The Chicago Bulls have exactly one chance to get under the luxury tax this season. They need to trade Rip Hamilton without taking salary back.
They've certainly already tried to do that this off-season, but so far, there are no takers. No one wants to pay five million bucks for Hamilton otherwise he'd already be gone. At the trade deadline, it's possible things will shift some. More than half of Rip's salary will be paid off at this point, so the team taking him would be taking on less of a burden.
Chicago could cover the remainder of his salary in cash to make it a break even proposition for the opposing team as well which might open up the doors to a team that just wants the guy to play out the season.
According to ShamSports.com, the teams that have Trade Exceptions or cap room (using Hoopsworld's salaries) large enough to take Hamilton are as follows:
Phoenix (cap room)
What would it take for one of those teams to trade for Hamilton? There are two possible scenarios:
1: Hamilton stays healthy and plays well enough to be viewed as an asset to one of those teams and one of those teams is also on the bubble of making or missing the playoffs.
This scenario would be somewhat disturbing, because if Hamilton is playing well enough to help one of them, we probably want him sticking around and helping us.
2: The Bulls give up an asset in order to convince a team to take a chance on him.
This is disturbing, because it's another profit slap to the face of Bulls fans showing how much more important profit is than winning. Why does a team making as much as the Bulls give up an asset in order to save money? Only because they're cheap as hell and don't care about winning.
The only scenario where the Bulls move Hamilton to stay under the tax which isn't insulting to fans is if it comes to the point where we feel he's worthless and some other team feels he's worth 5 million bucks. Seems like a rather farfetched conclusion.
Even if things appeared bleak for the Bulls around the trade deadline, they'd still have to consider that if Derrick Rose gets healthy by the playoffs that they could make a strong push towards the ECF or better if things go their way.
Will management find a method to get under the tax? I don't think so. I think they finally suck it up and pay it. Even if it's only a minimal amount. The scenarios that allow them to do otherwise are simply show too much "giving up" attitude to be taken seriously at this point. Not just for the fans, but for the players on the team as well.