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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