The Arron Afflalo Bulls era is possibly less than a month from beginning. Afflalo is an absolute perfect fit for the Bulls, for several reasons:
- At 6'5", 215 pounds, he has good size for a shooting guard
- He is an outstanding 3-point shooter (over the last six seasons, he has shot .402, .434, .423, .398, .300 and .427 from behind the arc)
- He is a very accomplished defender
- He has a very reasonable salary ($7.5 million this season)
- He has 5 postseasons worth of playoff experience
An Arron Afflalo Bulls marriage would give the team a shooting guard who is leaps and bounds better than any they have employed during the Tom Thibodeau era. Not that being decidedly better than the likes of Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer and Rip Hamilton is anything to write home about, but Afflalo is a combination of the best of qualities of those players.
He defends better than all of them, he is a better 3-point shooter than all of them, and even his mid-range game was outstanding last season. Afflalo shot 50.9% from 10-16 feet last season, and 42.0% from 16-23 feet.
Arron Afflalo Bulls Connection
The best news of all is that Afflalo is probably available for a first-round draft pick. According to my good buddy Brian Schmitz, The Orlando Sentinel's Magic Insider:
Orlando's classy leading scorer wouldn't mind being moved to a playoff team. The clock is ticking loudly on his career as he'll turn 29 in October.
The Magic can select a point guard at No. 4 this month, perhaps a signal that Victor Oladipo would move to Arron's position full-time. Afflalo could be in play at the June 26 draft. Chicago, Charlotte, Phoenix and Oklahoma City could use two-guards and have multiple first-round picks.
I had the pleasure of working with Schmitty at ESPN Florida, and I got to know him quite well when we were doing The Florida Sports Reporters. Believe me when I tell you that there isn't another writer in The City Beautiful who knows the Magic as well as Brian Schmitz. If he reports it, there is a pretty good chance it came from somewhere in the Magic organization.
Arron Afflalo Bulls Trade
If Afflalo wants to play for a contender, the Magic will almost certainly abide by his wishes. He is technically an expiring contract, since he has a player option for 2015-16. The Magic are in the middle of a massive rebuild and youth movement, so it also makes sense for them to trade Afflalo for another first-round draft pick.
The Bulls own the rights to the #16 and #19 picks in this month's draft, and I'm sure they would gladly give up the higher pick for Afflalo. But what do they send the Magic in order to make the salaries match up? The obvious choice is Carlos Boozer, assuming the Magic are willing to add Jameer Nelson to the deal. He started all 68 games he played for the Magic last season, but he had his second consecutive sub-par season offensively (his True Shooting Percentage has been .498 and .515 the last two seasons).
Orlando would possibly move Nelson to open up playing time for their young players like Victor Oladipo, and a deal for Nelson could bring them another first-round pick. There have been reports that the Hornets are interested in Nelson, but it would greatly benefit the Bulls if a Nelson-to-Charlotte deal could be brokered through Chicago (more on that later).
The Bulls would also be well-served to acquire the non-guaranteed deals of Dewayne Dedmon and Kyle O'Quinn in an Afflalo trade (this will also make sense soon).
Even if the Bulls have to throw in a sweetner-most likely a couple of 2nd-round draft picks- it would be worth it if they can get Nelson to Charlotte (if they are willing to give up a first-round pick). The Hornets are well under the salary cap and can easily absorb Nelson's entire salary in a trade.
Arron Afflalo Bulls Trade And Carmelo Anthony
Acquiring Nelson (and to a lesser extent Dedmon and O'Quinn) would help the Bulls immensely in their pursuit of Carmelo Anthony and/or Kevin Love. Nelson's contract is only guaranteed for $2 million next season if he is waived before July 15th, making him a very attractive trade piece in a Melo sign and trade. Nelson, Dedmon and O'Quinn have combined salaries of $9,731,725 this season, which combined with the non-guaranteed deals of Mike James, Lou Amundson and Ronnie Brewer would give the Bulls $13,800,787 in non-guaranteed contracts.
