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: General managers Isiah Thomas and John Paxson have agreed in principle to a six-player trade that would send Bulls Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams to the Knicks for Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington, Frank Williams and Cezary Trybanski, league sources said.
There's one small problem: Crawford's camp has rejected the trade - for now.
The streamlined version of the trade talks, which have lasted for five weeks and featured countless combinations, calls for Crawford to sign a seven-year, $55 million deal.
In previously discussed scenarios, Crawford stood to make that amount in six years and possibly $70 million in seven years. The new figures have given Crawford's camp pause, sources said.
Since Crawford is a restricted free agent and the Bulls own his rights, Paxson has never budged from his stance that major financial relief was the only path to a deal.
That Thomas has agreed in principle to send four expiring contacts to the Bulls is consistent with Paxson's philosophy. It also will save the Bulls $15 million in cash and $18 million in salary-cap space over the next four seasons.
Crawford would be a base-year compensation player under the structure of the proposed deal, which is complicating matters. A league source said Thomas rejected a proposal to sign an unwanted free agent and include him in the deal as salary-cap ballast so that Crawford's salary could go higher.
There is still guarded optimism on all sides that a deal will get done. The only concern is that Thomas will be put off by Crawford's camp rejecting a nearly done deal.
If the trade collapses, it's almost certain Crawford will play next season for the Bulls at a qualifying offer of $3.5 million and then become an unrestricted free agent.
The Bulls' pitch to re-sign Crawford for six years at $39 million is no longer an option.