Ben Gordon never officially commented on the rumors that CSKA Moscow was interested in signing him. Well, he no longer has to, because CSKA's GM Andrei Vatutin commented for him. From the Russian newspaper Soviet Sport, as translated by The Hoop:
"This whole thing is a dirty trick of the newspapers, we are NOT in negotiations with Ben Gordon. At the moment all of our staff are currently on holiday. I'm personally on holidays in France and I haven't heard anything about Ben Gordon."
It may have been a dirty trick, but maybe the newspapers aren't to blame. Soviet Sport dug deeper by tracking down the original source of the rumor, Greek reporter Nikos Zabaras, who revealed his source:
Nikos Zabaras said that the agent of Ben Gordon wanted the article published on contra.gr in order to increase the projected salary of his client.
Zing! It's possible that Zabaras is lying to save face, but it's just as likely that Zabaras felt justified giving up his source after realizing he was completely played. Had Gordon's agent (Raymond Brothers, assuming he has the same representation as a month ago) been a little more vauge he probably would have gotten away with it -- it would have been virtually impossible to verify a report saying Gordon was entertaining an offer from an unnamed European team.
Perhaps attaching an actual team to the rumor was an attempt to make it sound more legitimate, and perhaps Brothers thought John Paxson would blink before he simply picked up the phone and verified it himself. Who knows? All we know for certain is that the Bulls now have absolutely no reason to take Brothers seriously at the negotiating table. Gordon may not like it, but the Bulls are holding all of the chips in this stand-off.