Tag Archives: dirk nowitski

Where LeBron, Wade and the free agents are going…

As the Great One said, “And away we go.”

No, not LeBron, the real Great One, Jackie Gleason. Of course, that may be bad karma here as he went to Miami.

No, I don’t believe LeBron is going to Miami to form some superhero trio of Flash, Batman and Robin, also known as Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, if only because Wade doesn’t want to be elbowed aside, Bosh doesn’t want to be a third wheel doing the inside dirty work and LeBron doesn’t want to be known as a guy who needed Dwyane Wade to get him a championship. Plus, who really wants to play for Pat Riley? He’ll put on a great pitch, as he is probably the league’s most impressive salesman/motivator. But who needs those Kremlin rules and three-hour practices?

I think the key to all this may be Chris Bosh.

He seems like the mystery figure to me. Everyone seems to assume/hear/believe/know he’s going as some sort of tag along for LeBron or Wade. He could, but I don’t believe he views himself that way. I’m not sure he needs to be the dominant figure, as he’s pretty much shown he’s not up to being able to carry a team. But he also has made it clear he’s not playing center–Miami and New York have no center–and never has been a defensive stalwart. Bosh has an ego as well and if not the guy to carry a team, which he’d have to be in New York, then he likely doesn’t also want to be the guy to be ignored and the third option for a shot. I know we all want to say they’d sacrifice for winning. But you also want to be a large part of that.

Plus, Bosh is most likely, along with Joe Johnson, to want a sign-and-trade. Johnson will for sure if he were to leave, because five years from now at his age, now 29, there’d be no way he’d be in position for a $28 million pay day, which is about the final year of a six-year contract. Likely Bosh as well, even though he’s 26. A dozen years into his career, it’s hard to see how Bosh would command a salary that high.

In addition, there’s little chance in a new labor deal after next summer anyone would be able to make that kind of money in one season in the future. That is also why Wade stays in Miami. At 28 and with a history of injuries, Wade needs to cash in now as well.

The only one who really doesn’t need to is LeBron, who is 25 and likely to still be in his prime if he were to leave and sign for five years. The Cavs seem to have made it clear they are not doing any sign and trade to accommodate LeBron, especially to an Eastern team. But LeBron has outside earnings interests that basically none of the others have with the exception, perhaps to a limited extent, of Wade.

Meetings began just after midnight Eastern Time Thursday morning, with LeBron’s expected to last about three days. The thinking is he’ll commit to someone fairly soon after that, as he’s been accused enough already of making this a circus-like atmosphere. Some of those meetings will be based on whether the team can produce another free agent to join LeBron and whom that might be. Despite what you may have heard, LeBron isn’t delivering anyone else. He’s expecting a team to show him what they can do, not unlike Wade, who has been asking the same of the Heat.

Yes, the heat is on and there are an awful lot of team executives sweating.

So what’s going to happen and who’s going where? I think the Bulls do have a pretty good shot to hit the jackpot, though I don’t see it in the end.

LeBron James: Cavs. Since when did they get so bad? They just won 127 games in two seasons and had LeBron himself not gone into that mysterious Game 5 pout against the Celtics they probably would have won that series. They are getting a new coach, likely Byron Scott or Brian Shaw, both appealing to James for their championship playing experience. Plus, because they are over the cap they have the mid level exception and will be able to give someone a $35 million deal, which will get you a very good player in this era. Anderson Varejao can be somewhat like Joakim Noah at center. They have Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams, near All Stars and potentially could have cap room after one more season. He just built a huge mansion near Akron, where the Cavs built their training facility and can you go home again after being the basketball version of Art Modell, who stole your team and chance for something special. And there’s that extra approximately $30 million he gets from staying a sixth year. I know he has a lot of money. But that’s what Michael Jordan made when he finally hit it big with the Bulls. And after next summer with a new labor deal, those kinds of one season paydays are probably over with. I believe his only other choice will be Chicago if the Bulls can attract Chris Bosh, whom I believe they will. LeBron will have a tough time making that choice, but eventually will stay home.