That would allow the Bulls to trade for Melo and give him a contract of:
$18,800,787 next season
$58,940,467 over 3 seasons
$80,279,360 over 4 seasons
The Knicks would only be taking back $2 million in that sign and trade (after they cut Nelson), and the Bulls can send them the cash to cover that cost. The Bulls would still have to include their first-round pick in 2015 as a sweetener, but it would certainly be worth it to land Melo.
There would be three different ways that Charlotte could then wind up with Nelson (if they are interested):
The trade could be a multi-team trade, where the Hornets send Orlando a draft pick for Nelson.
The Hornets could send a draft pick to the Knicks for Nelson.
The Hornets could wait for the Knicks to cut Nelson and sign him as a free agent.
Obviously the last option is the best for Charlotte as they could sign Nelson for much less than the $8 million he is slated to earn if he isn't waived first. I honestly don't think the Magic can expect to get a first-round pick for one year of Nelson at an $8 million salary, though it would be reasonable for them to expect a second-round pick (or two) to trade him to Chicago.
Aaron Afflalo Bulls Trade And Kevin Love
If the Bulls can trade for Melo with nothing but expiring deals and a future draft pick, the team will have Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell and Mike Dunleavy available for a trade with Minnesota for Kevin Love. Several draft picks will also be involved, of course, but the player involved have combined salaries of $16,073,383.
That will allow the Bulls to take back Kevin Love's $15,719,063 salary plus any $5,354,320 in salary that Minnesota would like to unload. That would almost certainly be Chase Budinger, who is owed $5 million this season with a $5 million player option for 2015-16. Budinger is basically a less-talented Mike Dunleavy coming off the bench, but he is a career .357 from behind the arc, so he at least fills a small need.
In reality, Minnesota has little use for Tony Snell- they have Kevin Martin as their starting shooting guard for another two years (and a player option for the third year). They also have 2013 first-round pick Shamazz Muhammad and Russian Alexy Shved at shooting guard, so the final trade I am proposing will include Nazr Mohammed instead.
Mohammed would be a sign and trade, with only the first year at $1.2 million guaranteed. The Wolves can cut him if they choose with Chicago sending $1.2 million in cash to cover his salary. His salary has to be included in order for the Bulls to take back Budinger in the trade.
Arron Afflalo Bulls Trade, Carmelo Anthony Bulls Trade, Kevin Love Bulls Trade - The Details and Aftermath
When you put it all together, here are the exact details of the three trades. I am assuming the worst and having Chicago send a future first-round pick (instead of two second-round picks) to Orlando for Jameer Nelson:
Bulls - Magic
#16 pick in 2014 draft
1st-round pick in 2017
Bulls - Knicks
Chicago's 1st-round pick in 2015 (swap option)
New York trades:
Bulls - Timberwolves
#19 pick in 2014 draft
Sacramento's 1st-round pick in 2015 (protected)
Chicago's 1st-round picks in 2019 and 2021
#44 and #53 picks in 2014 draft
Bulls' Salary Cap Situation Post-Trade
Because these trades would push the Bulls over the Luxury Tax apron (estimated to be $81 million, according to Larry Coon). This means the Bulls won't have access to the Non-Taxpayers Mid Level Exception. According to most fans and writers, the Taxpayer's Mid Level Exception of $3.278 million isn't enough money to convince Nikola Mirotic to sign with the Bulls this summer. The overwhelming majority feel this way because of the huge buyout of $3 million or more that has one more year remaining on his current contract with Real Madrid.
As I explained in my last article:
International buyouts are said to be negotiable, and Mirotic's would have to be for him to take the Room MLE. His buyout is reported to be $3 million (possibly a little more), of which the Bulls are only allowed to pay $600,000. Mirotic would be stuck paying the other ~$2.4 million. If Mirotic waits until the summer of 2015 to leave Spain, he has no buyout, so I would expect Real Madrid to allow him to negotiate it down, pay it over a few years' time, or possibly a combination of both.
