Disclaimer: This is a trade idea. Feel free to skim or quickly dismiss.
In a nutshell:
What this gives the Bulls: $$ / Ridiculous Flexibility
What this gives the Knicks: 2010 Cap Space
What this gives the Wolves: Better Players
Bulls get: Jason Collins, Malik Rose, Jerome James
Bulls give: Hughes, Nocioni, Gray
Knicks get: Hughes, Calvin Booth, Brian Cardinal
Knicks give: Jared Jeffries, Malik Rose, Jerome James
Wolves get: Nocioni, Gray, Jared Jeffries
Wolves give: Jason Collins, Calvin Booth, Brian Cardinal
Bulls gain $1.5 million this year and $14.5 million next year in exchange for bench players. This enables them to do one or more of the following: (1) take on salary in another trade while staying under the luxury tax; (2) sign a major free agent; (3) re-sign Ben Gordon under the luxury tax. The team may not even get any worse short-term. Suddenly Thabo will play a lot until Hinrich comes back, and if his bones haven’t atrophied on the bench, he shouldn’t be a downgrade from Hughes. All of the players the Bulls receive are terrible on offense, but Collins is a good defender in a limited role. As an added bonus, the players are all accustomed to not playing, so they're less likely to complain on the bench.
Knicks gain 2010-friendly contracts and a player who fits their system in exchange for a few big men who don’t play, don’t fit the system, and collectively have much more unfavorable contracts (Jeffries makes almost $7 million in 2010-11).
Wolves gain 3 decent players with fairly bad contracts in exchange for 3 bad players with decent contracts. The Wolves need help everywhere. The contracts they receive really aren’t that bad for them because Nocioni and Jeffries merit substantial playing time in their rotation, especially with Corey Brewer out for the year. In addition, as a small-market team, the Wolves are more likely to improve through the draft and through trades than through free agency (though you could argue that's generally true for every team).
If the Wolves can convince the Knicks to give them the right to exchange a draft pick this year, it’s even better. I believe that the Wolves own as many as 4 first-round picks this year, including those belonging to the Heat (top-10 protected), Jazz (top-21? protected), and Celtics. I don’t think the Knicks can outright trade away their pick this season because they already gave up their 2010 first rounder to the Jazz, but the Wolves might rather trade up than get an extra pick at this point. The Knicks might not value their probable late-lottery pick in this draft anyway, given that the draft is considered very weak and those guys make a few million a year. The trade as constructed is outstanding for the Knicks, so they may be very willing to exchange a (top-5?) protected pick for a much lower one.
I seriously think that all of the teams should want to make this trade. The Bulls can even sell it to the media as needing interior toughness and veteran leadership rather than clearing up huge sums of money.