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Heat Interested in Jamal Crawford?


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By K.C. Johnson

Tribune staff reporter

 

July 4, 2004

 

 

Eight teams have made serious inquiries about Jamal Crawford, with Minnesota, Miami, Sacramento and New York discussing parameters of sign-and-trade possibilities with the Bulls, league sources said.

 

As is the case with many restricted free agents, the player's camp wants his employer to set the market. Typically, the employer, in this case the Bulls, wants the market to set itself.

 

 

 

 

It did Friday, to some degree, when Dallas agreed to a six-year, $38 million contract with second-year guard Marquis Daniels. That deal only reinforced the perception that Crawford won't sign for the midlevel exception, which approximately would equal Daniels' pact.

 

That preliminary discussions on sign-and-trade possibilities have taken place with the aforementioned teams?which are all above the salary cap?indicates a willingness to pay Crawford more than the midlevel exception.

 

But the Bulls, league sources said, would be willing only to entertain such a scenario if they were able to unload an undesirable contract, such as those belonging to Eddie Robinson or Jerome Williams.

 

Looking at other teams' salary structures, Minnesota wouldn't have much to offer besides Wally Szczerbiak, whose contract doesn't make sense for the Bulls. Sacramento, too, has little that works for Chicago.

 

Only Miami and New York have assets and expiring contracts that make sense. But it's unlikely the Heat would send, say, Caron Butler and Eddie Jones to the Bulls for Williams and a long-term deal for Crawford.

 

With little discussion on a long-term deal, Crawford may take some visits to teams this week. Still, the Bulls, who own Crawford's rights and?by the virtue of a $3.5 million qualifying offer?the ability to match any offer sheet tendered, remain in the driver's seat.

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