Sam Smith noted in his column a couple of days ago that Pau Gasol would love to play for the Bulls and that the Lakers star center doesn’t get along with Kobe Bryant at all. The Lakers would likely consider moving Gasol due to contract and overlapped value with Bynum alone, but chemistry issues may force their hand even more.
The interesting part, according to Lakers’ insiders, is Gasol would like to play for the Bulls. And what you hardly need any sources for is to see how he and Bryant basically can’t stand one another.
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Sam notes the Lakers would not consider taking on Boozer, so Bulls fans who think we can dump Boozer + Watson + a pick for Gasol as rumored quite some time ago will be sadly disappointed. If such a trade were on the table, I think the Bulls would have to consider it even with a fairly hefty luxury tax consequence.
edit – Gasol’s salary is only guaranteed for two years like Deng, not three like I originally posted
instead, Sam suggests the key to making this deal work is to send Luol Deng over the Lakers with Rip Hamilton whom the Lakers could use for one more run. The trade more or less balances salary for the next season while Chicago takes a five million or so hit next season. In this sense, the trade also works as a mini-salary dump for LA whom might get better with the deal while replacing Gasol’s large cap number with Deng’s lower cap number in year two and breaking even while adding talent this next year which they still may have some hope of winning a title in the Kobe Bryant era.
If Chicago manages to pull that off, they’ll then immediately need to find a way to move Boozer or Noah for perimeter help. Of course whether the Bulls could get anything for Boozer is up for debate. Clearly, we’re talking about bad salary guys at best in a trade for Boozer, some type of overpaid perimeter player that no one wants.
Only two names really come to mind for guards that are heavily overpaid presently. Joe Johnson and Ben Gordon. Johnson’s contract is much bigger than Boozer’s and lasts a year long. After adding Gasol’s massive salary, the Bulls couldn’t afford him as well. Ben Gordon’s contract is smaller than Boozer’s and runs a year shorter, so Chicago would need to add something to the Pistons to make this deal work.
Perhaps Carlos Boozer + Ronnie Brewer for Charlie Villaneuva + Ben Gordon then works for both teams. Villanueva and Gordon each expire one year earlier than Boozer, so the Bulls would save a total of around five million over the three seasons but have to pay more up front. The Pistons pay a bit more, but they get the best player in the deal in Boozer.
The Bulls could also consider moving Noah to bring back real talent. I’d wonder if New Orleans would entertain a sign and trade of Eric Gordon for Joakim Noah to help Chicago solve the Bulls shooting guard problem.
Perhaps Gordon will be open to staying in New Orleans, but if he isn’t, then a trade to Chicago would make an incredible amount of success for him. Joakim Noah would appear to represent pretty good value in return for the star guard. Chicago could throw in their own 2013 1st rounder and possibly the Charlotte pick to even things out for the Hornets if necessary.
If the Bulls could pull off a Noah for Gordon S&T then keep Omer + Gibson and bring over Mirotic in a year, they’d have built up a nice core group in this rebound. Two guards who can create off the dribble and score in Gordon + Rose, Gordon would still give them three point shooting.
The front court would still be similarly dangerous with Gasol, Omer, Taj, and Mirotic assuming that Mirotic pans out and have a nice balance of offense/defense while providing more shooting than the Bulls presently have.
Of course the big problem comes into play with the luxury tax. Chicago would likely be above the threshold this season as well as significantly above the next two seasons and would get socked with the repeater fee. The lineups are both pretty good and address the Bulls needs for offensive creators though as it rebuilds the Bulls around three offensive players in both scenarios who can create for themselves or others.
Of course, Chicago needs to ask itself whether or not Gasol can hold up long enough to make any of these trades worthwhile, because his career is on the downside, and the Bulls won’t likely take advantage of next season which makes this a tricky proposition. If they can pull it off, either of the other trades still might make sense for the Bulls even without the Gasol trade though. They’ll need to look and see what opportunities present themselves.