Chris Bosh: Bulls. This would be a huge coup for the Bulls, even if LeBron doesn’t come. If they get a commitment from Bosh, it makes them the most appealing to LeBron. Though the complication is a sign-and-trade. Bosh wants it and all things being equal will go to another team that’s close if he can get it. I believe Miami is out because all they can really offer is Michael Beasley, whom I’ve heard the Raptors won’t take because of his myriad of issues. Heck, with his record he might not even make it past customs. Same with Chalmers. So forget that. Would Bosh go to Houston to play with Yao? The Mavs? The Lakers made sense, but they say they are out. We’ll see. The Raptors surely would prefer Bosh out of the East and could get a decent sign-and-trade involving Luis Scola and then maybe build up a deal to enable the Raptors to get rid of Hedo Turkoglu or Jose Calderon. But would Bosh want to go there? That’s why he’s the mystery in all this. He seems the toughest to read with statements one day he wants to be the main man and then the obvious that he cannot be. He’s given the Raptors a list of seven teams he’d go to for a sign and trade, so there are options for the Raptors. Chicago would fit him perfectly as there’s a center so he doesn’t have to play there and worry about defense and a point guard who doesn’t really want to be the leading scorer and he can be the leading scorer without having to carry the load, seemingly ideal for him. I’ve heard he’s been in touch regularly with Rose and has told Rose of his interest previously. In the end, my guess is the Raptors take Taj Gibson, three No. 1s and the maximum $3 million. That’s also a huge trade exception for them and they can do some maneuvering on their own. Is that enough to attract LeBron? But then LeBron comes at less money and he’s the man while Bosh makes more. I’ve never seen that as a happy locker room in the NBA. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bosh would prefer it that way without LeBron because then the Bulls would be in position to win the East and LeBron would be without a super teammate as he likely wouldn’t go to Miami. Then the Bulls go for a shooting guard like Ray Allen, Randy Foye, Ronnie Brewer or J.J. Redick. The Bosh scenario is the scenario to watch most closely. I see the Bosh/Carlos Boozer tandem as the main possibilities for the Bulls and Heat. So if Bosh flees, the battle likely is over Boozer.

Dwyane Wade: Miami. He’s not going anywhere and leaving that extra $28 million or so on the table, the lack of state taxes, South Beach and it looks like him getting custody of his kids and why would he want to be anywhere else? He’ll get a power forward partner. Bosh is his choice as he and Bosh share agents. But he probably realizes there isn’t a huge chance. Pat Riley has privately said for months the Heat is getting LeBron, but that’s no place to build an international brand as LeBron wants to do. I know, Cleveland probably isn’t, either, but you get some credit for staying and building. Wade will visit the Bulls among a few other spots, but it’s hard to see that as other than a fact finding visit about what those teams are up to as Wade has been very open, the most among the top free agents, in personally recruiting.

Joe Johnson: Atlanta. Once word started to come out that the Hawks were going to offer Johnson a max deal, it was over. There’s no way he could walk away from six years and $126 million at age 29 and coming off that desultory playoff finish that labeled him to some not even worth a five year maximum. I’d take him, and he was committed as much as anyone to the Bulls for much of the season. But the Hawks make a good point in saying even with Chicago having someone like Bosh they are as good as the Bulls with Johnson and a chance to add a mid level player and Jamal Crawford going into his final season and trade material. And without Kirk Hinrich there wasn’t any real sign and trade possibility with Atlanta for the Bulls. The Mavs will try a sign and trade with Caron Butler, but the Hawks are for sale and like with the Tribune’s view of the Soriano signing when the team was being sold, what’s the big deal. The next guy will pay the contract.

