Stephen A. Smith trying to keep Melo in New York

Stephen A. Smith trying to keep Melo in New York

Stephen A. Smith was on the Carmen & Jurko show discussing the Bulls and seemed to be stretching for reasons to figure out why Melo would not want to come to Chicago.

Link to ESPN Chicago article here:

"Tom Thibodeau is an exceptional coach. He scares the living daylights out of you because, accurate or not, people believe that he'll run you to death in practice," Smith said Wednesday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I don't know how accurate that is I just know that Luol Deng seemed like he aged in dog years playing for him.

"But the other side to all of this is that the relationship with [Bulls executive vice president] John Paxson has become a question mark outside of the city of Chicago and as a result you have folks wondering whether or not Tom Thibodeau is going to remain there for the long haul. They know he's under contract for the next [three] years but when you talk about free agents coming there, you're talking about three years or more and they don't want to find themselves in a situation where they are looking at Derrick Rose, who some believe was given too much of a responsibility and onus was placed on his shoulders not to mention the fact that you've got a coach who everybody respects as elite being on the outs with an executive running the franchise because you don't know how long Tom Thibodeau is going to last in Chicago.

"Those couple of things, at the very least, are question marks that have created a degree of apprehension."

The running theory is that players would not want to play for Tom Thibodeau, but if they do, then they might not want to come here because he's only locked up for three years. The two points seem somewhat contradictory to me.

If hard work scares you away so much, then you probably aren't the type of player who's going to win a championship anyway, and the Bulls simply dodged a bullet.

If you're concerned about Thibodeau leaving in three years, well, pretty much no coaches are locked up more than three years except ones who just decided to sign this summer. Of the competitors for Melo's services in particular, is Tom Thibodeau's situation a bigger minus than first time head coach Steve Kerr?

Is it worse than Kevin McHale in Houston? Is it worse than whoever ends up in L.A. which at this point is no one? There are rumors of a Bulls rift with their elite coach which could potentially grow if the team is an utter flop, but the main competitors for Melo's services don't have an elite coach at all and could easily dump their existing coaches.

Perhaps some players really are simply just scared of playing for Thibodeau, but it's long been rumored that this is an attraction not a negative, and whatever rift exists doesn't seem like it should be a factor given that the Bulls appeared to have ample opportunity to ditch Thibodeau for assets this summer rather than fire him and eat his salary and choose not to do so.

If you want to be scared of the Bulls though, you aren't scared of Tom Thibodeau, you're scared of Derrick Rose. If Derrick Rose can't ever play basketball at a high level again, then the Bulls are in one of the worst situations contractually in the NBA. You've got 20+ million per year of dead space on your cap with no star talent around you.

That's a lot scarier than whether or not Tom Thibodeau, who's locked up for three seasons, might leave.

On his own show, he also discussed LeBron and Melo playing together if they both opt in to their contracts this summer.

One thing that Smith is nearly certain about? If both Anthony and James opt in this summer, they will be playing together in 2015-16.

"I'm here to tell you right now it's a 95 percent possibility -- if not more -- that they would join forces whether it be in New York or Miami," he said.

I suppose this is an accurate enough statement. I could say if LeBron and Melo both opt into their contracts this summer that I will start pissing plutonium and my Chrysler Town and Country will travel back in time allowing me to sew discontent between Wade, Bosh, and LeBron so they never join forces in 2010 and be similarly accurate.

When a conclusion is based on multiple false premises, it really doesn't matter what the conclusion is. Why would Melo consider opting into NY and completely ignore any free agent possibilities? Would LeBron guarantee him that he'd head to NY?

Miami isn't any lock to have room to sign Melo since Wade/Bosh both have options for the next two seasons, and Wade in particular likely opts in for both seasons or neither since he's not likely to be in physical condition to get a huge contract after two more seasons.

Also, this fit makes about zero sense. LeBron looks worn down from playing PFs a good chunk of time this season, but one of LeBron/Melo would commit to playing a full season out of position? Both Melo and LeBron have plenty of quality years left, but both are also exiting their athletic peaks and don't need to land in a situation which causes them significantly additional wear and tear each year.

