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Least Appealing Bulls Guard Drawing Interest?

A Daily Babble Production

So appears to be the case.

The rumors have been coming for a while about possible changes in scenery for Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon, but the Bulls may in fact be receiving suitors for a third member of their back-court, and he is easily the least desirable one to have in town.

The Daily Herald's Mike McGraw reports that the Bulls have discovered interest in Larry Hughes.  Given that Hughes is scheduled to make more than $26 million over the next two seasons, any deal involving him would likely involve Chicago receiving another team's big contract in return.  In that vein, McGraw names Portland (Joel Przybilla), New York (Jared Jeffries), Dallas (Erick Dampier) and Denver (Kenyon Martin) as some of the potential trading partners for the Bulls.

While our-trash-for-your-trash deals aren't geared to be all that wonderful for either side, that the Bulls are even drawing inquiries for Hughes remains stunning to me.  Managing to move this guy, particularly for an interior player (even if that interior player is overpaid and underproductive) could be a coup for Hicag.

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The Bulls picked up Hughes in a similar nuisance swap back in February when they dumped malcontent big man Ben Wallace on Cleveland in the three-team deal with Seattle that brought Drew Gooden to town as well.  Getting rid of Wallace was a must at the time thanks to both his attitude and declining skill set.  Now, given the Bulls' logjam of mediocrity in the back-court and Hughes' general level of putridity, getting rid of him could be ideal.

The Cavs signed Hughes to a mega-deal back in the summer of 2005 only after failing to snag Michael Redd away from Milwaukee.  Hughes was coming off of what was easily the best season of his career as he put up 22 points, 6.3 boards, 4.7 assists and 2.9 steals per game in Washington.  As the Cavs found out over the next two and a half years, the problem was that the only part of that 2004-05 campaign that wasn't an aberration for Hughes was the fact that he only played in 61 games due to injuries.

Hughes' tenure in Cleveland was marked by injuries, inconsistency and his christening by Cavalier Attitude's Amar Panchmatia as Laura Hughes, the first two of which have really been career-long issues.  He played just 106 games total in his two full seasons in town beside LeBron James.  When he did play, he simply wasn't very good.  Hughes is a terrible outside shooter (below 30 percent for his career from behind the arc), and his selection and efficacy going to the basket aren't all that great either.  In ten professional seasons, he has put up a true shooting figure better than 50 percent just three times, which is nothing short of disgusting (his career mark is an uninspiring 48.7 percent).  Even his volume scoring isn't impressive, and that 2004-05 campaign in Washington remains the only time Hughes has ever averaged so high as 19 points per game over the course of a season.  Since leaving for Cleveland, he has not broken 16 per game.

It also seems that Hughes' total statistics were likely inflated by the fact that the team he played on in Washington was in the league's top five in pace.  The 6-foot-5 string bean has never since approached the 6.3 boards per game he put up that season, and he grabs only 4.4 rebounds per game for his career.  Similarly, while Hughes isn't a terrible passer, he clearly falls into the shooting combo guard mold, and his 3.3 assists per game are nothing to write home about either.  Though he has posted some high steals totals and occasionally gambles correctly, the guy isn't a great defender by any means, and he looked particularly inept at that end of the floor after coming back from injuries during the Cavs' run to the Finals in the 2007 playoffs. 

In Hughes' brief post-trade stint with the Bulls last season, he didn't do much to silence the critics.  The guard continued to shoot the ball very poorly (he hit less than 39 percent from the field), and he didn't make particularly noteworthy contributions on the glass or defensively.  While Hughes has always been considered a high-potential player, he is now 29 years old and has spent the supposed prime of his career being vastly overpaid for one season of impressive individual production.

Larry Hughes isnt going to be part of the long-term solution for the Bulls, and there is a chance that there won't be any room in the back-court for him in the first place.  While Kirk Hinrich doesn't make a ton of sense as the two-guard (as has been discussed previously in this space), he is a favorite of owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and recent indications have been that the Bulls may hold on to the former starting point guard and his immense contract.  The Bulls are also still figuring out their future plans with leading scorer and off-guard Ben Gordon.  With Thabo Sefolosha in the mix as well in the back-court, dumping Hughes while taking on as manageable a contract as possible in return certainly seems to be a good idea.  

At the very least, the Bulls may be able to get themselves a big (Przybilla?) who could grab a few boards and block some shots from time to time off the bench rather than having to put up with Hughes' health concerns and inefficiency.  If they can find a way to prevent this sort of move from having particularly problematic long-term cap ramifications, it certainly seems like the way to go.

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