Bulls trading up in 2014 for Doug McDermott at No. 11. How could he not be a better version of Kyle Korver? But Denver prospered with Nos. 16 and 19 with Jusuf Nurkic (now with Portland) and Gary Harris. Though neither are franchise stars. McDermott could have been. He just wasn't. Thibs was with me on that one. Told me Doug couldn't miss. So you never really know until they play in the NBA.

There's a chance one of the point guards the Bulls like falls to No. 7, so they could hold there. But this also could be the kind of draft where you take a chance with an extra pick on two players and perhaps one surprises. Cam Reddish could/should get to No. 10. Maybe a seemingly ready international center like Goga Bitadze? Nurkic and Jokic (41) from that 2014 draft did pretty well. Maybe Jaxson Hayes at No. 10 since the Bulls could use some size and athleticism at center at least in a rotation. Maybe Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke, a Taj Gibson-type, gets to No. 17. Taj, after all, was No. 26 and well worth the effort. Maybe a risk on a big time athlete who has had problems like Kevin Porter Jr. or perhaps Bol Bol with his amazing size and skill. Though you also risk with so much uncertainty your guy getting taken before you get a chance. This is a draft that could go in so many unexpected directions for the Bulls. I'm sure come draft night I'll still have no idea.


John Petersen

It seems like the Hawks did a Jerry Krause two full boats position with a big potential downside for the Nets. Should the Bulls be players in this type of salary dump action?

Sam:

The other element in that sort of move for an extra draft pick is what else you can do with your salary cap space. Is it worth an extra draft pick? Basically, that sort of deal is selling your cap space for a player you get plus the pick. If you like the player, it could be very good. But then you lose your cap space. And what if a team like Memphis would like to use it for a player, perhaps someone like Mike Conley Jr.?

Perhaps the Lakers are seeking more cap room like the way they maneuvered in 1996 for Shaq and will give you Lonzo Ball. Maybe Brandon Ingram doesn't recover and they need to dump his salary for space for maybe a second free agent. Salary cap space can potentially yield a team a windfall. Unless, of course, you hold onto it too long.


Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans greets players after the game against the Sacramento Kings on April 7, 2019 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.

Daniel George

I was wondering what your thoughts are on Anthony Davis and the Bulls. I read an article saying Griffin is looking at a package of an all star calibre player, an up and comer and some first round picks. The Bulls could look at a package of say Markannen, and Lavine (or Carter, Porter - if we can get away with a low ball). It seems like a no-brainer to get a top 5 guy. It brings Davis back home to Chicago, at the risk of being a one year rental. I'd rather see us shoot for a star, instead of competing to be a 7th or 8th seed for the next few years. Maybe having Davis here starts to make Chicago a destination for a new generation of free agents. We obviously need an upgrade at point, and I can imagine some top point guards lining up to throw lobs to AD. Not to compare to Toronto, as they were already a competing team, but we need to start forcing the issue. Growing through the draft is very tough, and takes years. Our current group is good, but feel like even if they stick together for a few years, will end up like the Al Horford Hawks a few years ago - up there, but never really a true contender when it counted.

Sam:

Actually, I'd settle for being those Hawks, who won 60 games. As I often write, it's not a zero sum championship-or-give-up formula. You try to build toward the conference semifinals or finals and hope you get lucky, like the Raptors did with Leonard. And a lucky bounce against the 76ers and...Yes, stuff happens when you are in position. That's how you win. You don't always have to be the preseason favorite. Who ever imagined the Spurs, of all teams, would mess up Leonard? Or Oklahoma City would give away Harden? I've mentioned Davis/Bulls scenarios in recent weeks, but I wonder if things will change with Kevin Durant's injury. The rumors lately have been Lakers and Celtics and maybe a third team to help fill out a package for the Pelicans. But since Davis has a history of injuries and has missed an average of close to 20 games per season his entire career, what if he says the heck with taking a chance with a lesser team (Lakers, Knicks) for a year and having to play at his highest level to get them into contention and he instead takes the max deal from the Pelicans? After all, with Zion and Jrue Holiday and perhaps what they can get for Julius Randle maybe in a sign and trade, it's an impressive core. Davis can point to new management and say his concerns are alleviated since David Griffin won a title and he also realized he can't live without crawfish ettouffee.


Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 1 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.

