Sunday marked Day 144 of the ongoing NBA lockout. With no end in sight, let's take a look at the questions sent to the Chicago Bulls mailbag.
From inquiries about how the Bulls can improve their two-guard situation once the league-imposed lockout ends to players who might take their game abroad, keep them coming.
Q: Why does no one question why the Bulls haven't considered Rashad McCants? -- Marco Bahunea
A: Aside from Bulls management, no one truly knows whom they will go after, either via free agency or trade, whenever the lockout ends. But it's safe to say they won't chase Rashad McCants, whom I was a fan of a few years ago. The fact that the former Tar Heel has been out of the NBA for the past two seasons doesn't bode well for his chances of landing on a title-contending team like the Bulls, who are searching for an established two-guard that can play an impact role in helping them get past Miami. During his four-year career, McCants proved that he can be a potent scorer. His best season came in 2007-08 when he averaged 14.9 points and shot 40.7 percent from three-point range in 75 games for Minnesota. But having not played a single minute in the league since 2009, having never played for a winning franchise, could you trust him to produce with the bright lights shining? What's more, is he an upgrade over Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver or Keith Bogans? The guess here is that McCants would need a season to get reacclimated with the NBA's style of play, and taking team chemistry into account, I don't see how McCants is much of an upgrade over the Bulls' current options at shooting guard.
McCants wants to return to the NBA, according to his agent, Bernie Lee, and tried to prove that by playing for the D-League's Texas Legends last season. As reported here, he was close to signing a contract with a Chinese team in September, but ultimately decided against it. We will see if he receives another opportunity at the NBA level. Depending on what happens with the Bulls' two-guard situation in the near future, it would be smart to keep an eye on the 6-foot-5 McCants -- but I wouldn't view him as the answer to the two-guard void at this point.
Q: I don't know how the contracts work out, but if the Bulls get Jason Richardson, how would a trade of [C.J.] Watson and [Kyle] Korver for Kirk Hinrich and either a 1st or 2nd round pick sound? Hinrich would fit the role that most wanted from Watson as the guard who could play along with Rose, taking pressure off of him. I wouldn't get rid of Korver unless they got Richardson and I'm worried about Hinrich's injuries the last two years, but he would fit on the team and his contract is up after the year. I think Watson and Korver would fit in with Atlanta too. Do you think it would work? -- Steven Schnakenberg
A: Bulls fans are familiar with what Kirk Hinrich would bring to the table -- stability, leadership and a good rapport with Derrick Rose. Obviously, he would fit right into the locker room and understand coach Tom Thibodeau's schemes. However, unless the Hawks are looking to sell him on the cheap, I can't see a way he would be able to return to Chicago during the 2011-12 season, should it be salvaged. C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver would add depth to the Hawks' roster, but it doesn't make sense for Atlanta to deal a starting-caliber guard for two reserves -- not to mention sending a draft pick to the Bulls in your trade proposal. And while Hinrich will be a free agent after the upcoming season, assuming there is one, Korver has a fully guaranteed contract for $5 million in 2012-13. Watson, though, is under a team option for $3.7 million in 2012-13, according to HoopsHype. Still, I don't think Atlanta is in any position to trade the best player in the deal to an Eastern Conference rival along with taking on extra salary.
Also, from reading various reports and his Twitter posts, it appears unlikely Jamal Crawford will re-sign with Atlanta whenever free agency gets under way. Should Crawford sign elsewhere, the Hawks -- who have just three guards under contract for 2011-12 -- will almost certainly hang onto Hinrich.
The Bulls' best chance of bringing Hinrich back to the Windy City will likely come next summer.
Q: Which Bulls have talked about playing overseas? I haven't heard that many. -- Jim
A: Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Watson, Ronnie Brewer and John Lucas III are among the Bulls who have publicly discussed the possibility of playing overseas if the lockout puts the season in grave danger. This past week, Noah told L'Equipe that playing a few games for a foreign team is "out of question" because if he does sign abroad "it's for the whole year." Meanwhile, Deng's agent, Herb Rudoy, told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that the Bulls forward is seriously considering four to five offers. It's no coincidence that the two Bulls who have the most international ties are the ones expressing interest in playing overseas as NBA labor talks promise to move from the bargaining table to courtrooms.
If the lockout extends into late December, Watson and Lucas are also candidates to take their talents across the pond. With experience playing overseas, both have said they're keeping options open. If Lucas decides to head abroad, the Shanghai Sharks, his former team, would be in the mix for his services, although the Chinese Basketball Association declared it would only allows teams to sign free agents. According to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, Besitkas -- the Turkish club that already has New Jersey's Deron Williams, Boozer's former teammate in Utah -- has been in conversation with Deng and Boozer, who said earlier in the summer that he would play overseas if the lockout delays the start of the NBA season.
I don't expect a mass exodus from Bulls players because they understand where their commitments lie. Brewer summed it up the best in a recent conversation with ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell: "It's definitely a possibility if it drags. But my loyalty is with the Chicago Bulls. ... I'm going to stay loyal to them and try to stay in shape and work on my game so whenever this is over, I can jump right in the mix and be ready to go." His teammates feel the same way.
Q: Sam Smith laughed at me for half my questions so I'm hoping you'll actually listen to me. I thought of 2 free agents who are very similar to 2 players on the bulls bench and could do the same, if not better of a job. Sean Williams = Taj Gibson and Adam Morrison = Kyle Korver. Sam said that both of those players have personal issues etc etc. but so did Joakim with pot and so did derrick with gang affiliation. I told Sam that both of those guys are just victims of not being in a good situation team wise. Morrison was expected to be the star player of a new team and lead them to victory and Lawrence Frank did not like Sean Williams. Sean is longer, more explosive, and a better shotblocker than Taj. Morrison isn't as good of a pure shooter, but he's a more creative offensive player than Korver. Both could be signed for VERY cheap and that way we could trade Taj and Korver for a 2 guard. -- Marco Bahunea
A: Marco, you sure seem very high on two players who did not play in the league last season. I have to give you points for effort, but your scenario has a lot of holes in it. For starters, neither Sean Williams nor Adam Morrison, two inexperienced players, would play big minutes on Thibodeau's defensive-minded team.
With career averages of eight points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, Gibson holds the statistical edge over Williams, who put up 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for his career. Gibson is a proven commodity; Williams is a question mark. Bulls players, management and fans know what they're getting in Gibson. As for Morrison, you might be watching footage from his days at Gonzaga, because he hasn't shown much promise during his brief, three-year NBA career. I'm sure most in the NBA industry would take Gibson and Korver over Williams and Morrison. Either way, in September Morrison's ship sailed to Serbia, where he's currently playing for the Red Star Belgrade without an opt-out clause.
Dealing both Gibson and Korver for a shooting guard might be the Bulls' best hope to upgrade at the position, but if it means severely downgrading at two key backup spots, count me out.
Q: When do you think the lockout will end? -- Brandon
A: I have tried to remain optimistic throughout this entire process. It's certainly looking bleak right now, but you have got to believe that there will be a season. How does a Christmas Day season opener sound? If that is to happen, the owners and players would have to reach a deal by Nov. 25 because commissioner David Stern stated it will take 30 days after a handshake agreement to get the season started. If the two sides fail to reach a labor deal by the end of November, it may get ugly. Hopeful that we'll see NBA hoops at some point, I believe both sides iron out a deal for a Dec. 25 start to the season. Then again, guessing a labor resolution has been practically impossible to this point.