Carlos Boozer: Miami. Though he has his Coconut Grove home up for sale. Boozer is also the Bulls fallback if somehow Bosh gets to Miami and Wade. As I said, I cannot see it as he is likely to get a reasonable sign and trade somewhere he prefers and as much a competitor as Bosh might be, he’s not about to go for winning while he makes all the monetary sacrifice and Wade makes none. With slightly less than $30 million after signing Wade, the Heat have money for an additional guy after signing Boozer and that should be enough to at least keep Wade there. Look, without a low post All Star they won 47 games. They should still be right there in the mix. But rather than everyone coming together I see most of them going for what’s best for each and the Lakers still the favorite coming into next season.

Amar’e Stoudemire: Suns. The assumption in Phoenix has been owner Robert Sarver won’t pay Stoudemire. Stoudemire’s not likely to warrant a huge sign and trade or likely any. He’s cocky, but he has it awfully good in Phoenix with Steve Nash and a comfort zone now. There remain concerns about the possibilities of more surgery, though he is fine now, after microfracture a few years back. He may be too much of a risk on the outside, though the Nets could take a shot.

David Lee: Nets. The Nets are the wildcard in the LeBron race because everyone with an arched eyebrow wonders what the new Russian oligarch owner will promise LeBron. The league will be watching, though they are more like the SEC trying to figure out what the banks are doing. They don’t have the expertise to examine these kinds of holdings and business deals. If the owner puts away a $100 million annuity for LeBron, no one would ever know. Heck, it could be in gold bars with his initials on them in some country without vowels. Lee doesn’t need to be a savior in New York when they strike out. He could play off Brook Lopez well with his new shooting and help Lopez’ rebounding and give time for Derrick Favors to develop.

Dirk Nowitzki: Mavericks. I know he talks all the time about nothing meaning much but winning, but he does have an owner who will make moves. Cuban is all over the free agents to try for a sign and trade and will be trying hard for Bosh as well. The money is too big to pass on and the possibilities of being better than Dallas now are uncertain.

Paul Pierce: Celtics. Likewise with Nowitzki, he’s a lifer. His value likely isn’t that much anyway as he was part of one of the losingest teams ever until Garnett and Ray Allen showed up. He wants a longer deal and certainly will get it.

Rudy Gay: Knicks. Rudy will be the biggest winner because the Knicks cannot come out of this empty handed and have the most money to waste. Gay will be the most not worth it, but he’s a lot better than trying to resign Al Harrington. He’s a huge talent and can be a spectacular player with a personality that can fit the city. They’ll make runs at other players and throw such a front loaded deal at Memphis since Rudy is restricted that Elvis will roll over in his grave.

Of course, sources who may or may not know assure me this may or may not happen. But it sure is going to be fun to find out. How sweet it is!

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Sam Smith hosts Live Chat

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This is our second live chat on the blog, thanks for joining in, let’s get started…

3:01pm
Sam will the bulls make any significant moves in the ’10 free agency?
via text message

