Here is the latest on the trade rumors that have more legs:
McGrady trade talk gets hot
NBA sources say Bulls have offered Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas and either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons to Rockets
The Bulls and Knicks' competition stretched beyond the Bulls' 118-85 blowout victory Tuesday night, achieved without the services of Joakim Noah.
The teams also are in battle for Tracy McGrady's expiring $22 million contract.
League sources said the Bulls have offered Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas and either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons to the Rockets for McGrady, who has been granted a leave and is training in Chicago.
The Rockets have shown little interest in either Hinrich or Salmons and thus, sources said, the Bulls have tried to recruit a third team to get involved. It's also possible the Bulls have made another unknown offer with a player replacing Hinrich or Salmons to the Rockets.
Some league sources believe the Bulls' offer is emerging as the front-runner as the 2 p.m. Thursday trade deadline looms.
Separately, as reported, the Knicks, Spurs and Nuggets have made bids for Thomas.
Because trading Thomas alone does nothing to this summer's salary-cap situation, the Bulls are seeking at least a draft pick along with expiring contracts in return for the fourth-year forward in those smaller deals. That's why, at least for now, they're sitting on the Knicks' offer of Al Harrington for Thomas and Jerome James.
NBA Trade Deadline: Chicago Bulls on the Block
As the NBA trade deadline gets ever so close, teams around the league are forming two groups: the buyers and the sellers.
Realistically, there are about eight or nine teams that can look at themselves in the mirror and say, "We are title contenders." The rest of us, including the Chicago Bulls, need to look towards the future—specifically this summer's free agent bonanza.
What the Bulls do now can go a long way towards making themselves a title contender. They have bad players (Tyrus Thomas) and bad contracts (Kirk Hinrich) to unload, and if they are able to get rid of one (or, preferably, both), the Bulls could be on their way back.
In many ways, Derrick Rose's first All-Star game signals good things on the horizon for the Bulls, who hadn't had an All-Star since some guy named Jordan back in 1998.
But you need to water and groom this Rose like you would any other, and that means getting him the players and pals necessary to compete for basketball's highest prize: an NBA championship.
Let's take a look at some Bulls on the block.
Sources: Rockets mull offers for T-Mac
The Houston Rockets have narrowed their long-running quest to trade Tracy McGrady to offers from the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls and plan to choose between the offers Wednesday, according to sources with knowledge of the Rockets' thinking.
One source close to the process told ESPN.com that the Rockets, after intense talks with both teams leading up to Thursday's trading deadline, are determined to finalize a deal for McGrady and are leaning toward taking the Knicks' offer.
The source said Tuesday night: "I expect it to happen tomorrow."
The Knicks were considered a slight favorite as the evening wore on because, according to one source, New York has agreed to swap first-round picks with Houston in 2011 and include a 2012 first-round pick in the deal to convince the Rockets to take back Jared Jeffries' $6.9 million contract for next season along with rookie forward Jordan Hill and out-of-favor guard Larry Hughes.
The Knicks and Rockets, however, have not yet agreed on the level of lottery protection that will be applied to the 2011 and 2012 picks. ESPN.com's Chad Ford reported earlier Tuesday that the Knicks -- even though shedding Jeffries' contract would position them to bid on two max-contract free agents this summer -- are fearful that surrendering multiple picks would prove too costly in the event they strike out in free agency and are not prepared to go through with a trade for McGrady if they have to surrender that much.
Ah, if only to play the Knicks every night…
Well, Derrick Rose returned to a performance that could have served him well at the high-visibility all-star game. Despite a bruised hip, Rose made his first nine shots and poured in 29 points on 14 of 18 shooting, leading the Bulls to a 118-85 win against the Knicks. Clearly, the panacea for Rose, as it is for most teams, was to play the the Knicks, who have lost 7 of their last 8 games, and whom the Bulls have the good fortune of playing again tonight on the back side of a home-and-home set.
Furthering the everyone-is-better-against-the-Knicks theme, Luol Deng was the second leading scorer for the bulls, pouring in 18 on 8 of 12 shooting.
Another symptom of playing a horrible team two nights in a row is that trade talks become even more fascinating by comparison. The latest news, not-so-ironically, is that the Bulls are also battling the New York Knicks off the court to land one of the most coveted things any team can acquire this year – a big expiring contract. And Tracy McGrady has one. These days, that’s about the only coveted thing he has.
While the Knicks supposedly look to deal rookie Jordan Hill, Larry Hughes, and Jared Jefferies, the Bulls reportedly are offering Tyrus Thomas, Brad Miller, and either John Salmons or Kirk Hinrich.
It appears the Bulls have the edge over the Knicks, mainly because Jefferies’ contract (he is due 6 million next year, plus an additional 2 if he is traded), is not attractive to the Rockets.
Let’s face it, any move that makes the Bulls more financially prepared to pick-up a Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh is a good one. As long as there is a legit possibility of acquiring one of them (even the typically directionless Knicks are wary of parting with young talent on the possibility of landing a big name), and as long as the team that remains contains a strong supporting cast.
Consider Luol Deng to be a second key (the first, of course, being Rose) to what kind of team could lure a superstar to the Chicago. Still only 24 years old this April, Deng needs to stay healthy and maintain his solid status an 18 ppg scorer throughout the rest of the season. If he can live up to that “great third starter” status on a Rose /(Wade/Bosh)/Deng-led team, then maybe one of the two guys in parentheses will actually realize the potential that those of us who follow the team with regularity see.
Management has 1 day to decide team's future
With the NBA's trading deadline just a day away, Bulls management doesn't have much time left to ponder its options.
Barring a new development, there doesn't appear to be an All-Star on the trading block other than Amare Stoudemire, and there has been no indication the Bulls and Phoenix Suns have talked.
So if the Bulls make a deal, it appears it will involve dumping Tyrus Thomas or dumping the salaries of Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons.
Basically, management's decision comes down to this:
Does it create as much salary cap as possible this summer, even if it means sacrificing this summer and missing the playoffs?
Or, does it see how far this team can go this season, let the young players gain valuable experience with another playoff appearance and worry about the summer after the season?
There are strong arguments on both sides. We'll find out management's thinking Thursday when the deadline passes at 2 p.m.
Until then, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro doesn't believe the trade talk will be a distraction.
''We have good character guys,'' he said. ''They understand the business part of it. Like I always said, if their name is in rumors, that means teams want them. And that's a good thing for a player.''