As the Chicago Bulls prepare to trade forward Tyrus Thomas before Thursday's deadline, the franchise's front office has suggested to prospective bidders that they have a solid offer of a middling first-round pick and expiring contracts, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets made bids for Thomas over the weekend, league sources said.
Nevertheless, here are two developments to watch with Thomas: Several league executives suggested the Minnesota Timberwolves could be a sleeper for him. Minnesota general manager David Kahn has been researching Thomas and has plenty of assets - three 2010 first-round picks, multiple second-rounders and a host of expiring contracts - to make it happen. Once the Timberwolves trade Al Jefferson this summer, they can re-sign Thomas and plug him into the frontline with Kevin Love. Jefferson is expected to be traded for a talented, young small forward.
Here's something else to watch: The Portland Trail Blazers were telling teams over the weekend they had a chance to acquire Los Angeles Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and wondered whether teams might have an interest in obtaining him. This prompted several executives to suggest the Blazers were working on a three-team trade, including one Eastern Conference general manager who had been told the elements of the package included Thomas and Vujacic to Portland, the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich to Los Angeles and the Lakers' Adam Morrison, another expiring deal and a first-round pick to the Bulls.
So covering all these rumors:
The Bulls have an offer for a mid-1st rounder for Tyrus? Sweet. That's a great deal for the Bulls given Tyrus's status right now. If that pans out to be true, then I'll be quite happy with the way things go in a Tyrus trade scenario. Tyrus is gone. A mid-1st isn't super valuable, but it's more than I thought we'd get for him.
The Wolves getting in the bidding is interesting. They have their own pick [that's not being traded for sure], the Bobcats pick [but that has top 12 protection, the Bobcats are flirting right on the edge of whether the pick will be protected or not], and the Utah Jazz pick [low 20s]. They also have numerous second rounders.
The Rockets have a mid 1st round pick, so if the Bulls have a solid mid 1st rounder, then it could be from the Rockets. Denver making a bid is interesting, because I can't think of anything remotely useful Denver could bid unless they're throwing out something like 2011 and 2013 unprotected picks, but they don't own their 1st this season, so unless the first part is wrong [Bulls have a solid mid 1st] than Denver's likely out of the running.
The final deal makes a world of sense for the Bulls based on everything we've heard them trying to do. They unload Hinrich/Tyrus together, and they land expiring deals and a 1st rounder. If the Blazers and Lakers are the teams involved, the 1st rounder would have to be the one from the Blazers which would be in the low 20s.
The Bulls would get back Adam Morrison and another expiring deal. Vujacic and Morrison match Hinrich, so the extra expiring deal would appear to come from the Blazers who need to match Tyrus and Vujacic. The deal I can come up with that makes the most sense and generally fills this rumor [in fact the only deal that really makes any sense] is:
Lakers trade Morisson and Vujacic and receive Hinrich [they were rumored to want to do this while the Bulls were rumored to not want Vujacic in the past, so that makes some sense]
Blazers trade Blake, Outlaw, Howard, and 1st, and receive Vujacic and Tyrus [sure seems like they are getting absolutely raked over the coals here though, which doesn't match any of the Blazers past trades where they demand to kill every other team in trade value, granted Outlaw hasn't played basically all season, and Blake's not that valuable, so if they really like Tyrus maybe it works, but they get killed financially in this deal by taking Vujacic]
Bulls trade Tyrus / Hinrich and recieve 1st, Outlaw, Blake, and Morrison [masterful trade for them, given that they replace Hinrich/Tyrus with similar types of players, shed salary, and get a 1st rounder].
If that final trade goes through then the Bulls will have impressed me again with another suave move at the deadline. They haven't been able to land the superstar, but there are so many things that go into that which make it hard, but they seem to make smart trades every time they make one.