While Carlos Boozer's name was getting batted around in a trade rumor Thursday, Paul Millsap's was swaying in limbo.
ESPN.com reported Thursday afternoon that the Jazz have spoken with Portland and Chicago about a potential trade that would send two-time All-Star power forward Boozer to the Bulls and bring forward Tyrus Thomas to Utah from the Windy City.
Millsap, meanwhile, still apparently was waiting for a supposed contract offer that the Oregonian newspaper reported Wednesday was being "prepared."
The Jazz remain very much interested in keeping Millsap, their backup power forward and a restricted free agent.
But they also appear inclined to untangle the financial mess they appear headed for next season, and — with more than $73 million in payroll already on the books for next season — they seem to think moving Boozer and the remaining $12,657,233 on his contract may be the best path for that.
Utah has been trying to move Boozer ever since his decision late last month to opt into the final season of his six-year, $68 million deal.
Thomas, a three-year pro and the 2006 NBA Draft's No. 4 overall pick out of Louisiana State, averaged a career-high 10.8 points and career-high 6.4 rebounds per game for the Bulls this past season. He is due $4,743,598 next season.
Citing unnamed "NBA front-office sources," ESPN.com reported that the discussed swap also would send guard Kirk Hinrich from Chicago to Portland, that "no deal was imminent Thursday" and that "both Portland and Utah are still evaluating multiple trade scenarios."
The Web site reported that two sources deemed the talks substantive, and that "it's possible that other players would be added to balance out the transaction from a salary-cap perspective if the three teams elect to take these talks further."
Such a deal, according to ESPN.com's John Hollinger, would put the Bulls $20 million under the NBA's team salary cap for next season — and in prime position to be a player in next summer's free-agency market.
Word out of Chicago on Thursday night, however, was that while the Jazz did call, it was mostly to gauge Boozer's value and the Bulls' potential interest in him.
News of the trade talk, in fact, was largely dismissed by the Chicago Tribune, which made it a two-paragraph note in a notebook topped by news of reserve point guard Jannero Pargo's one-year, $2 million signing with the Bulls.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor did not comment on the trade report.
Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard did broach the general subject, telling reporters in Portland that "I think you limit yourself if you just say you're just going after free agents.
There's so many other opportunities. And with our cap space ($7.7 million) we're one of the few remaining teams that have cap space so you gotta be creative in how you use it. When the right deal comes, we'll know."
Pritchard did acknowledge interest in Millsap, but indicated no formal offer had been made.
"We're looking at all our options," he said Thursday, according to the Oregonian. "I wouldn't just say we're just looking at (Millsap). We are talking with him, that I can verify. But he's not the only person we're talking to. But we're selective.
"And the thing I would tell you is, it's just not a fit here anymore. It's a special fit.
And so we're very selective and I know a lot of free agents have signed with other teams and that's OK with us. Because we feel that there are certain guys that are right for us and some that don't fit."
Millsap's representative, DeAngelo Simmons, did not respond to a call seeking comment on Portland's interest in his client.
If things don't work out between the Blazers and Millsap, multiple reports suggested Thursday, Portland could turn its attention to other free agents, including Dallas power forward Brandon Bass.
As for the trade possibility, ESPN.com reporters Marc Stein and Chad Ford wrote that "despite fresh reports Thursday about the Blazers weighing whether to sign Millsap to an offer sheet, Hinrich is the player Portland prefers, according to one source close to the process."
ESPN.com also reported that "for a time Wednesday, sources say Chicago was committed to participate in the four-team deal that ultimately sent Shawn Marion to Dallas.
"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."
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