The Bulls have offered a first-round draft pick to the Rockets for Courtney Lee, but Houston GM Daryl Morey is reportedly reluctant to part with the 6-foot-5 guard. The Rockets continue to demand Omer Asik in return, while Nick Fiedell reports at ESPNChicago the Bulls are still unwilling to part with the seven-foot rookie, adding:
If the Chicago Bulls can't find a trade offer they like before Thursday's [trade] deadline, and don't look for Omer Asik or Taj Gibson to be going anywhere, one option they may consider is waiting to see which players get bought out.
The deadline for buyouts is March 1. The deadline to join a team and be eligible for the playoff roster is April 14.
If this mentality of not wanting to part with Asik or Gibson is truly more than just playing hardball until the 11th hour, it's likely Lee will not be acquired with the Bulls caving with another first-round pick, but not finding a better offer. For Houston, Lee is an asset whose contract isn't expiring, so there's no rush.
The same is the case with acquiring O.J. Mayo from the Grizzlies. Memphis' reason for shopping the 6-foot-4 guard is their dire need for a big to replace Zach Randolph. Mayo's contract also makes the trade for Mayo against NBA rules for draft picks, as his $4.5 million are about $1.5 million over the Bulls salary cap room. All of that adds up to demanding Taj Gibson. For this reason, I've never taken this rumor seriously.
The Bulls acquired another first-round draft pick for 2011 from the Raptors for James Johnson, which also freed an additional $1.7 million of cap space.
Friedell added that John Paxson, Bulls executive vice president, said, "What we would be looking for as this trade deadline approaches is a
little more scoring if we can find it, but we aren't going to do
anything to disrupt the chemistry of this team."
Here's a look at possible shooting guard targets that I compiled immediately before the JJ trade went down. So, bear in mind that I was writing within the situation of the Bulls having only $1.3 million worth of cap space and only one first-round draft pick in 2011. At $3 million under the cap and four first-round picks over the next two years, there's definitely more to work with.
Marcus Thornton's a King now, so via trade, I still say that Aaron Afflalo and Anthony Parker may still be the most practical additions because Denver and Cleveland are only entertaining deals where they receive draft picks. The fact that the Kings got Thornton for Carl Landry made me wonder where the Bulls were on this, but Tom Thibodeau reportedly has an important seat at the table, regarding personnel. Another fact is that Thornton really can't guard anyone.
This is why you're hearing a more aggressive pursuit of Lee than Mayo, as well, I assume. Safe to also assume why the Bulls are so tightly clinging to Asik and Gibson. Difficult to disagree, philosophically, I admit.
It's also difficult to argue that there's something you want Lee to do for you that he can't. He's very athletic, shoots very well, doesn't need a high Usage Rate to produce, and is more than a willing defender. He's a very smart defender who uses well-calculated aggressiveness. He would be a perfect fit for the Bulls, but I understand not wanting to trade big-for-small.