Kieron Smith

I heard about this: Lakers get Anthony Davis, Pelicans get Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Otto Porter, #7 Pick(CHI), Future 1st Round Pick(LAL), and Bulls get Brandon Ingram & #4 Pick(LAL).

Sam:

I doubt Porter with his salary is in any trade talks with the Pelicans, who are mostly looking for young players. Ball and the No. 4 pick are names/assets that have come up with the Bulls among many in speculation. The most popular report this week had Davis trade talks perhaps involving the Lakers and Celtics and the Lakers maybe willing to move the No. 4 pick. Could the Bulls move up and then go for a point guard like Darius Garland? There have been rumors those teams need to involve a third team. The Bulls have the salary cap room and perhaps could absorb a salary or two to help the low revenue Pelicans. Would it be worth the cap room for a draft pick? Or Lonzo Ball? It's most unclear if anything will occur. But the Bulls likely are making plenty of calls. Or is it just texts in this era? Instagram posts?


Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors walks off the court after injuring his leg against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the NBA Finals on June 10, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Tom Golden

Life's cruel. You know its ironic, Durant had no way out. Play hurt, don't play win without him, lose because he didn't play, come back and play great, why didn't you come back earlier. The Derrick Rose parallels are unbelievable. Both were mauled by the press, and both were exemplary players that were for their teams. I honestly don't know how or why any pro can listen to the wing nuts and flat out "jerks" in the media. They are so wrong so often. Why does anyone listen to them. It really overshadowed one of the great finals games ever. I want the Raptors, but Golden State is truly a champion, with incredible people that you have to admire and respect for going beyond talent, and persevering against daunting odds. I admit, the Raptors had a lot to do with it. But Curry is the best player in basketball. From IQ, to clutch shooting, to having an incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time whether it's a long rebound or a loose ball, The smallest guy out there, and he's kicking butt and taking names. I hope it goes seven cause I don't want it to end

Sam:

I trust the Warriors and Steve Kerr as an organization that's not going to put players in an uncomfortable position. It's a very player friendly place. But we know the media and community pressure players can face which often makes it difficult for them to sit no matter the circumstances. Despite conspiracy narratives and personal biases, the players really do like to and want to play. Durant was cleared to play. That one sounds familiar. It doesn't always mean you should play. It mostly means you don't have to be in the hospital. I don't question players when they say they can't or shouldn't play. Anyone who knows the baseball James Rodney Richard story should pause. He was accused by media with the team hardly sympathetic—and thus making fans get on board angry—of malingering, not wanting to play, saving himself and keeping his money. Then he had a stroke while pitching when he shouldn't have been. The career of a sure Hall of Famer was basically over, though he lived, barely.

It seemed clear Durant wanted to play. The irony, which I'm sure Durant would trade for good health, was the Achilles injury did seem to finally put an end to that vile and erroneous narrative about Durant being an undeserved champion just coming late for dinner. Didn't LeBron James do the same? He just organized it in Miami. And he, Wade and Bosh almost came to Chicago to join Noah and Rose. Would anyone in Chicago have complained about it being an unfair, loaded team? I hear this talk all these teams still will offer Durant max deals. I don't believe it. I haven't heard any owners say that. "So, boss, we've got this great guy we want to pay at least $40 million a year. Just one thing: He can't play for at least a year. The year after that? Who knows if he'll be the same." What would be most appropriate is the Warriors now offer Durant the long term maximum contract. Durant has the $31.5 million option for next season. But if I were the Warriors after what he's gone through for them, I'd feel obligated to give him a max contract extension. He will be back, and since he's not the super athlete type, he should be able to return to near form.

By the way, I see the ancillary benefactor of all this being Jimmy Butler. With Durant's free agency changed, Jimmy suddenly becomes a crucial player. Especially if Kawhi also returns to Toronto. Would Kyrie go to the Knicks without Durant? Butler always said he was close with Irving and was lobbying the Bulls at one time to sign him when the Bulls really didn't have any cap room to do so. Who's going to join LeBron? This free agency suddenly is starting to look like 2010 when there were plenty of musical chairs and not enough players, most of the chairs remaining empty of superior talent when the music stopped.


