Bulls couldn't have gotten involved in James Harden deal

The trade of James Harden to the Rockets shakes up the power structure of the NBA. On the surface, Kevin Martin seems like a fair replacement for Harden in a scenario where OKC needs to save cash. Martin's one of the few players in the league who scores with high volume and efficiency, much like Harden and has done so without two more dangerous scorers next to him to relieve the pressure.

That said, this is a big loss for the Thunder. Martin brings little else to the table outside of scoring. He's not as physical, he's not as good on defense, and he's struggled to stay healthy for nearly his entire career. He plays on a much cheaper contract than Harden was demanding, and the Thunder got Jeremy Lamb thrown in the deal as well as a couple draft picks.

In the long run, the deal was likely about as good a moneyball style deal as the Thunder could find, but when three shooting guards that Bulls fans have been interested in move in one trade, you have to wonder could the Bulls have gotten involved?

The simple answer is likely not. Not at a price that would have made any sense.

The Bulls could have perhaps made a play for Lamb by offering up Jimmy Butler and the Charlotte pick, but it's hard to see that trade making much sense for Chicago unless they're big believers in Lamb, and they likely could have made that trade with just the Charlotte pick on draft night anyway which means they probably aren't.

They could have perhaps swapped in Luol Deng for Kevin Martin, and that may have worked out well for the Bulls scoring this season and beyond, but Martin doesn't play the defense, doesn't rebound, and scarily enough, has more health concerns than the guy with the torn ligament in his wrist.

The jewel of the trade is obviously James Harden. Could Chicago have of had Harden? Nope. Even if we accept the premise that Bulls 2013 pick + Charlotte pick + Deng + Mirotic would have gotten it done, and accept the premise that the Bulls were willing to give all that up, and then still believe it's a good idea, it couldn't happen.

The Bulls would be sending out just one player in the deal and in order to take back enough salary to not exceed the hard cap would need to take back a minimum of four players which would put them over the roster limit. There's simply no way the trade could have cleared the legal hurdles even if we ignore all the talent considerations.

It's always tough to see big trades get made without the Bulls involved even though that's a ridiculous expectation. They're just one of 28 teams not involved, and there was no opportunity missed.



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  • I was surprised to see Harden traded and I wasn't because of the huge salaries committed to Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka. That's a huge payroll for a small market team like OKC. Heck for us too if we were so lucky to have multiple young stars like OKC still does even without Harden now.
    I'm a fan of KMart2 and watched him grow up in Sacramento when I lived out there and I agree with your assessment of him Doug.

    I haven't watched him lately since he has been on Houston but he has good size at 6'7" but is thin and prone to injury. I think it was a great trade for OKC getting KMart2, Lamb, and those draft picks!

    I wonder how much Harden wanted from OKC? KMart2 is making $13M this year but is that the last year of his contract so a big expiring contract after this season?

  • In reply to smiley:

    I believe Lamb if given the opportunity in OKC or even if he is traded elsewhere can be a big time player with any team in the league. He is a true scorer and his game and skillz kind of reminds me of Pippins in his prime. And no the Bulls couldnt get involved in any deal cause at the moment theyre too cheap and stupid to get involved in any deal that wont save them money. Again IMO the Bulls will be wasting some good years in the careers of coach Thibs and especially D Rose by being cheap and not being creative enough to bring in better players to compliment and help their franchise star and the sad part of all of this is some Bulls fans are buying into this B S 2014-15 plan...VERY VERY SAD!!!

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The Bulls couldn't do any deal this year where they take on money simply because of the salary cap, they're hard capped, they can take on a max of around 700k more than they send out by league rules.

  • In reply to smiley:

    "That's a huge payroll for a small market team like OKC. Heck for us too."

    WHAT?!?! Reinsdorf has probably been the most profitable owner in the history of the league (top-3 at worst). Especially in the past 5 years when Forbes listed the Bulls as such.

    If the Bulls had 3 young stars on the verge of max extensions, they had better pony up and do it. But you're probably right....which is why Lebron, Wade, and Bosh decided to go to MIA (where their owner doesn't mind spending to win). The perception around the league is that reinsdorf is cheap, and whether you believe it or not, you basically admitted it.

    Kmart is exactly what OKC wanted...an expiring contract aka saves their owner millions.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    I would hope the Bulls would pony up, but the new luxury tax and profit sharing would make it difficult to do so and still make truckloads of cash. I don't expect the Bulls will fall from 50+ million a year in profit to 20 million a year in profit to win a title.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Harden wanted the max, and I don't blame him, he'd get it in free agency.

  • Great, OKC just crapped James Harden out their corporate shorts. Nice. Not that Harden's pursuit of an ultra payday over being simply unfathomably rich for the rest of his life and still contending for championships isn't equally to blame.

    This new CBA, any way you look at, it basically means mega market teams like L.A. or Miami with stupendously rich owners are the only ones who will be able to afford paying a stable of excellent players to stay together year after year.

    James Harden coming off of one, count em' one, excellent season where previously he's shooting 43% on 12 ppg goes for the big paycheck and makes his agent a boat load of money in the process. And you always hear, "Well, if I could get that kind of money I would do it too!"

