Shams' Bulls Mailbag: Two-guard talk, Joakim Noah and more

One month after the NBA lockout began, the owners and players union finally met on Monday in New York City. But there wasn't much movement, and NBA commissioner David Stern left the three-hour meeting not feeling optimistic about the bargaining process.

"I don't feel optimistic. I don't feel optimistic about the players' willingness to engage in a serious way," Stern said to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.

When asked if the NBA players association is negotiating in good faith, Stern responded, "I would say not."

Are there any encouraging signs?

Said a reportedly glum Stern: "Nothing. We haven't seen any movement."

The negotiating outlook, too, looks glum. With that said, let's get to some Bulls talk. A much more positive conversation, right? Keep the questions coming to shamsmailbag@gmail.com.

we have kyle korver and looking for a shooting guard?  korver is great shooter and gritty.

Jo Morrison

I wouldn't call Kyle Korver a "great shooter." A solid, above-average shooter? Yes. You knew he wouldn't shoot 54 percent from beyond the arc, an NBA record, again -- a feat he accomplished in his final season in Utah. But you'd like to see a guy who's so heavily involved in the offense -- even being a go-to option late in games -- performing more consistently. Case in point: After he knocked down 48 and a half percent from three-point range in the first two rounds of the playoffs, he shot a putrid 29 percent on threes in the Eastern Conference finals. And when Korver wasn't hitting his jumpers, he was hurting you on the other end. He's a gritty player, one whose effort isn't in question. He hit plenty of clutch shots in the first round and was a huge reason why the Bulls got by Indiana, but he also regressed against Atlanta and Miami, as the stakes rose.

On a championship team, Korver's a specialist -- not a go-to guy. The Bulls tried to make him one, at times, usually when Derrick Rose needed help, and he couldn't come through. Don't expect Korver to go anywhere, though: he's still under contract for two more seasons for $5 million per year. Bulls GM Gar Forman told reporters after the draft that a main offseason goal for the Bulls will be to add more shooting, and in some ways, that's a shot at Korver, who was supposed to be the go-to shooter for the Bulls. Next season, don't look for Korver to have the same heightened role as he did this past season. Especially if the Bulls complete their offseason to-do list.

Shannon Brown declined his player option with the Lakers and is headed to free agency. Do you think the Bulls will look to sign him? Could they afford him?

Sam W.

We won't know who and what the Bulls can afford until the labor situation clears up, but if the mid-level exception remains, the Bulls would certainly have a shot at getting Shannon Brown, a former Bull. The question is: How much of an upgrade is he really? He's athletic and brings championship pedigree, having won a pair of titles with the Lakers, but is an undersized two-guard at 6-4 and shot 35 percent on threes last season (28 percent in the playoffs). The Bulls are looking for an upgrade at shooting guard, not another backup. Is he a starting shooting guard on a championship contender? The Bulls have two shooting guards currently under contract in Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, while Keith Bogans could be retained. We saw how a shooting guard by committee worked out last season. If the Bulls want to take the next step, they'll have to bring in an upgrade at the position, a starter. Brown isn't the answer.

shane battier.... not a guard BUT very versatile.  Is the game about making shots or playing intelligently?  Battier will give his heart and soul and will upgrade our IQ.   Talk about locker room presence, especially if kurt thomas goes to NYK.  Battier is also very versatile and could help inside or help spread the floor for whatever 2 guard we find.

Jo Morrison

It all depends on the money situation. If the Bulls can fill their needs, via trade or free agency, and still have money available, sure, bringing in Shane Battier wouldn't be a bad idea. He'd fit right into coach Tom Thibodeau's style, schemes and would be a good locker room presence, as you mentioned. Battier, 32, won't have any problems finding suitors. After interviewing him, The Houston Chronicle said "don't be surprised" if Batter signs with the Heat or Bulls. So the Battier/Bulls rumors are certainly out there. However, I've also heard his name being thrown around as the answer to the Bulls' two-guard woes, and I just don't see it. He's 6-8, a natural small forward and hasn't averaged double figures since the 2006-07 season (10.1). Still, he's a career 38 and a half percent shooter on threes and would be a good, sound addition if the Bulls can pull it off.

your thoughts about jason richardson?

Jo Morrison

Out of the free-agent shooting guards, he'd be the best fit for the Bulls. He averaged 16 points last season and shot nearly 40 percent on threes -- just the type of production the Bulls need at two-guard. What will his price tag be, though? Richardson, 31 in January, is coming off a six-year, $70 million deal, but the free-agent-to-be has already declared that his money has been "taken care of," and he'd "like to go someplace that has a chance to win a championship." The Bulls would be just that. If they can pick up the best shooting guard on the market, I'd say that's the "splash" Bulls fans are looking for.

From my understanding of the Euro league's, the focus is way more on big men jump shooting and way less on physical paint play. In my mind, this seems like a perfect fit for Joakim Noah during the lockout. I feel like if Joakim had a shot from 10-15 feet (15 may be pushing it) outside he could be an incredible offensive threat to compliment his defensive prowess. I know he'll never be a prolific scorer however I do think a year in a league that stresses lax defense and big men taking jump shots could be good for him (provided the European league and player practice are the only options). Obviously, there is always the risk of injury, however like I mentioned I feel like the European leagues are much less physical. I think injuries can happen whenever/wherever (Boozer tripping over a bag) so I would rather have our players in a competitive league during the lockout than exclusively practicing. Am I crazy?

Mitchell Graham

While I agree with you in that playing in the Olympic Qualifier/EuroBasket 2011 is a positive and productive way for Joakim Noah to spend time during this lockout offseason, the level of physicality in FIBA basketball is nothing to laugh at. It can get chippy in the paint and many of the European teams play scrappy basketball, doing whatever they can to outwork, outhustle their opponent. Of course, improving and regaining the touch on his midrange jumper should be a huge goal for Noah this summer, along with working on improving his conditioning, though that will come with being 100 percent healthy and working hard. You've just got to hope Noah uses the tournament as an opportunity to improve his game. He acknowledged his poor play against the Heat in the East finals -- when he averaged six points, 10 rebounds and shot 32 percent from the field -- and seemed determined to do whatever it takes to help the Bulls take a step forward next season. It's up to him now.

I do think playing in the tournament will be a good experience for the three Bulls participating, Noah (France), Luol Deng (Great Britain) and draft pick Nikola Mirotic (Spain), but for Noah, more importantly. His conditioning seemed off late in the season, as he'd get hands-on-knees tired after just a handful of minutes of continuous basketball (with no dead balls, fouls or timeouts). "In shape" and "basketball shape" are different. Let's just say, he wasn't in the best "basketball shape" late in the season, and the thumb injury sidelining him for 30 games and nagging ankle injuries had a big role in that. You've got to hope he plays smart overseas and takes the competition as a way to retain the conditioning he was in before the thumb injury.

what are your thoughts about tayshaun prince or richard hamilton?

Jo Morrison

Does Prince fit on the Bulls? Jimmy Butler, like Prince, is a defense-first forward whose scoring is suspect, and with Deng penciled in for 35-plus minutes a night, where would Prince get his? And would the Bulls have the money to spend on him after shoring up their need (shooting guard)? Don't look for Prince to take his talents to Chicago, though his teammate, Richard Hamilton, is a possibility. He'd be a good fallback option if the Bulls miss out on Richardson or trade targets (such as Courtney Lee), and it seems that Detroit is intent on parting ways with the veteran guard. He has been on the trading block dating back to last season, though Detroit's been unable to ship him out. If he's bought out, which is a major possibility, the Bulls would certainly be interested, especially if other avenues close.

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