Bulls trade talk to heat up

At 25-26, the Bulls’ record is three games better than last season’s after 51 games.

However, this season could feature a trade based more on saving money than salvaging a season.

Last season’s bold acquisition of Brad Miller and John Salmons
rejuvenated the Bulls, led to a 17-11 finish and, of course, the
stirring seven-game playoff loss to the Celtics.

This year, Salmons, Kirk Hinrich or Tyrus Thomas could be moved for
anonymous, non-impact players whose best attribute is their expiring
contract.

The Tribune had reported previously that the Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Spurs have expressed interest in Thomas and Yahoo! Sports’ report early Thursday of specific offers — Acie Law, Flip Murray and a first-round pick from the Bobcats; Steve Blake or Travis Outlaw and two second-round picks from the Blazers — speaks to the type of salary dumps the Bulls might maneuver.

Thus, it’s impossible to predict how the Bulls’ final 31 games will play out. But here are three things that have to happen for a repeat playoff performance and three things to watch until July 1:

What must happen

• Joakim Noah has to get healthy.

Past Derrick Rose’s wondrous offensive skills, Noah is the Bulls’ most important player. His energy and emotion underpin the style the Bulls must play to succeed. If the plantar fasciitis in his left foot doesn’t heal, gone are Noah’s ability to rebound, outlet, run the floor and rotate defensively.

Noah is the main reason the Bulls are tied for third in opponents’ field-goal percentage and lead the NBA in rebounding and blocks. And he needs to be healthy, not hobbled, to play his energetic style.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/ct-spt-0212-bulls-chicago–20100211,0,6301615.story

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