With Joakim Noah suffering from plantar fasciitis and Carlos Boozer still showing some lingering effects of the sore hamstring, the Bulls sure look like they could use another big man. Nazr Mohammed and Vladamir Radmanovic haven't shown even a glimmer of hope in terms of contributing, and the Bulls lack the money to sign someone to the veteran minimum right now [at least as best I can calculate].
That leaves the trade deadline as their best chance to obtain someone, however the Bulls cap situation presently means they need to send out nearly the identical money they take back or send out more than they take back. This vastly limits their possibilities, and the most likely scenario is that Chicago lets the deadline pass without finding a way to improve the team.
It's always tough to find trades that both sides want to do, and given that the Bulls want to improve talent but can't offer another team financial relief their odds are especially long. There have been two trades I've seen discussed frequently. The first is to look to acquire Sammuel Dalembert from the Milwaukee Bucks and the second is to acquire Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets.
To acquire Dalembert, the Bulls would swap Rip Hamilton, Vladamir Radmanovic and Nazr Mohammed + cash. The Bucks would then need to waive a player on the end of their bench to meet the league's roster requirements. The problem, of course, becomes convincing the Bucks to do the move. While they don't use Dalembert much, they also don't appear to have much need for Hamilton and likely don't look forward to paying him $1 million next season.
Would $3 million in cash ($1 million goes to the buyout though) be enough incentive to make them pull the trigger on a deal? The Bulls could throw in a second rounder as well, but their second rounders don't project to have much value and a rental of Dalembert certainly isn't worth worth throwing a first rounder around for.
In the end, while the framework of the deal isn't impossible, it's probably difficult to find the set of assets to swap that makes both teams say yes to the move.
Timofey Mozgov looked like a quality up and coming player in his rookie year with the Knicks, but he never found a role in Denver and has shown no improvement while there. He's infrequently used, and the Nuggets would certainly don't seem likely to want to keep him around next season when he'll be a restricted free agent.
Again, the problem becomes what to trade. The Bulls don't have enough low salaried players to throw in to match salary in any way that makes sense, and the Nuggets have no reason to take on Rip Hamilton. The Bulls might give them a reason by taking on D-League superstar Anthony Randolph off their hands. Randolph is a poor man's Tyrus Thomas in terms of potential and development.
He looked like a guy who could develop into a future offensive star, but is shooting well south of 40% in his limited attempts from the field this season. The Nuggets are on the hook with Randolph for two more years and a total of around 3.5 million dollars. His 1.7 million owed next year would more than off-set Hamilton's buy out, so the Nuggets come out ahead financially in the deal.
As for the Bulls, they are on the hook for an additional 700k next year and probably aren't too amped about having his 1.8 million on the books the next year when they could potentially have cap room. If the Bulls feel that Randolph can still be rehabilitated into a quality player then the trade makes perfect sense due to his cheap contract.
If they think he's hot garbage, then they're better off passing on Randolph and saving the salary space. That said, Randolph has, statistically, been a quality player up until this season with a career PER of 16.9 and is only 23 years old. While he's a guy who's not likely worth his stats due to negative on court intangibles defensively, putting him on a team that focuses all about defense has at least some chance of straightening him out, and the Bulls could use more scoring oriented player.
That said, Denver may also look at Randolph and think he's redeemable and still on a cheap contract and not want to move him despite his poor play and limited playing time thus far.
Alternatively to chasing Mozgov, the Bulls could simply chase Randolph by himself by offering up Nazr Mohammed and Vladimir Radmanovic with the Nuggets waiving a player to make roster room. Randolph isn't a center and is even slim for a PF, but would give the Bulls another body to throw out there that's considerably more capable than what they have now behind the big three big men. I could even see Randolph excelling in a role with Chicago off the bench when other players are scared to shoot.
While I expect a quiet deadline for Chicago, the Bulls may have some options for a minor tweak that could help them come playoff time.