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updated: 2/21/2012 6:50 PM

Pau Gasol a Bull? Why not, in the right deal

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  • Kobe Bryant, left, said the Lakers should either trade Pau Gasol, right, and get it over with, or announce that Gasol is staying.

      Kobe Bryant, left, said the Lakers should either trade Pau Gasol, right, and get it over with, or announce that Gasol is staying.
    Associated Press

 

When the lockout season began in December, Bulls general manager Gar Forman talked on media day about wanting to let this nucleus of players grow together.

That's why there were only two new faces on the roster -- veteran guard Richard Hamilton and rookie Jimmy Butler, though guard Mike James was since added to the mix out of necessity.

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With that theme in mind, the Bulls should feel comfortable that things will be quiet through the March 15 trade deadline, right?

No, not really. There are bound to be distractions as long as high-profile players such as Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are being shopped.

One rumor that started in Spain over the weekend had Derrick Rose approaching Bulls management to request the team trade for Gasol. That story seems far-fetched, since Rose has been so cognizant of being a good teammate, he declined to recruit LeBron James and will barely acknowledge Howard's trade demand.

But would the Bulls trade for Gasol if they had the chance? Of course they would, in the right deal.

It shouldn't insult anyone to suggest Gasol (16.6 points, 10.7 rebounds) would be an upgrade over Carlos Boozer (15.6 points, 8.3 rebounds), and Howard is better than Joakim Noah. If the goal is to win a championship as soon as possible, these are deals the Bulls have to discuss and pursue.

As always, the most likely scenario is that nothing will happen. But it will be interesting to follow the fates of Howard and Gasol, as well as New Jersey point guard Deron Williams, who can become a free agent after the season.

Orlando doesn't want to trade Howard. But there is no ignoring the fact that he asked for a trade and two of his preferred teams -- Dallas and New Jersey -- could clear enough money to sign him as a free agent this summer.

The most obvious Howard trade would be to the Lakers for center Andrew Bynum. But the Bulls could make a nice offer with Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and draft picks.

Of course, the Bulls should be concerned about Howard's maturity and interest in signing long-term. But the chance to pair Rose with Howard would be tough to pass up.

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant spoke out over the weekend, asking the Lakers to either trade Gasol and get it over with, or announce that he's staying.

Of course, the team won't comply, because most trade talks don't heat up until right before the deadline. For now, teams are still feeling each other out.

If the Lakers trade Gasol, it might have more to do with the team's payroll being $15 million above the luxury-tax threshold than anything else.

Would the Lakers take Boozer, a talented, but lower-priced power forward, if they could get C.J. Watson to help out at point and maybe Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver, whose final years are not fully guaranteed? It probably wouldn't be their first choice, but it is something to consider.

The Lakers still have longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, but essentially cleaned house when coach Phil Jackson left. There are reports the sons of owner Jerry Buss have filled more prominent roles in the organization, so it's not clear which direction the Lakers will head.

Rumors involving the Bulls are bound to continue through March 15. Compared to losing Derrick Rose for 10 games due to injuries this season, it should be easy enough to handle.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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