Source: Rice Close To Joining Bulls

Monday, September 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls couldn't land Eddie Jones, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Tim Duncan or Tim Thomas in this summer's free agent sweepstakes, but they are nearing a deal with Glen Rice.

A source close to the Bulls, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saturday that Rice, who played on the Lakers' NBA championship team last season, was close to signing. Reports say it would be a one-year deal worth about $7.5 million.

The 33-year-old forward averaged 15.9 points last season but was unhappy with his playing time and his diminished role in the postseason. A three time All-Star, Rice has a career average of 20.2 points.

The Bulls, with about $20 million in salary cap room, wined and dined Jones and McGrady with yacht rides, bands and baseball games, but lost out anyway.

Hill and McGrady went to Orlando, Jones is with the Miami Heat, Duncan stayed in San Antonio and Thomas turned down a lucrative Bulls offer to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks.

With a 30-102 record in the two years since Phil Jackson left town and Michael Jordan retired, the Bulls need more scoring and help for co-rookie of the year Elton Brand.

They signed free agent Ron Mercer to a four-year, $27 million deal and center Brad Miller to a three-year, $12 million offer sheet. Another addition is Dragan Tarlac, a European center who was their second-round pick in 1995.

The Bulls also drafted forward Marcus Fizer and point guard Jamal Crawford. And a recent Chicago Tribune report said they might be interested in making a trade with Houston to acquire point guard Bryce Drew, the former Valparaiso star.

But even with Rice, who, like Mercer, enjoys taking his share of shots, the Bulls would appear to be a long way from putting a winning team on the floor.

Rice had been mentioned as part of a three-way trade that would have sent him to the Knicks, Patrick Ewing to the SuperSonics and Horace Grant to the Lakers.