With a week left before the NBA's trade deadline strikes on Feb. 19, it's tough to predict what will happen with the Bulls.
Phoenix power forward Amare Stoudemire remains a possibility. But I keep hearing and reading that there will be a flurry of activity in the final days because so many teams are losing money in this poor economy and are becoming increasingly anxious to dump salaries.
That stinks for most of the country, but could be an opportunity for the Bulls. The salary structure is the same everywhere in the league, but the Bulls have a much easier time filling the stadium in a metropolitan area of 8 million than they do in the smaller markets.
Among the players widely believed to be available are New Orleans' Tyson Chandler, Philadelphia's Sam Dalembert and the Clippers' Chris Kaman. I wouldn't be surprised if Washington's Antawn Jamison joins the list.
Of the above list, Kaman would be the most attractive, although he hasn't played since Nov. 26 because of an arch problem. But Kaman is a good defender and last season, he averaged an impressive 15.7 points, 12.7 boards and 2.8 blocks. When the Bulls were out in L.A. a few weeks ago, Clippers boss Mike Dunleavy insisted there were no thoughts of trading Kaman, but owner Donald Sterling pays the bills.
Those other teams almost certainly want to trade their higher-priced center for Joakim Noah, who still has two seasons left on the rookie pay scale. The Bulls won't do that, because Noah can do most of what Chandler and Dalembert can do at a fraction of the cost. Maybe they'd trade Noah for Kaman.
If the Bulls could get Chandler or Dalembert for Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Thabo Sefolosha (the salaries add up), it would be worth considering.
Teams with expiring contracts to trade and money to spend should be able to add a good player in the next week. Cleveland (Wally Szczerbiak at $13 million) and Portland (Raef LaFrentz at $12.7 million) figure to make some kind of move. Detroit can offer Allen Iverson ($21.9 million) or Rasheed Wallace ($13.7 million). The Bulls' expirings, Gooden and Simmons, add up to about $8.8 million.
--Economics appears to be the biggest reason the Suns are willing to trade Stoudemire. They want to get below the luxury tax threshold and don't want to fork out a $100-million deal to keep Stoudemire in 2010.
So any suggestion that doesn't save the Suns money won't happen, such as a Golden State giving Andris Biedrins and Anthony Randolph.
The Suns wouldn't ask the Bulls to include Kirk Hinrich, as some reports suggested, because he has an expensive long-term deal. I don't think the Bulls would include both Noah and Tyrus Thomas. So it appears the potential deal is still settled on Thomas, Gooden, Simmons, Sefolosha and a possible draft pick for Stoudemire.
This could go any direction. It's possible Stoudemire suits up for the Bulls in a week or so, but the Bulls could also decide he's too big an injury and monetary risk. Or Phoenix could take a different offer.
A report that Portland was offering LaFrentz and LaMarcus Aldridge for Stoudemire was met with great skepticism and the writer backed off the story later in the day. Everything I've heard from Portland is that the Blazers couldn't love Aldridge any more, though they could probably open some room in their hearts if he grabbed more than 6.8 rebounds per game.
If not the Bulls and if the Suns really don't have interest in Miami's Michael Beasley, Stoudemire could end up elsewhere in the Central Division. Cleveland could offer Sczerbiak, J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson, while Detroit could try Wallace, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson. It seems very possible the Bulls are Steve Kerr's first choice.
--Some people have been writing that the Bulls can take advantage of a traded player exception, worth about $5 million and left over from last year's deal that sent Ben Wallace and Joe Smith to Cleveland. Don't believe it.
This traded player exception can only be used to add a player making $5 million or less and that won't happen because it pushes the Bulls over the luxury-tax threshold. A traded player exception cannot be combined with other players' salaries. They can't trade Gooden, Thomas and the traded player exception to Phoenix, for example -- so it's pretty much useless to the Bulls right now.