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http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/cs-0206240214jun24.story

Popeye could add muscle to Bulls' frontcourt
Ex-Bull Pippen may be headed for cleveland

So what will the Bulls do after the draft? They believe they need veteran frontcourt help, and general manager Jerry Krause is said to be interested in Wizards free agent Popeye Jones.

Jones is a solid, hard worker who averaged 7.0 points and 7.3 rebounds last season, but speculation is Krause really wants to take someone away from Michael Jordan and the Wizards. The Bulls also are talking about 34-year-old Scott Williams, last with Denver. He played on the Bulls' first three title teams.

Forget the big-name restricted guys such as Mike Bibby, Michael Olowokandi and Raef LaFrentz. The Bulls don't have enough money to keep their current teams from matching. Rashard Lewis, meanwhile, only wants to go to Houston if he doesn't return to Seattle.

There are a bunch of guards and swingmen--Larry Hughes, Jeff McInnis, Rodney Rogers, Bryon Russell, Michael Redd, Devean George--but the Bulls have plenty of those guys.

<b>Toronto's Keon Clark would be a good fit for them, but if they pass on him, they're talking about a run at a tough guy like Philadelphia's Matt Harpring. The 76ers reportedly won't go very high to keep him. The Bulls could have about $5 million in salary-cap room to start a long-term deal.</b>

<b>Pippen on Cavs' list:</b> The biggest draft pick in play now looks like Cleveland's No. 6, and wouldn't it be quite an ending for a former Bulls star if one of the deals comes off? The Cavs clearly are in payroll-unloading mode and have talked with Memphis about swapping Wesley Person, who has two years left on his deal, for Nick Anderson, who has one year left. The Cavs also are trying to dump Lamond Murray, who has four years averaging close to $5 million annually left.

The Trail Blazers have been eager to move up and one of the possibilities that has come up has Scottie Pippen going to Cleveland. He has just one year left on his contract. The Trail Blazers would absorb some bad Cavaliers' contracts and get the No. 6 pick, though for technical reasons the Cavs would have to make the pick for Portland.

The Suns also are trying to move up to No. 6 to get one of the power forwards, Drew Gooden, Chris Wilcox or Nikoloz Tskitishvili. The Suns also have been in talks with Portland to make the No. 9 pick for them. In exchange, Phoenix would get Dale Davis and Steve Kerr and a sign-and-trade down the road to get Bonzi Wells.

Grizzlies chatter: Eddie Jones shouldn't relax quite yet. In Memphis, Jerry West still has his eyes on him. Miami wants to move up in the draft--Memphis drafts fourth, Miami 10th--and talks continue. But to get Memphis to take on Jones' contract, the Heat would have to take back Michael Dickerson and acquire Stromile Swift. Supposedly, West would take Indiana's Jared Jeffries and then sign Lakers free agent George.

Help wanted: Will Perdue and Bill Wennington are talking with the Bulls about an assistant's job. Also being considered are Bob Thornton, who played with coach Bill Cartwright in New York, and Terry Stotts, who may leave the long shadow of George Karl in Milwaukee. Another possibility is Lee Rose, the former Purdue coach and highly regarded veteran NBA assistant, who resigned from Charlotte following the 2000-01 season.

<b>No room in the gym: There was some great fun at the Berto Center recently when Wizards rookie Kwame Brown was in town and asked to work out with Bulls players there. He did and Jordan was not happy and reportedly ordered Brown to stay away. Can't we all just be friends?</b>

Bad news for Minnesota: Terrell Brandon reportedly won't be able to run until at least August. With Chauncey Billups talking about exercising an escape clause in his contract, the Timberwolves may bring in Khalid El-Amin at point guard. "He's a winner and he makes other people better," said Saunders of El-Amin. "He's lost 20 pounds; he looks like he's a junior in high school."

Kings ransom: Interesting possibilities developing in Sacramento, where Bibby has pushed himself into a major deal with his playoff performance. One consequence is the team may have to dump several players with long-term contracts, such as Peja Stojakovic and Scot Pollard, to fit under the luxury-tax ceiling.

Said Kings owner Joe Maloof: "Say we sign Bibby for $7 million, then we're paying $10 million in the tax. That's a $17 million contract in that sense. There's a certain point where you have to look at it in a business sense. You have to take the basketball hat off and put the business hat on."

The possibility has the Heat curious. Miami has long wanted a shot at Stojakovic. One possibility has the Kings taking on Alonzo Mourning for a year to make another run at the Lakers (Hedo Turkoglu fills in nicely for Stojakovic, who hardly played against the Lakers in the playoffs) and the Heat loads up with excess talent from the Kings. Heat coach Pat Riley insists he won't deal Mourning, whom the Mavericks and Trail Blazers also have talked about. But Mourning might see a title chance in Sacramento and want to go.

Meanwhile, Portland general manager Bob Whitsitt is being urged to make a deal for Dikembe Mutombo.

Ely update: The local name that has come up most often in the draft has been Illinois' Frank Williams, but he'll probably be selected after Thornton High School's Melvin Ely. The 6-foot-10-inch power forward and two-time WAC player of the year from Fresno State is targeted between No. 10 and No. 18 after averaging 23.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocks last season. It shows what staying in school can do. Ely, 24, was considering leaving last year and might not have been a first-round pick. The Magic at No. 18 likes Ely's potential. "We know he can play," GM John Gabriel said.