New York, even if it can afford LeBron/Melo in two years will have nothing else on the roster, no big men, no quality guards, nothing. They'd have Melo, LeBron, Hardaway Jr, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton. The team is clearly worse than the Heat would be if the big three stay together. It just doesn't seem to add up a whole lot for LeBron who could more or less pick his destination.

Stephen A. Smith also noted that he wasn't reporting this like he did with the big three teaming up, but he was merely speculating that this would happen.

In other words, it kind of feels like Phil Jackson's got someone in SAS's ear about trying to start the P.R. battle for Melo.

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  • Stephen A has no info here. He knows Philly and NY well, but has no idea about Chicago. Players generally like and respect Thibs and would play for him in a heart beat. Who is a better coach that Thibs out there? Pop and possibly Spo with 2 rings. I'm not so sure Doc is better than Thibs but they are in the same spectrum. Who am I missing?

    I look at San Antonio and see a great team with great ball movement. Great depth and they play with pace, something that I'd LOVE the Bulls to consider. While I'd love Melo or Love, perhaps the Bulls could be better off without those guys. Or, at least not Melo since Love would be a better fit if his price is not too steep.

    A healthy Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Snell, Gibson, Mirotic, Noah, 2 rookies like Early and Payne and a decent FA or two with Booozer amnestied is pretty deep and shooting would be much better, depending on the new guys and if Snell takes a step forward. I think Butler is a better shooter than he showed this past season and can improve.

  • In reply to Granby:

    As a players coach, I think Rivers tops Thibs easily.

    As for Smith he only exists by being bombastic and throwing a bunch of BS out there to create a buzz. Whatever contacts he has are probably always blowing smoke up his butt just to see how he blows it up.

  • Spurs big 3 took pay cuts to keep relevant and here they are running for another championship. Miami has done it and we all know where they are today after 2010. They will try again to get even better by luring Carmelo and having more pay cuts to a potential big 4. This makes me sick just to think about the possibility. But it is a reality that I feel is more likely than the Bulls acquiring Carmelo if money was not a priority for Carmelo. And with that, I would say, bye-bye 2014 until 2020 Bulls plan. They are going nowhere without superstars. The NBA will become a boring sport to watch where only Heat will make the eastern finals for the next 5 years. How sad.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    The Spurs big three make under 30 million per year combined. The Heat big three will make over 60 next year and 65 the year after that (if they all opt in). So the level of their pay cuts are drastically different. There is leakage to the media from Miami that they want to become a big 4. That is fallacy. They want Wade to resign for 10 mill going forward, and they will jettison Bosh once Melo joins. LeBron and Melo will get full max deals.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    Good point about Bosh... if he leaves I could see Melo sliding into his place.

    A big 4 would be tough financially. Would Wade only make $10 mil per year? If not, they would have to ave about $13 mil each in salary given the rest of the roster, cap holds, etc... That's super low.

    The Spurs stars are aging and have taken a lot less, but the Miami 3 are still in their primes except for possibly Wade, although he has been stellar during these playoffs so hard to talk about a real decline with him yet.

    I just can't see a big 4. Plus, there is no upside for Melo. If they win, he gets no credit. If they lose, it's his fault. Kind of how some see LeBron taking the easy way out to acquire as many titles as possible by lining up with other stars.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    That's hard to believe but true, however, they paid that big(fake) Eurostiff(Splitter) $10 million. I'd still trade boozer for him in a heartbeat though.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    To create a big 4, all three of the big 3 have to opt out, then all 4 guys have to accept contracts starting at something less than $15 million or more than a $5 million per year pay cut from what they are making now. That is just not happening. The only way Melo ends up in Miami is as a replacement for one of the big 3 and I don't see Miami doing that unless one of them voluntarily leaves.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Nobody is opting out this year. Nobody - not LeBron, not Melo. They have never even thought about it for 10 seconds. This is all about next year. Which means it will all be negotiated behind the scenes this year. Which means the Bulls will not be involved.
    Next year LeBron gets a max deal - years and money. He is the key to everything. Then Melo gets a max offer. NY will still have Bird rights, but with no Florida state tax, he is able to sacrifice nothing and keep LaLa happy in Miami. Anyone who ever thought there was any chance he would come here is an idiot.
    Wade knows he is half what he used to be. He will take his 20 next year and resign for 10 per after. Bosh will be offered 10 and just may accept it because he thrives on being a 3rd (or 4th) option.
    The money works, and Riley has been planning this for months. Which is why he keeps winning (even while losing to the Spurs).

