Monday, January 25, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Aaron Gray Traded!, Weekend Sweep, Rose, Noah, Rudy Gay, Amare)

Sources: Hornets trade Brown for Gray
The New Orleans Hornets have reached terms on a trade that will send guard Devin Brown to the Chicago Bulls for reserve big man Aaron Gray, according to NBA front-office sources.

The trade, barring an unforeseen snag, is expected to be formally approved by the league office later Monday.

The Hornets nearly traded Brown to Minnesota in hopes of reducing their luxury-tax bill in December, but the deal could not satisfy salary-cap requirements unless Brown agreed to waive a portion of the trade kicker in his contract. Brown declined.

This deal would net only a small luxury-tax benefit for the Hornets but bring them an extra big man for their bench. Brown has started 37 games for New Orleans this season, but the Hornets want to give more minutes to rookie Marcus Thornton and decided they needed the extra size.

In spite of its recent improvement, Chicago has been looking for perimeter help to help fill the void created by Ben Gordon's free-agent departure to Detroit.

I have never liked Aaron Gray, so getting anything for him is an improvement. The fact that we got someone who could actually contribute is even better. Anyone who can give us some perimeter scoring off the bench - and whose name doesn't rhyme with Benero Fargo - is a welcome addition!

Bulls' weekend road sweep not the only NBA surprise

The good theme to the current NBA season would be, "Don't be so quick to judge."

The Bulls kept up with the slogan this weekend by pulling off surprising wins at Phoenix and Houston. An 0-7 road trip seemed possible, if not likely, when they started with losses to Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.

But then, who knew veteran center Brad Miller would erupt for 25 points while Joakim Noah rested a foot injury and help beat the Rockets?

In the past two games, the Bulls demonstrated what can happen when Derrick Rose is aggressive, they get scoring from both Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons, and someone steps up with a good performance off the bench.

The three remaining games on the ice show road trip - San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans - will be tough, but maybe another win is possible.

Noah still hurting, Rose sick

Joakim Noah said he will do anything he can to play tonight when the Bulls visit the San Antonio Spurs despite plantar fasciitis of the left foot, but the usually upbeat Bulls center was subdued and didn't sound optimistic about his chances of playing following the morning shootaround.

"It's frustrating because I had it for a while and it just got worse," Noah said. "I'm trying to go, but I'm limited and I can't really go the way I want to. We'll see how it goes.

"If I can play, I'll play. I'm gonna take a pill, take a shot, I'm gonna do whatever I have to do, but I took a shot last game and it didn't help at all. There's no point in trying to go when deep inside you know you're only hurting the team."

Noah isn't the only player trying to get ready for tonight. Derrick Rose is battling flu-like symptoms (apparently unrelated to the stomach virus that hit Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons last week) and Brad Miller has a sore knee.

"We'll see how he feels before the game," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Noah. "Hopefully, we can get him out there. Brad's knee is bothering him a little bit, Derrick's sick, so we're just trying to get over this sickness with the team, heal some plantar fasciitis up and try to get our guys out there.

"But the rest of the guys will be ready. We'll see how Derrick feels and how Jo warms up and Taj [Gibson] and Brad and just go with what we can go with. Our body counts a little low, but we'll see."

Grizzlies' Gay could be a diamond in the rough this summer
He doesn’t get talked about much with the big free agents, in part because he is a restricted free agent. But some of the teams lining up for this summer’s potential free agent bonanza are quietly eying Memphis’ Rudy Gay as the secret diamond in the rough.

Some of the scenarios being discussed have LeBron James perhaps winning a title—or making the NBA Finals—and staying in Cleveland, and then maybe Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade in Miami. If that were to happen, the three A-list free agents would be off the board, leaving several teams to fight over the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, David Lee (no one expects Dirk Nowitzki to leave Dallas) and Joe Johnson. When you want to pay big money for a star, you want a finisher, someone to whom you can throw the ball and isolate to make a last shot. Among that group, there’s perhaps only Johnson, and I can see given his age and superior athletic ability, teams will go for Gay.

I can see, assuming you cannot get any of the Big Three, someone throwing a max offer front loaded with a bonus at Gay. I know Hall of Famer and longtime team executive Jerry West has a bias because he traded for Gay when he ran the Grizzlies. But West is one of the most knowledgeable talent evaluators in NBA history, and while not connected to any franchise now, West keeps a keen eye on the league and he sees big things coming for the underrated Gay.

Suns seeking trade offers for Amare

After recent discussions with Amar’e Stoudemire’s(notes) agent that didn’t appear to destine a contract extension, the Phoenix Suns have increased their efforts to trade the All-Star forward, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday night.

League executives say the Suns have become more active initiating talks over the past few days, and believe the franchise will take the best offer for Stoudemire before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons are among multiple teams that have a strong interest in Stoudemire, sources say. The Arizona Republic reported Sunday night that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have also inquired about Stoudemire.

Suns general manager Steve Kerr met with Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, on Thursday, and league sources say there was little sense an agreement could be reached before the trade deadline. With Stoudemire able to opt out of the final $17.7 million season of his contract, the Suns don’t want to risk losing him for nothing in free agency this summer.

As they did when shopping Stoudemire last season, the Suns want a combination of young talent, salary-cap relief and draft picks for him. Some teams are hesitant to trade for Stoudemire for fear he won’t want to re-sign with them this summer. The Minnesota Timberwolves lead that group of teams, sources say. The Wolves are mostly eyeing small forwards, including the Memphis Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay(notes), the Bulls’ Luol Deng(notes) and the Washington Wizards’ Caron Butler(notes). No one is untouchable on the Wolves roster, sources say.

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