Dump contracts, acquire new ones, or hold the fort?

The Bulls are 6-6 right now against a brutal schedule.   That would appear to make them an above average team this year.   Yet their predictor score from Jeff Sagarin ranks them as the 20th best team in the league.   These two statements say a couple of things.   First, the Bulls have outperformed their talent in the win/loss column (hooray Vinny!), and second, the Bulls need to get a lot better.

The primary problem with this squad is the offense, and I've dedicated many posts to pointing out the problems with the offense and why it's not likely to get better even if Derrick Rose stopped playing like garbage.   He did.   Bulls lost the next two games in blowouts anyway [against elite teams while on playing on the road though]. 

Those who've followed my rambling thoughts for a long time know that I'm a solution oriented person.   I can't stand the guys who point out problems and make it seem as if the solutions are obvious.   They aren't.   The Bulls have three basic paths to choose from right now, and all three have their own merits.

Path #1:  Sink the ship and build a new one
Seems pretty extreme no?   It is.   However, as well as Luol Deng is playing, he's not a good long term fit on his contract.   At this point, be happy that he's playing well enough that he's a long term fit for someone else, so we can move him.   Kirk Hinrich needs to play PG.   He's okay as a SG, but he's an expensive option.   John Salmons is playing poorly enough that opting in next off-season is a serious threat removing our ability to sign a max FA.

I said when Derrick Rose was drafted that he wasn't a good fit with almost anyone on the roster, and if you pick him that in two years almost the entire roster would need to be turned over.   I still think that's true.   Even if you don't go out and sign a max free agent this summer, you can reallocate your cap space smartly over the next two years to acquire guys who fit alongside Rose better.  

Of the gruop, Luol Deng is the first guy I'd move.  He's playing better than Hinrich and Salmons, so that seems counter intuitive, but moving any one of the three guarantees cap room next summer, and Deng's contract and fit are the worst long term.

Pros:
- Bulls can reallocate cap space to players that fit along side Rose fastest
- Gives the team tremendous flexibility 
- Guarantees cap space for next summer's free agent bonanza regardless of how low the cap goes

Cons:
- Hurts the record this year which will piss off fans in the short term
- A poor record could doom the hopes of adding a big name FA next season

Path #2: Patch the ship
The second plan is fix it on the fly now, by attempting to acquire new contracts of good players via trade.   See if Utah wants to swap Tyrus + Jerome James for Carlos Boozer.   Go out and grab whatever talent is immediately out there to fill the holes you presently have on the team.

Teams out there are willing to dump players.   Not elite players, but good players.   We can probably grab some of those guys on the cheap if we're willing to give up cap space this summer.   Kevin Martin, Monta Ellis, Carlos Boozer, David West?   There's a lot of guys out there who may be available to choose from who've shown great ability at one time or another.

Some guys are riskier than others to acquire, for instance, Boozer's only on a one year contract, so there's very little risk in acquiring him.   Other guys blow up your 2010 plan, but they're going to help you right now and 2010 may not land a star for the team anyway.   The primary thing stopping this plan is that teams who want to execute it probably want to save money this season.  

The Bulls are only 1 million under the tax, so it will be difficult to help a team save money by taking on a little extra this year.   I discussed that at length when talking about the Gray, Pargo, and Byars signings/non signings.   We spent almost an extra two million more than we needed to on guys who are basically non players.    Swap out Gray with any guy making 450k and Pargo with Byars and this team is still playing just as well, but they'd have two million more under the tax to help a team out with.  

With a luxury tax payment near six million dollars, the cost to go $1 into the tax is higher than ever.   Don't expect the Bulls to make that leap unless a trade makes them overwhelmingly better.

Pros:
- improves the team right now
- gives the Bulls a better shot at a good playoff run
- improves the quality of destination in 2010

Cons:
- though the quailty of destination is improved, ability to pay a 2010 FA is likely gone
- difficult for the team to execute under the financial restraints they work under
- probably doesn't improve the team enough to make a title run likely now and could inhibit one in the future due to no stars coming

Plan #3: Hope the ship doesn't have as many holes as it looks like
This is the plan I expect them to execute if things continue on the direction they're presently headed.   In order to radically improve the team, management needs to land a superstar.   2010 may be a pipe dream, but it's always a pipe dream to land a superstar. You rarely have three or four available to dream about in one summer in free agency, and we certainly hope we're not counting up ping pong balls at the end of the year anytime soon.