I think they are putting themselves in position to do that, that’s part of what the deadline deals were about. Even though most focused on Salmons and Miller a bigger part could be the expiring contracts they’ll have next year.
3:03pm
VDN definitely shows inexperience at times as a coach but why aren’t his assistants like Del Harris and Bickerstaff intervening?
Jay, Northbrook
This has been a curiosity all season. I’ve heard a couple versions of this quesiton. You can’t intervene if the coach doesn’t want you to. I think they offer suggestions but I think at times VDN wants to do things at times the way he wants to do them. That’s a head coach’s job, he takes advice but it’s his decision. It’s never been exactly clear how that relationship works but Vinny is in charge and he’s responsible for the final judgements.
3:05pm
Why is Deng so bad lately? He can’t jump, can’t shoot, can’t play D, can’t get to the free throw line etc. Is there any hope some team would take on his salary or are we stuck forever? On the positive he’s a wonderful human being, just an awful basketball player and what makes it worse it that he totally stopped working on his game, body, and attitude.
AJ, Chicago
You didn’t hear it, but I got a laugh out of your question. Understatement: Lu hasn’t had a terrific season. He’s suffered most trying to adjust to the way the team is playing. The Bulls are playing around Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon is going to get his shots when he’s on the floor. Early on the coaches told Lu it was his job to remain in the corner and get shots based off passes out from double teams. When Lu was at his best under Skiles, he had Lu moving and slicing and coming off screens. With his size that was an advantage and he can finish at the basket. What has compounded it is that Lu seems to have become resentful and hasn’t been as aggressive as the offense hasn’t included him as much as it should. He has also been hurt, and played well after the latest injury, but after these trades he’s lost some time with Salmons and now is hurt again. It’s been a frustrating sesason. I don’t expect him to be traded but he’s hardly untouchable, with the economics this long term contract precludes a deal most likely. The Bulls like him enough to consider him part of the core, I expect he’ll be with the team and hope the staff includes him more and he becomes more engaged as well.
3:10pm
Sam why doesn’t Kirk play much anymore?
via text message
I actually think he’s playing about as much as expected. For the most part he’s been playing about 20 minutes a game which is about what he should given that he’s a guard coming off the bench behind Rose. The fans, and even Paxson recently have made the point that Rose should be on the court more and at the end of games. If Gordon is playing as the scorer and now Salmons is involved there’s not a lot of minutes to go around. I think Kirk has contributed well and has been a good soldier about all this. Kirk has not pouted about playing time, he has acted like a pro and taken on more as a leader this season. He has worked with Rose to help him at his position and is maturing as a leader. The big question is whether he’ll be here after this season.
3:15pm
How much more better do you think the Bulls can be if (a) they gave Derrick Rose superstar time on the floor? and (b) if they started John Salmons instead of Loul Deng? I mean coming off the bench he averages more points since joining the Bulls and he is more of a complete player.
Derrick, Palos Hills, IL
I think Rose gets enough time. You don’t want to wear him out playing him 40 minutes +. Defenses have been banging him and running him through screens. He’s young but it takes a toll. He has been remarkable and hasn’t really hit the rookie wall. He just needs to be (as emphasized by Paxson) in the games in crunch time because he can create his own shot. About Salmons over Deng, this could be a question for the rest of the season and maybe beyond. My guess in the long run is that Salmons could end up at the #2 alongside Rose with Gordon’s uncertainty as a free agent and if he does return perhaps it will be as a 6th man. Salmons can play the #2 and has the size. I’m not ready to reduce Deng to a backup player and I’m not sure if you put Salmons at #3 with Rose and Gordon you have enough size.
3:19pm
Do you think Vinny will sit Rose again after the game against Houston? I think our best chances of winning are when Rose is attacking. When he’s in attack mode it opens it up for everyone else. Your thoughts?
via text message
I agree he has to be on the floor, I’ve been writing this since it first happened at the Miami game before the All-Star break. If you weren’t so upset about the losses that occurred it’s actually an amusing spectator sport to watch. Vinny is quite stubborn and I believe the Bulls have addressed this issue for some time. One of the traits that made Vinny an NBA player for a decade was that stubbornness. I see that as a coach, if he wants to do something he finds justifications. He talks about Rose as a rookie but in my mind you can’t treat him as one because he’s more mature. It’s like Magic, Bird, Jordan and others. He can take him out in defense situations and that’s valid but the fact of the matter is the Bulls have played best down the stretch when Rose is in making plays. Nash was the worst player in the history of the league to be MVP but you don’t take him out down the stretch for defense. I think because of all the questions Vinny has become defensive and may want to prove he’s right. A good trait that can serve you in life but maybe not to help the Bulls.
