This would be my game plan for the next year and a couple months..
1. Rest of FA -- We've lost BG, didn't want to spend that type of money on a 6th man. Cool. Let's throw a 3 year deal worth about 6-7 mil to Von Wafer. He doesn't want to go back to Houston. He's the space opener we lost with BG, plus he's actually SG size at 6'5 210. I'd make him my 1st priority, then if we lose out on him look at Rodney Carney or Rashad McCants, but no one would be making over 2.5 mil a year.
2. Summer League Team -- If we can churn out some the bottom of the roster with some rookies or lower priced vets, it can only help our cap space situation. Let's look for some guys to replace the likes of Anthony Roberson, Linton Johnson, and Aaron Gray. Don't forget that Lindsay Hunter will be a player-coach, so we'll need to replace him too. So let's see if a guy like Taurean Green, can become our 3rd PG. If he's developed a shot, he could be the perfect PG to groom as a back up, so we can move Kirk. Or if Julius Hodge, has recovered from his gunshot injuries and is ready to get back on track. Before being shot he was starting "to get it" with the Nuggets. He would bring some needed versatility to the bench. Can sharpshooter A.D. Vasallo show enough in other departments to get a shot with the big boys? He's definitely one of those space openers we've been talkin bout recently. And wouldn't it be nice if James Augustine showed enough that he makes Aaron Gray an afterthought. I'm hoping all 4 make the squad.
3. Stand Pat til December or January -- No need to make a move right now. Let's see what we have first. A couple of months in, and we'll know if Salmons is a reliable replacement for BG at SG. We'll know if Deng is back to normal and healthy. And most importantly, we'll know if Amare's eye is healthy and he'll be finally working himself into "real" game condition. (Remember right now, he's coming off no physical exertion for about 3 months).
Hopefully, we look good, I'm not expecting #4 or #5 in the conference, but we should be very comfortably in the mix, somewhere in the 6-9 range. Deng is looking like his old self and Salmons has shown that he is more than capable of replacing BG's 20 a night. Phoenix, on the other hand, is already out in double digit range, which might not be too far fetched. Amare is disgusted, and Kerr has the owner down his back about salaries and cutting costs, this is where we jump in to the rescue. Offering Tyrus Thomas, Luol Deng, Tim Thomas, and Jerome James, for Amare and Barbosa. Immediately, extend Amare at about $15-17 mil/year, he's talking that 20 mil crap, but he'll be glad we put him in the spotlight and saved him from Phoenix.
This leaves us with a 2009-2010 lineup of:
PG D Rose / Hinrich / Green
SG Salmons / Barbosa / Wafer
SF Johnson / Vasallo / Hodge
PF Amare / Gibson / Augustine
C Noah / Miller
Good enough to finish the season in the 4-6 range and possibly make it to a 2nd round matchup against Shaq and Lebron, or a revuvenated Big 3 plus Sheed. But not good enough.
4. Free Agency 2010 -- I know everybody wants us to bring Wade home, but Joe Johnson makes more sense. He'll be the cheaper option, he's only a year older, has had less injury problems, and is a better shooter, which complements D. Rose better. We'll even give them a sign and trade option, if the Hawks are looking for it. Sending Hinrich and Barbosa in exchange. Salmons won't opt out, unless he puts up unbelieveable numbers, so we slide him to the 3. Try to resign Miller, at a lower price if he's up to it.
This should be our opening day lineup for 2010:
PG D Rose / Green
SG Johnson / Wafer / Hodge
SF Salmons / Johnson / Vasallo
PF Amare / Gibson / Augustine
C Noah / Miller / Asik
This team is a legit championship contender and it isn't a scenario that all that hard to believe can happen. We would be placing ourselves in a GREAT position, because we'll still be able to sign D. Rose and Noah to their extensions, without too much luxary tax, and by then it should be more than worth it. I'm just hoping that the Front Office is thinking in some like minded fashion.
** FYI **
A 3 TEAM TRADE INVOLVING THE BULLS, HAWKS, AND SUNS INVOLVING THE SAME PLAYERS MENTIONED ABOVE WORKS FOR THIS YEAR, BUT I FIGURED THAT WAS A BIT MUCH TO THINK COULD REALISTICALLY HAPPEN.. But if Atlanta falls out of contention early it wouldn't be impossible:
Chicago Gets: Phoenix Gets: Atlanta Gets:
Joe Johnson Tyrus Thomas Leandro Barbosa