With the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline just visible over the horizon, will the Chicago Bulls make any major moves?
Rip Hamilton, the team's oft-injured veteran, has been mentioned in possible trade scenarios given his inability to stay healthy and the team's depth at the shooting guard position.
That speculation was directly refuted by GM Gar Forman.
"No, no, Rip is a big part of what we're doing," Forman told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I think Rip's been really good."
That doesn't mean Chicago will say no if the right offer comes along, but one can conclude that the team won't be aggressively shopping the 13-year pro.
News and Dunks: One clear weakness after watching the Derrick Rose-less Bulls through 33 games?
Coach Tom Thibodeau's over reliance on Joakim Noah due to the team's lack of a legitimate backup center.
By all accounts, Noah is having an All-Star type season. He leads all NBA centers with 4.3 assists, is averaging a career best 12.9 points, and is pulling down 10.5 rebounds per game.
So what's the problem?
The proud Florida Gator alum is averaging a whopping 38.9 minutes per game, or 6 minutes more than his second closest season, '10-'11.
That doesn't seem so bad until one considers that the last time an NBA big man averaged over 40 MPG was Kevin Garnett in the '02-'03 season.
With this past summer's departure of Omer Asik, Thibodeau has not felt comfortable calling free agent acquisition Nazr Mohammed's number, as evidenced by the old center's measly 6.7 minutes per contest.
One guy who may be available to help is Gustavo Ayon. The 6-foot 10-inch Orlando Magic center is described as a high-energy type player who defends and comes at the reasonable cost of $1.5 million.
A few others who could be made available in trades: Brandan Wright - Dallas Mavericks; Jermaine O'Neal - Phoenix Suns; Timofey Mozgov - Denver Nuggets.
Bringing in a competent backup center figures to be at the top of the team's to-do list as Chicago patiently waits for the return of Rose.
Adam Jun covers the Chicago Bulls for Skyword, Inc. a search-driven media website.
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Photo Credit: Keith Allison | Wikimedia