For the record I'd say paying Gordon more than Deng would be a mistake, but I also think that if you can clear out Nocioni for a slightly smaller contract you can free up a bit more space to make BG a little better offer that he'd likely take. However, if the Bulls are successful at using this no-luxury-tax ploy to sign BG on the cheap (6 years 58 million), then I'll agree that it was a smart move. If it results in him taking the QO and walking next year, then I'll be super pissed.
Personally, I'd rather have the certainty of locking him up even if you don't get him for cheap and pay him closer to his value. For the record, if you go to this spreadsheet, that guy (davis21wylie2121 from APBR board) has used Dean Oliver's ORtg and DRtg numbers to calculate the amount of wins a player produced above a replacement player and then used that number to calculate their value in dollars (assuming wins were worth $1,500,000 and replacement level salary was $580,000, the league minimum). Even in a down year, Gordon was worth over $9 million for the year and interestingly, was worth more than Deng (a result of him playing more games than Deng, last year Deng's ORtg and DRtg were quite a bit better than BG's and he played more minutes, so he would likely have been worth several more wins than BG in each of their career years. So for those saying that BG is only worth 9 million a year, well if you expect him never to return to his 2006-07 levels and this off year to be indicative of all he's capable of, he's still worth over $9 million per year. If you, like me, believe he will improve on this year and be closer to last year for the next 5 to 6 years, he should be worth at least $10 million per season. I would not, however, pay him more than Deng, because Deng is 1) younger, 2) better, and 3) a two-way player.
So somewhere between 10 million and the 11.8 million per year that Deng got seems reasonable to me for BG. Say $10.5 million per year? That'd give him a 6 year 63 million dollar contract and using this extremely useful little tool, we can see that a 6 year 63 million dollar contract with 10.5% escalators would only have to start out at about $ 8.317 million this year. In other words, the Bulls would have to shave less than $1 million off of payroll in order to make such a deal possible. In fact, he'd only need to shave about $660,000 off of payroll to do it.
Some deals that would work for this would be Nocioni for Eric Snow's expiring contract (8 million for 7.3125 million), an Etan Thomas deal (assuming his trade kicker isn't prohibitive), even Noce for Jamal Tinsley works (but Tinsley's contract runs until 2011 and he sucks, but it could free us up to move Hinrich in a subsequent deal, I guess, and have Tinsley as the Rose backup, probably my least favorite of these ideas), or Nocioni for Stackhouse (8 million for 7 million), Stack is old and pretty terrible at this point, but they could buy him out easily enough since his last year of his contract (2009-10) is only guaranteed for 2 million. I don't know that Dallas does that last deal, but there are ways of moving Nocioni to clear that extra 660,000 to make Ben paid much more closely to his true value. It's really not that difficult, if only Pax could pull off one of these deals.
I personally like the Nocioni for Eric Snow deal a lot, but that's because I really don't think Noce has much value and I'm all for getting rid of him in a straight up salary dump. The best deal, again assuming the trade kicker isn't too big, is Etan Thomas for Nocioni. We get another serviceable center, someone for Deng to talk with about the big issues of the day, clear out minutes for Thabo and TT by eliminating Noce's presence and lose some salary to resign BG. The Wiz get a pretty solid backup for Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison when they come down with the injury bug that seems to strike the Wiz every year and all they give up is their backup center, which in turn frees up more minutes for their young gun Andray Blatche to see more minutes. Anyway, the point is, there are deals out there to help this team and most of them involve losing Nocioni for lesser salary in order to re-sign Ben to a better deal. I hope Paxson knows that and does something about it, because I'm getting nervous about the possibilty of Ben taking the QO and walking for nothing in 2009. That would suck.