And, of course, free agency.
I have absolutely no flipping idea. (Isn't this the kind of insight for which you come to this weekly feature?) I mean, seriously, I love the speculation game as much as anybody. But does anybody seriously think they know what a player is going to decide over four months from now? Like most, I think LeBron is staying, Wade is growing increasingly frustrated and Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson could leave. But nobody knows. I also think Bosh could surprise people and stay, a subject I discussed with him at All-Star weekend in Dallas. He laughed when asked if he's frustrated by everyone just assuming he's leaving. Based on that talk, I do know this: He wants to be either No. 1 or 1A on whichever team he joins.
Do you think the Bulls legitimately have a shot to attract a major free agent with VDN at the helm? Basketbelle, Somewhere in Illinois
First, there's no guarantee Vinny will be coaching next season. Second, I'd place coach about eighth on the list for free-agent decisions behind money, money, money, chance for team success, city, comfort with teammates and money. Seriously, there are very few instances like Ron Artest wanting to play for Phil Jackson where a coach is involved in a free agent's decision. And those decisions typically center around someone with the pedigree of Phil.
Players like Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook all increased their assist totals in their second seasons. I understand Rose is the Bulls' No. 1 scoring and there is no Boozer or Durant to feed. But my concern here is that it seems like Rose has yet to make the transition from deferring to your teammates and setting up your teammates. You rarely see him make a move that will set up someone for an easier basket. What does he need to do or what needs to happen for that transition to happen? Carlos, Chicago
Acquire someone as good as Boozer or Durant. Seriously. Then your debate could be engaged. I do see your point that most of Rose's spectacular plays lead to scoring opportunities for himself. He's also not great at throwing lob passes, which he admits openly. But it's not like his assist numbers are bad. Which the Bulls' perimeter shooting is.
With Noah clearly ailing, why not keep Chris Richard on board? We've got at least three guys (Joe Alexander, Acie Law, Jerome James, not to mention Lindsey Hunter) who aren't getting into the game. And we need size. Elijah, Chicago
That's a question the coaching staff asked management as well. And the coaches didn't like the answer either. I just figured it was a luxury tax issue but it's not. Management wants to take a look at Alexander and Law, which will have to happen in practice since you're right in that they won't play. I felt like every time I asked Vinny about Richard before he was waived that I couched it in, "Without overstating his value . . ." But still: Dude was giving the Bulls 8-12 viable NBA minutes at a time they needed physicality and size up front. And what if Noah goes down for good with that tricky injury? I thought releasing him was a mistake as well.
I was pretty happy to see the Bulls bring in Hakim Warrick at the deadline. I have always thought he was a pretty good player that just needed the right system to flourish. He seems to be most everything the Bulls wanted out of Tyrus Thomas--a floor runner you don't need to run plays for, can hit an open jumper, rebound and block some shots. The difference being that Warrick has accepted his role in the NBA and plays hard all the time. What is your impression of how he fits with this team and do you think there's a chance the Bulls re-sign him after this season? Bryon, St. Paul, Minn.
My impression is similar to yours. Granted this is early, but I've the impression Warrick accepts coming off the bench. When Tyrus always believed not only was he a starter but a star. Tyrus' high points surely will be higher than Warrick's. But I think Warrick fits well both short- and long-term. Another thing I've noticed about Warrick that I like so far is his offensive rebounding. As for Warrick's long-term prospects, it all depends on where the salary cap lands and whether or not the Bulls land one of the big prizes. They only have six players under contract for next season so they obviously need bodies to fill out the roster. If they have money, I can see them trying to bring back Warrick.
Before we put the Tyrus experiment to bed forever, I think we should revisit what is by far Vinny's biggest blunder as Bulls head coach. And that would be his keeping Tyrus on the bench after he came back from his forearm injury. Tyrus should've gotten 35 minutes in every game he played this season just to see if he was really part of the future. Richard White, New Granada, Colo.
I wrote this in about six straight mailbags. That said, I wouldn't have gone so far as to say Tyrus deserved 35 minutes every game. Minutes have to be based on performance. You could stay starting has to be too but a) Tyrus was the starter before his injury; b) Taj has proven he can handle either role and c) Tyrus had proven he cannot. That was my point: You knew you were going to lose this guy by not starting him. So I would've started him. But if he wasn't playing well, I wouldn't have played him 35 minutes a night.
From one Tyrus apologist to another: Now do you think Taj Gibson is better than Tyrus Thomas. (see first Q&A of the season.) Kudos to management for having the courage to act on this obvious reality. He sets great screens, is defensively aware and knows his role. He reminds me of an aging Buck Williams, not the most athletic but gets it done. Former Tyrus Apologist, Hinsdale
Taj indeed has been the surprise story of the season. He's looking at a 10-year NBA career for sure. I still think, when focused, Tyrus offers a higher ceiling. But the NBA is about production and Taj offers that consistently.
The Bulls will have between $18-20 million under the salary cap. With only six under contract next season, that doesn't seem like a lot of money for 6-7 contracts. Jerry, Harvard, Ill.
This is true, which is why any team going all in for free agency is taking a risk. Let's say the Bulls get one of the big-name free agents. That eats up most of their cap space, which means they'll be signing a bunch of minimum-salaried players (and possibly a rookie contract off their draft pick) to fill out the roster. Just think about the Knicks, who have cleared enough cap space to try to sign two maximum free agents. You might be filling out that roster. Anyway, I found it telling that at his news conference to announce the Bulls' trades, general manager Gar Forman, in unsolicited fashion, offered that there are various ways cap space can be used--as in signing multiple players, signing one and trading for another, etc. I know the Bulls are going after the big guns. But I also know that comment showed they are planning for all scenarios.
I'm curious what your thoughts are on Scott Skiles as a coach. From afar, it seems he has the reputation of being a guy who eventually starts to grate on multi-millionaire athletes. But I've also read that inside NBA circles he is considered a sharp coach when it comes to in-game strategy and getting his team to play hard. Do you see him wearing out his welcome in Milwaukee? Mark, Greenville, S.C.