PORTLAND, Ore. -- There is no better marketplace for weighing NBA trade rumors than in the hotel headquarters for the media and non-participating coaches during the championship series.
And swap stories are in abundance this year, with a number of high-profile players involved. All-NBA center Hakeem Olajuwon, who has had recurring contract problems with the Houston Rockets, is the biggest star on the auction block. Miami reportedly has offered center Rony Seikaly in return, but balked when the Rockets also wanted the Heat to include shooting guard Glen Rice or point guard Steve Smith.
The Rockets might be more inclined to deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, who reportedly have offered a package that includes forward James Worthy, center Elden Campbell and center/forward Vlade Divac, plus a future No. 1 draft pick. Houston would be asked to include shooting guard Sleepy Floyd.
The San Antonio Spurs, seeking consistent outside shooting, are wooing the Milwaukee Bucks' Dale Ellis, offering their first-round selection (18th) in exchange. Bucks sources said Ellis is unloved by his teammates.
The Dallas Mavericks appear ready to trade anyone on their roster, but their backcourt of Derek Harper and Rolando Blackman are both stamped for shipment. The hottest trade report has Harper going to the Seattle SuperSonics for younger point guard Gary Payton, who has failed to fulfill his promise.
The Golden State Warriors, still desperate for a big man to balance their offense, would like to pry either Luc Longley or Felton Spencer away from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are expected to draft Duke center Christian Laettner. The Wolves, in turn, are trying to move unhappy point guard Pooh Richardson, with Atlanta showing considerable interest. The Hawks were not impressed by Rumeal Robinson's ability to run their offense this season.
There are no hot reports, at the moment, concerning Charles Barkley, the Philadelphia 76ers outspoken All-NBA forward, who has repeatedly criticized management for failing to improve the team.
* Game 4 between the Bulls and Blazers received a 16.0 rating and 29 audience share, a 5 percent increase over last year's Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Bulls and Lakers. But the four-game average for the 1992 matchup is down 5 percent from the 1991 finals.
* Shaler Halimon, who played forward for both the Bulls and Blazers during his pro basketball career, is now driving a Metro bus in Portland.
* Portland center Kevin Duckworth says he was only joking when he told the media that he would like to be a worm farmer when he retires from the NBA. "Really, I'd like to be a baseball player, a first baseman in the majors. I hear they make good money."
* Will Perdue, the Bulls' 7-foot backup center, has been missing in action during the first four games of the NBA Finals. He has played a total of nine minutes, not appearing in two of the contests.
"Sure, I wonder about not playing," he said, "but to question it now I'd be rocking the boat or considered a bad apple. I'll just wait until this summer to see what the explanation is."
Perdue was much more active in the opening playoff round against Miami, playing 13 minutes a game and scoring a career playoff high 16 points in the series opener.
Bulls coach Phil Jackson says Perdue's lack of activity against Portland is due to matchup problems. "When the Blazers go to the bench, Cliff Robinson is too quick for Perdue to guard," Jackson said. "Scott Williams is a better match for us."
Perdue, a first-round pick (11th overall) in 1988, is entering his option year at $650,000. "That's a bargain basement price, especially for a backup center," he said. "I'm sure the Bulls will pick up my option next season. After that, we'll just have to wait and see."