NBA draft first-round order

PICK TEAM

1. Houston Rockets

2. Bulls

3. Golden State Warriors

4. Memphis Grizzlies

5. Denver Nuggets

6. Cleveland Cavaliers

7. New York Knicks

8. Los Angeles Clippers

from Atlanta Hawks

9. Phoenix Suns

10. Miami Heat

11. Washington Wizards

12. Los Angeles Clippers

13. Milwaukee Bucks

14. Indiana Pacers

15. Houston Rockets

from Toronto Raptors

16. Philadelphia 76ers

17. New Orleans Hornets

18. Orlando Magic

19. Utah Jazz

20. Toronto Raptors

From Seattle via New York

21. Portland Trail Blazers

22. Phoenix Suns

From Boston Celtics

23. Detroit Pistons

24. New Jersey Nets

25. Denver Nuggets

from Dallas Mavericks

26. San Antonio Spurs

27. Los Angeles Lakers

28. Sacramento Kings
 

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http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/cs-0206260380jun26.column?coll=cs-bulls-headlines

Unstable market

Could Jerry Krause's hopes and those of Bulls fans be squashed? Could the Houston Rockets be changing their mind and deciding there's no dynasty to be built with a Ming?

Could Duke's Jay Williams be heading to the Los Angeles Clippers or Golden State Warriors?

Not likely, but . . .

The stunning quake that was rocking the NBA Tuesday was word the Rockets might back off their pick of China's Yao Ming and trade the rights to the No. 1 pick in Wednesday's NBA draft.

The reported reason was the clearance from China for Yao to play in the NBA next season, expected earlier this week, had hit a snag. The uncertainty provoked nervousness in the Rockets' organization as well as a rethinking of their long-standing plan to take Yao first.

They still want him, but insiders said Tuesday their resolve was weakening amid fears China might put conditions too onerous on Yao and he might remain in China.

"If the Rockets don't take him," one general manager said, "it changes everything."

Especially for the Bulls, who Tuesday were sweating out the Rockets' intentions. It was a subject the Bulls had been reluctant to broach amid Jay Williams' enthusiasm to play in Chicago and Houston's constant refusal even to listen to offers for the No. 1 pick.

The Rockets feared shopping the pick might insult Chinese officials who have talked of the importance of Yao being the No. 1 pick. Visits to China by Rockets officials were positive, so they were shocked Tuesday when negative reports came back from China.

"They won't [give up on Yao]," insisted one general manager who previously had talked to them about a deal for the top pick and tried to gauge their mood Tuesday.

But if the Rockets do blink on Yao, there's a strong chance the Clippers would try to make a deal to pick Williams. They have the eighth and 12th picks and are pursuing Cleveland's Andre Miller, perhaps with Quentin Richardson as part of the bait.

The Warriors are cool on their choices with the third pick. They would like to put together a package of players for Miller. Likewise, Memphis, at No. 4, has put out feelers of interest for No. 1. Would the Bulls do the same with the risk Houston could take Yao anyway?

The provisional debate within the Bulls' organziation Tuesday was whether the club should select Yao or Duke's Mike Dunleavy if they lost Williams. There was a strong contingent of support for selecting Dunleavy, whom some among the Bulls regard as a better long-term prospect than Williams.

But with small forwards Jalen Rose and Eddie Robinson, the Bulls are strong at Dunleavy's best position and there's serious doubt how much impact he could make for a team that hopes to move into the playoff picture next season.

Would the Bulls then go for a comer like Brazil's Nene Hilario, a rough, physical player who could become a dominant big man? Or a classic big man like Drew Gooden? A scorer like DaJuan Wagner, whom Michael Jordan covets for Washington?

The Wizards on Tuesday traded Courtney Alexander for New Orleans' pick at No. 17, setting off speculation the Wizards were seeking a draft pick to deal to the Bulls for Jamal Crawford. The teams continue to have preliminary discussions, though they haven't gone far.

Wizards insiders say the team was getting the second first-round pick for insurance so they could try to move up if it didn't look like they would get Wagner. The Denver Nuggets also tried to get the pick and had offered James Posey to the Wizards.

Also, the possibility increased that Milwaukee might deal Glenn Robinson. Philadelphia was trying to assemble a package with Eric Snow that could lead to a Sam Cassell trade, and Miami also was strongly interested. A bigger possibility remained Cleveland's dealing Andre Miller to the Clippers and the Cavs getting both of the Clippers' No. 1 picks.

Minnesota seemed stalled in attempts to deal Wally Szczerbiak, and New York was seeking almost anything for Latrell Sprewell. The Trail Blazers continued to look for a high draft pick to go after high schooler Amare Stoudemire, while in the draft it seemed Qyntel Woods and perhaps Curtis Borchardt were falling.

Losing Williams would be a blow to the Bulls. But if they did, they could pick Yao second and then assess a market for him. Hello, Mark Cuban.

Moreover, the NBA already has been talking about televising games to China on a weekly basis and the expectation is the league would help a team bring Yao here. But if the Rockets, after six weeks of intense courting, backed off, what chance would any other team have?

The Rockets, however, need Yao. They have been effusive in their praise of him and their indifferent basketball city has become excited about seeing the 7-5 player. It would be hard to imagine the Rockets putting together a package of players from the Clippers or Warriors who could make a big difference with the team or excite the community as Yao has.

So, Jay Williams is almost a Bull. But it's not time to fit him for a jersey quite yet.
 

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As far as I know KC it already has. I do believe that Sam is letting his opinion cloud his professional objectivity, in other words it's Sam just being Sam. I wouldn't be too concerned with what he's writing at this point.
 

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lol

That bit in the original article posted about Kwame working out at the Berto Center sure is interesting. Maybe a secret/illegal work-out to preceed a trade between Wiz/Chi?? Kwame for Jamal Crawford straight up!! If I were Krause and getting calls from Jordan, I'd make that offer just to skick it in his eye. HA! Jordan should be happy that Kwame is working out at the Berto Center, maybe some of that work-ethic from our kids can rub off on him.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
 
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