The Bulls have reportedly traded Kyle Korver for a second round pick to the Atlanta Hawks via Minnesota. Several questions still seem unresolved at the moment, but however they're resolved, this seems like a good move for the Bulls in terms of retaining flexibility.
Minnesota is sending the Bulls a second round pick, however, there's no word on what Minnesota is getting out of the deal. It's possible that the pick could be a fake second rounder (ie, top 55 protected), but in that case what are they doing in the trade at all? Minnesota has to be getting something here, and since that thing hasn't been defined yet, it seems likely we haven't heard the final word on the details.
Kirk Hinrich may or may not be involved. I've heard that this is both a sign and trade transaction in which the Bulls get back Hinrich, and I've heard it's not (in which case we sign Hinrich later). Hinrich's involvement in the trade would determine whether the Bulls get to use the MMLE and have a 2 million dollar trade exception or whether they get a five million dollar trade exception.
In the S&T version, the Bulls will not officially use the MMLE on Hinrich, instead they will have traded for him. This will allow him to use it on another player. They will also get the difference between Hinrich and Korver's contracts (+100k) in a trade exception which will amount to roughly a 2.1 million dollar exception.
With this, they could take back a player making under 2.1 million dollars in trade without sending anything out (unlikely this means anything). With the MMLE they'd be able to sign another player for up to three million dollars this season.
IF the Bulls don't have Hinrich as part of the sign and trade then they'll get a 5.1 million dollar trade exception. With the exception they can't sign a player outright, however, they could bring a player in via a sign and trade.
There are pros and cons to either solution, but a quick summary is below:
Extends until next off-season
Can be used to facilitate a trade
Can be used on draft night
Can be used during the early part of FA next year
Can bring in more total dollars
Can't be used to sign a player (only S&T)
Can be used to sign a player outright
Can't be used to take a player in a trade
Expires at the end of the season
Can't be used next year (though we'll get another one next year)
Can't be used on draft day to absorb a salary
Less total money can be handed out
I've heard varying possibilities about the trade so far, some I have to keep in confidence, but one interesting one is that Hinrich's inclusion has not yet been decided. The Hawks were pushing to bump up his salary in order to keep their TPE while the Bulls want cash to cover the higher Hinrich salary and the luxury tax hit they'd take. Not sure what to make of that one.
Also, until we find out what Minnesota's angle is here, there's obviously something else going on. The Wolves can't get the trade exception. The trade exception isn't something which can be traded. The trade exception is made when you take back less salary than what you send out. The wolves aren't sending out or receiving salary that we've heard of yet [though some reports say Wayne Ellington who's owed slightly over two million is coming to Chicago].
In the Ellington scenario the Bulls would have roughly a three million dollar trade exception [assuming Hinrich is not involved, or no trade exception if he is].
Within 24 hours or so the details will likely be all cleared up.
No matter how it shakes out, the Bulls are gaining flexibility while letting Korver go and likely saving a bit of cash [not the case if Ellington is involved] on his buyout. This was a nice transaction for the Bulls given that Korver was not going to come back either way. They went out and found a way to add some flexibility to the table to do some more things.
Bulls fans are pretty cynical about whether they'll use that flexibility, and I can hardly blame them, but as I said before, let's not call them cheap yet. If they keep Asik and then use a five million dollar trade exception to make something else happen they'll have shown some serious financial commitment. If they let Asik go and fail to use the exception while fighting to stay under the tax, well that's something else.