Wayne Seldon #14, Shaquille Harrison #3, Kris Dunn #32, Lauri Markkanen #24, and Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls walk up the court during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 6, 2019 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Jakub Toomey

How do you feel about a potential LaVine, Markkanen, Dunn, and the 7th pick for Anthony Davis trade? Followed then by the return of a former MVP for a hometown discount? As far as the trade is concerned, it feels like an overarching win for both teams, with the Bulls coming out slight victors assuming that Davis re-signs long-term. Then, bringing back a serviceable Rose could really fill out the starting line-up nicely. It would leave them barren as far as a bench is concerned certainly, however, Blankney, Lopez, Hutchenson, and another team friendly FA signing feels like it could suffice in a weak East.

Sam:

As we know, the Bulls haven't been on his alleged list. But, I know, neither was Toronto on Kawhi's or Oklahoma City on Paul George's. And then it worked. But they were 60-win type teams with an MVP in Oklahoma City. The Bulls are coming off a 22-win season. So if you were to give up all that, it wouldn't even look like a playoff team with Davis. And then he'd certainly leave and you're starting over at zero again. Is Zion's kid brother in the 2022 draft? That's your lose/lose proposition.


Kris Dunn #32 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the Utah Jazz on March 23, 2019 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

William Pennix

With the Nets rumored to be the front runners to sign Irving and possibly another max deal for a FA or trade target, this leaves D'Angelo Russell as a prime RFA target for the Bulls. Would he be a good fit and/or a PG solution for the future Bulls? Or, are the Bulls looking to temporarily fill that hole with a veteran FA (i.e. Beverly, Rubio or Collison). I cannot see MIL letting Brogdon get away regardless of how damaging the RFA offer looks to the teams bottom line. I understand your opinion on Conley and the 2 years remaining on his deal coinciding with Porter's deal. Isn't that just an expensive 2 year rental that gets us right back here and what would it cost us to make that deal?

The draft prospect Coby White does not feel like a true upgrade over Dunn. I see him as a possible future 6th man off the bench as he play that PG/SG tweener position. According to most mock drafts, Garland will not be on the board when the Bulls pick at #7. What would it cost to trade up to get him, and is it worth it as he may not be a major upgrade over the Dunn either? I say we look at the veteran options I listed above and draft either Culver or Reddish with the 7th pick (Hunter will also likely be off the board). Reddish is a project that would be drafted on potential to be a star. I think Culver is a prototypical Bulls pick. He is long, plays good D, can play multiple positions and he has the added bonus of being able to create his own shot. How did I do?

Sam:

You left us all as confused as we have been about what to do. Lately, by the way, DeAndre Hunter has gone to No. 7 in some mock drafts. Trading up is probably too costly for the Bulls given their lack of quality depth. So it seems like it's Zion, Morant, Barrett and Garland for the top four. Then Jarrett Culver, Hunter and Coby White should go in some order Nos 4-7. Then comes perhaps the chance taking with Reddish, maybe Jaxson Hayes, Sekou Doumbouya, Goga Bitadze, Kevin Porter, Bol Bol? Again, the issue with point guard is you better get better than Dunn if you are changing. Different doesn't mean better, and Dunn has done some very good things when he wasn't done playing. He says he'll return as a shooter. Maybe he's worth the wait as point guards do take longer and this hasn't exactly been a smooth last few years for he and the team. I never was a big Russell fan because I didn't think much of his athletic level. He's obviously been better than I figured and became a legitimate All-Star last season. If the Nets do pursue Kyrie Irving, then maybe they don't have room for Russell. He's obviously a high level talent, though he is extremely ball dominant. Would that work with LaVine and Markkanen? I'm asking as well, though given the Bulls circumstances now I'm all for adding the most talent and then figuring it out. I wouldn't say no.



Coby White speaks with the media during Day One of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 16, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

Tom Gorski

I believe the Bulls will be left choosing between Coby White, De'Andre Hunter, and Jarrett Culver. I like White, but he's a 2 guard playing point guard. I like him as a player, but I don't necessarily want him as the Bulls point guard for the next 5 years. The Bulls need a true point guard and White is not that. Hunter or Culver can be a solid starter for 10-15 years and potential 2nd star on a championship team. Culver is my favorite. This might sound crazy, but Culver's handle, the way he drives to bucket, and turnaround remind me a lot of D-Wade. Albeit he's not as explosive, more of a 2017 DWade than 2006. I would even take him number 3 overall over Barrett (I don't see him becoming a star). Should the Bulls keep the pick if they are down to Coby White or trade it? And, what prospect has the most upside once you get past the first 2 picks?

