The Chicago Bulls are likely done for the summer. Today they'll introduce Dunleavy at a press conference in Deerfield and perhaps will sign one additional player to the veteran minimum somewhere down the line if they don't keep Malcom Thomas who's on a non guaranteed deal and presently playing for the summer league squad.
We've heard some about the 2014 plan, and to give a brief overview, the 2014 plan doesn't mean the Bulls are signing a max free agent or even close to it. Even letting Deng/Boozer/Hinrich go they won't be max room under the cap, so Chicago will need to look to do a trade to get a deal done.
One of the interesting pieces that might work next year is moving Carlos Boozer as the main salary matcher in a deal next season. He'll make similar money to LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, too big men Bulls fans have been targeting for awhile. Blogabull discussed the Aldridge situation a bit yesterday.
There's a part of me that wonders whether either player is really a big upgrade over the Boozer we signed a bit over three years ago, but if nothing else bringing one in maintains your present place.
A trade for one of the pair likely looks something like Boozer + multiple 1sts (certainly one of them being the Charlotte first) and possibly Mirotic. The advantage of a trade with Boozer rather than using a cap room trade is that the Bulls will then be free to retain Luol Deng if they choose, use the MLE or MMLE (depending on salary status) and still possibly have room for Nikola Mirotic if he's not included in the trade.
If Boozer has another healthy, solid season for Chicago then such a trade might be palatable for the opposing team. While they certainly downgrade talent, they at least get a poor man's version of the player they give up for a year to match with the assets included to make the trade go. Of course the success of such a trade may hinge on how strongly Aldridge or Love push for Chicago vs other destinations.
If either player moves, it will be centered around winning. It's also possible that both players may see their situation improve considerably this year and decide sticking it out isn't the worst thing in the world.
Now the Bulls will be able to absorb a huge chunk of salary with the cap room in an amnesty/let Deng walk scenario, but if they can't convince a team to take Boozer as a salary matching piece then Chicago would need to send Taj Gibson in order to match salaries as they don't really have anyone else who fits the bill.
Now a team giving up Aldridge/Love may have plenty of room at PF and appreciate getting Taj back [or not, depending on how well he plays this season], but that also now means your cost for one of those guys becomes Deng, Taj, and Boozer. That's a pretty steep cost for a couple guys who don't really have the "it" factor IMO, especially since the Bulls won't really have any method of adding a third big man to the roster.
They might not have a method to even bring Mirotic over until 2015 in this scenario. Perhaps we're hoping for a break out season from Erik Murphy.
The Bulls could also look to make a move at the deadline for one of these guys by dangling Deng instead as the salary matcher, but it has some not so great tax implications for the team. Maybe they're willing to pay it if they can get Aldrdige, who knows.
If Chicago were able to keep Nate Robinson at the minimum a deal of Deng + Hinrich + picks might be workable for both sides with Chicago sending cash to pay the salary difference but then saving a bunch of money in luxury tax.
All in all, the thought of adding Love or Aldridge to the roster is pretty good, but it'd be a fairly significant makeover to the team. When all is said and done, there's a good chance such a move costs you Deng, Boozer, Taj, multiple 1sts, and possibly forces you to wait on Mirotic. If you believe either guy is a star then that's all fine. You can always find role players later, especially if you're team's really good.
However, if you think these guys are both closer to borderline stars then all of a sudden you're putting a lot of eggs in the borderline star basket which historically isn't a great idea. Both players will also have contract extensions coming up soon afterwards and if either guy wants the high level max (or can get it from another team) then you're really in the massively overpaying boat for them.
It's a scary proposition paying either guy 20+ million a year, but when you look at Bosh, that might be what you're signing up for if you trade for them now, either that or letting them walk for nothing which isn't so practical given the number of assets required to get them in the first place.
In the end, it's going to be difficult for the front office to find the right move. Aldridge/Love represent the best chance at really good players who may really want to come here and fill the needs we have, but they'll have considerable costs, considerable risks, and aren't likely to be good enough to put you over the top even if it happens.
Not a pleasant thought when contemplating how this team gets from point B to C.
Filed under: Trade rumors