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NBA Rumors: Paul-to-Lakers still nixed, Dwight eyeing Nets? Bulls...doing something?

To be honest, I was hesitant posting again late last night because I figured that the league would undo their undoing of the Chris Paul trade. Or maybe a compromise where they somehow force the Lakers to give up more.

The league citing of 'basketball reasons' has a lot of ramifications outside of great jokes on Twitter. While I thought the Hornets haul was pretty awful (not a single young stud player or a lottery pick), either the league-owned Hornets are allowed to operate independently or they aren't. And it's still up in the air whether it was truly the league (Stern) who vetoed the deal, or a coup by jilted NBA owners like the Cavs Dan Gilbert. Lots more from Ken Berger and Adrian Wojnarowski on this.

One effect is that it already looks like the rest of the league is in a holding pattern. There's been one big noteworthy report, though a Chris Broussard-y report, that Dwight Howard now 'preparing to ask' (haha, what?) the Magic for a trade to New Jersey. Maybe Dwight's stance changed knowing the league (somehow) wouldn't allow him to be a Laker? If he truly wants out and is opening his options to freaking New Jersey, the Bulls should be getting in on this. Note that the Lakers didn't wait for Chris Paul to pine for them and guarantee an extension before trading major, contributing, pieces for him. The Bulls should operate similarly with Howard.

[Note by your friendly BullsBlogger,10:25 AM CST: OK, I'm not sure how the new CBA works with Noah's base-year-compensation, and thus if he can even be dealt for Howard now. Working on it... ]

So what is reportedly going on with the Bulls, then? Actually, seemingly a lot of backtracking from the talk of a full-MLE free-agent just a few days ago.

Mike McGraw:

some in Bulls management are in favor of standing pat and coming back with the same group of players. At least to start the season.

Aggrey Sam:

Bulls might not be willing to spend necessary $ to make a big splash at the 2, according to a person with knowledge of discussions.

KC Johnson:

They continued to keep their options to upgrade at shooting guard open — and their intentions private. Even some of their targets were unsure which direction the Bulls might head.

Thibodeau called Jamal Crawford, Jason Richardson and Josh Howard personally Monday, according to league sources. Crawford and Richardson are in position to receive more lucrative offers than the mid-level exception from teams with salary cap space. The Bulls, sources said, currently have no plans for sign-and-trade transactions for those players.

Vince Carter remains a possibility if the Suns waive him, as expected. And a league source said the Bulls remain in the mix for veteran swingman Grant Hill, once assumed to be a slam dunk to return to the Suns.

Now, that doesn't mean they don't have sign-and-trade aspirations for better players, or are willing to spend big $ on that, right? right????

With the Bulls 'letting the market come to them' (oy), maybe they'll just be waiting for the players to strike over this Chris Paul thing.

[{yfBB and I were simultaneously posting on this. Here are some extra details and my counter-point on why the Bulls may now be less likely to land have a chance at Howard --Alex Sonty]

Chris Broussard may not be right all the time, but when reporting players' individual interests and preferences, his sources are generally trustworthy as 'close to the situation'.

Broussard isn't reporting that Dwight Howard has requested a trade to the Nets, but that his "representatives have told the Nets that they are his preferred destination". The Nets are reportedly prepared to offer Brook Lopez and draft picks to the Magic for Howard and the albatross contract of Hedo Turkoglu.

The appeal is clear: 2011-12 will be the Nets' last year in New Jersey. Next season, they will move to Brooklyn, more legitimately elevating their market reach and appeal to adding free agents. Deron Williams, one of the best pick n' roll point guards in the game, is the ball-handler draw over any other prospective suitors.

[Read more from Evan Dunlap at Orlando Pinstriped Post here]

The Lakers have been widely speculated as among the frontrunners to land Howard in a trade before his contract expires in the summer of 2012. But for all the speculation, Howard's preferred destinations -- translation: where he wouldn't use the prospect of not extending his contract as a de facto veto -- have been difficult to come by, let alone found to be consistent with any other actions or confirmed.

Whether or not David Stern canceling L.A.'s three-way trade with the Hornets and Rockets to acquire Chris Paul will make the Lakers more aggressive is yet to be known. The Lakers dangled Andrew Bynum at the Hornets, but there was no interest among them or the Rockets, and the speculation is that Bynum will be dangled at the Magic. Lamar Odom, who was traded and then un-traded to New Orleans, expressed shock that the Lakers never talked to him and a sense of either embarrassment, confusion, a bruised ego, some of the above, or all of the above in his rational insecurity. So, it's safe to speculate that Odom will also be dangled at Orlando.

If that deal got nixed after the Hornets reportedly turned down Amare Stoudemire in an offer from the Knicks, there's not much room for the Lakers to continue pursuing Paul, as the league reportedly never even suggested ways to mend the deal. And the price was already very high.

The relevance of this to the Bulls is simple: without cap room or the assets to offer Orlando comparable to those in L.A., the prospects of Howard coming to the Bulls are almost not worth any conversation until further notice. This isn't the Bulls fault or Howard, nor does it imply Howard does no want to be a Bull, but trading Howard to the Bulls just doesn't fit with the Magic's interests -- even if Howard expressed a want to come here.

I mean, come on, why would he say no to the Lakers?