In order to get that 2010 free agent you need to be seen as a future winner.   That star player wants talent to be there.   You need to have money to offer, and you need to provide the intangible things players want [market size, media exposure, etc..].   The Bulls have an intriguing package of money, talent, and market size.   They're the only team that can really offer all three.   It doesn't mean they'll win the 2010 battle, but it means they're a legit contender.

If you go with plan #1, the Bulls may not have the talent.   If you go with plan #2 they may not have the money.   Either plan could potentially hurt their ability to draw that FA to Chicago this summer.  The hold the fort plan requires Salmons to opt out, but as long as his game doesn't completely go in the tank that's still likely.   Teams judge players on the most recent data, so an early season slump means nothing as long as he comes out of it.  Preferrably in the playoffs where it seems many teams overly value performance.

The hold the fort plan also requires the team not to completely go in the tank.   I've stated before even if the bulls finish this road trip 0-5 not to panic about that.   This is the most difficult stretch of the season, and they'll make up ground later.   I think a 5-10 record was a reasonable prediction for 15 games, the worst the Bulls can do is 6-9, and they can still best that considerably.   If the Bulls take just one more game on this road trip, I'll be very excited about a 7-8 record through the opening schedule.

Pros:
- Maximizes your likeliness of landing a 2010 star
- Still gives you a decent chance at a successful season

Cons:
- Salmons could tank our max cap room if he continues to struggle
- Bulls record is probably better than their ability which means the team could fail

The Bulls are in a tough spot overall.    The Bulls goals are something like this:
- Have a great season
- Have max cap room at the end of the season

Those two things are competing against each other as maximizing one minimizes the other, and maximizing neither leaves you at risk to fail in both.  In the end, there are no straight forward answers as to what to do, and no decisions need to be made immediately.   

Barring a trade of Tyrus + James for Boozer or some other move that can help the team immediately without effecting future payroll [ie the no duh trade], I'm a fan of holding the fort plan.  Even though it sounds conservative, it's actually somewhat of an all or nothing plan.   The Bulls success as a team influences whether or not Salmons opts out and whether a FA considers us.

If the team has a good season, they'll be in perfect position to capitalize in the summer, however, if things go south, they'll strike out in all spots.   I called for a 45 win season in preseason.   I still think that's a possibility going forward.   If they pull it off then they'll be on the fast track to landing a star next year.

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  • The Toronto Raptors are struggling even worse then the Chicago Bulls right now. I think it's time for John Paxson and/or Gar Forman to BEGIN the trade dialogue for Chris Bosh.

    New Orleans NEEDS to cut salary, so I'm going to say it again. The Bulls should try to bring in the Hornets on a 3-team trade for Chris Bosh. The main pieces would be Chris Bosh to the Bulls, David West to Raptors and Tyrus Thomas to the Hornets. Secondary pieces like Brad Miller, John Salmons and Jerome James can easily be added.

    Example:

    To Bulls: Chris Bosh and a throw-in (M.Peterson or M.Banks)
    To Raptors: David West, John Salmons and a #1 Pick
    To Hornets: Tyrus Thomas, Jerome James and future considerations

    http://www.realgm.com/src_checktrade.php?tradeid=5295775

    If I were John Paxson and/or Gar Forman, I would START there and see what develops.

  • Good read Doug. I am in the category of saying we need to ensure cap space in 2010 to offer a Max FA. It may be a longshot but with several guys out there it is reasonable to think you could get one of them with our situation. So I lean towards staying the course but with one cavaet. If you can find a deal that keeps our capspace while allowing the team to be at the same level(45 wins or so, 4th or 5th seed) then you do it. The one that keeps coming to my mind is Salmons for Finley and Mason Jr. I think the Spurs need this deal and I think we do to ensure the 2010 space to sign a Max FA while keeping our team at the same level. This trade does that IMO.

  • They need to START the trade dialogue. Chris Bosh is bitchin' about not get attention in a small market and New Orleans is paying too much money for a subpar team.

    A trade like that could work out for each team.

    From what I heard over the summer, Bryan Colangelo, plans on doing a sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh, if he thinks he will lose him to free-agency.

    Some of the articles I saw said that he would want an All-Star caliber player, as well as another solid role player and a draft pick in return. Well, that trade gives him that.

