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Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune gazes into the future to see what the
Bulls may look for in free agency. Negotiations begin July 1, and signings can start July 16. And this should be the year for the Bulls.

The Bulls had a ton of cap room in 2000 and couldn’t land the big-name free agents they wanted. This may cause them to go all out this summer and not wait for the superstar free agent class of 2003. They may be only one player away from the playoffs and having one of the most athletic teams in the East for years to come.

That player? Toronto free agent Keon Clark.

"He's the best free agent out there," said one league general manager. "He's athletic, long, had a good playoff, can run the court, plays (power forward and center). He can shove [Tyson] Chandler maybe to (small forward). He'd be great for them."

The Raptors already have more than $50 million in salaries committed for next season without re-signing Clark. Retaining him would put them well above the luxury-tax threshold, and they insist they won't pay the tax. Plus Clark was one of the most vocal Raptors who complained about the favored treatment of Vince Carter, at least privately.

The Knicks and 76ers are said to be interested, but the Bulls actually are more attractive for several reasons. They're putting together a good young nucleus with Chandler, Eddy Curry and possibly Williams, and they may have salary-cap room available. Clark is a restricted free agent, so the Raptors can match an offer because Clark has so-called "Bird rights."


I personally do not like this news. I am a 100% Raptor fan and to see Keon leave would break my heart....but not as badly as it broke when TMAC left.
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