(MCT) — DENVER — The Bulls and Raptors engaged in trade talks centered on Carlos Boozer and Andrea Bargnani more than a week ago, according to two league sources.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein first reported the talks, which a source told the Chicago Tribune the Bulls initiated and originally dismissed because of the Raptors’ desire to land the Lakers’ Pau Gasol. Though talks are not currently active, a source said the Raptors know the trade is available and could expand to include Nate Robinson and John Lucas III. Another source suggested it’s unlikely the Raptors would take on Boozer’s contract, which is $9.1 million more than Bargnani’s over the next two seasons.
The Raptors recently added Rudy Gay’s long-term contract via trade.
Boozer makes $5 million more than Bargnani this season. Coach Tom Thibodeau long has been an advocate of Lucas, who is playing sparingly for the Raptors.
“That’s part of the business,” Boozer said. “I can’t worry about that.”
Despite the talks, there are no plans to use the amnesty provision on Boozer this summer.
Boozer is having a strong season, but shedding his salary could improve the Bulls’ long-term financial picture. If the deal went down, they would drop below the luxury tax threshhold.
Memory lane: Friday will mark just the second time Boozer has played in Utah since leaving the Jazz after six seasons as a free agent in the summer of 2010. Booed loudly every time he touched the ball on Feb. 9, 2011, Boozer posted 14 points and six rebounds in the Bulls’ 91-86 victory.
That game famously turned out to be Jerry Sloan’s last as Jazz coach. The Bulls didn’t play in Utah during the lockout-shortened season.
“Lot of great memories,” Boozer said. “We fell short (of a championship) but competed.”
Coach’s corner: Thibodeau and Nuggets coach George Karl flashed mutual respect for each other. Calling him “one of the great coaches in the league,” Thibodeau said Karl’s consistent success at multiple stops makes him special.
“I just love the way he is as a guy too,” Thibodeau said. “What you see is what you get. He’s true to himself. I think he’s a great teacher.”
Karl called the Bulls “maybe the most efficient team in the league” and chuckled when asked why it took so long for Thibodeau to land a head coaching job.
“You should ask personnel directors and general managers,” he said. “Tom’s the type of guy who personality-wise when you hang around him he’s kind of boring and quiet. He’s not flamboyant or has that clever personality.
“Tom’s a basketball guy, a gym guy, an X and O guy, a film room guy. He doesn’t have the celebrity personality that maybe draws attention to guys who makes those decisions.”