Reluctant Bulls could only muster up a trade to send Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta for luxury tax relief

SHARE Reluctant Bulls could only muster up a trade to send Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta for luxury tax relief

CLEVELAND – That big splashy deal that many Bulls fans were hoping to see?

Well, it ended up being a small skipping stone in a muddy river.

A source confirmed that the Bulls did trade Kirk Hinrich to the Atlanta Hawks just before the Thursday trade deadline, and will receive a future second-round draft pick in return.

While it doesn’t make the franchise better, it did make them a bit more luxury-tax friendly, leaving them only about $1.65 million over.

Not exactly the way to shake-up a 27-25 underachieving team, but not a surprise to multiple NBA sources.

Pau Gasol’s name was being kicked around with a handful of teams interested in acquiring the big man, but it seemed to be a lot more smoke than fire, at least as far as the Bulls were concerned.

Even Gasol called the idea of him being traded “improbable’’ following the morning shootaround in Cleveland.

“There are really no guarantees in this business,’’ Gasol said. “And it is a business at the end of the day, particularly when a team is struggling and things are not going the way people expected them to. Sometimes decisions are made. Whether they’re right or wrong, it happens. I think it’s improbable that anything will happen. But it’s fun to talk about it, isn’t it?’’

Then asked if his feeling was he wouldn’t be moved, Gasol again responded, “That’s correct. But I could be wrong.’’

Not even close, Pau.

The Sun-Times reported Tuesday that sources indicated the Bulls were very reluctant to part with the 7-footer. And teams that they did have dialogue with about Gasol, well, the asking price was almost unrealistic.

A source said that the big hurdle for this organization was that there were no deals out there that would make the Bulls better without Gasol for at least this season, and after an offseason in which they removed Tom Thibodeau from his coaching chair, to fall short of making the playoffs this year would be a disastrous look.

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