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    Wade and Bosh both have over $42 million guaranteed over the next 2 seasons. Neither guy would get anywhere near that on the open market. They are not taking $5 million per year cuts never mind $10 million. Neither are Melo or certainly Lebron who is certainly a full max guy for 5 more years. I hope that you enjoy the taste of crow, because the reports are that Melo will make you eat some.

  • Are the Bulls so scary that people need to sabotage them? Wade did it and even Bulls hater fans believed it. It feels like that's what Smith is trying to do.

    The Melo-to-Miami stuff is so obviously the media trying to get attention. Put "Melo" and "Heat" in a story and you get click-thrus, but it makes absolutely no sense in the actual NBA.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    What part makes no sense?

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    See Granby's comment.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Um, Granby said he could see Melo replacing Bosh. You said Melo to the Heat makes no sense.

  • Wade, Stephen A,(Smith), Reggie Rose, and with some legitimacy probably Ron Adams all bagging on our franchise. Yes they're all out to get Gar/Pax and the Bulls. Of course as a big market competitor rivals are going to knock you down if they see an opportunity and know they can get away with it. Even though in the not too distant past Stephen A lauded John Paxson for his drafting of Taj and Jimmy Butler.

    Sure Reggie is a leech and Wade is a phony a-hole. And in this case Stephen A appears to have an agenda/bias. But does that change the fact that there is more then a grain of truth to the Bulls harsh F.O. and cheapness rumors/accusations? Broken leg players publicly doubted, injured Derrick Rose outed - as in stating he's ready/cleared by doctors to play, Christmas Day firings, choking coaches, coaches fav assistant fired over minor bitching that caused no controversy or media uproar(of course it wouldn't since the media and guys like K.C. Johnson are on the take suppressing important stories).

    Outside of Chicago's oblivious on the take "media" you'd know the Bulls don't have a big market mouthpiece either through a player like Wade, Kobe etc. or a front office titan like Riley to confront and nip scurrilous propaganda(if partly true) torpedo statements. When you're attacked you don't respond by not responding. Whether it's NBATV or Basketball Insiders you hear Bulls referred to as cheap and unimaginative along with Thibs as a bulldozer at least every other month. With no counter from any corner. That's on Gar/Pax and to a lesser extent Noah and Rose. Though why would Noah defend Thibs when he has stated repeatedly he hates him.

    Homers presume that "Bulls F.O. haters" should not be bothered by the legit list of fu-k ups. And that Thibodeau(not "Thibs") is regarded as some great coach around the league - which is bullshit. He has done nothing in the playoffs as the head coach/honcho including Miami ECF where their offense and Rose were a f-ing joke. And he does have the rep of running his players into the ground of which many posters concur. Plus he is viewed as pissed at the F.O. over a easily overlooked criticism that instead was iron fist responded to with Ron Adam's firing. Of course blame it on Adams that it got to that point where he was complaining within earshot of the press. Don't blame the guys who have openly lied to the media and strangled a head coach while retaining your job.

