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Trade, coach talk weigh down Bulls
Sunday passed like most other recent dismal days for the Bulls.
Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall talked about a potential trade that is looking less likely. Bill Cartwright addressed his unstable future as coach, with his ouster expected as early as this week.
And the Sacramento Kings handed the Bulls a loss of change-inducing proportions, their 30th straight on this annual extended November trip.
Putting off details of a 110-99 loss for as long as possible, the update on a potential trade with Toronto is that there isn't one. Three days of intensive discussions involving several names and many variations went nowhere Sunday, with all indications pointing to Toronto pulling away from the table for now.
The latest version had Rose and Marshall going north of the border for Morris Peterson, Michael Bradley and Antonio Davis, who has a trade kicker in his contract that makes the salaries work under the collective-bargaining agreement.
But despite the Raptors scoring just 62 points in a home matinee loss to Milwaukee on Sunday, league sources said Toronto is hesitant to pull the trigger. The teams will talk again this week, but there is less optimism that a deal will happen.
Bulls general manager John Paxson, while declining to comment on trade talks, did address the potential fallout of having disgruntled players remain after being so openly shopped.
"I'm not concerned because I plan on addressing it with them," Paxson said. "My biggest disappointment is someone let this out, and that puts players in a horrible position. But that's my job, to smooth things over."
Rose said the dynamic wouldn't be a problem.
"I've never seen the situation as being personal," he said. "It's the nature of the business and the business that I chose. We're not robots. But anytime you're a public figure, it comes with the territory."
That said, Rose is unhappy with his reduced role and did himself no favors with the coaching staff Sunday when he threw a behind-the-back pass to himself on a breakaway that almost resulted in a turnover.
Rose did score on the play, but coaches were openly shaking their heads on the bench.
Whether Paxson can shake up his team by trade or not, Cartwright will be an almost certain casualty of the Bulls' poor start, possibly as early as Friday.
Cartwright, who was born in nearby Lodi and grew up in nearby Elk Grove, had 25 friends and family at Sunday's game, including his father, James, and all six sisters.
Cartwright continues to handle his situation stoically and with a sense of humor. He joked before Sunday's game that his only disappointment was that injured All-Star Chris Webber couldn't play for the Kings.
But after spending three hours talking with his father Saturday night, Cartwright also appears resigned to an imminent change.
"My dad's wisdom was simple: Just do the best you can and come on home," Cartwright said. "That's it."
The Kings, who haven't lost to an Eastern Conference team at Arco Arena since 1997, hit a franchise-record 12 three-pointers in the first half en route to the blowout.
Anthony Peeler sank four in the final 5 minutes 50 seconds before halftime, sparking a 19-4 run. Peja Stojakovic's 21 points topped six players in double figures for the Kings, who led by as many as 33.
The Bulls "are a hard to team to figure out," Kings coach Rick Adelman said.
A 15-0 fourth-quarter run with Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford, Kirk Hinrich and Eddie Robinson on the floor against Kings' reserves made the final score more respectable.
The spurt also sparked the question: Why can't the Bulls play that hard all the time?
"I don't know," Crawford said. "I honestly don't know. We need to, though."
Added Chandler: "I can't call it. We were just playing free. We just got up and down the court. We said we were going to use our young legs, and we just ran. It worked."
The Bulls, paced by Crawford's 19 points, have lost nine straight to Sacramento. The Kings finished with 13 three-pointers, most of them on wide-open looks.
"Some of it was their penetration and their screening," Cartwright said. "Some of it was we didn't communicate well and didn't switch."
So the Bulls boarded a charter flight to Dallas late Sunday night with players who are grumbling more openly and a beleaguered coach, who left his safety net of family behind.