K.C. Johnson's Bulls mailbag

Playoff workload and faulty BlackBerry being what they are, here is a very abbreviated version of the mailbag, filed shortly before Game 3. Thanks for all the questions. We'll tackle more next week.

I read the other day that if Chris Bosh leaves, he wants to do the right thing by the Raptors (the extra year and more money is probably another factor) and make sure they get something in return. In a sign-and-trade scenario, would the players involved have to match contracts? This would be a great scenario for the Bulls if they could include the contract of either Luol Deng or Krik Hinrich in a package allowing them to possibly sign another top-tier free agent or get some really good role players instead of signing a bunch of minimum contracts. Also, when can sign-and-trade deals start? Angelo, Melbourne

Yes, the contracts have to match if the Bulls want to keep their salary-cap space intact to sign another max free agents. But because the Bulls are under the cap, they could engineer a sign-and-trade taking back more money than they send out. And sign-and-trade deals can be negotiated at the same time as the free-agent recruiting window that opens July 1. They can't be finalized--other than verbally--until the signing day. This is the dream scenario that the Bulls express some cautious optimism of realizing. And this is where they do have the upper hand on rosters like, say, the Knicks and Heat. They have more assets. It's a long shot to sign-and-trade for one star and sign another. But it's possible.

I don't see how DWade could seriously choose Miami over Chicago if he really wanted to win titles. The Heat are an average team with Wade and have no young, emerging stars who could help win in the future. If Wade came to Chicago, the Bulls would instantly become one of the top teams in the East. Rob Beckwith, Athens, Ga.

Again, this is where the Bulls privately might be expressing some cautious optimism. However, I do think Bulls management believes both James and Wade will re-sign. I can't speak for Wade, but popular theories as to why he would stay with the Heat include his lifestyle on South Beach, his respect for Pat Riley and owner Mickey Arison, the lack of state tax and the ability to sign for one extra year and more money. Plus, the Heat will have the ability to sign another full-boat free agent and perhaps $9-10 million for a second free agent beyond Wade. So they might be able to rebuild on the fly. Past that, you're dead on: That Heat roster is bad and the Bulls' core of Rose and Noah is better.

Do you think Craig Ehlo turned to his cardboard cutout of Michael Jordan and screamed "in your face!" after watching LeBron demolish the Bulls' defense? Matt, Atlanta

Or maybe his voodoo doll.

What is a victory for the Bulls this offseason? Is it hiring a top-flight coach and signing one of the big three free agents? Or will the Bulls brain trust rejoice at the sign-and-overpay of Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson under the tutelage of Reggie Theus? Will (Da Bulls Win?) Jones, Darien

You readers slay me. This is going to sound lame, but a victory is getting better. Obviously, management's goal is to hit a home run this summer, but free agency hinges on many factors outside of its control. You don't have opportunities like this very often, and I fully expect the Bulls to spend all of their money to improve their team. Whether they do so to meet everybody's standards remains to be seen. I think this team is poised to win 45-50 games next season no matter what.

It doesn't appear the Bulls will have much of a chance against the Cavs. What are the true benefits from this year's playoff exposure aside for the experience it gives the younger players? Brian Farley, Romeoville, Ill.

Isn't that enough? Or: Isn't that better than another lottery pick? Look at what Noah did in Game 2. Does that happen if not for last year's experience against the Celtics? I say no. Playoff basketball helps immeasurably for young players. Just ask Noah and DRose. Furthermore, what better statement to free agents that this team is on the rise? Playoff basketball is beneficial in so many ways to this franchise.

What's the deal with the Bulls' acquisition of Omer Asik? Is he ready to contribute for the 2010-11 season? I read that he's been dealing with injuries. Vinnie Dixon, Chicago

At this point, Asik has taken on almost Kukoc-like mythic proportions. Yes, Asik has suffered torn knee ligaments and a broken collarbone in successive seasons. But he is back playing and the Bulls are prepared for him to attend training camp next October. Beyond that, in a nod to having never seen him play and covered both Kukoc AND Dragan Tarlac, I'll hold off on any judgments.

It's easy to pick your favorite players as a fan watching the game. But as a journalist, if you were putting together a position-by-position list of the all-time best Bulls to interview, who would make the cut? Kevin Grabowski, Vernon, Wis.

Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon at guard. Ron Artest and Charles Oakley at forward. Joakim Noah at center. Scottie Pippen as sixth man. Scott Skiles as coach.

Ray Allen is a free agent this summer. I know all the attention will be on the superstars. But the Celtics appear to be coming apart. Jesus Shuttlesworth can make that jumper for three more years, easily. Daniel, Los Angeles

I don't dispute that at all. What is more difficult to project is what Allen will command on the market. This is where this free agency will be very intriguing to cover. With so many teams with cap space and so many big names on the market, second-tier free agents like Allen probably will still get paid a lot. This is just a guess, but I'd doubt the Bulls would have enough left over to sign him after getting who they get with their first big-money deal.

Again, we'll tackle more questions next week. Thanks.


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