After the Chicago Bulls suspended forward Tyrus Thomas(notes) for losing his temper with coach Vinny Del Negro, an interesting thing happened: More teams started calling the franchise's front office wanting to talk about a trade.
Everyone understood Chicago executives are now determined to move Thomas, and a clear price has been established for suitors: Expiring contracts and a future first-round draft pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Bulls are also exploring ways to package Thomas with guard Kirk Hinrich(notes) to free themselves of his contract.
The Charlotte Bobcats bid Acie Law(notes), and Flip Murray(notes), a league executive said. The Bobcats have been searching for a long, athletic forward like Thomas, the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, and are expected to be aggressive pursuers. Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard made an offer they'll have to improve upon to be taken seriously – one of his expiring contracts (Steve Blake(notes) or Travis Outlaw(notes)) and two future second-round draft picks.
The New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets are among the multiple teams who've spoken to Chicago about Thomas. The Bulls are telling people that they have several teams willing to offer first-round picks – in 2010 or beyond.
Bulls management is telling teams they expect to take the bidding right to the Feb. 18 deadline. The Bulls want to avoid the possibility of Thomas accepting a $6.2 million qualifying offer on the eve of this summer's free agency, which would deliver a major dent to their salary-cap space. Thomas, 23, will be a restricted free agent this summer.
The Bulls are desperate to recruit Miami's Dwyane Wade(notes) back to his hometown, but one source familiar with Wade's thinking says he's ''far less'' inclined to bolt Miami unless Chicago has the ability to sign a ''significant'' free agent to join him.
Tracy McGrady(notes) has been working out with trainer Tim Grover in Chicago at his Attack Athletics Gymnasium since late December, waiting for the Houston Rockets to find a trade for him. Yet, the Rockets have been unwilling to let teams interested in trading for McGrady stop by the gymnasium and monitor his progress, one league executive said. ''They won't allow a 'casual sitting,' '' the executive said.
McGrady is the center of discussions among the Rockets, Washington Wizards and New York Knicks in a three-team trade scenario. As part of a larger package, the moving pieces would send New York's Al Harrington(notes) to Washington and Washington's Caron Butler(notes) and Brendan Haywood(notes) to Houston.
If McGrady ends up getting his contract bought out, one source close to him said, the Knicks are No. 1 on his list to sign with for the rest of the season.
Michael Jordan has until the end of February to match the bid by a Houston businessman trying to purchase the Charlotte Bobcats, and sources say he has some important meetings with potential investors in Dallas during All-Star weekend. Several sources believe Bobcats coach Larry Brown views the potential ownership and front-office shakeup as a chance to free himself for a return to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he sees a vulnerable GM (Ed Stefanski) and coach (Eddie Jordan). …For most people in the NBA, the only thing more pathetic than agent Warren LeGarie trying to hatch a plan to get client Del Harris into the Nets' head-coaching job and Kiki Vandeweghe back to GM was Harris' public airing of his two co-conspirators and the ridiculous assertion that he was unaware of the plan. The Nets have more victories on the season than there are people in the intelligent world who don't believe Harris knew exactly what was going on.