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McGrady just might interest Bulls again
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Tracy McGrady

 

Associated Press

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Published: 12/29/2009 10:30 PM

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One of the regrettable chapters in recent Bulls history was the failed free-agent pursuit of 2000.

The No. 1 target was Toronto's Tracy McGrady, who was met at O'Hare Airport by mascots, Luv-a-Bulls and a three-piece band playing "Sweet Home Chicago."

It was all for naught as McGrady chose Orlando. Nearly 10 years later, the Bulls may get another chance.

McGrady recently left the Houston Rockets and both sides reportedly will seek a trade. Sources suggested the Bulls are open to acquiring McGrady, who is just 30 years old.

The 6-foot-8 swingman is the NBA's highest-paid player at $23.2 million, but his contract ends after the season. A trade with the Bulls would almost have to include the expiring contracts of Brad Miller and Jerome James.

The Bulls might also be interested in moving John Salmons to guarantee a larger amount of cap space next summer. He's owed $6.5 million next season but has an option to terminate the deal and become a free agent.

Without Salmons on the payroll, the Bulls could have more than $20 million to spend on the 2010 free-agent class.

McGrady had microfracture knee surgery in February. He returned to play briefly in six games for the Rockets, then complained about wanting a larger role and left the team.

Last season he averaged 15.6 points in 35 games. Before that he averaged at least 21 points for eight straight years.

"Whoever gets me is going to get a hungry player," McGrady said recently in the Houston Chronicle. "I don't care if I go to the moon. It doesn't matter."

Bird believes in coach: When it comes to delivering a vote of confidence, Pacers president Larry Bird showed resounding support for third-year coach Jim O'Brien on Monday.

According to the numbers, O'Brien shouldn't feel comfortable. He has guided Indiana to a pair of 36-46 seasons and is off to a 9-21 start this year. Before arriving in Chicago, the Pacers lost by 34 points Sunday at Miami.

"Jim is going to be here; that's one thing the players have to know," Bird said in the Indianapolis Star News. "The coach is secure. We wouldn't have picked up his option if we didn't think he was secure.

"If the players have a problem with Jim, the players are the ones that are probably going to leave."

Bull horns: The Bulls went 6-for-10 from 3-point range against the Pacers, the most 3-point baskets they've had in a game since Nov. 23 at Portland. - Indiana rookie Tyler Hansbrough didn't play Tuesday because of an inner-ear infection. - Joakim Noah's feat of being the only player in the league to grab at least 7 rebounds in every game came to an end. He had 5 against the Pacers in 24 foul-prone minutes.