By Marc Stein
The NBA’s trade deadline is now only three Thursdays away.
Which naturally calls for some fresh dribbles of trade chatter from various team executives and league insiders:
The Blazers have indeed registered their interest in Washington
center Brendan Haywood, given Haywood’s obvious appeal as a short-term
replacement – with an expiring $6 million contract – for the fallen
Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla.
But one source close to the situation said that the talks didn’t go
far when the Wiz indicated that they’d want both Rudy Fernandez and
Nicolas Batum headlining the return package for Haywood, who’s
averaging 9.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
Portland, meanwhile, continues to insist in the strongest terms
that guard Andre Miller is not available, even as rival teams continue
to whisper otherwise.
It surely won’t surprise you to hear that the Blazers, given the
injury losses on their front line, are also among the teams that have
inquired about the availability of Bulls big man Brad Miller.
Chicago, though, is said to be increasingly reluctant to move Miller before the deadline. For a couple reasons.
1. It’s no secret that the Bulls want to clear as much salary-cap
space as they can for this summer’s free-agent bonanza, which is why
you’re hearing more and more about their willingness to move Kirk
Hinrich and John Salmons as covered here
last week. Miller’s $12.3 million expiring contract is central to that
strategy, so it’s going to take a special offer to get Chicago to part
2. The Bulls have moved into seventh in the East with an 8-2 run
that has put them on a pace to match or exceed last season’s 41-41
mark, when they still had Ben Gordon. The run includes four road
successive wins against teams in the West’s playoff mix: Phoenix,
Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Miller, furthermore, just
scored 25 points in the Houston game in place of the injured Joakim
Noah. So even if the Blazers could get to Miller’s salary range with
expiring contracts – Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw aren’t enough to
make the salary-cap math work — it’s reasonable for the Bulls to ask
themselves: Why change anything unless it’s a clear upgrade?