The Sidekick Cannot Hold

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CHICAGO: As NBA analyst W.B. Yeats once said: Things fall apart. Even the Bulls. After 10 years in Chicago as the right-hand man on all those championship teams, Scottie Pippen wants out. "I ain't coming back," a surly Pippen told the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Il. at halftime of the Bulls' 103-88 victory at Sacramento Sunday. "I want to go to Phoenix or L.A."

Over the summer, Pippen's name repeatedly surfaced in trade rumors, and the Bulls had hoped to use him to rebuild without sacrificing their title chances. But a deal with the Celtics fell through, and Pippen, a free agent next season, was thought to be returning to Chicago for another run at extending the Jordan dynasty.

Pippen, however, may be tough to deal while he's still recovering from October foot surgery, especially to title contenders like the Suns and Lakers, who have little incentive to risk team chemistry on an aging, limping, occasionally troublesome sidekick. Then again, without him the Bulls (8-5) are struggling and needed two overtimes to beat the Clippers.