Chicago Bulls mailbag: We answer your pressing questions

While the Bulls spent Saturday practicing at Santa Monica High School, there was some minor news: Mike Dunleavy is going to practice with the D-League's Santa Cruz Warriors to help get himself back into basketball shape, but won't play in games. Dunleavy has yet to play this season while recovering from back surgery.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said E'Twaun Moore will make his second start at small forward on Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, and it's possible Kirk Hinrich will be ready to return from a thigh bruise.

Now, on to the “Ice Show Road Trip” edition of questions from Twitter followers:

Q. Any chance the Bulls trade for a wing? (Sacramento's Rudy) Gay would help a lot — @RPK_

A. Well, that's essentially the Bulls' missing link. One way to look at this team is it has a solid top three in Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol. Taj Gibson is a quality power forward, so getting a better player at the three, plus more consistent depth, might be enough to launch the Bulls into Finals-contender status.

Is Rudy Gay the answer? My concern with Gay is he's not really a wing. He's such an oversized small forward, he almost fits into the 3½ trap — not a true small forward, but not physical enough to play power forward. Gay is a talented scorer, but has been a tough fit everywhere he has played.

Q. Do you think it will be smart for the Bulls to chase (Charlotte's) Nic Batum as a free agent? Let Pau (Gasol) walk bring back (Joakim) Noah a la (Golden State's) Andrew Bogut? — @Bo_Bankz

A. Batum might be a solution for the small forward spot. He has played well for the Hornets this season and will be a free agent, but is not as good a 3-point shooter (career .361) as you might expect.

NBA free agency will be crazy during the next two years, with the salary cap expected to make two huge jumps, rising from the current $70 million to an estimated $90 million this summer and potentially $109 million in 2017. This is the result of the NBA's new television deal, so be wary of rising cable bills.

What this means is just about every team in the league will have the cap room to make maximum-salary offers and that has never happened before. The Bulls could be in good shape to lure someone with the chance to play in the big city on a good team, but it's tough to predict how things will turn out.

Q. What are the chances of landing Kevin Durant in free agency with the new cap space coming this summer? — @ImInYoMentions

A. Along those lines, Durant will be the No. 1 free agent on the market. He won't be eager to abandon Russell Westbrook, while the Wizards are hoping Durant is ready to move closer to his Baltimore roots. The feeling here is Durant will stay in OKC, at least for the short term.

Q. Debating this with other fellow Bulls fans, want your insight: Right now, straight up Butler for Durant? — @Rudens23

A. Interesting idea. Obviously, the Bulls would be testing the Thunder's confidence in re-signing Durant. I'd do that trade if OKC said yes, but doubt it actually happens.

Q. Why does the Reinsdorf family never hold GarPax accountable for bad draft picks, trades, and free agent signings? — @negates

A. Assessing the Bulls' basketball brain trust of Gar Forman and John Paxson requires a big-picture outlook. Sure, it's easy to nitpick bad moves here and there, but here's the bottom line — since Paxson replaced Jerry Krause in 2003, the Bulls have made the playoffs 10 times in 12 years and regularly lead the NBA in attendance. A consistently good team equals big profits in Chicago.

On top of that, Forman can point to successful late first-round draft picks such as Butler and Gibson, and it's easy to see why Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf have been loyal.

Q. Do you think Hoiberg's passive coaching style is leading to passive play? If so, what has to change? — @BenFish75

A. Obviously, it's too soon to tell if Hoiberg has what it takes to be a successful NBA head coach. But I don't think a passive coaching style is a problem. Plenty of good NBA coaches are laid back on the sideline. If the Bulls are playing passively, it probably speaks more to the personality of the players.

Q. You think Bulls could make a play for (Boston's) Jae Crowder? I think he'd be a great fit. And what would it take to get him? — @Rudens23

A. Crowder, a former teammate of Butler at Marquette, is averaging 14.5 points for the Celtics, so he could be a good fit for that small forward slot. But he is signed long-term and would require a trade to get to the Bulls.

Any sort of trade is problematic for the Bulls right now. They don't have enough big-man depth to trade someone like Gibson for a wing player. Then the younger guys, like Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Tony Snell, won't have much trade value because they haven't developed as players.

Hoiberg has lost faith in Snell, replacing him with Moore in the starting lineup. McDermott has the kind of offensive skills in which it's easy to imagine him becoming a valuable player. Mirotic, you never know what he'll bring game to game. If another team wants to roll the dice on Mirotic's future, the Bulls might want to give it some thought.

Q. Can Rose literally not dunk in a game anymore or does he choose not to to go easy on his knees? — @Pbrady55

A. Now this is a good question. I suspect Rose can still dunk, but based on his injury history, has decided not to go out of his way to dunk in a game.

Will we see Rose dunk in a game this season? I'll say yes, but check the odds closely if you plan to put money on that.

• Get the latest Bulls news via Twitter @McGrawDHBulls.

Bulls scouting report

Bulls vs. Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center, 2:30 Sunday


Radio: ESPN 1000-AM

Outlook: Blake Griffin was already sidelined with a partially torn quad tendon before he broke his hand in a fight with the team's assistant equipment manager. The Clippers (31-16) have gotten better, winning 14 of 17 games since Griffin left the lineup. With Griffin out, PG Chris Paul has averaged 20.4 points and 10.6 assists, and SG J.J. Redick is at 17.7 ppg while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range. Ageless ex-Bull Jamal Crawford is also on a roll, averaging 14.5 points since Dec. 26. C DeAndre Jordan ranks second in the league in rebounds (13.7) and third in blocked shots (2.2). Griffin was ejected for a flagrant foul when the Bulls beat the Clippers 83-80 at the UC on Dec. 10. Pau Gasol led the Bulls that night with 24 points.

Next: Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena on Monday, 8 p.m.

— Mike McGraw

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