    The flaw in that statement is you or I are not James Harden. We are not somebody who has been blessed with tremendous talent. Someone who likely if they signed for $8 Mil per over five years would be worth $40 Million dollars i.e rich beyond their wildest dreams. Serge Ibaka is going to make how much money? It's ridiculous.

    If you want to be richer then rich and party it up then don't pretend you want to win championships. The fact is players aren't corporate enteties they want to pose as encouraged by using, drooling souless agents. Most will blow their cash renting yachts for example see James Harden.

    Does anybody really believe this knucklehead won't blow most of if not all his cash and on groupies and cars, drugs etc.?

    If smaller market teams wanted the 'right to exist' which is anti-captialism, then why not work towards lower max contracts which would scale down everybodies expectations? Then put in a hard cap of say $55-60 Mil. Now all teams really can retain their players, and when they see they've hit the jackpot with talent and can pursue championships as a contender then go borderline profitable for a few years and top out at $60 Mil a year.

    Instead, the smaller market teams by ensuring their 'survival' have sold their fans souls in a limbo of unwinnability. Great, you'll live forever, but with no taste, smell, or ability to enjoy conjugal pleasures. That's basically what these smaller market owners have signed on for. Just so they can make a buck they are presenting fans with a no win future, farce of a competitive team to 'root for.'

    Oh but there's the San Antonio's? Uh, OKC, yeah, we got your San Antonio right here!!

    For now with this new economic model of priviledge for few and socialist survivability for everyone else, the NBA has turned into a f-ing joke.

    Wow, this year's playoffs you've got Wade, James, Bosh, Allen with Sir Mega Billionaire owner, and then you have wannabee geez refuge in L.A., and now a gutted OKC 'contender.' Kevin Martin can play Miami on his stretcher and rookie J.Lamb will pull a Magic Johnson... uh, yeah.

    The league like everything else right now has been ruined by money considerations i.e greed taking over everything. In a way I wish I wouldn't have got NBA League Pass, but at this point I still enjoy watching young NBA quality talent. So I'll watch, but when it comes to the playoffs and most of these also ran teams, I really could give a shit. Miami barring injury is poised to win easily this year anyway. And even if someone emerges to knock them off, most NBA fans are still going to watch any talent they luck into, ditch them after a few years for a suck franchise nightmare.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I don't know the exact numbers, but my guess is at least half the owners are 'stupendously rich' billionaires. Micky Arison in MIA, has lost money almost every year he's owned the team, yet he still continues to PAY to win.

    So you're amazed by this new concept of players balling in their 'contract year'? It's funny because you scapegoat Harden for being 'greedy' and trying to get what his market value is, but KD (took the max so his teammates can't get their money), RW (who took the max so his teammates can't get their money), and Rose (who took the max so his teammates can't get their money) are perfect angels. LOL.

    Oh that's right, and we didn't even discuss the position that BILLIONAIRE Clay Bennett is all about winning because he put his foot down over $4.5mil on Harden. Harden is to blame because he didn't give up $4.5mil. You're completely right.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I think you talking about Harden having one good season is kind of silly. He's shown steady progression every year in the NBA. He's only had three years and has improved each one.

    It's not like some dude who's been in the league for 8 years and then had one good season. Harden was going to get the max from someone if he hit free agency, so I can't call him greedy for asking for it.

  • One other note: when you talk about David 'F-Bomb' Stern as the 'greatest comissioner of all time' you have to mean greatest all out pursuit of profit while ruining the quality of life for most fans which is what he's done.

    Yes Godell, Stern as corporate ho's for the owners are doing a great job alright. Even star players are loaded. As for the fans.. not so much. Course that shouldn't enter the greatness equation, only money right? This latest CBA Davd Stern presided over makes most NBA fans teams a show pony and nothing more. When it comes to winning, the ultimate joy of every fan, there is no hope. Thank you Comissioner David Fucking Stern you greeedy, disengenuous, spin cycle, sell out lawyer. Greatest Comissioner, What a fucking joke.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    The purpose of someone running a business is to maximize profits. The NBA, like every other league, charges what the market will bear.

    I don't know how you feel Stern is "greedier" than any other commissioner, that makes little sense.

  • The Rockets just waived Jajuan Johnson, talk about a christmas present if the Bulls could get him. I know the Bulls think Kurt, the 40 year old franchise favorite will get hurt and so they probably are saving that spot for another point guard but damn, with the Taj situation and our bigs with a history of injury.....GO GET HIM GARPAX....stop being a bumbling fool and get some young athletic talent on this team.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Because that would mean Reinsdorf would have to pay his $1.1mil salary. That's simply not happening.

    Plus, he'll probably get claimed off of waivers before he reaches the Bulls, not that the Bulls would pick him up.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Bulls can't sign someone until November 17th due to the hard cap. It's not a matter of desire, it is illegal for them to do so.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    all the more reason to be disgusted with the vlad rad signing. how could the bulls be that stupid to give this scrub a guaranteed contract and let other opportunities slip away. They give Nate Robinson who has been awesome the non guaranteed deal and the guy who sucks gets the guaranteed one...............wow, just wow.