3:23pm
Sam, with what VDN has done so far has a first time coach do you think that he deserves to coach the Bulls next year?
via text message
If you put it on paper I would say yes. It looks to me the Bulls will have more wins than last season, the team has competed harder than last year under Skiles and Boylan and that is usually how you measure a coach? Did they improve, did they play hard, did they quit? They have improved and haven’t quit. If they make the playoffs he would most certainly be back. Even if they don’t they will have had a better season. Derrick Rose looks to be the ROY, Tyrus and Noah are playing better so Vinnay can say he’s helped develop young players. The question would be much more subjective, does the organization feel he’s the right man to make the next step with the team? Doe they also feel that they are going to move into free agency and/or get other players. Is he the kind of coach for those players and to go to the next step? At this point I’d expect he’d be back.
3:28pm
If you had to do the 2008 NBA Draft over again, who would you take from 2-5, assuming Rose goes 1.
Tim, Oak Lawn
Certainly I would have Rose at #1. Brooke Lopez at #2, Russel Westbrook at #3, OJ Mayo #4, Kevin Love #5.
3:30pm
Who is the defenseive stopper on the big guards now that Thabo is gone? Salmons does not do it to well.
Robert, Bloomingdale
You’re right, Salmons is not great but he’s pretty good. Thabo wasn’t really a stopper on the big guards, becuase it’s hard to stop them when you’re sitting on the bench. Vinny almost never played him. Truth is Vinny is an offensive coach, this could be one of the issues that surfaces about his return. The Bulls are an offensive teams. They are better on D since the trade. The job Brad Miller did on Yao Saturday was the best we’ve seen since Skiles best of times. Salmons is a high level perimeter player. Truth is there are no more stoppers on the perimeter because of the rules changes. Thabo had some great defensive moments but given circumstances and PT he wasn’t as effective this season. I thought the Houston 4th quarter was somewhat an abbiration but a nice one to see. If the Bulls can defend like that on any regular basis they certainly will make the basis but we haven’t seen it sustained yet this season.
3:35pm
So far this season who do you think should be the MVP this year?
Nikhil, Chicago
LeBron James. He’s had a great season. The Cavs will have the best record in the East and that’s not a great roster. That game against Miami the other night when he had a shootout with Wade it was one of the better games to see this year. Kobe has laid in the weeds a bit to save himself for the playoffs. Wade has been every bit the MVP but guys playing for last place teams. In the NBA it comes from one of the top teams so it should be a near unanimous vote for LeBron.
3:39pm
Don’t you think the Bulls should be starting John Salmons instead of Ben Gordon? Gordon isn’t guaranteed to be back next year. Salmons is.
(via text message)
That question has come up with Vinny this week in the wake of the bad loss in Washington. Vinny’s preference all season has been to go with “his guys.” I think Vinny operates from a player’s perspective as a coach, and by that I mean wants his players to be treated like he felt he wanted to be treated as a player, which means not being yanked around… sticking with guys. So I think he feels that if he starts yanking starters he could start ‘losing’ players. I don’t think that would happen with Gordon, he’d be upset but wouldn’t quit on the team, he’s not that kind of guy. Because Salmons will be back and will be a big part of the future I’m sure he’s fine with whatever role he’ll get till the end of the season, he’s getting minutes and finishing games. Obviously there will be changes with the Bulls this summer so there will be plenty of time to perfect a line up after that. And the truth is when the Bulls needed to come back vs. Houston it started with Ben Gordon. They still need his scoring and he remains a valuable piece.
3:41pm
Why are the Bulls struggling on the road against not-so-high caliber teams?
Ripah, California
This has been the head scratcher about the season and here’s my theory. It’s something you tend to see sometimes with sub .500 teams which is what the Bulls are. When they play better teams those teams may take them for granted a little bit so you may not get their best game. Perhaps saving themselves for the “better” teams. They beat Denver, Orlando, Houston which they maybe “shouldn’t have” won but the Bulls have a lot of talent so they can win. Then they go against teams like Washington, New Jersey, Indiana, the Bulls get those teams better games because they say “Look, we can beat them, look at their record.” So you sometimes get those teams’ better games. Perhaps now the Bulls are relaxing a little bit against those teams taking them for granted. It may sound silly but it is human nature and we forget that these are very human players despite their fabulous athletic abilities. That’s my story for now and I’m sticking with it.
