Finally had a chance to replace the steering pump. After removing the old one and reinstalling the pulley and reservoir on the new pump, I was a little dismayed to find that the new pump bearing had some play in it too, in and out, a fraction of an inch. The old pump had a bit more play, but my hopes were not great at that point that the noise would stop. I rechecked every other pulley and they were all rock solid.
So, after another complete flush, tightening everything down to specs, purging air and topping off the system, I took it for a test drive. No more crickets!
So, for the benefit of the community here, there is a tiny bit of play in the power steering bearing, in and out, maybe a 64th of an inch. I bought this pulley installer/remover off the big river: OEMTOOLS 27031 Pulley Puller/Installer for $22.99. That tool worked flawlessly. Make sure to grease up the threads before using (as stated in the instructions), and you should not have any problems. Seems as if for all of the different variants of these tools, there is a certain percentage of people who bash it in reviews, say it didn't work, the tool broke etc. I suspect none of them grease the threads, install the device properly, PB blast the old pulley if it looks rough, etc. IE, there are a lot of dumb-asses out there. I could not be happier on how well that puller/installer worked and the price was right.
The biggest hassle was removing the three mounting bolts, accessible via the four holes in the pulley face. You don't have much room to work with. I used a deep well socket (13mm) on a 3/8" ratchet and used a standard socket on a 3" extension to loosen by hand after they were loose enough. I'm sure the service manual tells you to take off the belt, fan and shroud completely, but you can do it by just taking the serpentine belt off the compressor pulley and accessing the two top bolts from the top of the engine and the lowest one from the bottom. From the top of the engine looking down, the top bolt on the left/passenger side is the hardest to access. You just have to feel for it, kind of blind. Take the fender well out to access the low and high pressure lines, and the rest is academic. With access being so limited, I was a bit worried about getting the three bolts started, but that was a breeze. Again, accessing that upper left bolt was the most difficult, but it did not result in any profanity, busted knuckles etc.
Important! Make sure to measure several times and in several places where the pulley is on the shaft. I measured from the inside face of the pulley to the back of the power steering pump and wrote it down. On my pump, it was 3 31/32". You have to install the new pulley in the same place as the original, otherwise it won't line up with the serpentine belt. I'm sure that as long as you are within 1/32" it will be fine. I put it dead on with the installer.
The pump that I bought came with all of the o-rings. I would recommend buying a pump that comes with replacements. The cheaper ones do not, and IMO, it would be foolish to re-use the old ones and a hassle to hunt down replacements. I think the pump I bought was about $15 more than the cheaper ones that did not come with o-rings. This pump also has a lifetime warranty, so those extra few bucks are a no-brainer to me. There are two o-rings on the reservoir nipple and one on the high pressure line that goes into the pump.
Thanks to all for the advice!