    Personally, I would rather see Bosh and Wade in Chicago, then Bosh and Wade in Miami. Make no mistake about it, Miami wants Chris Bosh. However, they don't have the better pieces to trade for him. I have said all along that Chris Bosh leads to Dwyane Wade for the Bulls.

    John Paxson and Gar Forman need to step up and get to work. Pro sports is about one thing and one thing only...WINNING!!! The teams with multiple All-Stars win championships, not the teams with a collection of role players.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    The Chicago Bulls can give up James Johnson too, as far as I'm concerned.

    To Bulls: Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson
    To Raptors: David West, John Salmons and a #1 pick
    To Hornets: Tyrus Thomas, James Johnson and Jerome James

    Whatever it takes. They need to START the trade dialogue.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    They'll do what they've been doing, which is to shuffle deals without cutting into 2010.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I love that Spurs deal as well Deng. I think it is the most realistic trade out there that allows us to keep our 2010 space while giving our team upgrade perimeter shooting. Aside from that what about a neutral move that sends Deng or a bigman that extends beyond this year and opens up time for Johnson at SF and also Salmons sliding over there some and if Salmons opts out allows you to make a run at Wade to go with Johnson at SF. The deal that immediately came to mind is Deng for Kaman.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I believe the best idea would be to move Hinrich and Deng's big contacts. I don't believe the theory that in order to land a 2010 you have to be winning. Lets get real if the Bulls make the playoffs with this roster they'll likely be swept out of the playoff anyways by one of the top 4 teams. I think the 2010's have a good idea of what teams are what and where they'd like to sign.

    I don't even care about this season anymore other than to watch Noah, Rose and JJ.

    Move these guys while they still have value!

    I'd take the lottery pick over getting swept out of the playoffs.

    Then you have a reason not to bring back VDN.

  • In reply to souleater7:

    But if winning doesn't matter to 2010, then we can't compete with the Knicks, who would still have as much cap as we would and would have the market advantage or even Miami who has the weather advantage and perhaps Wade on their side. What we have on our side is a competitive young team in a major market. We need to win.

    Right or wrong, more to the point, I just can't see this administration change its stripes so grandly that they suddenly ship Deng and Kirk out of town so casually. Maybe one of them (Kirk) but not both.

  • In reply to muhammond:

    Oh agree, what I'd like to see and what management will do are two different things. Yes I agree that Deng will most likely be the one to stay because of the size of his contract and his squeaky clean image he has, although they did call him out last season for being kinda soft.

    I agree that Hinrich makes the most sense to get moved.

    Part of me wants to believe that they realize this team can't win with Deng. He's favorite shot is the college three which is probably the worst shot in the nba. He's a pretty good rebounder but he is very consistent at fading in the 4th when the game is on the line. How many times have we seen the game get close and he still choose to shoot the 15 footer only to brick the shot? To me he's the best trade bait the Bulls have.

    But if they the Bulls are true to their word about building around Derrick Rose then I think it would at least make sense for them to entertain the idea of moving those contracts so that they can have more cap flexibility this summer and down the road.

    As far as attractive destinations or your point about the Knicks.. The players know these organizations and who would give them better chances to win titles. I think they take a broader look than just one season. Clearly Miami has the advantage but I don't think anything is set in stone. They have the city, weather, a decent team and if Wade stays thats very attractive. I think the Bulls have an attractive situation for a top level player. City, history, market and endorsements and have showed they can put playoff teams together. Right now I believe it's between Miami and Chicago.

  • In reply to muhammond:

    Raptors wont shop Bosh because they know there is a good chance he re-ups in the offseason. Also with the Jazz playing well and Boozer looking healthy for once I doubt the Jazz want to deal him. I say ride the ship with what we got and pray for another fun first round playoff battle and a 2010 miricle.

  • In reply to souleater7:

    I'd love to dump Deng, now is the perfect opportunity. I also would like to patch the ship to like you said, if we could trade deng for an expiring and then James and TT for Boozer, I think we would be in a good place. Maybe trade Kirk for a better fit like Raja Bell +expiring. I think that lineup would be good, we have a strong and stacked front court, we move salmons back to the three and get another expiring that will help.