    Bottom line: Gar Forman and John Paxson have drafted character players yes. And John Paxson outside a job he's not fit for, is a hero to old school Bulls fans and a over all decent guy. But Gar/Pax selected James Johnson and Tyrus Thomas. Teague, Snell. If not for Rose where would they be? And as for Carmelo the guy is a loser who unless paired with another monster scorer has no effect on winning. And unless Rose comes back as that he(Melo) has no reason to come here. Period regardless of what Stephen A self interestedly prattles on about. If they draft some compelling offensive talent like we want them to or even just for the love of god bring Mirotic over and I and other "haters" will relent.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I have no problem with the Bulls not responding to everything. They have been called cheap and unimaginative since the Jordan days. I don't expect them to come out every day and say "are not" and read some list of reasons why they are not. Everything that is being said negatively about them has been addressed at some point in some way, they probably got tired of talking about them. I'm not a big fan of what Paxson has done and that fight with Vinny makes him a not so decent guy in my book, but I don't think he has done a terrible job either. Yes, he made some poor picks with James Johnson, Tyrus Thomas and Teague (I don't blame him for Snell even though I wanted Deing because of how poor the rest of the draft was). He also drafted Noah, Taj, Butler, Mirrotic, and I think Gordan and Deng (I'm a little fuzzy on whether Paxson was here to bring them in or not). Pat Riley is great, but how many great picks has he made? Wade, Haslem, ??
    As for Thibs, saying he's done nothing in the playoffs is unfair criticism. No, he hasn't won a championship, but who would have with his team? Phil Jackson lost in the Conference Finals in his first year as coach, same as Thibs. If Jordan had torn his ACL in the playoffs the next year and missed the following year and then got hurt the year after that, Jackson would probably not have won three championships in those years either. I'm not saying that if Rose was healthy the Bulls would be on a three-peat, but they would have had a great shot at beating Miami. Thibs can only coach who he has, and if one says the team has no talent and no star players then how is Thibs supposed to get these playoff wins? Is he perfect? No. But I think he has proven himself to be one of the best in the business.
    I do agree that there is no reason for any "star" to come to Chicago unless Rose is proven healthy. If he is not, what is there? A nice team with a good coach. That's it. That is why I believe nothing will happen this year with free agents. Everyone needs to see what happens with Rose over the course of the year.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    You know what this is - a respectful, mature counter point. And you make some good points. I just want more emphasis on offensive talent i.e entertainment. Really, that's it. You give me guys who can shoot/score and aren't jerks and I am happy. Maybe this draft we'll somehow manage to make the right picks or get lucky. I'd be blown away if we successfully traded up and got Harris, Hood, or Stauskas. But I'd settle for talents like Payne, Early, Wilcox etc. And getting Mirotic over this summer would be huge as well.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    "If Jordan had torn his ACL in the playoffs the next year and missed the following year and then got hurt the year after that, Jackson would probably not have won three championships in those years either".

    you need to replace probably with definately.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    You know, now that you mention it, RW is kind of the Steven A Smith of this blog. Calm down thats not meant to be an insult.

  • Lebron's has already past his athletic peak. He's on the decline.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    If that is true, he peaked one game ago.

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    He's still getting better as a player but athletically he doesn't look the same as he did when he first joined the Heat. He still has a massive athletic advantage over his opponents.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    You are right, it happens to all players, they are at their physical best early in their careers before they ever figure out how to play the game. I'd say by 25-6 they are already past their physical pure athletic primes. Jordan put up his craziest number before he started winning, Wilt and Oscar put up the best 5 year numbers in NBA history in their first 5 seasons, so do most players who went to college.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's going to hurt Lebron more than other players when it finally hits home. He still struggles with his jumper and his post game is very limited. I'm sure he'll develop his game due to his work ethic but he relies so much on attacking the rim. Even though I root against him, I'm enjoying it while it's here because in 3 or 4 years time who knows what we'll see.

    Also he has been looking suprisingly fatigued lately, especially in game 3. I know he carries a huge load for the heat especially with Wade and Bosh disapearing but he rarely plays the best offensive player on defensive and you hardly see him doing those chasedown blocks he became known for, he just seems to let plays go now when defending the fastbreak.

  • Note to Doug, since you started the whole Ben Gordon is better than Arron Afflalo debate.

    Last season Arron Afflalo averaged 18.2 ppg on 45.9% overall shooting and 42.7% from 3, with half as many turnovers and twice the assist to turnover ratio.
    For his Bulls career Ben Gordon averaged about 18.1ppg on 43.5% shooting overall and 41.5% from 3. I did the math in my head, I didn't create an excel spreadsheet, but it should be close enough for government work.

    So at Ben Gordon's best they are a wash offensively, with Afflalo's career trending upward, while for the last 5 years Gordon has been an absolute piece of garbage while stealing $58 million from the fans of the league. He was so bad over the past 2 seasons that 2 different teams banished him to Siberia(team cancer) while paying him over $25 million.

    and that doesn't even take into account that while Afflalo is considered one of the better/best defenders at his position, Ben Gordon makes Carlos boozer look like Joakim Noah(DPOY) on D.

    So heck yea, give me the guy who is a legitimate 2 way player making $7.5 million per with a great attitude and legitimate size for his position over the self centered midget one prick pony who gives up twice as many points as he scores while demanding a max contract but settling for $11.5 million per and then puts up less than 12 ppg on 42% shooting overall and 38% from 3.

