It's no shock that the Bulls are willing to engage in trade discussions about Dwight Howard with the Magic, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, despite not being on the All-Star center's preferred list of destinations. After Howard officially asked for a trade--in the aftermath of an alleged meeting between Howard (or his representatives) and Nets owner Mikhail Prokorov and general manager Billy King, which resulted in the possibility that Orlando could file tampering charges with the NBA; Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, denied the accusation--Magic general manager Otis Smith indicated the franchise would seek out the best option for the organization, not Howard.

That likely includes the Bulls, which could feasibly put together the most attractive package of players--such as a potential combination of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer and the Bobcats' protected future draft pick--for the reigning three-time Defensive Player of the Year. But the chances of Howard coming to an Eastern Conference rival, whether it's the Nets (who will be heavily scrutinized after the aforementioned allegations) or the Bulls, are less likely than Orlando shipping the game's top center to two of his other three preferred landing spots, the Lakers or Mavericks.

Since the Lakers are currently involved in the ongoing potential three-team blockbuster deal involving All-Star point guard Chris Paul--which could send Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom to New Orleans, leaving injury-plagued center Andrew Bynum as the team's lone major asset (Kobe Bryant isn't going anywhere)--defending champion Dallas could be a dark-horse candidate in the sweepstakes. With center Tyson Chandler now with the Knicks, expect Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to attempt a coup, bringing together Howard and All-Star point guard Deron Williams (who has told the Nets he won't sign a contract extension with them this season); the pair have apparently talked of joining forces, if not in Brooklyn, then with Dirk Nowitzki in Williams' hometown of Dallas.

 

Orlando made another move Saturday that affects the Bulls, by re-signing shooting guard Jason Richardson, one of Chicago's free-agent targets. The transaction makes sense on all fronts, as Richardson was likely beyond the Bulls' mid-level exception price tag and the veteran could maximize his earning potential by returning to the Magic.

Rip Hamilton continues to be the Bulls' primary focus, but according to multiple reports, the buyout process for the veteran hasn't been completed yet for the veteran, who was waived by Detroit, his longtime employer, Friday. Chicago's incumbent starter at the position, Keith Bogans, could be snatched up by another team before the organization's Dec. 19 deadline to pick up his 1.73 million team option, the Tribune reported Saturday,