Sam:

Yes, that's probably by most accounts the grouping for No. 7. I admit I have no idea who among them will be the best pros, though I am comforted only by the knowledge the people making the selections don't know, either. My favorite is listening to the college broadcasters doing the draft analysis, and every guy sounds like they are headed for the Basketball Hall of Fame. I wrote in my last mock draft I see Culver falling to No. 7. He seems very skilled, but I'm not sure you're hoping for Dwyane Wade on the verge of retirement. Lately I've seen speculation of Culver to No. 5 and Hunter to No. 7 since everyone has Phoenix taking the best point guard remaining. Though you also hear the Suns unsure White is a point guard. And though everyone keeps skipping the step, again, I'm keeping Kris Dunn unless I'm absolutely certain I've improved that position. White seems bigger, more physical and more like an NBA player now than Culver, though with somewhat less versatility. That's right, I'm not sure, either. My Bulls sources tell me if Williamson or Morant falls to No. 7, the Bulls definitely take them.


Buddy Munson

I look at all of these ridiculous trade scenarios involving big name players to, from, or through the Bulls on other websites. In my mind, the perfect scenario for the Bulls would be first with the #7 pick, choose the best player available from De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, & Jarrett Culver. While getting another "point guard of the future" may sound great to others, can the Bulls wait around to get a young point guard up to speed? Don't think so. With the cap room they have, either trade for or sign a veteran free agent point guard (Spencer Dinwiddie, Pat Beverly, Darren Collison come to mind as possible good fits). With the rest of the cap space, sign another power forward/center free agent (Taj Gibson glue guy type). These Bulls need to first stay healthy but also need to learn how to win, together. I believe this would be the way to go and I would figure at worst, this team would have a record around where the Charlotte Hornets were this past season or maybe a tick better. Am I wrong with my overall thinking of where this team is now and where it should be by the end of next season?

Sam:

Unless Anthony Davis changes his mind about deep dish pizza and bad beef on a bun, that's realistic. But people, which some fans tend to be, prefer fantasy to reality. The reality is most young point guards are like making sausages; you don't want to watch the process. Especially if it's the second or third best 19-year-old. The Bulls were supposed to be that Charlotte/Detroit/Orlando team last season with a chance to make the playoffs, maybe miss late, but actually play some meaningful games in April even if they lost them. Injuries changed that to start the season, and then who exactly knows what happened to end the season with the coaching change and all that was, well, changing. They should be stable again to start next season, have a stable coaching staff and some pretty good talent with LaVine, Markkanen, Carter and the later addition of Porter. If they can stay healthy, they should take that step they skipped last season, and we know the danger of skipping steps. You often have to repeat them. The Bulls didn't get lucky in the draft lottery. Could they get lucky in a trade, free agency? Perhaps. You never know when luck—or disaster—is coming. In the end, they probably take the best player available at No. 7, though it's OK to dream for two more weeks.


Isaiah Thomas #0 of the Denver Nuggets goes to the basket against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 7, 2019 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.

Julien Gras

Isiah Thomas being free agent this summer and desperately waiting for some good offers from an NBA Franchise, would it be a good move for the Bulls?

I think he might be the PG everyone is waiting for in Chicago.

Sam:

I would do it. Though since you really mean Isaiah Thomas, the former King, Sun, Celtic, Nugget he's not really a point guard. I see the real Isiah Thomas from time to time, and he still looks more ready to play point guard today in that NBA than Isaiah. It's been a tough story for Isaiah, who flourished beyond anyone's imagination when Brad Stevens turned him into Allen Iverson Lite, telling him to shoot every time and everyone else to rebound and get it back to Isaiah and help him on defense. It worked for a little while, but Boston knew it wasn't sustainable. Isaiah really is a sixth man scorer, though given his injuries and inactivity as he rarely played in Denver, he's probably a minimum player backup hoping to reestablish himself again as a sixth man worthy of a salary cap exception instead of a the maximum he once envisioned.


JaKarr Sampson #41 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball against the New York Knicks on April 9, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Anthony Moulesong

We need another PF behind Markkanen. Why not JaKarr Sampson? He had some impressive games at the end of the season, he'll be inexpensive, and he won't mind coming off the bench. Oh, and he's young enough that if he sticks, he could be around awhile.

Sam:

He'd work for me. Alfonzo McKinnie came through Windy City and proved he's an NBA player and was playing regular minutes in the Finals. Sampson showed a lot of the same stuff with Windy City and certainly would be worth a spot off the bench somewhere as the hustling, hard working type who comes out of the G-league. Those guys often are worth the risk and better than teams think because they have shown they'll work and compete given the G-league demands and just don't expect to be in the NBA because of where they were drafted or who they are.