3:46pm
Do you expect the new guys, Salmons, Miller, and Thomas to still be wearing a Bulls uniform next season?
RJ, Niles, IL
Yes, because they are all under contract to do so. The question is the season after next. There’s a chance during next season that both Miller and Thomas will or could be moved. That’s the flexiblity the Bulls were looking for with those two. I’m not saying it will happen but if Bosh doesn’t do anything with Toronto over the summer but if he wants out next January and could walk for nothing maybe Toronto will take young guys, draft picks, or expiring contracts the Bulls are in good shape. I think they see Salmons as a keeper. I expect both Miller and Thomas to be here next year but not the year after. If Miller was interested in re-signing then as a backup with a smaller salary I’d be interested in doing that.
3:50pm
Has the NBA always had so many players traded in February? My head is spinning trying to keep track of who went where, and I’m still sad about losing Noc.
Jeanine, Lemont, IL
We all hated to lose Nocioni but it really was a good deal getting Salmons. Anyone could see Noc was growing more frustrated with the team and was too highly paid to be a back up. I hope he gets a chance with a better team than the Kings. The deadline was a bit over stated because the mentioned big deals didn’t happen. I think this was a slightly above average year for movement but not to the point where it was a game changer because the top teams pretty much stayed intact and you only now see Boston and Cleveland adding guys. I was surprised Cleveland and Portland didn’t make deals with their expiring deals (Szerbiak and LaFrentz). They had opportunities they must have passed on, especially Portland.
3:53pm
Who else will be a free agent in 2010, other than LeBron, Wade or Bosh?
via text message
Interesting thing about 2010 is the feeling now among NBA folks is that LeBron and Wade will end up with their own teams so there will be more talk than actual change. I also believe a lot of the other top players will also stay because of the upcoming labor agreement and players who re-sign with their own teams will be able to sign for an extra year and I think players will opt for that. That said the other big names include Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitski, Tracy McGrady, Marcus Camby, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shaq, Manu Ginobily, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal and Mike Miller. For this summer the big names are Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, and Hedo Turkoglu, Lamar Odom, Allen Iverson, Ron Artest, Shawn Marion, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, Andre Miller, Chris Wilcox, Mike Bibby, Drew Gooden, Stephon Marbury, Charlie Villanueva, Wally Sczerbiak… and of course, Ben Gordon.
3:58pm
Do you think the Bulls have any chance at the 6th seed?
Slim, Chicago
First off, for those of you who have known me for a long time the guy’s name I usually spell wrong is Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I’m getting a lot of snkary responses that my spellings have been wrong. I only take the blame for Ilgauskas. I have a high-level technology expert doing the typing for this chat because, as you know, I still have trouble signing onto a computer so I couldn’t handle a live chat. So you’ll excuse the occasional player mispellings although my transcriptionist I believe was the guy that explained the Internet to Al Gore. Oh, and as for basketball I do think the Bulls have a shot at the 6th spot. Philly, as we’ve seen lately have been losing, the Bucks are beaten up and if Iverson comes back it promises to ruin the Pisons. Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta and probably Miami though if they were to lose Wade at all I’m not sure they would win another game. So it’s open after #5 for anyone who can get a run going.
4:05pm
Why was Rose not the rookie of the month? He had several very good games and had some games where he was just feeding the new players, but most importantly he helped this team win, the true indicator of a good player.
Aru, Chicago
Well he wasn’t the only one who did that. Brooke Lopez of the Nets (who beat the Bulls last week) and Westbrook of the Thunder just beat the Mavericks withough Durant and Green, their two best players. This is a really good rookie class. You might have noticed Rose hasn’t been in the 4th quarter lately and this is reflected in votes as well. Rose has had an up and down month, in part because of that, it wasn’t his best month so I think the awards were deserved.
Editor’s note: We’ll keep the chat going until 4:30pm CT
4:12pm
Can you please try to explain why Tyrus has so much confidence in his long range jumper and why Vinny isn’t telling him to drive to the hoop instead?
(via text message)