    Rose/Pargo/Hunter
    Bell/Pargo
    Salmons/JJ
    Boozer/Noah/Taj
    Noah/Miller/Gray

    Only really weakness is that we have a thin back court but Rose, Salmons and Bell are all capable of playing big minutes and we just the better player out of JJ and Pargo to fill in.

  • In reply to TheStig:

    Raja Bell is out for the year, but sure, there are other "Raja Bells" out there.

  • In reply to muhammond:

    he only will miss the whole year if he needs screws. more likely he is just out 4-5 weeks.

  • In reply to muhammond:

    I think the Bulls organization just have to hold and hope things fall into place in the off season of 2010. Sure, if the Bulls could land a impact player via trade, I think they should pull the trigger. Unfortunately, that deal would probably have to include Rose or Noah, the two guys that the Bulls can't afford to lose. So it leaves the Bulls in only one position, and that is to hold and hope for the best.

    I think another interesting question would certainly be, What should the Bulls do if Salmons decides to opt into 2010? I hope it doesn't happen, but it would be interesting to see what direction the team goes in.

  • In reply to souleater7:

    "....other than to watch Noah, Rose and JJ"

    What!! I wouldn't put "JJ" in the same breath as Noah and Rose. Unless You like watchin players ride the pine.

  • 1.) Toronto wouldn't being giving him away.

    2.) There are no "guys like that." There is only one Chris Bosh.

    3.) That's a solid deal for Toronto. They might be able to get more, but CB4 needs a big market.

    All I'm saying is, the Bulls management NEEDS to START trade talks with Toronto about Chris Bosh. At least throw something out there and see if it can stick by the trade deadline.

  • I thought about that deal to. I think Bonner could be used as well.

  • While I agree that getting Bosh if he is made available is a no brainer, I don't think that getting Bosh alone makes us a championship contender, even though I think that Bosh is a great fit witn Noah.

    Bosh is a less intelligent(BB IQ) and maybe less talented version of Pau Gasol. Neither is winning a championship without an Alpha Dog type.

    I'd be surprised if we could land Bosh without giving up Deng, not that I value Deng that much and I would do it in a heartbeat to get Bosh.

  • The problem with the raptors is Jose Calderon, he plays no defense and is not an nba starter in this league. I doubt they Bosh, they will sneak into the playoffs and sell him on the fact that Colangelo is willing to add guys and payroll for them to take that next step.

  • From ESPN: The bad news: Chicago's annual circus road trip looks as murderous as ever. The good news: Derrick Rose had the look of a full-speed Derrick Rose on Saturday night in Denver for maybe the first time this season.

  • Sam Smith thinks Bulls should go with a starting lineup of: Rose, Kirk, Salmons, Deng, Noah.
    http://blogs.bulls.com/chicago_bulls_blog/2009/11/is-it-time-for-the-bulls-to-make-some-changes.html

  • In reply to Newskoolbulls:

    barf.

  • In reply to Newskoolbulls:

    The Bulls need to make a hard push for BOSH via sign-and-trade, then WADE via free-agent signing. If not, a solid back-up plan would be to go after David Lee and Kelenna Azubuike in free-agency.

    If that fails too, then they better trade up and get in the LOTTERY, so they can aquire a top level talent like Evan Turner or Cole Aldrich. The Clippers, the T-Wolves, the Grizzlies and the Jazz all make good trade parters.

    Sorry Doug, but James Johnson may need to go.

  • bosh's career high PER- 24. This year- 30. Bosh's career high TS%- .58. This year- .60. bosh's career high PPG- 22. This year- 27. Raptors record- 6-8. Yikes. Good for someone im sure, just not toronto.

  • Overall, I favor option one, back up the dump truck and do everything to maximize the 2010 plan.

    Glad to see that you have joined me on the anti-Deng bandwagon. My best hope for Deng this season is that he plays well enough this season to fool people into thinking that he is worth trading for.

    After watching the last 2 games it is painfully obvious that the Bulls are clearly outmanned, and they are not even close talent wise to the top teams. The only way to get there is to add 2 of the top free agents next season, and one of them almost has to be Lebron or Wade, although Bosh and Johnson would be a nice fallback position.

    The only way to do so is to move all the contracts that are inhibiting us. Deng, Hinrich, Salmons and Thomas, most likely in that order. Since we can renounce Tyrus this summer, retaining him for the rest of this season is the lowest risk.

