There were rumors last summer also
Curry deal might be on fast track
June 4, 2004
BY LACY J. BANKS Staff Reporter
Bulls operations chief John Paxson appears to be shifting his stance regarding the timing of a contract extension for center Eddy Curry, who will be eligible for a long-term deal Aug. 1.
Paxson had maintained he would wait until after next season to address the issue. Curry would become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2005, and the Bulls would be able to match any offer after letting the market dictate Curry's value. That's what Paxson did with guard Jamal Crawford, who will become a restricted free agent July 1.
But the Bulls have made it known that the 6-11, 285-pound Curry, who just concluded his third season, is considered the cornerstone of the franchise. He has impressed management with his offseason conditioning thus far, and that might play a role in what happens when he becomes eligible for an extension.
''I would like to think we could get something done because you would like to have something like that done and over with,'' Paxson said Thursday. ''That way, you'd know who you're going to be working with for years to come.
''We have until August to really evaluate if we want to extend him. If he gives me good reason to go out and really pin him down, it would be good for him and good for us. We're sitting in the same position with Jamal, but big guys have more value.''
Previously, the possibility of an extension for Curry was linked with the possibility of one for forward Tyson Chandler. But Chandler, who might be traded, suffered back problems and appeared in only 35 games this season. So Paxson doesn't necessarily face the prospect of two long-term deals, even though Chandler has been working hard at the Berto Center to get stronger.
The prospect of locking up Curry, who is without an agent, to a lucrative contract extension likely will affect any trades Paxson will make this summer. A deal with the Dallas Mavericks for Michael Finley, Antawn Jamison or Antoine Walker appears unlikely because of the contracts involved. No discussions between the teams have taken place.
One player the Bulls are interested in is the Indiana Pacers' Al Harrington, who is available. Harrington is a 6-9, 250-pound small forward who was the runner-up to Jamison for Sixth Man of the Year. Harrington, who averaged 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds, wants to start, and that doesn't appear to be likely with Ron Artest on the Pacers. Artest also might be available.
''If there is the opportunity for [Harrington] to be a starter here, that would be great,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. ''And if there isn't, then it may be time for him to move on to another team.''
Harrington has only two years and $13.3 million remaining on his contract, which is a bargain, but the Bulls still might hesitate to deal the No. 3 pick in the draft for him. The Bulls would be able to unload a contract, perhaps that of forward Eddie Robinson or forward Scottie Pippen.
The Pacers also might be interested in Golden State Warriors center Erick Dampier.
NOTE: The Bulls on Saturday will work out Peoria Central standout Shaun Livingston, who's considered a top-10 draft prospect on the rise.