Asked who might be the first big-name player to be traded this season, New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas said Eddy Curry and Philadelphia 76ers president Billy King guessed Kurt Thomas.

Perhaps they'll both be correct.

Six teams reportedly contacted the Chicago Bulls about Curry on Thursday after his agent issued a trade demand and Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was said to have approved the notion of parting ways with the No. 4 overall pick from the 2001 draft.

"I'm not going to be intimidated or persuaded by any agent who goes public and tries to do what he thinks is right for his client," Bulls General Manager John Paxson told reporters in Chicago. "I think it only hurts him and doesn't do us any good either. They went about things the wrong way.

"And I won't just do something to make any kind of move. It's going to have to make sense for us."

Curry is being paid $3.9 million this season, his last under the rookie salary scale. He will be a restricted free agent after this season, giving his team the right to match any offer he receives on the open market.

But which team will have that right?

New York, the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies are some of the most obvious teams with a desire for a new center, the Knicks having soured on Nazr Mohammed, the Suns making do with Jake Voskuhl and Jackson Vroman, the Timberwolves tired of waiting for Michael Olowokandi to contribute steadily, and the Grizzlies dissatisfied with Lorenzen Wright and Jake Tsakalidis.

Curry has been a disappointment for the Bulls, who selected him and Tyson Chandler straight out of high school with two of the first four picks in the 2004 draft.

Former Chicago general manager Jerry Krause, who dealt Elton Brand to the Los Angeles Clippers for the draft rights to Chandler, later made the disastrous move of sending Ron Artest and Brad Miller, both of whom became all-stars, to the Indiana Pacers for Jalen Rose.

Curry lost nearly 40 pounds over the summer, but the Bulls never offered him an extension and dared him to prove he's worthy of a long-term investment.

"Until Eddy's not a part of our organization, we have to find a way to get him going, get him playing, get him believing," Paxson said.

Curry, who banged his right knee at practice Thursday and underwent an MRI, has backed off from his agent's comments and now says he does not want to be traded.

Curry, 21, averaged 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds last season as the Bulls went 23-59. His three-year record with Chicago, entering this weekend, was 74-175.

If Curry is traded, the Bulls likely would package him with another player or two. Paxson would be eager to include Antonio Davis, who makes $12 million both this season and next. Pairing Curry with the expiring contracts of Othella Harrington ($3.15 million) and/or Frank Williams ($957,000) would be a more likely scenario.

New York could be an aggressive player in the bidding for Curry, but Thomas wouldn't want to make too hasty a move if he thought it might cost him a shot at Vince Carter or Chris Webber.

One of the Knicks president's most tradable commodities is Kurt Thomas, who makes $5.4 million but has a 15 percent trade kicker in the contract extension he signed last spring.

Following the Knicks' buyout of Shandon Anderson, Kurt Thomas is one of the few remaining links to the tenure of Scott Layden, the team president ousted 101/2 months ago. Another holdover is Allan Houston, who has yet to even scrimmage with the team while slowly making his way back from chronic knee soreness related to the effects of micro fracture surgery.

Webber also underwent micro fracture knee surgery, and other teams have been scared off by Webber's struggles since his return last spring -- although his triple-double of 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors could change a few minds.

Wally Szczerbiak is the name most mentioned in Timberwolves trade rumors, while former Rookie of the Year Mike Miller is on the radar as the most likely Memphis player to be moved by Jerry West.

The Suns held onto Shawn Marion when many expected him to be dealt, and Phoenix is not likely to tinker too much with the chemistry of a team that came within an overtime loss at Cleveland of starting the season, 5-0.

The Denver Nuggets, desperate for back court help following the season-ending injury to starter Voshon Lenard, also could be a possible destination for Curry if the Bulls included Eric Piatkowski ($2.8 million) in a deal.

Pigtails Are Popular

The newest trend in hair is pigtails. We kid you not. Among the players sporting 'tails are the Seattle SuperSonics' Danny Fortson and Minnesota's Latrell Sprewell and Troy Hudson. . . .

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