Though the Bulls have been playing some pretty good basketball on their latest road trip, which includes victories in four of their last five games, we probably shouldn't look to deeply into it. The first two wins came against the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings, who are a combined 21-78 this season, and the last one came against the New Orleans Hornets who were without Chris Paul. That's the equivalent of beating up on Randy Couture when his arms are tied behind his back and his legs are bound together. The win over the Phoenix Suns was nice, though.
So hopefully Bulls general manager John Paxson isn't starting to look at this team and thinking to himself "Hey! We got a real shot of getting that last playoff spot. Oh boy!" Now while we know Pax is hard at work trying to trade Larry Hughes, we hear he's willing to take a warm body and a pack of Starbursts at this point, there are other moves Paxson may want to start thinking about. Earlier this week the Orlando Magic, who are currently third in the Eastern Conference, found out that their starting point guard Jameer Nelson could possibly miss the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. If Nelson decides to skip surgery he could possibly return before the season ends, but probably not for another two months.
Which means that if the Magic are going to maintain their hold on the third seed in the East, they're going to need a stop gap replacement.
Hello, Kirk Hinrich!
With Derrick Rose entrenched as the Bulls point guard of the future, Hinrich really has no role left on the Bulls and would be more valuable to the team as a trading chip. Of course, the problem with moving Hinrich will be his $10 million salary and the four years remaining on his contract. This would mean that the Bulls would have to take some bad contracts in return for Captain Kirk, but a possible swap of Hinrich for forwards Brian Cook and Tony Battie might work.
Neither Cook or Battie see much time on the court for Orlando, and their salaries are close to matching up with Hinrich. Plus, even though neither would makd the Bulls an Eastern Conference contender, they would add some much needed size to the Bulls roster. Did you see Andres Nocioni trying to guard Yao Ming on Tuesday night? Cook's contract ($3.5 million) expires after this year, while Battie's $5.7 million a year deal expires after next season. Just in time for 2010 and the greatest free agent class in NBA history. Of course, for the Magic to agree to such a deal the Bulls would likely have to sweeten the deal with a draft pick, but that shouldn't be too big of a loss. Have you seen the players Paxson has drafted the last few years in Chicago?
UPDATE: The Magic have acquired Tyronn Lue in a trade for guard Keith Bogans. So much for that, huh?
When not fighting crime or writing for NBCCHICAGO.com, Tom Fornelli can be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls. He wouldn't give up his Starbursts for Larry Hughes either.