Bulls GM Paxson not gloating about Curry trade

Updated: May 24, 2006, 7:38 PM ET
Associated Press

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- John Paxson was angry and made no effort to hide it. Training camp was about to start, and the Eddy Curry standstill had just come to a jarring conclusion.

Paxson walked into the gymnasium during the Chicago Bulls' media day in early October and asked reporters to let him "ramble." Three minutes later, after announcing he had traded the center to New York, the general manager left without mentioning who else was involved in the deal and without taking questions.

In hindsight, maybe it wasn't such a terrible day for the Bulls. The draft is June 28, and Chicago landed the No. 2 pick in Tuesday's lottery thanks to that deal, although Paxson didn't take any bows.

"The New York papers were all over asking if I felt vindicated," he said Wednesday. "It's not anything about that. Last year was a very hard summer. We had tried to work something out [with Curry]. It was a difficult time. It got to a point where I kind of felt like nothing was going to get resolved. There was one team out there that was willing to do a deal and I basically said this is how it's going to be done."

The Bulls sent Antonio Davis with Curry, who had refused to take a DNA test to rule out a potentially fatal heart condition. The Knicks included second-round picks in 2007 and 2009, and forwards Tim Thomas, Michael Sweetney and Jermaine Jackson. Chicago also got the right to flip-flop first-rounders next year if it finishes with a better record than New York.

The trade initially looked like a major blow for the Bulls, who struggled for much of the regular season before ending with a 12-2 run to finish 41-41 and reach the playoffs for the second straight year. Chicago then put up a fight against Miami before losing in six games in the first round.

Meanwhile, Curry averaged 13.6 points and 6.0 rebounds. And the Knicks' reward for finishing with the NBA's second-worst record went to Chicago, which appears to be in an enviable spot.

The Bulls are young and deep on the perimeter. They expect to have about $15 million to $20 million in salary cap room, meaning they can shop the free-agent market. They could fill their need for a scoring big man in the draft or, maybe, in a trade package involving that pick. Chicago also has its own pick at No. 16.

Paxson said the Bulls were "lucky" to land the No. 2 selection.

"We didn't do it with the belief that we were trying to win a deal or get the better of a deal," he said. "That's never been the issue with me. ... It was about our decision in trying to do the right thing for Eddy. When we realized that couldn't happen, we decided to make the deal."

Now, the Bulls have to make some decisions.

If they keep the second pick, they will likely use it on a big man. That could be 6-foot-9 Tyrus Thomas, who averaged 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds for LSU, or 6-10 Texas sophomore LaMarcus Aldridge, the Longhorns' second-leading scorer and rebounder at 15.0 points and 9.2 rebounds.

"There are more than just those two in this draft," Paxson said.

Another possibility is Italy's Andrea Bargnani, who is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki. And a big man with shooting range would fit in with the Bulls.

"There aren't many 7-footers who can shoot it from the 3-point line like he can," Paxson said. "One of the reasons we had success was we ended up getting two guys in [Darius] Songaila and Malik Allen who can make shots."

Note:
G Chris Duhon underwent surgery to remove a herniated disc in his lower back Wednesday at Rush University Medical Center. "He'll be fine this summer," Paxson said. "Training camp is not an issue."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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