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Road to Nowhere?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 7, 2005 8:32PM

Following last year's surprising playoff run, Bulls GM John Paxon vowed to bring back all of the key componensts. That job was made easier by the fact that only a couple bench players were unrestricted free agents. The rest were either under contract or restricted free agents.

For the most part, Paxon has succeeded in signing the guys he wanted back. He signed unrestricted free agent Othella Harrington to a new deal. He matched the offer sheet received by Chris Duhon, signing him to a three year deal. Tyson Chandler received the big contract he'd wanted with the 6-year, $63 million deal he signed last week.

2005_04_sports_curry.jpgA year ago, pretty much anybody would have thought it would be Eddy Currry who got the biggest deal this summer. Chandler was coming off a season that saw him miss substantial portions of the schedule with a bad back and Curry continued to show steady progress. But a year makes quite a difference.

Well, except for Curry's annual trade demands. Last season, they began in earnest during the team's 0-9 start and then re-emerged when Curry began sitting during the 4th quarter of games. This time, they're starting before the season even begins, as Curry wants a sign-and-trade deal. Curry's pouting about the 1 year/ $5 million offer the Bulls made. Curry wants a big contract like Chandler got. Curry thinks he's earned a big, long-term deal.

Oh, except there's that little heart issue he's dealing with! The NBA's insurer won't cover his heart, meaning any team is on the line for the full amount of any contract he signs. The Bulls don't want to owe him $60 million if he has to retire midseason. Nobody else seems to want to, either, as he has no offer sheets. So while Curry's wanting a trade, he has very little leverage at the moment. Should he play for the Bulls this coming year, he'd be an unrestricted free agent in 2006. The Bulls would still be able to offer him more than other teams and keep him that way, but might this year's negotiations alienate him? Should he remain healthy and play well, the Bulls risk losing him for nothing. On the other hand, with his heart uninsurable, his value is deminished greatly. The Bulls are probably best off keeping Curry and hoping that more progress towards becomming a Finals contender and continued health will result in a bigger payday next summer.