EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- While Kobe Bryant trade rumors dominated sports-talk radio in Chicago on Wednesday, the Bulls were pleasantly oblivious to the whole saga.
"I hadn't even heard about it, so I guess I'm doing a pretty good job of staying away from it," guard Kirk Hinrich joked inside the visitors' locker room before the Bulls' season opener in New Jersey.
All of the healthy Bulls suited up for the game, which is a strong indication in itself that nothing was imminent.
In reality, the trade situation hasn't changed at all. Bryant's representatives are working hard to broker a deal that would send the unhappy all-star away from the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Bulls are one of Bryant's preferred destinations.
So far, though, what the Bulls are willing to give and what the Lakers want to take haven't come close to matching up. A team insider said he'd be "shocked" if anything happened with Bryant.
The radio rumor was a three-way trade with Sacramento that would have included Hinrich and involved Kings forward Ron Artest. Supposedly, Bryant had 48 hours to OK the deal.
A Bulls front-office source indicated the only accurate portion of that rumor was the Kings had been discussed as a potential trade partner. But there have been a number of proposals presented to the Bulls.
An ESPN report later suggested the deal with the Kings "fell through." Not to mention all the other potential trades.
Magic Johnson, a Lakers vice president, gave a pessimistic view of Bryant trade talks during TNT's studio show Tuesday night.
"What we have to understand (is) even if he does go to Chicago, he's not going to be in a better situation because we're going to take all their best players," Johnson said.
"Chicago with Kobe, with the guys they will have left after the Lakers take what they want, are not going to beat the other top teams in the East."
None of the Bulls seemed annoyed by the persistent trade rumors, but they did lobby for keeping the current roster intact.
"Of course, you'd love to see it go away," Ben Wallace said. "Until somebody tells me anything different, these are the guys I'm going to go to war with every night. I like these guys. I like what we've got here. If (Bulls management) feels we need something different, then it's on them."
Hinrich said he's sorry he didn't negotiate a no-trade clause into his contract. Those are rare in the NBA, but Bryant has one.
"I wish I would have," Hinrich said. "I love being a Bull. I grew up a Bulls fan. This is my fifth year here, and I'm excited about the things that are happening here. I think the feeling is everybody hopes things stay the same."
Whether the distraction of trade rumors or contract extensions factored into the Bulls falling behind by 15 points at halftime of Wednesday night's game is anyone's guess.
Before the contest, coach Scott Skiles wasn't worried.
"I honestly don't sense it," he said. "I would say so if I felt that was an issue. I don't feel it. I feel like the guys have just gone about the normal business of getting ready for the regular season."