Of course Mirotic can always take out a personal loan to cover the buyout as well. I'm not sure why I haven't seen one media outlet ever mention this option, but I guess maybe there are less stories to write if his buyout is a non-issue?
If Mirotic would agree to come to Chicago for the Taxpayer's MLE, he would make $10,719,060 over three years, which works out to $2,644,603 per year after he pays his portion of the buyout (assuming the buyout is spread out over three years). That works out to 1,951,614 Euros per year, which is more than the reported 1 million Euros he currently earns, but less than Real Madrid would likely offer him to remain in Europe.
For the purposes of this article, we will assume that Mirotic would accept the Taxpayer's MLE to play for a Bulls "superteam".
Obviously, these three trades would cause a significant roster turnover, so here is what the team would look like when all is said and done:
Derrick Rose............ $18,862,876Carmelo Anthony.... $18,800,787Kevin Love.............. $15,719,063Joakim Noah........... $12,700,000Aaron Afflalo.......... $7,500,000Chase Budinger....... $5,000,000Nikola Mirotic......... $3,278,000Tony Snell............... $1,472,400Greg Smith.............. $948,163Veteran minimum... $915,243Veteran minimum... $915,243Veteran minimum... $915,243Veteran minimum... $915,243Rip Hamilton........... $333,334TOTAL.................... $88,275,595
That is one very high team payroll figure, make no mistake about it. $19,438,989 in luxury tax payments, a total payroll of $107,714,584. You can, however, safely assume that after Kirk Hinrich signs for the veteran minimum (a safe assumption), roster spots 11-13 would be rookies playing for the minimum salary.
Probably the three players the Bulls draft in the second round, however it's possible they could keep a non-drafted rookie free agent(s) instead. This would most likely happen only if the Bulls draft a European player or two or three, players that they would have no plans on bringing over for a few years.
The Bulls' payroll would then look like this:
Derrick Rose............ $18,862,876Carmelo Anthony.... $18,800,787Kevin Love.............. $15,719,063Joakim Noah........... $12,700,000Aaron Afflalo.......... $7,500,000Chase Budinger....... $5,000,000Nikola Mirotic......... $3,278,000Tony Snell............... $1,472,400Greg Smith.............. $948,163Veteran minimum... $915,243Rookie minimum.... $507,336Rookie minimum.... $507,336Rookie minimum.... $507,336Rip Hamilton........... $333,334TOTAL.................... $87,051,874LUXURY TAX ........ $16,379,686TOTAL PAYROLL.. $103,431,560
That is a lot of money to spend, no doubt about it. But for a team with three superstars AND a First-Team All-NBA center who was just named Defensive Player of the Year, Reinsdorf pays it.
BULLS' ROSTER POST-TRADE
Assuming Kirk Hinrich resigns for the veteran minimum salary ($1,448,490 based on his tenure), the team's depth chart would look like this before they signed three rookies to minimum contacts:
PG: Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich
SG: Arron Afflalo, Tony Snell
SF: Carmelo Anthony, Chase Budinger
PF: Kevin Love, Nikola Mirotic
C: Joakim Noah, Greg Smith
Skeptical fans who still believe that Reinsdorf is cheap will say this isn't possible. But Reinsdorf would not have to think twice about paying that roster the money it would cost. If those trades are all available, he would sign off on them immediately because the Bulls would be favorites to unseat Miami as the Eastern Conference's top dogs.
That being said, if that team didn't win an NBA championship in year one, Afflalo isn't resigned (assuming he opts out). And either Anthony or Love gets traded, probably Love because he's younger and would bring back more young talent and/or draft picks.
And nobody could blame Reinsdorf for doing it, you don't pay out over $103 million in team payroll to not win a ring.
If any of you intelligent readers believe that Orlando, New York or Minnesota wouldn't do those trades, please leave a comment and we'll discuss it. I've tried to look at their needs and wants as well, but I'm not perfect.