    I'd bet that every player that played with and every coach that coached them would take Afflalo over Gordon 10 out of 10 times. What do you think that Thibs would do, how about Jerry West, how about Phil, how about Pop, Pat Reilly, or either of the Reds' (Auerbach or Holzman).

    No one is saying that Afflalo is an all time NBA great, but not one of those all time NBA greats that I named above would even allow Gordon on his team never mind pick him over Afflalo. Hard to believe that after 5 pathetic years as one of the all time worst free agent signings in history you are still trying to justify your man crush on him.

    Sooner or later, you just have to admit that you were wrong, history(the facts) have already proven it. I'll bet that you didn't marry the girl that was the Ben Gordon of your girl friends, most likely you married the Arron Afflalo of your girl friends. Your sound like you are far too practical of a man to have done anything else.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Ben Gordon was the whole reason I started watching the Bulls in 2007 as he was the only British player in the NBA. To say that Ben Gordon is better than Afflalo is a completely uneducated or biased opinion.

    Afflalo is one of the most underrated guards in the league. Gordon is a undersized streaky ballhog shooter end of story. He cannot dribble or defend and then you have Afflalo, one of the most well rounded guards in the league. You have a handfull of SG's in the NBA that can play well on both sides of the ball. Afflalo is one of them.

    These players are on two different ends of the scale, it's not even close. I'm also on the Afflalo bandwagon rather than the Melo wagon.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    Thanks for the support. Again, I'm only advocating for Afflalo after all options on Melo and Love are exhausted. That may or may not be this summer.

    Just being realistic, if the worst that happens this summer is we add Mirotic, and either Afflalo or Shaun Livingston, and either retain DJ or get Jordan Hill and make good use of our draft picks(dreaming of Payne and LaVine), this would have to be the most optimistic summer outlook since at least 2010.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Did you mean one TRICK pony? Freudian slip or was it completely intentional? :)

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Yea, I did it on purpose, in an attempt to be funny and make a point at the same time.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    +100, except for the marriage girlfriend part...

    I unknowingly pressed Doug's hot button by suggesting Afflalo is better than any Bulls SG since 1998. And he is, by a bunch.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I didn't mean anything bad by the marriage comparison, if anything it was a complimentary remark.

  • Interesting quote from Kevin Love in a far ranging interview at the Triple E convention in LA.

    "He was then asked about the future of the Timberwolves, and used the word "they" to describe them. "If they're healthy, they can do a lot of damage," Love said. - See more at:

    Could be a slip of the tongue, but sure sounds like a guy who doesn't plan on being one of "them" next season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think it's pretty clear he's on the move. Flip says he has "no right to be frustrated," that's not what you say if you think he might stay.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Yes, after Flip announced he will be coach, Love said he is done talking and it is all in the hands of his agents. Which translates to he does not want to be the bad guy but has no interest in playing another half season to the trade deadline. They want to orchestrate a trade now. Melo will announce on 6/23 that he is standing pat in NY for one more year. And then several teams will up their offers to Minny. Love will get traded the next couple days (by draft night).

  • In reply to sfpaper:

    Actually, it is being reported today that Melo still intends to opt out, so your sources seem out of touch.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I think I was wrong about Riley waiting to bring Melo over after next season. The word seems to be that he is opting out now. And that will only mean one thing - a deal is done with Miami (never mind that Riley is supposedly barred from talking to Melo until July 1).

  • In reply to BigWay:

    There's actually video of this. I saw it..He talked about being in a place he could win then he was ask was wolves close to winning. It was not a slip...He was on sports nation as well saying he is letting his agent handle things but they didnt let him get away with thst his counter answer was he want to go somewhere he can when because he has not made it to the playoffs and that he hopes everything works out for both parties when ask he is staying in Minnesota

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Yea, I think that right now he is being diplomatic in public but behind the scenes he is probably making a lot more noise and wants to start training camp in another city. Which means that he is really available right now, and Derrick Rose has to get off his high horse and recruit the heck out of his workout buddy.

  • If Melo is staying in NYC then I think LeBron opts out and joins the Spurs. It's gotten way too difficult for him to win the championships he's entitled to. Even the flopping and whining doesn't appear to be working.

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    The E.astern Seaboard, P.rograming N.etwork has quite the loyal employee there. Keep up the good work Stephen A.

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