After a tough loss to the Bulls, I had a chance to sit down and go one-to one with NBA insider and Chicago Bulls analyst Sam Smith. Sam writes a regular column for bulls.com that gets daily links to NBA.com, si.com, and espn.com. He is one of the best in the business and here is what he had to say:
PHD: I wanted to know what you thought about the chance of the Bulls and Raptors hooking up to make a deal. A lot has been reported about the Bulls issues in the front court and their need for a “low post presence” with names like Brad Miller, Marcus Camby, and Jermaine ONeal mentioned as possible solutions. Is this their only need right now.
SS: The Bulls need size, if not exclusively a low post scorer.
PHD: There are a ton of Bulls/Raptors trade rumours floating around . Most of the rumours revolve around a deal that would send Hughes and Nocioni + parts to the Raptors for JO and parts. Is this a real possibility?
SS: To me, there’s no chance the Bulls take on O’Neal.
PHD: Why not? He appears to address all of the Bulls’ needs, no?
SS: There are a couple of major issues with O’Neal. There’s the salary and though you can come within 25 percent, the Bulls would have to give up too much in addition to Hughes to avoid a luxury tax hit. I don’t see them going into the tax to take on O’Neal.
PHD: OK, but his contract comes off the books for 2010. Is there more to JO than we know here in Toronto?
SS: The larger issue to me is that O’Neal is what they call around the NBA a de-energizer. He saps the energy out of a team with his constant injury issues which makes it uncertain when he can play, and then when he is around he won’t practice so he won’t get hurt again and guys hate that and become resentful. Then he talks to the media all the time, and while it’s good for reporters, teammates wonder why this guy is talking all the time and never doing anything
PHD: But couldn’t he help the Bulls with their low post problems.
SS: O’Neal is no longer a low post player. He’s a ground based jump shooter.
PHD: What about the Bulls end of the deal? Most of the rumours revolve around Hughes coming back to Toronto- since we have an issue at the wings. Can Hughes help this team or is he a “cancer” in the dressing room as he is so often described?
SS: Hughes isn’t a locker room cancer as far as I can tell. He does whine a bit, but the problem more is the way he plays, looking for his shot all the time in the belief that the more he shoots the more it helps the team.
PHD: So, it sounds as if the chances are not good for O’Neal getting dealt to Chicago. Any thoughts about a JO deal in general?
SS: -the general feeling around the NBA with Bargnani coming on is “what the heck they’re going to do to get O’Neal out of there since Bargnani is no three.”
PHD: On behalf of all the members of the Raptors Republic- thanks Sam for your time and for shedding a little light on the issue.
So there you have it Raptors fans. It appears that JO is moving on, but not to the windy city.
As always, standing in the key, I’m the Dr. I’ve got my feet planted, and I’m planning on taking a charge!