Will Bulls Get in on Big Day of NBA Trades?


Nov 21

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How about trading for the Clippers’ Chris Kaman? Or the Knicks David Lee? Or the Warriors Monta Ellis?

Those may well be some of the next big names to go as the New York Knicks Friday kicked open the NBA trading door with to major deals apparently designed to create salary cap room to lure LeBron James, and don’t be surprised if a dozen or so teams, including the Bulls, try to find out ways to follow through.

The Knicks first dealt former Bull Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for disgruntled Al Harrington.

The key to the deal was Harrington with a contract expiring after next season while Crawford averages about $9 million per season through 2010-11. James can become a free agent after the 2009-10 season, and the Knicks, without specifically mentioning James, have made it clear in all their moves they are clearing cap space to make a major offer to James then, though other teams, including New Jersey, Detroit, Dallas, and, of course, Cleveland, will be bidding aggressively.

It’s a surprising move for the Warriors, whom the Bulls were playing Friday night in Oakland, given a loaded backcourt of shooters Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette with Monta Ellis still out after a summer moped incident for which he was suspended. The belief is the talented Ellis, who averaged 20 points last season, will now be the odd man out and traded after hard feelings developed following the suspension.

“It’s a whole new regime. You can’t take stuff like this personally,” Crawford told reporters. “I got to be professional and not take it personal. I’ll be closer to home (Seattle). It wouldn’t be the end of the world. When things were bad, I was there. I wanted to be there when things got good.”

The Knicks then traded Zach Randolph, who had been playing well in the Knicks’ 6-5 start this season, along with guard Mardy Collins in another salary dump deal for the Clippers’ Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley, both of whom have contracts expiring after next season.

The Knicks also have been trying to trade former Bull Eddy Curry, and now with Randolph gone are pushing to get Curry in shape and putting up some numbers to enhance his value, as Randolph did averaging 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, both team bests.

Once the Knicks move Curry, they’ll have only Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Jared Jeffries on the payroll after next season, enabling them to make maximum offers to James and another top free agent, perhaps Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire. Then, the Knicks could add pieces who would want to join a potential dynasty in New York with some of the top young players in the game and coached by the player friendly Mike D’Antoni.

“I think all the players know this is a season of transition,” D’Antoni added told New York media with the team in Milwaukee. “It’s always going to be a possibility that one day the face of this franchise is going to change. (GM Donnie Walsh’s) plan is pretty clear. In a couple of years we’re going to be under the cap. Everything he will do will lead us to being under the cap in two years. And I’ll deal with making sure the team is competitive and we’ll try to make the playoffs this year.”

Thomas formerly played for the Knicks and came to the Bulls in the Curry deal but was sent home by the Bulls and eventually released. Harrington was drafted by Walsh out of high school when Walsh was with the Pacers. Though the big story in New York probably still will be what Stephon Marbury thinks of all this. Without Crawford, perhaps the Knicks will recall Marbury to play again, though they’ve been trying to get him to take a buyout.

From the Knicks standpoint, it also puts other players in play, like hustling rebounder David Lee, who is said to be seeking a major contract with his deal expiring after the season. Rather than lose him, perhaps the Knicks would want something in return until 2009-10, or perhaps a player for the future. Would they look at Tyrus Thomas? Joakim Noah? Thabo Sefolosha?

One interesting possibility is Ben Gordon, who is from the New York area and would fit well playing off James and with a D’Antoni system. Gordon would have to give his permission for a deal because he’d lose Bird rights on a future contract, but he might given it’s New York and the opportunities. Though he is seeking a longterm deal, he could sign a one-year contract for big money after this season and them come back later for a longer deal after the Knicks make their major acquisitions, if they can. If they can’t, Gordon would be there to be paid. He’s taken big risks in passing deals from the Bulls the last two summers, and it might be worth it for the Knicks. And Lee would be a nice addition to a Bulls front court in need of toughness.

Likewise, the possibilities are most intriguing potentially involving Kaman and the desperate Clippers, who were 2-9 despite signing free agent Baron Davis last summer.

One would think with Marcus Camby and now Randolph, who is mostly an inside post player, Kaman would be expendable. It’s also been widely rumored around the NBA this season the Clippers would be interested in dealing the sometimes erratic Kaman, who has $34 million and three years left on his deal after this season.

With Baron Davis always a question mark with injuries and no true shooting guard, perhaps the Clippers could be interested in a deal for Kirk Hinrich. Perhaps more likely they’d be interested in Andres Nocioni, the kind of tough player coaches desire and maybe a young big man like Noah or Thomas. Though teams with excess point guards, like Memphis, figure to get into talks with the Clippers and Warriors.

The obvious Clippers’ deal seem to be with Miami, which had pursued Kaman before deciding at the last minute to pick Dwyane Wade and desperately needs a center and a team coming together to persuade Wade to stay. Perhaps Miami gives the Clippers Shawn Marion with his expiring deal as a money saver for the Clippers after acquiring Randolph’s long term deal along with a draft pick and takes back someone like Ricky Davis.

It feels like February in much of the country now, and in the NBA as well with the trading season already here less than a month into the season. Gentlemen, begin remaking your teams.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors.

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