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Hughes trade possible

CHICAGO – The Bulls might have found a way to get Larry Hughes out of town.

As first reported by the Bergen Record in New Jersey, the Bulls and Nets have been seriously discussing a trade involving Hughes and Nets forward Bobby Simmons.

A Chicago native who played at DePaul, Simmons averages 7.8 points and 4.6 rebounds this season. He would provide valuable depth with Drew Gooden nursing a groin injury.

Simmons makes $9.9 million this season, so his salary does not match Hughes’ $12.8 million. The Nets would need to include another player, reportedly guard Maurice Ager.

Bulls general manager John Paxson was not available to comment Tuesday. Hughes has not played in four consecutive games.

“I’m ready to play, whether it’s here or somewhere else,” Hughes said. “This is kind of a waiting game. I’d like to be playing while I’m waiting, but [that] just isn’t the way it is.”

Learning curve: Rookie point guard Derrick Rose took 41 shots in the two games leading into Tuesday night’s game against Atlanta, yet had only two free-throw attempts.

Gaining penetration into the lane with an eye toward successfully drawing contact and making more trips to the line is something Rose is trying to learn.

“I definitely would have thought I’d get more [calls],” Rose said. “I just have to do a better job of giving the refs a reason to give me the calls.”

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, a former guard, is working with Rose on that issue.

“I think he’s just got to continue to be aggressive, just continue to attack the basket, and the referees will eventually come around with that stuff,” Del Negro said. “But he’s got to continually attack, get body contact, not try to jump over guys or around guys or whatever.”

Still hurting: Gooden sat out Tuesday night’s game to rest his strained groin muscle.

Gooden has been dealing with the problem for several games, first incurring the injury Jan. 12 against Portland. He missed the next game at Toronto and played limited minutes in three ensuing games.

The recent stretch has been rough for Gooden, who missed eight games because of a sprained ankle and then suffered the groin injury in his fourth game after returning.

Joakim Noah has been starting and getting extra time in the wake of Gooden’s latest injury. The hope is to have Gooden close to 100 percent for the next game, Friday night against the Raptors.

Hawks health check: Del Negro called Gooden the Bulls’ best overall rebounder, but at least Tuesday night’s opponent also had issues up front. Atlanta center Al Horford (knee bruise) and small forward Marvin Williams (concussion) also missed the game.

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