Will Bulls, Ben Gordon Blink?

By all accounts, Wednesday is the deadline for Ben Gordon to work something out with Chicago. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, John Paxson has said Gordon has until then to sign the $6.4 million qualifying offer before it's off the table. There is also, apparently, a standing six-year, $58 million offer. Gordon has said he wants to be the highest-paid Bull, and $10 million a year isn't going to do that. Gordon has also insisted he won't take the QO. He also insists in the Sun-Times piece Europe is not an option, because Chicago would still own his NBA rights.

So what's going to give? Gordon won't sit out the year. Chicago doesn't seem inclined to offer a short, high-dollar deal. (The luxury tax is a concern for at least this season.) Only one team can play the role Charlotte did in last fall's Anderson Varejao saga: Memphis. Remember that the Bobcats offered Varejao, a restricted free agent, a deal small enough for Cleveland to live with and short enough (or with an appropriately timed player option, rather) to be amenable to Varejao. Charlotte surely knew the Cavaliers would match, and more than anything seemed to be doing Varejao's agent a favor.

The Grizzlies hardly seem inclined to take a similar risk with Gordon. The logistics just don't work: if the Bulls won't pay a cent more than $10 million for Gordon, who wants $13 million, there's no middle ground. Memphis couldn't be sure Chicago would match a three-year, $38-40 million deal with a player opt-out after two seasons. If the Bulls refused to match, there Memphis would be, tying up their 2009 cap space on a superfluous player overloading a crowded backcourt. The stakes were much lower in the Varejao situation. The higher price tag Gordon has earned has increased the burden ... and the likelihood we enter preseason without resolution.

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