Pau Gasol trade appears unlikely

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Bulls center Joakim Noah blocks a shot attempt by Heat forward Chris Bosh in the first quarter as the Chicago Bulls take on the Miami Heat Wednesday March 14, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

The only way the Pau Gasol-to-the-Bulls speculation makes sense is if the Los Angeles Lakers accept Carlos Boozer and his contract, which will pay him between $15 million and $17 million over the next three seasons. The Lakers aren’t interested, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, making trade speculation moot.

The Bulls are unwilling to part with a package of players in any trade, especially if that package includes Joakim Noah. The Bulls are interested in Gasol to pair him with Noah in an attempt to use their size advantage against the Miami Heat and other playoff rivals. Including Noah in a trade makes little sense for the Bulls, so no deal is imminent.

While the Bulls are keeping the lines of communication open and fielding calls, multiple sources said they are unlikely to make a deal before the 2 p.m. deadline Thursday.

The Bulls value their depth, which has ridden to the rescue time and again during their injury-plagued season. It’s an advantage they want to maintain.

MJ returns again

If the Bulls stand pat at the trade deadline, as expected, the only addition came when guard Mike James was signed to a 10-day contract Wednesday. It marks his third stint with the team this season.

James hasn’t seen any NBA action since Feb. 22 but has stayed in game shape. He said he anticipated interest from other teams, but familiarity with coach Tom Thibodeau’s scheme gave the Bulls the edge.

‘‘I’ve been working,” James said. ‘‘It’s not like I was home, sitting back and enjoying life; I was training. I’m ready. This isn’t my first dance. I’ve been thrown in the fire before.”

Battle of boards

The Bulls have outrebounded their opponents in 31 of their 45 games after their 50-34 edge Wednesday against the Heat. That is the highest rate for any team in the league, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Bulls are 29-2 when outrebounding their opponents, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra reiterated what several others have said this season: Derrick Rose is a big reason why.

‘‘They’re relentless,” Spoelstra said. ‘‘They’re big, and a lot of it is because of Derrick Rose and the force that he is going to draw multiple people to him. It’s a major challenge. Your perimeter players have to be willing to get into this fistfight because . . . even when we’re at our best, he’s going to be breaking us down and getting to the rim. That will pull our bigs immediately on instincts to come to help . . . and now our perimeter players have to really put bodies on those bigs going to the glass.”

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