Let's assume for a moment that the Bulls manage to pull off the three way trade for Boozer where they lose Tyrus and Hinrich and don't pick up any additional players whose contract extends into 2010. How would this effect the Bulls future in regards to the mythical 2010 free agency group? First, the Bulls would need to decide whether to extend Boozer or not. On first glance, it would appear that extending Boozer would kill off the 2010 dream. However, this isn't necessarily the case. If Boozer would sign an extension starting at nine million it would occupy the exact same salary space that Kirk Hinrich occupied prior to the trade.
A contract starting at nine million would end up a $54.45 million over five years which would be the maximum allowable extension in terms of length with him having an option year. That's around 11 million per season and would leave us with the same money to pursue 2010 free agents that we have now.
Would Boozer accept 5/54.45 at this point in his career? Possibly not, however, given his injury history, if he has a down year then he's highly unlikely to see that kind of offer when he actually hits free agency. Especially with the NBA losing so much money, teams will be reluctant to spend on a player who's history and character are so questionable. Of course, the Bulls should be asking those same questions before offering him an extension.
So given the risk to Boozer, I think there's a fair chance that he'd at least consider an extension of that length. If he accepts, then the Bulls first target is unlikely to be Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire. Boozer and Bosh/Amare wouldn't fit together. In fact, the first target becomes pretty obvious as our returning starters would be:
Now maybe Salmons opts in, but he's clearly not going to be here long term given his age, and the rest of the roster would be set for guys on long term contracts. If the Bulls felt they had any shot to sign LeBron they should obviously pursue that first, but otherwise Dwyane Wade is a natural fit to pursue free agency, and the Bulls would have at least some reason to expect that he'd be willing to go to Chicago as one of his top choices if they had a quality team, money to offer, and he decided to leave Miami.
The downside to changing their target would be that it puts all the eggs in the Dwyane Wade basket. If Wade says no, there basically is no one left to pursue that makes the roster a good fit. However, the Bulls would put themselves in the best possible position to sign Wade building a great team around him.
It seems like a championship caliber group on paper. There are three big problems with that group. The first is that ownership needs to commit to paying the luxury tax, because there sure as heck will be some somewhere down the line when Noah and Rose need extensions and everyone else's contract raises at 10% a year while the cap might remain flat or receed.
The second problem is that I feel each of the five starters carry significant injury risk. We haven't seen Noah or Rose go down yet, but Rose is a big leaper and those types are often injury risks as one bad landing, one guy coming underneath him in the air, or the overall wear on the kneeds can take him out. Noah is a thin wirey center, and is going to be frequently give up 50 lbs on the guy defending him which is also a recipe for an injury. Boozer, Wade, and Deng all have well documented injury problems.
Finally, while everyone except Noah is a good mid range shooter, no one in that group is a good long range shooter. Sure, the Bulls can acquire one to bring off the bench, but a team who's best five players that doesn't feature anyone who shoots over 35% from the three point line sets them up for some obvious problems.
Still, if the Bulls could put that group together, then they'd almost have to give it a shot. Quite simply, their odds of putting together a better team are just extremely small. In an ideal world they'd be able to move Luol Deng for an expiring and find a SF out there that could shoot the three which would potentially solve two of their three problems.
So to sum it up, if we trade for Boozer and reach an extension, then the total cap space we have to play with may end up being the same depending on the value of the extension, the Bulls free agent target would shift from Bosh to Wade, the Bulls would have fewer elite FA targets that are a good fit though a greater chance of landing their top target, and the Bulls could build a contender with some obvious flaws.
What if the Bulls don't agree to an extension for Boozer? Then the Bulls enter 2010 with quite a bit more cap space to work with, but they're view as a top free agent destination probably goes down a notch. If John Salmons opts out, then the Bulls will be left with a roster of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, James Johnson, and Taj Gibson trying to lure in free agents.
They will have around 25 million to spend depending where the salary cap falls, but they won't have a roster that screams to free agents "you are the missing piece of our championship dreams". However, their options on whom to pursue would be wide open. Basically any of the max players would fit the bill perfectly with their plans. They still might be able to sell a max FA on their remaining cap space and the players they could still add afterwards.
Of course, as mentioned before, the development of Derrick Rose plays the largest role in how all FAs view the odds of winning a title here. Derrick could be anywhere from good player to obvious future superstar next season, and which end of that spectrum he falls on makes the biggest difference in our pursuit to add to the team.
All in all, a Boozer trade presents the Bulls with a very different set of options and risks going forward. It doesn't make things better or worse for pursuing a 2010 free agent rather it makes them different. Overall, a healthy, motivated Boozer probably upgrades our chanes of landing a 2010 free agent and our chances of winning a title. Is that the Boozer the Bulls would get? That's another debate.