    As a pure salary cap move, trading for McGrady accomplishes almost everything we need. We can move Deng and Hinrich for him, or Deng, Salmons and Tyrus(I would substitue Jerome James), or Hinrich, Salmons and Thomas(again I would substitute Jerome James), and if we want to go all in for 2010 we can move Deng, Hinrich and Salmons for McGrady. All these deals work under the salary cap rules.

    Any of these moves, particularly the first and the last maximize our cap space for 2010. We basically end up with only Rose, Noah and the 2 rooks under contract for next year, about $11-12 million. We could even resign Tyrus to a reasonable contract depending on the eventual cap and maintan double max cap space.

    Even with the cap at $50 million we could have enough money for 2 max contracts. Lebron and Wade, Lebron and Bosh, or Wade and Bosh would have to seriously consider playing with each other with Rose and Noah as thier complimentary players. Plus we still have the 2 rookies and Asik coming next season.

    The biggest drawback to these moves is we destroy our chance to be mediocre this season(who gives a crap, besides Del Bimbo(who isn't coaching the team by 2011 anyway. likely 2010) and Paxson who may not be with the team by 2011 either.

    Secondly, we lose any flexibility to jump on a Bosh deal at the deadline(we would need some combination of Deng, Hinrich, Salmons or Tyrus to get Bosh). This is indeed a risk, but so is waiting/hoping for Toronto to decide to dump Bosh.

    Our only chance to compete with the Lakers, Orlando, Portland and even OKC in the next few years as well as the winner of the 2010 sweepstakes is to be the winner of the 2010 sweepstakes. So basically we have no choice but to make this type of move, it is actually the only no brainer.

    I have to believe that Houston would jump at some form of this deal, with all three players being Houston type of guys, I think.

    Of course, the Bulls will never consider doing anything remotely close to this bold of a move. First off Deng appears to be Reinsdorfs long lost Sudanese son, and Paxson can't bear to part with his son(Hinrich)either.

    They are almost certainly deluding themselves into believing that if that simply add Bosh to the existing core(minus Tyrus and Salmons) they will be championship calibre. They could not be more wrong. Plus if Salmons does not opt out, which I believe is becoming more likely we are completely locked out of the 2010 game.

    So, Doug you are right they will choose option #3 and the rebuilding will never end, especially since I don't believe that Bosh is coming to Chicago by himself(he knows that he is not an Alpha Dog).

  • Miller, Hinrich, 2011 first-round pick = McGrady

  • or

  • Miller, Salmons, 2011 first-round pick = McGrady

  • Forgot to mention, we obviously have to wait for Tyrus to come back from his injury to make this trade, and make sure that McGrady is ready to go as well(apparently McGrady himself is itching to go)since we wouldn't have enough bodies to field a team until he does. With this deal we pick up $3.5 million this season to fill out the roster, we could take back Kyle Lowry from Houston as out backup point for one season.

    Starting lineup, Rose, McGrady, Johnson, Thomas and Noah

    Bench, Miller, Pargo, Gibson, Gray, Lowry and resign Byars.

  • Rose
    McGrady
    Deng
    Thomas
    Noah

    Hinrich
    Pargo
    Johnson
    Gibson
    Gray

  • Bulls: Ray Allen

    Celtics: Chris Paul, Devin Brown, Jerome James, Hilton Armstrong, Hornets Exception (2million)

    Hornets: Rajon Rondo, Loul Deng

  • In reply to Simeon2UC:

    I don't think Chris Paul is going anywhere. That would be MONUMENTALLY DUMB for the Hornets to trade him.

  • I don't think that Chris Bosh would be an impact player on the bulls. He's not making a huge difference on Toronto and I think we can do better. I don't have the stats in front of me but Wade, Lebron, Amare, Boozer, all seem like better fits, have more experience winning and would make more of a positive impact. I get a Tracy McGrady Vibe from Bosh: Gifted player but not a winner.

  • In reply to Villageworker2:

    which of bosh's teams do you think should have gone farther in the playoffs?

  • New Orleans could use a younger SF.

    I'm know there are several ways to re-work that trade. Again, the main pieces, ideally, would be Bosh to the Bulls, West to the Raptors and Thomas to the Hornets.

  • i think you misunderstood my point, which was that toronto is in trouble if bosh slides back to his normal levels of production. and if that happens, toronto might have to deal him. i didnt mean to denigrate bosh- hes awesome and id love to have him on the bulls.

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