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Taj Gibson could be on Bulls’ trading block

The Lakers Wizards Bobcats reportedly have an interest forward Taj Gibswho is under contract through 2016-17. | AP

The Lakers, Wizards and Bobcats reportedly have an interest in forward Taj Gibson, who is under contract through 2016-17. | AP

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Updated: February 1, 2014 3:08PM



NEW ORLEANS — No one is safe.

And for a team with big dreams for its roster, no one on the Bulls’ roster should be.

That’s what the Luol Deng trade to the Cavaliers last month symbolized to his former teammates. If Deng could go, well, rent in ­Chicago, don’t buy.

“I’ve always kind of had that [mentality],” veteran guard Kirk Hinrich said Friday. “From the first time that I started hearing rumors, it really made clear that the possibility of being moved is there. You just try and do the best you can with the situation you’re in.

“But enjoy this. Enjoy the situation we’re in moving forward because it’s exciting. Just try not to worry about things you can’t control.”

That’s hard to do with the calendar flipped and the Feb. 20 trade deadline looming.

Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy have been churning in the rumor mill for more than a month. Now Taj ­Gibson’s name is picking up steam. What the Bulls do with him could determine how serious they are in clearing salary-cap space for a max contract to land a player such as Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.

According to a source, the Lakers, Wizards and Bobcats have inquired about Gibson, but they were preliminary talks in which the Bulls didn’t like the return.

Moving Gibson would signify the Bulls’ determination to give ­Derrick Rose a second superstar to play with.

The Bulls probably will use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer’s contract this summer. It calls for him to make $16.8 million next season. That makes moving Gibson all but a necessity if the Bulls want to stay under the luxury tax and add a max deal. Gibson will make $8 million next season, $8.5 million in 2015-16 season and $8.95 million in the final year of the contract.

Although Anthony told the Sun-Times this week that he hasn’t had any thoughts about joining the Bulls, there are basketball executives who believe differently, as ESPN reported Thursday.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said ­Friday that all is quiet in his talks with general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson. But then again, all was quiet before Deng was moved, too.

“The way that works is this: When something gets close or they think there’s something there that makes sense, they’ll come to me,” Thibodeau said. “Every conversation that they’re having I don’t know about, nor do I want to know about. It’s important for me to be focused on the guys we do have.

“This time of year, that’s all normal. We’re going to get calls because we have good players. We have to take those calls, because we have to weigh if something makes sense, if something doesn’t. Then if they think it makes sense, they’ll get my opinion on it, and that’s all I can ask for.”

Hinrich is asking for the present roster to stay intact. The Bulls went 11-4 in January and are coming off an impressive victory at San Antonio.

“Yeah, I would like to see this [stay together],” Hinrich said. “We’re coming off a very good month. It’s something I would like to see how far we could keep it going.”

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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