Another major multiteam trade might be looming in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls having discussed a deal that would be headlined by Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich, according to NBA front-office sources.
Sources stressed to ESPN.com that no deal was imminent Thursday and that both Portland and Utah are still evaluating additional trade scenarios. But two sources with knowledge of the three-team proposal confirmed that there have been substantive talks aimed at landing Boozer in Chicago, Hinrich in Portland and Tyrus Thomas in Utah.
A deal featuring those main components would deliver the elite low-post scorer that the Bulls have been chasing for years in Boozer while also positioning them to have significant salary-cap space for the summer of 2010 to court Chicago native Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh in free agency, since Boozer is entering the final year of his contract.
The Detroit Pistons, meanwhile, continue to be widely mentioned as a trade suitor for Boozer. Sources with knowledge of Detroit's thinking insisted again Friday that the Pistons have not yet entered the trade bidding for the Team USA power forward, partially because they think Tayshaun Prince and newly signed Charlie Villanueva will complement each other better than Boozer and Villanueva would, especially on defense. But it remains possible that Pistons' inability to sign Orlando-bound Brandon Bass will lead them to re-consider.
The revamped Pistons have no dependable low-post scorer and are seeking to add size to their front line, with Boozer's expiring contract -- as it would in Chicago -- affording them the added bonus of potentially creating salary-cap space again next summer after Detroit had the most spending money in the league this summer.
Hinrich, meanwhile, is a lead guard that Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has been known to covet for some time as a potential backcourt mate for Brandon Roy.
Although it was not immediately clear how many players Portland would be required to surrender in such a deal, sources say that names mentioned include Travis Outlaw, Steve Blake and Martell Webster.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor declined comment to The Salt Lake Tribune when asked about the talks.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman did not offer specifics but told the Chicago Sun-Times: ''There are always conversations going on, and we'll continue to talk to teams to see if we can make ourselves better."
For a time Wednesday, sources say Chicago was committed to participate in the four-team deal that ultimately sent Shawn Marion to Dallas, with veteran forward Tim Thomas also headed for the Mavericks. One source said that the Bulls pulled Thomas out of that deal Wednesday night to plug him into another trade, but there was no clear indication Thursday if that was with Boozer in mind or if the Bulls have other plans for him.
Other players would likely be needed to complete any three-way deal involving Chicago, Portland and Utah for salary-cap reasons, but it is becoming increasingly evident that Utah -- even if a Boozer-to-Chicago concept goes no further -- is prepared to move the Team USA forward this summer to increase its financial flexibility to re-sign restricted free agent Paul Millsap.
Pritchard acknowledged Friday afternoon in a session with local reporters that he is also weighing whether to extend an offer sheet to Millsap, but he offered no timetable when asked how soon the Blazers -- who have just under $8 million in salary-cap space -- will make their first splash of the offseason.
"We're looking at all our options," Pritchard said. "We're excited about all the possibilities and maybe they happen tomorrow, maybe they happen in two months, maybe they happen at the trade deadline."
As for Millsap specifically, Pritchard said: "I wouldn't just say that we're just looking at him. We are talking with him. That I can verify. But he's not the only person we're talking to."
Pritchard also addressed a report in Thursday's Oregonian newspaper that talks negotiations on contract extensions for franchise cornerstones Roy and forward LaMarcus Aldridge have stalled.
"It's amicable," he said. "We plan to make it amicable. More importantly, Brandon and LaMarcus will be here for a long time."
After injuries restricted him to just 37 games last season, Boozer has only one season left with Utah at $12.7 million, having declined the option in his contract to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. It's believed that the Jazz are determined to keep Millsap but are concerned about the luxury-tax consequences of signing him to a long-term deal.
Marc Stein and Chad Ford are senior NBA writers for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.