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Pau! Bulls Poked in Face

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 5, 2008 12:39AM

2008_02_pau_gasol.jpgBulls GM John Paxson is having about as much luck these days as fellow Jerry Reinsdorf employee Kenny Williams. While the Sox have been unable to add a marquee center fielder to their roster, the Bulls keep keep coming up short when trying to land a player who can be the centerpiece of their franchise.

Rumors had long linked Kevin Garnett with the Bulls, but when Minnesota finally freed the future hall of famer from their mediocrity, they sent him to the Boston Celtics. Kobe Bryant demanded a trade before the season began, and reports insisted that he wanted to come to Chicago -- but a deal never occurred. And now Kobe will team up with another of the Bulls' top acquisition targets.

Beginning last season, Pau Gasol's name had repeatedly popped up in trade rumors. The seven footer offered much of what the Bulls needed -- low post scoring, rebounding and All Star credentials. Given the Bulls regression this season, many expected John Paxson to shake up his roster before the trade deadline if at all possible. Again, a name we kept hearing was Pau Gasol.

Instead, the Lakers grabbed Gasol in return for Kwame Brown, rookie Javaris Crittenton and two first-round draft picks. That's a hell of a lot less than the package of players the Bulls supposedly offered -- some combination of Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah and others.

So why were the Lakers able to swoop in and steal Gasol for next to nothing? Was John Paxson asleep at the wheel when the Griz were finally willing to deal? Have the values of Bulls' players deteriorated that much because of their poor play this season? Or is there some larger NBA conspiracy to keep Kobe happy going on?

Photo by Joe Giza/Reuters