The Chicago Bulls finally completed the trade of Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks. Coming back for Chicago? Nothing. Absolutely nothing [technically, it can't be nothing which means we got a conditional second rounder or the rights to some foreign player who's 40]. However, sometimes, nothing isn't bad. Nothing generates a trade exception that will allow the Bulls to get something for nothing later, much like the Hawks just did.
The original rumor had the Minnesota Timberwolves involved in the trade with a second rounder going to Chicago, but no other pieces in the puzzle. No one could quite make out their angle in the thing, and perhaps that's why they weren't in the final permutation that got done. My speculative guess is they were looking to dump some salary in order to free up cap room, but after amnestying Darko no longer needed to get that done [not sure if the timing is right on that, but seems like a reasonable guess if it is].
The Chicago Bulls will no longer get a second round pick, but they do get a 5.1 million dollar trade exception. They can trade for a player making 5.1 million or less up until July 16th next season without sending any salary out. Now a trade exception is valuable in theory. The Lakers used one to get Steve Nash, the Mavericks possibly used one to get O.J. Mayo late last night [no definitives on how much or how he was signed yet].
However, trade exceptions around five million aren't nearly so valuable as those worth around eight or nine million, because it still leaves the Bulls fighting around the MLE. Could the Bulls put a trade exception to good use? Absolutely. They could use it to sign and trade for Courtney Lee or Brandon Rush. However, that requires an agreement with the player and the opposing team.
They could use it to take on salary in order to facilitate for another team while getting compensated with draft choices or picking up a player they want though this seems somewhat laughable given that the Bulls entire off-season so far has been bent towards saving money rather than trying to win.
A trade exception could have significant value for the Bulls, but only if you use it. Moving Korver was a good move for Chicago to meet their goals. I felt they weren't going to keep him anyway, and they now have flexibility to do something later. Of course to complete this good move, the Bulls will need to use that flexibility later. Something that Jerry Reinsdorf may not allow.
So far, the Bulls have done thing to persuade me they aren't going "ultra cheap" this off-season and looking to avoid the tax all together. The Bulls were in for an unpleasant surprise when the official books were calculated during the moratorium the max contract by nearly a million dollars bumping up Rose's salary even more.
The Bulls salary situation now looks like this if they were to avoid the luxury tax.
Can we do it? YES WE CAN!
It requires not matching on Asik, signing two rookie free agents instead of veteran free agents, and one vet minimum player of any length of experience, but if the Bulls do those things, they'll manage to come in 200k shy of the luxury tax this season. Still enough room to add in some 10 day players down the line if they need to.
There's been some thought that the Bulls could shed salary later on in the year or make a move to get under the tax. Looking at the roster, I find that somewhat difficult to believe. It's possible Rip Hamilton would give them $1 million off on his contract to sign for the vet minimum elsewhere, but that money would be used up paying a vet minimum replacement.
Butler or Teague don't make enough money to warrant dumping. Gibson could be let go, but that'd be a ridiculous way to save money later. If we could have found a taker for Boozer, he'd likely already be gone, and management likely wants to keep everyone else.
No, if the Bulls are to avoid the tax, they likely need to do it up front. If they do, they'll send an inspiring signal to Bulls fans everywhere they they will not let their dynasty of profits fall without a fight. The business will not go quietly into that good night. Jerry Reinsdorf will not pass up on a left handed pitcher at the trade deadline because the Bulls made 60 million instead of 65.
WE CAN DO THIS THING.
Let Asik go
Patrick Beverly (rookie min)
Henry Sims (rookie min)
Leon Powe (vet min)
[Update] -- Bulls can't avoid the luxury tax this year, not in any easy fasion ---
Dantown from realgm sent me a couple of corrections, in this CBA, if a free agent with less than two years experience signs at the minimum he counts as the two year experience minimum. As such, if the Bulls signed two rookies to the minimum, they would still count as 855k, and Chicago would be slightly over the luxury tax threshold regardless of what we do.
Also, Patrick Beverly played for the Miami Heat in 2010 apparently (who knew), so he would count as having one year experience rather than being a rookie free agent [/UPDATE]
Now of course, the Bulls could end up matching Asik, something which has been most recently reported that they will do though not definitively. The Knicks were expected to match on Jeremy Lin just a few days ago and are now expected not to match. In terms of whether the Bulls should match Asik or not, it comes down to this:
If you are willing to go deep in the tax then you absolutely match Asik. If you are only willing to dip a toe into the tax here and there and aren't willing to be a consistent payer then you have to let him go. Of course I want the Bulls to keep Asik, but if the reality is that we're a small market budget then we have to say good bye to the Turkish Hammer.
What's left out there?
The two names that I like still on the market are Houston's Courtney Lee and Golden State's Brandon Rush. Both are young shooting guard role players who could be quality fits for the next four seasons as they enter their primes. Neither are star players, either might possibly be obtainable with the Korver trade exception [the Bulls would need to add some incentive for Houston/GS to facilitate the deal as well as convince the player to sign for roughly the MLE].
Will the Bulls make such a move? I'd say unlikely. I don't see them taking on that kind of salary without unloading Rip Hamilton, and Houston absolutely isn't taking him back while Golden State seems unlikely to do so either [though a future 1st and/or some cash could potentially change their mind].
After those two guys are off the board, I think it's safe to say the Bulls are just looking for minimum salaried players, and it might be safe to say they're already doing that now and aren't seriously pursuing either guy.