Bulls (19-27) at Kings (10-37)
Scoring: Kings 13th (99.1), Bulls 12th (99.2).
Shooting: Kings tied for 21st (44.6 percent), Bulls 24th (44.5).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.2), Bulls 24th (102.1).
Shooting defense: Kings tied for 29th (48 percent), Bulls tied for 14th (45.4).
Rebound differential: Kings 29th (minus-4.6), Bulls 18th (minus-0.5).
The links: Bulls coverage in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Herald.
The almanac: On this date in 1994, the Celtics retired uniform No. 32 in honor of Kevin McHale. On this date in 1996, the Bulls beat the Rockets to complete the 10th undefeated month in league history with at least 12 games played, a 14-0 January. On this date in 1996, Magic Johnson of the Lakers came out of retirement with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds against the Warriors in his first game since the 1991 Finals. On this date in 2002, Karl Malone joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to score 34,000 points.
It is an obvious preference, though. Get Brad Miller ($11.38 million this season, $12.25 mil next) and/or Kenny Thomas ($8.56M, $8.78M) off the books without inheriting a bad commitment by a different name, maybe add a decent prospect or a first-round pick in the process. It's what they did with Ron Artest (the expiring Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene, a No. 1 in 2009) and sort of did with Mike Bibby (lots of expiring contracts, a look at former lottery selection Shelden Williams with little risk).
So, expiring contracts. The realistic variety, meaning no Jason Kidd because the Mavericks aren't trading him barring an unexpected development, no Allen Iverson under similar reasoning, ditto no Bibby, no Artest, probably no Lamar Odom. The expiring contracts that could move or even figure to move, in other words.
In alphabetical order:
*Raef LaFrentz, Trail Blazers -- $12.72 million.
Why the Kings would do it: LaFrentz is the Daily Double, an expiring contract and a contract that is mostly covered by insurance. Financially, it's streamlining that goes well beyond the cap amount. Plus, and this is where it gets really good, Portland has depth at point guard to trade a ballhandler. An actual, live point guard with potential, not merely a paperwork move to slash salaries.
Why the Trail Blazers would do it: Beats me. Why give up a valuable trade chip for John Salmons when you have Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster? For Brad Miller when you have Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla?
*Stephon Marbury, Knicks -- $20.84 million.
Why the Kings would do it: They could get away from Miller and Thomas in one phone call and wouldn't have to hassle with Marbury. He wouldn't even have to come to town. (You don't want him to come to town.) Trade for him and start negotiating the buyout that will save a few more bucks while allowing him to sign with a playoff hopeful. Starbury grew a second head without anyone knowing? Doesn't matter. He still passes the mandatory physical required to complete a trade.
Why the Knicks would do it: They ideally would like to get something for Marbury. New York has no true center. Miller would be the answer through the end of next season as the Knicks wait for the Summer of LeBron. Not the perfect answer in the up-tempo offense of coach Mike D'Antoni, but better than Eddy Curry.
By the way: Time for Marbury and a lot of reporters to stop the buyout talk. The trade deadline is Feb. 19. The Knicks are not going to let him go this close to that important calendar moment if they still feel like they can get something, anything, for him in a deal. If the deadline passes and he's still in New York, then fire up the negotiations again.
Shawn Marion, Heat -- $17.81 million.
Why the Kings would do it: Marion provides the best chance at a double return -- unload big contracts now with the opportunity for a sign-and-trade in the summer. In the meantime, he will bring excitement, rebounding and a much-needed defensive intensity. A jolt, in other words. It's not about winning games at this point as much as deciding who wants to show up every night.
Why the Heat would do it: Miami is starting Joel Anthony at center. Miller would be an upgrade and be especially rejuvenated next season with (a) a playoff team, and (b) a contract drive. And he would only need to be a complementary piece to Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley, not a star or a leader.
Jerry Stackhouse, Mavericks -- $7 million.
Why the Kings would do it: Stackhouse is the asterisk. He's under contract for 2009-10 at $7.25 million, but that's a team option with a manageable buyout that would make him a free agent this summer. Stackhouse plus other contracts puts Dallas in range to become a Kings trade partner. It's the part about "other contracts" that creates the negotiations. The Kings won't take back bad deals.
Why the Mavericks would do it: They can use help at center and, with Dirk Nowitzki and Kidd, need to go for it soon.
Wally Szczerbiak, Cavaliers -- $13.28 million.
Why the Kings would do it: That's a big enough number for the Kings to move serious money and work the payroll.
Why the Cavaliers would do it: Don't see it. Maybe Salmons.