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updated: 12/27/2010 10:14 PM

Shooting guard remains an issue for Bulls

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  • Former Bulls Ben Gordon, guarding the Bulls' Keith Bogans on Sunday, would be a boost to the Bulls' offense this season.

      Former Bulls Ben Gordon, guarding the Bulls' Keith Bogans on Sunday, would be a boost to the Bulls' offense this season.
    Associated Press

 
 

Watching the Bulls play the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, it was easy to have second thoughts about shooting guard.

Ben Gordon, once the Bulls' leading scorer, is wasting away on the Pistons' bench. Gordon's scoring punch could be useful for the Bulls, if only he wasn't attached to that ridiculous contract that still has three years and $37 million remaining.

Remember, Gordon did try to accept an $8 million a year offer from the Bulls in 2007, but they already had pulled it off the table and wouldn't put it back.

Had the Bulls known they wouldn't get LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, a Gordon-Ronnie Brewer combo might have been perfect. But that's too much hindsight to be realistic.

Then Tracy McGrady, who wanted to sign with the Bulls this summer, came alive to score 13 points for the Pistons in the fourth quarter. McGrady might have been the extra scorer the Bulls need, but after his knee injuries he's better suited to play small forward than two guard.

Then again, would McGrady's ability to create his own offense fit with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer? A spot-up shooter like Kyle Korver makes more sense, in theory, if the Bulls could find a way to get more out of him.

The Bulls still have about seven weeks -- until the Feb. 17 trade deadline -- to come up with an upgrade at shooting guard. This is the time of year when teams discuss dozens of possibilities and wait to see who gets serious closer to the deadline.

The Bulls are working the phones and testing the waters, but nothing is imminent. A couple of obstacles working against the Bulls are a lack of tradable assets and a crowded payroll.

The Bulls already have locked up Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng for at least $10 million per season, and a hefty extension for Rose is a year away.

So adding Detroit's Richard Hamilton, 32, at $25 million over the next two seasons, or Charlotte's Stephen Jackson, 32, at $20 million for two years isn't fiscally responsible.

As far as trade bait, moving Taj Gibson doesn't make much sense with Noah sidelined for eight more weeks with a thumb injury. Deng figures to have limited value because of his large contract.

Otherwise, the Bulls have only smaller pieces to move.

Except, that is, for perhaps their most valuable asset -- the first-round pick garnered from Charlotte in last year's Tyrus Thomas trade. That pick is lottery-protected this year, but the restrictions ease gradually until it's completely unprotected in 2016.

If the Bobcats miss the playoffs this year and keep getting worse -- not at all far-fetched -- that pick could become a top-five selection someday.

The one scenario that might justify the Bulls trading the pick now is for Memphis guard O.J. Mayo. It's probably safe to say the Bulls would jump at the chance. The question is whether the Grizzlies would give up on Mayo while he's still on his rookie contract.

Mayo (13.1 points) has yet to resemble a budding superstar and Memphis already has spent big money to extend Rudy Gay and Mike Conley, so it seems reasonable to expect Mayo to leave eventually, giving up his spot to Xavier Henry.

This is one of those situations that may heat up in February.

Another player who interests the Bulls is Denver's J.R. Smith (11.7 points). He's not their first choice and will be a free agent this summer, so it's unlikely the Bulls would be willing to give up the Charlotte pick for Smith.

What it would take to get the notorious streak shooter is unclear since the Nuggets are still in limbo with Carmelo Anthony's future.

Some other names being tossed around -- such as Cleveland's Anthony Parker, Houston's Courtney Lee and Phoenix's Mickael Pietrus -- probably wouldn't be an upgrade over what the Bulls already have.

The Bulls are definitely looking for someone to fill that role. But with limited resources at the moment, failure will be an option.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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