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Brown's arrival might pave way for more Bulls moves
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Kirk Hinrich

 

Associated Press

John Salmons

 

Associated Press

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Published: 1/27/2010 12:02 AM

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Bulls game day

Oklahoma City Thunder at the Ford Center, 7 p.m. Wednesday

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WMVP 1000-AM

Update: The Bulls will be trying to recreate last season's feat of losing to the Thunder at home, then winning in Oklahoma City. The Thunder (24-20) did a number on the Bulls at the UC on Jan. 4, winning 98-85 behind 29 points from guard Russell Westbrook and 25 from forward Kevin Durant. Oddly enough, that was Durant's lowest scoring total in his last 18 games. He has averaged 32.2 points since Dec. 22. Oklahoma City hasn't been invincible at home, going 12-9 at the Ford Center.

Next: New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena, 7 p.m. Friday

On the surface, Monday's trade by the Bulls was a no-brainer: They gave up someone who rarely plays for a veteran guard with playoff experience.

The Bulls sent third-year center Aaron Gray to New Orleans for 6-foot-5 guard Devin Brown, who also has played for the Spurs, Cavs and Jazz during eight years in the NBA. He won a title with San Antonio in 2005.

When Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons are all healthy and playing well, as they have been during the Bulls' surprising three-game winning streak, there isn't much need for a fourth guard. The Bulls have struggled all season to find court time for Jannero Pargo.

Brown's primary role figures to be as a replacement for Salmons or Hinrich, maybe even Luol Deng, should the Bulls succeed in making another trade before the Feb. 18 deadline.

There is no guarantee that will happen, since most NBA teams are reluctant to take on any extra salary right now. Hinrich has two more years remaining on his contract at a total of $17 million. That's not outrageous by NBA standards but definitely above market value.

A source confirmed the Bulls have had discussions with the Lakers about Hinrich, most likely for Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic, but nothing is imminent.

Salmons' contract is relatively low risk. He's owed $6.7 million next season and has an option to terminate the final year of his deal, so he might turn out to be an expiring contract anyway.

It's possible the Bulls could resurrect the potential deal sending Salmons, Brad Miller and Jerome James to Houston for Tracy McGrady and filler before the deadline.

By trading either guard before the deadline, the Bulls could have around $20 million to spend on free agents this summer and wouldn't have to sweat Salmons' decision of whether or not to opt out of his contract.

The Bulls' dream scenario is to sign Dwyane Wade or Atlanta's Joe Johnson this summer and also trade for an elite power forward. In theory, the team would become an instant title contender.

There are reports that Phoenix is again shopping all-star center Amare Stoudemire, who has the option of becoming a free agent. The Bulls' interest is mild, though there has been talk between the teams.

The Suns are listening to offers because they're not sold on the idea of giving Stoudemire a long-term contract near the maximum salary. Neither are the Bulls, so it makes little sense to give up assets now for a player who might not stick around beyond the end of this season.

In the same scenario last year, Phoenix was interested in a package of Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha for Stoudemire but also wanted multiple first-round picks, according to a league source, and the Bulls passed.

Would the Bulls take a chance on Stoudemire if the Suns were willing to take Deng, a higher-salaried player in return? Still doubtful, since no one knows what kind of money it would take to keep Stoudemire around.

For now, it appears that Toronto's Chris Bosh and Utah's Carlos Boozer will not be traded before the deadline. That could change, since both power forwards are likely to change teams as free agents this summer.

The Bulls would jump at the chance to trade for Minnesota's Al Jefferson, who has been rumored to be on the block. One story going around, which may not be completely accurate, is the Timberwolves don't think Jefferson and Kevin Love work well together.

Ideally, the Bulls would like to keep Joakim Noah to play center next to a new power forward. But it probably would take Deng and Noah for Minnesota to even think about sending the 6-10, 25-year-old Jefferson to the Bulls.