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Trading Deadline Looms as Bulls Head into Second Half

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 22, 2006 6:32PM

The Bulls embark on the second half of their season tonight -- well, kind of. It's their first game following the All Star Break, but only 30 games remain in the regular season. With a 23-29 record at the break, the Bulls are currently out of the playoffs picture. However, they're only 2 games behind the 76ers for the 8th seed so a playoff berth isn't impossible.

2005_sports_bulls_logo.gifBut can their current roster play better over the final 30 games to get them into the playoffs? Is there any possibility of a trade between now and tomorrow's trade deadline? Should the Bulls try to make a major move now, or sit tight and wait for the draft and free agency to help improve the team for next year and beyond?

While current players express optimism that the current roster is sufficient to get the Bulls back into the playoffs, rumors have persisted about the Bulls moving leading scorer Ben Gordon -- along with some others or draft picks -- in return for the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce. Pierce would certainly give the Bulls a true star and somebody who truly is a top scoring threat. But is he the player who will make the Bulls that much better? Bulls GM John Paxon doesn't seem to believe so, and Chicagoist tends to agree.

We see the biggest difference between last year's team and this year's team is the lack of defensive toughness down low. Eddy Curry provided a little of that, and Antonio Davis provided lots of that toughness. Are there any players out there who fit that mold? Kevin Garnett surely does, but it doesn't sound like he's moving before tomorrow. Marcus Camby? Kenyon Martin? They'd certainly help this year's team make the playoffs, but they're too injury-prone to be considered a building block. And they'd come at too steep a price to be just another piece of the puzzle.

So it looks like the Bulls' current players are the ones who will determine whether the team makes the playoffs or has two lottery picks in June's draft.

That's not to say that there won't be any deals made by Paxon. The player to focus on is Tim Thomas. Yeah, he's still with the team. Having only suited up for a few games, the Bulls sent him home because they felt he would negatively impact the team's chemistry. A career 12 point/game scorer, would anybody want him? Might somebody want him simply for his large expiring contract and the salary cap implications? But what will other teams offer the Bulls when it's so apparent they don't want him on the team? Chicagoist guesses even a second round draft pick is better than waiving him after the deadline passes.