The Bulls shipped seldom-used center Aaron Gray to New Orleans for veteran guard Devin Brown on Monday.
Gray missed training camp and the first two months of the season with a stress fracture in his left fibula. Since recovering, he has appeared in just eight games and never seemed to get back into playing shape.
The 6-foot-5 Brown has played a significant role on some good teams during his eight NBA seasons and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. This year he was averaging 9.7 points per game and was getting consistent playing time for the Hornets, logging 30 minutes in a loss at Denver on Saturday.
Brown, 31, is considered a good defender and streaky shooter. When the Hornets lost to the Bulls at the United Center on Dec. 26, Brown hit 6 of 7 shots from 3-point range for 22 points - all in the first half. He shot 45.6 percent from 3-point range in December but dropped to 26 percent in January.
One question still to be answered is if acquiring Brown sets the stage for the Bulls to trade either John Salmons or Kirk Hinrich before the Feb. 18 trade deadline, therefore opening more cap room to spend on free agents next summer.
Brown and Gray make similar salaries, roughly $1 million.
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Bulls Trade a Precursor for Amar'e?
The trade Monday that sent starting New Orleans Hornets guard Devin Brown to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for seldom-used center Aaron Gray doesn't seem like much on the surface because neither guy is somebody most smart NBA fans would call a "game-changer." While it's obvious that the Hornets made this move to shed salary, Chicago's motivations require a little more digging and imagination.
It's possible that this trade could be an attempt to shore up the Bulls' backcourt should they be able to find a taker for either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons before the trade deadline. Chicago would like to head into this offseason with enough money to pursue a big name free agent and possibly have the option of extending Tyrus Thomas. As it stands, they'll have to choose one of those options or the other.
Hinrich is scheduled to make $17 million for the next two full seasons, and Salmons is on the books for just under $6 million next year should he exercise his player option this offseason. Brown, on the other hand, can play out the rest of this season for right around $500,000 and do a lot of the same things Hinrich and Salmon can do for a heck of a lot less money.
So, even if Chicago only manages to return non-rotation role players with expiring contracts for a player like Hinrich or Salmons, the Bulls have an answer for the holes left in the lineup. In a lot of ways, just shedding the salary would be considered a big move for the Bulls going forward. But looking at this thing on a grander scale, it seems remotely possible that this could allow Chicago to put together a pretty impressive package in a trade offer for a really big name.
Amar'e Stoudemire is one such big name, as has been reported by multiple news outlets in the last couple of days. Chicago could package Kirk Hinrich or Luol Deng with Tyrus Thomas as the key pieces to a deal for Stoudemire. Either offer would get close to matching the necessary salaries to get a move done; it would just be a question as to whether or not that were enough to get Phoenix to bite. Chicago does have a couple of expiring contracts worth $6-12 million apiece that they could use to sweeten the pot as well.
Lakers Interested in Kirk Hinrich
The Bulls have actively been trying to trade guard Kirk Hinrich and the $17 million he is owed over the next two seasons to clear up cap space to go after some of the star power on this summer’s free agent market. But that could be difficult to do considering teams aren’t looking to take on much financial burden right now. But ESPN’s Chad Ford reports that the Bulls and Lakers would both benefit from a deal.
The defending champs are a bit concerned with their perimeter defense and Hinrich is well-known as being an outstanding defender. Plus, the Yankees of the NBA are one of the few teams that could take on a salary like Hinrich’s.
The Lakers have opted not to extend Jordan Farmar’s contract so that could open the door for Hinrich. The Lakers would likely be willing to part with the expiring contracts of Farmar, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell in order to get Hinrich. Ford says “some sort of combo of Adam Morrison and Derrick Fisher for Hinrich would help both teams” but I’m not sure the Lakers would part with Fisher, and all the experience he brings come playoff time. Plus, he is still a pretty solid on the ball defender.
Besides defense, Hinrich would give the Lakers another quality three-point shooter and someone with a high basketball IQ.
Slow down on Stoudemire-to-Bulls rumors
Last year, the rumors that Amare Stoudemire would be traded were unexpected and, ultimately, Phoenix opted not to make a financial purge.
This season, they are expected, although recent talk of the Bulls being strongly interested should be tempered.
The Arizona Republic reported recently the Suns are amping up efforts to deal the All-Star power forward, mindful that attempts to reach a deal on a long-term contract extension haven't gone far. The newspaper reported Golden State, Minnesota and Cleveland have shown interest in Stoudemire, but noted that the forward's ability to opt out to become a free agent and not re-sign with any team he is traded to could serve as a deterrent.
Yahoo! Sports, citing sources, listed the Bulls as one of several teams showing "major interest" in Stoudemire. However, just like last season, the Bulls have reservations over acquiring Stoudemire, who will seek a maximum contract at a time questions remain about his defensive play and recovery from microfracture surgery on his knee.
The Bulls could've traded for Stoudemire last season, but opted not to. He's certainly on their radar and discussions between now and the Feb. 18 trade deadline will take place. However, to label him the Bulls' top priority is overstating matters.
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What's TMAC's destination?
All indications are that the process continues to move slowly. I still think it'll come down to the Knicks or the Bulls, unless an Iguodala offer is truly going to be put on the table by Houston. and if the talent the Bulls and Knicks are offering is relatively equal, I give the Knicks the edge because they can offer more financial relief in the form of Cuttino Mobley's expiring and insurance-paid contract, which is $3-plus million more than Jerome james' similar deal. Plus, James Dolan would be much more willing than Jerry Reinsdorf to throw $3 million in cash into the deal. Also, the Knicks could take back Brian Cook (expiring $3.5 million) and get Houston under the tax, which would mean another $4-plus million going into Les Alexander's wallet because the Rockets would then get a share of the revenues from the taxpaying teams.
Brown's arrival might pave way for more Bulls moves
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.