Dennis Rodman, the flamboyant forward who led the NBA in rebounding the past four seasons but repeatedly exasperated San Antonio management, was traded today to the Chicago Bulls for center Will Perdue.

Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause and Coach Phil Jackson met with Rodman for 36 hours last weekend. Jackson said Krause left the ultimate decision up to him.

"Phil and I talked very carefully about this," Krause said. "We did an awful lot of homework and found out a lot of things. We were both satisfied."

An array of problems has followed Rodman during his nine-year career in Detroit and San Antonio.

"I think it's great, I think he's excited, I think it's a perfect fit," said Neil Draddy, Rodman's agent. "They need some work off the boards and the extra defense he will give them. . . . I think everything will work out just fine."

Rodman, who is in the final year of his contract, will make $2.5 million this season.

The Spurs will receive "other considerations" from the Bulls, although neither team said what they were.

Rodman, as usual, was the premier force under the boards this season. But the 34-year-old forward, who is partial to multicolored hairdos, assorted body piercings and late-night soirees, proved a constant irritant to the Spurs' front office.

"Big surprise, huh?" Spurs General Manager Gregg Popovich said of the trade.

Popovich, speaking at a news conference in San Antonio, said it was "difficult" to find a team willing to trade for Rodman.

When asked if it were a relief to be rid of Rodman, Popovich said: "A big relief? We were without him for quite a bit last year, so it's not any different in many respects."

The Bulls, who made the move with the approval of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, also renounced rights to Pete Myers and Larry Krystkowiak.

In acquiring Perdue, a 30-year-old part-time center and marginal player, San Antonio made it all too clear it was simply intent on unloading Rodman.

Rodman was suspended during the season for insubordination and often missed practice, his whereabouts unknown. During games he would spurn team huddles and remove his basketball shoes while on the bench.

"We are happy to acquire Dennis Rodman," Krause said. "We think he is the best rebounder in the game and the best defender at his position. He gives us a dimension we have lacked and enables us to take more advantage of the skills of Toni Kukoc."

Last season, in 49 games, Rodman averaged 16.8 rebounds and 7.1 points a game. Perdue, a seven-footer entering his eighth season, averaged 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds last season in more than 20 minutes a game.

Rodman, nicknamed "The Worm," is an incomparable rebounder at 6-8, and rebounding is the Bulls' most glaring weakness as they try to win another championship in Jordan's final years.

Since losing Horace Grant to free agency before the start of last season, the Bulls have been hurting on the boards. And the return of Jordan forced Kukoc to play out of position at power forward.

But Rodman, who had said he had no intention of returning to the Spurs, is a big gamble.

"It's risk-reward as you go through this kind of thing," Jackson said.

Rodman was suspended for the first three games last season after he threw an ice bag on the floor during the preseason. He took a leave of absence Nov. 12 and was suspended again Dec. 7 when he failed to return for meetings with Coach Bob Hill.

"You take into account all that goes on," Jackson said. "You have to take risks in this business. We know what we want to accept. We're going to go down the road, the straight and the narrow in this particular case." CAPTION: Flamboyant Dennis Rodman heads to Chicago in exchange for Will Perdue. CAPTION: In 49 games last season, Dennis Rodman averaged 16.8 rebounds.