Tomas Satoransky #31 of the Washington Wizards passes the ball as Mario Hezonja #8 of the New York Knicks defends at Madison Square Garden on April 07, 2019 in New York City.

Wayne Worner

I have not seen any discussion of Bulls pursuing Tomas Satoransky and wonder why not

  1. can play PG next to LaVine
  2. shoots & makes the corner 3
  3. adequate defensive
  4. restricted free agent & wizards have salary cap limits so would seem that a $8-9M per year for 3 yrs offer would be difficult for wizards to match and bulls have room
  5. allows bulls to pick best draft picks both 1st (Culver or Hunter?) and 2nd round....though prefer bulls to take an upside PG in second round
  6. prefer Brogdon on bucks but unlikely bucks will let him walk
  7. then can start season with Dunn on 2nd team in tandem with Valentine

Sam:

You're correct in that there hasn't been much mention because, well, he's Tomas Satoransky. You want to be excited about adding a lead player, and while Satoransky is a competent player, well, he's a competent player. He's been a backup and when John Wall went out, the Wizards basically had to give the ball to Bradley Beal all the time to get much done, including handling it. Satoransky would be a nice addition to the team, but I don't see him as particularly better than Dunn and I could see Dunn beating him out for the starting job.


Morgan Baird

If you were selecting for the Bulls...

First, do you put more weight on a player who has "improved" over the past year (from what I've read, a player like Sekou Doumbouya) versus a player who came in with elite talent but who may have "underachieved expectations" (e.g.: Cam Reddish or Nassir Little). I understand you have to factor in the right system, teammates, etc; but, how do you balance between deciding on a prospect, though raw, is on an upward trajectory versus one who possesses elite potential but has not shown it at the college level. And secondly, in the case of Jarrett Culver and D'Andre Hunter, how would their head-to-head performance factor into your decision if both were available? I ask because this now seems to be a big knock on the Lakers choosing Lonzo Ball over De'Aaron Fox.

Sam:

That's why it's so difficult when they still are teenagers or just beyond. You've barely seen them play in significant games, and they refuse to scrimmage against anyone not only at the league sponsored NBA Combine but also when they come in to see your team for individual visits. The expected top 10 selections in their team visits all have worked out only one against none. Most were said to have made almost all their layups.


Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets smile during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Josh Redman

Now that the NBA season is over, here's my prediction for Free Agency: Kawhi to the Clippers; Anthony Davis and Jimmy Butler to the Lakers; Kyrie and Cousins to the Nets; Chris Paul and Durant to the Knicks; Lonzo Ball to the Bulls for the 7th pick to send to New Orleans. Do you agree that this off season is going to be one of the craziest in recent memory?

Sam:

I'm on board with the crazy part; love it. The Chris Paul one sounds like the Knicks as they said they were and not are. But being just about shut out with Durant unable to play, they'd be the only ones crazy enough (historically) to take on Paul's contract. You know Houston would love to move him now as we knew it wouldn't work with Harden. Though it almost did if not for a hamstring. Cousins also is an intriguing one given his weak play in the playoffs, though he wasn't healthy and credit to him trying as much as he could. Jim Boylen and LaVar Ball? It could be a crazy next season as well if your predictions come through.


The Toronto Raptors celebrate with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after their team defeated the Golden State Warriors to win Game Six of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California.

Gorav Raheja

Do you give more credit to the Raptors or the Warriors health issues? Who is the raptors #2? Don't you usually need a guy in the top ten and another guy in the top 20 to be a championship team?

Sam:

I'm not sure if you saw, but during the third quarter break the Warriors had an open tryout and began the fourth quarter of Game 6 playing two of their parking lot attendants. The Warriors were obviously the more talented and better team, but injuries count as much as threes. The Warriors, if you'll recall, won a title when Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were hurt. Perhaps the Raptors go down as unexpected champions like the '75 Warriors, the '04 Pistons, the '11 Mavericks. And if Kawhi leaves maybe they struggle to make the playoffs in the East next season. But they are the 2019 NBA champions because they deserve to be. They won three Finals road games, which is impressive, but mostly because they won the final game. And that makes you a champion the same as the Bulls, the Lakers, the Celtics, the Spurs and the Warriors.

Got a question for Sam?

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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