A lot of us had confidence in the stock market this year as well. Sometimes confidence is misplaced. If Tyrus does have a lot of confidence in his jumper it is likely misplaced. I believe he has been told to go to the basket more and I believe he has been. Defenses are not stupid, they know he is more effective going to the basket and dare him to shoot. Tyrus is not yet sophisticated to pass that up and it’s hard work getting to the hoop with 3 guys in your way. He has done much better this season at this, and has been more productive. He really is barely at the end of his second season, playing-time wise and that maturity will come.
4:15pm
Do you think there should be rule changes about players being added on for reinforcements after the trade deadline? I don’t think it’s fair. I’m really upset that a player like Marbury is getting a chance to win a championship.
(via text message)
Yes, absolutely and if you haven’t read my Monday column on Bulls.com, we are in agreement. I think it’s terrible and a lot of people around the NBA agree, especially with Marbury who has done everything he can to sabatoge his previous teams. And to see him in the finals, perhaps, and would be a black eye for the league. It’s a loophole and teams look for loopholes and try to take advantage. This needs to be closed up. You shouldn’t be able to add players like this at this time of the season. It creates an imbalance allowing the rich to get richer and is not in the spirit of a level playing field that the NBA and other leagues look for. I assume it will be cleaned up in the next collective bargaining agreement. I think Marbury will help the Celtics, won’t be a problem, but it will be a problem for the league getting rewarded for his behavior.
4:17pm
What team do the Bulls have a better chance of beating if they make the playoffs? Boston or Cleveland? Or maybe Orlando if they can get the 6th seed?
(via text message)
I don’t believe they stand any chance against Boston because of the way they defend and because they have beaten the Bulls soundly latetly. Celveland’s defense would also give them trouble though they have dealt reasonably well with LeBron at times (though he’s had a couple of 40 pt. games vs. the Bulls this season). Orlando may be the best opportunity because of their defense and their big guys like to shoot jumpers. But as you said you have to get the 6th seed for that and that would take about 40 wins to get there. But just getting to the playoffs and a little experience would be a very positive season no matter who the Bulls play. Look at the way Atlanta (last season at #8) took Boston to seven games, anything can happen in the playoffs and it would be terrific if they could get there.
4:19pm
Why doesn’t Dwight Howard get any MVP consideration?
Dave, Chicago
He probably should. He’s not as glamorous to the media and ESPN. Which, unfortunately dictates a lot of this because of the higlight show that everyone watches. So even if LeBron gets only 10 points in a game you would see all of them on SportsCenter. Miami vs. Cleveland was a good example they showed only LeBron and Wade and no one else. Scorers get the attention. But Howard is having a tremendous season and is a big impact maker on a relatively weak defensive teams he has made them better than average with his blocks. I’m a little surprised with his great personality and is one of the most popular players in the world leading the recent All-Star fan voting. But he didn’t go into NY and get 50 like LeBron and Kobe did and how many times have we seen that in the news?
4:28pm
Sam, the Bulls play the Bobcats tonight with the way Salmons has played since joining the team do you think VDN should start him in place of the injured Deng?

I think Salmons will start. I don’t know that, but given that Deng has had physical problems lately my sense is Vinny will use that as an opportunity to use Salmons in the starting lineup without the potential to embarrass Deng. We were talking about a perhaps, season ending stress fracture, so now that Deng said he’s ready and wants to play (a good thing) this may be an opportunity to give him a game or two off, or limit his minutes and shake things up. Let’s remember Salmons isn’t exactly LeBron James. He’s a good solid swing man who wasn’t averaging as many as Ben Gordon despite playing for a bad team and for the first time in his career last season averaged more than 10 points. Career average of 7 pts./game. He has a lot of good about him but let’s not say he’s about to take the Bulls to the next level. He is a good player and can play in a few positions. When talking about bringing in a star to play with Rose it isn’t him. That said at some point Vinny will have to make the ‘who starts’ decision. I expect Deng to return to the starting lineup soon and for the rest of the season, if not right away.
Thank you for all the questions and ease off the transcriptionist, we’re going as fast as we can. I enjoy doing this, the questions are very good and I’m looking forward to another chat in a few weeks. We should get a good sense in the next few weeks (with some really interesting home games: Hornets, Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Heat) of where the Bulls will be for the home stretch in April.