  • Doug is right when he says we couldn't have gotten involved. OKC wanted a young replacement (Lamb) and a present replacements (Kmart).

    HOU wasn't going to give up their your pieces unless they could get back a burgeoning star (Harden). So really, there's no point in discussing that.

    The Bynum sweepstakes were a completely different animal though. Bulls could have and should have. Iggy+Rip+Butler+Teague+CHI 1st (which could range from lottery to mid-20s depending on who you listen to)+CHA 1st.

    But maybe I'm wrong because any package we gave would have forced us to take back a contract like JRich and this organization has proven over and over they aren't willing to do that.

    I just feel like the Bulls are going to screw up this Taj thing. Bulls only want to give $8mil per. Taj obviously wants $10mil (which is what he will get in the open market). But if the Bulls hold onto him and letting him test FA, after he gets that offer, they will just let him walk for nothing (a la Omer Asik).

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    I wouldn't see that happening since the Bulls probably would prefer Noah over Bynum since they usually get spooked by knee and other health issues. When it come to health, the Bulls are super conservative

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Funny that we'd call the Bulls super conservative when it comes to health while every player in the starting five has a dicey injury history.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Noah would be starting at the 4 next to Bynum.

    And in spite of his knee troubles even now with PHI, they made the right call trading for him, and the Bulls would have made the right move trading for him.

    (And a typo above, I wrote Iggy+Rip but I meant Deng+Rip)

  • Gar Forman: ''Matching the offer for Omer could have put us in a difficult position going forward in trying to acquire high level talent.''

    Well, good thing they didn't match it then. Now we have the ability to make big deals, like this one. Except they didn't.

    And, forgive my frustration, but I'm just damn sick and tired of reading about how, due to certain ''fiscally responsible'', ''smart'' decisions the Bulls have made, we now have this awesome ability to make moves that we somehow wouldn't have been able to make otherwise, and then watching deals like this happen without the Bulls involved anyway.

    And, yes, I know that they can't get involved in every deal that happens, and, yes, I know that they aren't even going to be interested in some of these guys in the first place.

    But, I guess the best way to sum it up is to say that I just don't trust this team at all anymore. I don't trust their motivations. I don't trust what their priorities are.

    So when people say things like ''we just couldn't get a deal done'' or ''we were hard capped'' or ''it's a lost season'' (worst excuse ever, btw) or ''they just weren't interested in what we had to offer'' (aren't we supposed to have good assets?), as that list of excuses grows and grows, the less and less likely it looks that the Bulls are just poor, unfortunate victims of circumstance, and the more and more likely it looks that this team just can't, or won't, get big deals done.

    So, while circumstances do in fact sometimes conspire against you, it's still your job to get things done anyway, difficult or not.

    But, for me, it's not really that I think they're incompetent. Again, it's an issue of trust. I don't trust this team's ownership at all.

    And, frankly, they don't deserve to be trusted. They haven't done anything to warrant trust from anyone. Not until such time that they show a clear, indisputable financial commitment to winning.

  • EXCELLENT comment!!! I could not agree more with everything you said about this Bulls organization and management. They cannot be trusted and excuse after excuse not to do anything and some fans believe them which is just either nieve or just plain stupid!!!

  • Agree 100% well said!

    Although I do feel as though Paxson is incompetent as he has had his fair share of talent judgment blunders over the years. You won't hit on everyone but it’s tough when you continually let valuable assets walk for nothing and also have stupid max contract signings for role player level guys like Boozer and Ben Wallace. Especially when you have an owner that you know won't pay to get rid of the stupid signings. Between Paxsons ineptitude and Reinsdorf holding tight to every dollar I don't see these guys ever winning a championship.

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    Honestly I'm shocked at how much James Harden has been overvalued by media outlets and fans everywhere. You should never pay out a young shooting guard max money because of one single great year, yet alone anoint him a superstar. This guy, is probably worth, all risks involved, averaging all that out about 10 million per year at most. Yet He'll get paid more then that. This situation reminds me so much of Ben Gordon and how he was overvalued. James Harden can't carry your team. And Oklahoma City made the right decision, not only did they cut tons of salary they have to pay in the future, but they also got back just as good a scorer, who's hungry to win, a high draft pick, and some other picks thrown in as well to make sure their bench is rock solid for the years to come, and they'll need it.

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    As for Houston I think they have some of the worst management in the league. You're really going to be paying Jeremy Lin and Asik that much money, both completely unproven players, while paying Harden Max money? There is no way they will win a championship with that many variables, and bad bets. Houston is extremely young, but their ceiling isn't even that high, and the money's already tied up for the next couple years once they resign Harden.
    Overall I say a definite lose for Houston knowing what they're going to do and a definite win for OKC, Talent the same, money spent is less, and a low costing high ceiling bench.

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    My Power Rankings:
    Bulls (Only if Rose comes back to form)
    If not Bulls then Nets.
    Other then these teams no one else to me as a shot to win it all.

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