Not that the Bulls necessarily win this game if they have Kirk Hinrich, but this one should set a level of apprehension for those who'd trade him for a pure expiring [ie guy who wouldn't contribute] and still hope to make the playoffs. Drop one prouctive player off this roster, and the talent level simply falls apart.
- Kirk's contract isn't an efficient use of cap space relative to the needs the Bulls have
- It guarantees the Bulls have max cap room next summer even if the Salmons opts in
- It could significantly hurt the Bulls playoff hopes this year
- A worse record this season may impact the Bulls desirability in 2010
Also let's clear something up, there have been many media reports about the Bulls chasing two max FAs this summer with the notion that trading Kirk and Salmons opting out will give them enough room to do so. It won't. Not unless the Bulls do a S&T, though the amount of salary they'd need trade in a S&T would be much less.
The real question with this is how big of a draw is Derrick Rose to other superstars? Would they rather go to an empty team with a potential star even if it misses the playoffs or are they more likely to go to a team with a slightly better record that scrapes into the playoffs?
I've said before if New York and Chicago finish with similar record why choose Chicago? New York has a way better crowd, a better history of spending, and will absolutely put out a 100 million dollar payroll to win. Granted, New York will lose some of the main pieces it uses to compile it's mediocre record [David Lee, Al Harrington, and Chris Duhon], but you'd feel comfortable with the Knicks pulling out all stops on trying to put a good team on the floor.
Trading Hinrich for an expiring is a tough choice. Even though I don't think he's worth his salary, I do think he helps set the tone for the defense. I do think this team loses at least five more games if you take Hinrich off of it and replace him with a Jerome James type. I am concerned that those five games are the difference between Chicago getting a superstar FA and not getting one.
They might mean everything, they might mean nothing, and at the same time if Salmons doesn't opt out of his contract then the Bulls won't even have max cap space either way. Tough decision for Bulls management [or at least it would be if I were Bulls management, actual Bulls management may be completely attached to Kirk].