My bad, I pulled the quote off a forum, and didn't see McGraw's full context where he was clearly speculating what the Bulls might try to do and not what they actually were considering doing. In this case, I disagree with McGraw's speculation. I don't think the Bulls would have tried to lowball Gordon to the MLE point as they'd know he'd never accept those terms.
However, there's no evidence the Bulls actually were attempting to do this.
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I missed this the first time around when reading the Ben Gordon exodus articles, but I found it pretty shocking. I have to believe that McGraw simply stated this incorrectly, had bad sources, or that his editor killed him on it and changed "starting at" to "per year" somewhere.
Chances are, the Bulls would have tried to lock up Gordon for $6 million-$7 million per season, then made other moves to get below the luxury tax.
Andrew Wamboldt has a great financial summary about this on his blog, dabullz.com, so you can read the details there, but to put it briefly, a MLE deal through five years would have netted Gordon roughly the same as an average of seven million per year.
Gordon wouldn't dream of signing an offer in this range ever, and if the Bulls made it to him, I would have been embarrassed for their front office team. If the offers got this low Gordon would sign with any championship contender for a season for the MLE, then have a great chance to shine in the playoffs, then attack FA again when the money was bigger the next year.
I still have to believe McGraw meant starting at 7 million which would have been 6/53 which is very similar to last year's offer that Gordon agreed to. If not, then we're all better off for them not having made an offer at all.