It's not as sexy as the Kevin Love plan, but since a successful trade requires two teams to agree and a player to want to go to his new destination, we can't hitch our hopes to just one potential move. The Eric Gordon plan seems fraught with peril, but it actually fits awfully well into what the Bulls could do over the next few years.
Seriously, what could be better than building a team around two all-star guards with significant knee problems? Probably several things. However, the appealing part of the Gordon plan is the cost.
The Bulls trade Carlos Boozer for Eric Gordon. Maybe they throw in that iffy Sacramento pick as well, maybe they can keep it out.
The Pelicans are looking to dump Gordon on anyone they can and no one wants to take on his salary. Quite honestly, the Bulls probably don't want to take on his salary either. However, if the trade is Boozer for Gordon, they aren't really taking on so much.
Gordon will make around 30 million over the next two seasons, subtract off Boozers 16.8 million and that's just an extra commitment of 13 million. Given the Bulls may plan to amnesty Boozer and would likely have to pay him around 12 million not to play for the team, the Bulls real commitment becomes an extra 18 million for two years of Gordon vs nothing.
In effect, if the Bulls can pull off this trade, their real cost is Eric Gordon at nine million a year with likely no other change to their on court personnel. When put under the financial microscope that way, the deal doesn't look so bad anymore. Sure, I have concerns that Gordon can stay healthy just as I do Rose.
I also have concerns over his performance as he's averaging a career low in points. That said, his efficiency is up (54.6% TS% and 44% FGS 40% 3pt%), he can create shots, and he can hit the long ball. His defense next to Rose might be questionable as the Bulls would have a small back court, but the defensive battle is mostly won or lost by your interior players.
The move also keeps the Bulls above the cap which means they'll have to bring Nikola Mirotic over with the MLE. There's been some concern that the MLE might not be enough, but I can't think of any European prospect that's even gotten that much money to come over before, so I think it should work fine.
For Mirotic, the upside is that if he becomes a good NBA player he's making 15 million a year in four years rather, and the sooner he starts that cycle the better off he is. Even if five million just breaks him even with what he's doing in Europe, it's a peak there while his upside in the NBA dramatically better.
In short, I think the MLE will get it done.
The Bulls lineup in this scenario looks pretty darn good.
PG: Rose, Augustin
SG: Gordon, Butler
SF: Butler, Dunleavy
PF: Mirotic, Gibson
The Bulls will have multiple picks in the draft where they might find another big man (though you always should draft best player available), or they'll need to fill that back up center spot with the veteran minimum.
Is this the sexiest lineup imaginable? No, perhaps not. However, this lineup fixes several considerable problems the Bulls have had in the past. First, Gordon, Dunleavy, and Mirotic are dangerous three point shooters which gives the Bulls the option to truly open up spacing on the court. Even with Butler in the group the Bulls will have plenty of shooting and should have far more space to run their offense.
Gordon can create his own shot, so the Bulls won't be reliant on Rose to create so much offense anymore and should have someone who can shred defenses off the dribble in a double team rather than just hoping to find an open shooter off the double team.
Also, this lineup will keep the Bulls under the cap and create a ton of cap space in 2016 when Kevin Durant becomes a free agent. Maybe getting Kevin Durant is a pipe dream, a lot of things would need to fall correctly for it to be a possibility, that said, you might as well leave yourself open to the possibility now rather than closing it off early.
In the worst case scenario, Gordon doesn't work out in year one, he becomes a large contract to match against a star player in a trade the following year. If the Bulls can't do Love this year, they could potentially use Gordon as part of a deal for Love the following year [or a different star who wants out].
I don't view Eric Gordon as a star player, but his skills, when healthy, lineup very well with what the Bulls need. His contract fits into what the Bulls would want to do, and his asking price might just be the exact price the Bulls can most afford to pay.