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Trade deadline eve thoughts

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UPDATE: Found a new rumor: Bulls are interested in the Bucks' Brian Skinner. Former Bull! (for about a day). He has a team option for '07, makes around $5m. Just a standard 'big' (note: by 'standard' I mean he's pretty useless except for being big. I don't see it as an upgrade over even Allen or Sweets)

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Man, the past two days were not the most convenient ones to be kept away from computer access all day. Luckily there were no actual deals that would've required time-sensitive discussion. Just plenty of rumor.

Marty Burns of SI.com wrapped up today's chatter in a neat little package. I'll grift out the Bulls info:

The Pau Gasol trade talks have cooled considerably. Apparently Bulls GM John Paxson is holding firm in his stance that he doesn't want to trade either Luol Deng or Ben Gordon. One Eastern Conference GM said he wouldn't be surprised if the Bulls and Grizzlies pulled off the deal at the last minute, but he believed Memphis was content to keep the 7-foot Spaniard until the summer.

For what it's worth, the NBA also announced over All-Star Weekend that the Grizzlies would be playing an exhibition game in Spain next fall. Would David Stern & Co. have agreed to send Memphis over there without at least some indication from Jerry West that Gasol would still be around?

Meanwhile, rumors of a Zach Randolph deal for Chicago have begun to regain steam. Randolph is just the kind of low-post scorer the Bulls need, and his Michigan State background fits with coach Scott Skiles. However, his past character issues, lack of defense and big contract make it doubtful Paxson would mortgage his team's future on him. Besides, the Blazers continue to insist they aren't trading Randolph. Chicago might instead make a run at Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who has been platooning with Kenny Thomas in Sacramento.
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While much of the focus has been on big names, it is beginning to appear as if this year's trade deadline might feature more small deals. Chicago's Chris Duhon [is] among the names that have been bandied about.

Who knows when it comes to Gasol. It's been bantered about so much in the past few weeks, I think my thoughts are pretty well known (to summarize: trade the lesser assets and/or the Knicks pick-I don't get you draftphiles sometimes- but don't deal Deng/Hinrich/Gordon). One thing that still digs at me every time it's mentioned is the idea of the 'core' consisting of four players, including Nocioni. I think that's a completely ridiculous evaluation of Nocioni in comparison to Deng/Hinrich/Gordon (the actual 'core'). So when the idea of trading two of that core is mentioned, one can hope at the very least that Nocioni is automatically one of those. I'm still hoping that the deal can be done without the three in their 'true' core. I'm going to guess (or hope) that Pax isn't budging on including Deng/Hinrich/Gordon. It seems to me what it'll come down is how bad Memphis is hurting financially, and as a result how much pressure is being put on by ownership to move Gasol. There's been indicators all over that spectrum though, making it as hard to figure as the whole trade rumor itself.

So if Gasol's out, and KG is completely off the radar. Do the Bulls have a contingency plan?

As Burns mentions, one lesser name is Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The Sacramento Bee (hattip to hoopshype) is mentioning a source regarding this as well, as does Mike McGraw's column today (although that one is only speculation). Tom at Sactown Royalty has a couple posts regarding this, although he seems to think getting that Knicks pick would be part of a deal. I sincerely doubt that. Abdur-Rahim does have 3 more years on his deal, but it's at a relatively low price. One major issue is his health, as the knee problems that had New Jersey backing out of a deal for him before last season has crept up often during this season. And while he is a post scorer, he's also undersized.

While also undersized, Zach Randolph does make sense (for even less than what I'd offer for Gasol, obviously) because he's potentially a star talent.  But I'd be happy with such a pursuit only if the Bulls know ahead of time that they can 'control' (don't like using that word, but you know what I mean) him. I'm not sure having Skiles show off his Michigan State letterman jacket really would help much, but I trust that the organization is doing their due diligence to find out if he'd fit in personality-wise. And while that statement may cause some to roll their eyes, Randolph is signed for $17.3m in 2010-11, so I'm all for being really sure he'd fit in before acquiring him. Blazers president Steve Patterson laughed the idea off, for what that's worth.

A similarly bad apple has entered the radar screen today: Bonzi Wells. He may not be a big, but he does score in the post. And even if he's spent most of the season out-of-shape and in VanGundy's doghouse in Houston, the risk is minimal: he's a free agent after the season, not only meaning no future salary obligation but perhaps a nice contract-year push. Hey, if Tim Thomas can do it for the Suns, why not Bonzi for the Bulls? The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen mentions the Rockets need for a veteran point guard. Hmm...I can think of one who I wouldn't mind seeing leave...

(That's right, no post goes without a shot at Duhon!)

Anyway, I'm pretty excited for tomorrow: big deals or small it's one of the more fun days of the year. I'm at the point where I'm so drained from reading all the rumors I'd be surprised if anything big (Gasol) actually happened. Using their boatload of expiring deals was the plan going into this season, but if it can't be done reasonably, so be it. It's better than making a huge mistake...and a minor deal would be a nice way to help the team and perhaps help re-energize them towards the Eastern Conference crown. As the saying goes: trust in Pax.(right?)