Bulls go after Grant
By Mike McGraw
Daily Herald Sports Writer
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005
The Bulls are making a serious recruiting pitch to former Los Angeles Lakers power forward Brian Grant.
Both general manager John Paxson and coach Scott Skiles spoke to Grant by phone Wednesday evening, just hours after the 33-year-old was waived by the Lakers under the NBA’s new amnesty rule.
While Grant’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, refused to speculate on where his client will land, he feels the Bulls are in contention.
“He was impressed with some of the things they had to say,” Bartelstein said. “I think it’s probably something we’d take a look at. We have a lot of respect for John Paxson and Scott Skiles.
“This is a big decision for us. The Bulls have a good thing going. He wants to be in a good situation and have a chance to win.”
The 6-foot-9 Grant is coming off his worst NBA season. He averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds while bothered by chronic tendinitis in his knees. He also had a neck injury in training camp. An Ohio native, Grant played for Sacramento, Portland and Miami before going to Los Angeles last summer in the Shaquille O’Neal trade.
There still figures to be plenty of interest in the 11-year veteran. Grant has been a strong rebounder throughout his career and built a reputation as a solid citizen, winning the NBA’s Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for the 1998-99 season. Bartelstein said 12 teams have called to inquire about Grant’s availability.
The amnesty rule was included in the league’s new collective-bargaining agreement as a one-chance opportunity for teams to release a player and avoid paying the luxury tax on his salary. The Lakers will save $29.8 million in tax payments over the next two years by waiving Grant, even though they must continue to pay his salary.
The Bulls could use some depth inside. Center Eddy Curry may be a question mark because of his heart condition, and Antonio Davis will turn 37 in October. The Bulls expect to re-sign Tyson Chandler and Othella Harrington at the post positions.
Some players affected by the amnesty rule reportedly have provisions in their contract that call for deferred salary payments if they are released. But Bartelstein said Grant does not have such a clause and will be paid his full $14.3 million salary by the Lakers this year.
Therefore, Grant’s decision on where to play shouldn’t come down to money. That could bode well for the Bulls because they’ll have just $2.2 million remaining from their midlevel exception if they match Toronto’s offer sheet to point guard Chris Duhon.
League sources confirmed the Raptors’ offer sheet as a three-year deal worth a total of $9.07 million, with a first-year salary of $2.8 million. While there is every indication the Bulls will match Duhon’s offer by Monday, the team did try to add a point guard this summer.
According to multiple league sources, the Bulls made a concerted effort to acquire 6-3 Charlotte guard Jason Hart last month. The problem was the Bobcats refused to take any players in return. Hart ended up going to Sacramento, which had a trade exception to use, in exchange for a second-round draft pick.
In other news, guard Jannero Pargo, another of the Bulls’ restricted free agents, is scheduled to visit Cleveland today.
Agent Frank Catapano said there are three other teams with an interest in unrestricted free agent Adrian Griffin but promised to inform the Bulls of any significant offer.
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