The Chicago Bulls have been looking for a reserve big man ever since veteran center Kurt Thomas signed with the Portland Trail Blazers early in training camp. Many have believed that the team's search has intensified because of the left ankle injuries both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson suffered in Friday night's 114-75 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While the free-agent market isn't quite filled with appealing options, Chicago has been linked to big men such as former Bull Chris Richards, Joel Pryzbilla and Rasheed Wallace. Pryzbilla and Wallace are currently out of the league but each player is reportedly planning to make a comeback. Although, Bulls general manager Gar Forman has repeatedly said management will be patient in its search for more size.
On Tuesday, La Manana de Cordoba, an Argentine website, reported that the Bulls offered a one-year contract to retired center Fabricio Oberto. The 36-year-old averaged 3.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in his six-year NBA career, playing for the San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards and, most recently, Portland Trail Blazers. He was the Spurs' starting center in their 2007 championship season.
According to the report, if the Bulls signed Oberto, the 6-foot-10 center would be Noah's primary backup. But coach Tom Thibodeau's bunch is very confident in the man who currently plays behind Noah, Omer Asik, who is averaging 4.1 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes per game this season, which is a main reason why the front office did not match the two-year deal that Thomas received from the Blazers.
"I have a very important proposal from Chicago Bulls. But now I am focused to working out and be ready for London [Olympics] 2012. So far, the NBA is a bit far," Oberto said, according to the website.
However, Oberto's Chicago-based agent, Herb Rudoy, told me that the reports stating Oberto and the Bulls are close to a deal and that both parties are interested in each other do not carry much weight.
"[There is] no truth to this," Rudoy wrote in an email exchange Tuesday afternoon, when asked about the rumors involving Oberto and the Bulls.
Given the fact that Oberto has winning experience at both the NBA and international level, he would be a sound acquisition by the Bulls. Still, nothing is imminent and the Bulls appear to be in solid shape in the frontcourt.
Noah had one of his best performances of the season in Monday night's 110-95 win over the New Jersey Nets, dropping a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Asik had 10 points and has scored in double figures in two of his last four contests. Even Brian Scalabrine has performed well while playing a combined 28 minutes the past two games in place of Gibson, who could return on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.