McGraw: Bulls Could Still Land Two Top Tier FA's

Mike McGraw, world's best Bulls' beat writer, has a new article up on the Daily Herald's website detailing the possible mechanics of a possible Bulls super-team come this off-season. After the jump, some interesting quotes and my thoughts on them:

The Bulls' $30-million free-agent plan was tantalizing. With a couple of phone conversations next July 1, they might have been able to land two top-line free agents and conceivably hosted a new conference featuring Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh seated at the same table.

Well, they'd have needed more than $30 million to sign both those guys in all likelihood, unless Joe Johnson opts for less than a max deal, which seems somewhat unlikely. But that's besides the point, trading Hinrich would have made this scenario more possible than our current situation. But, wait says McGraw, they could still make a trade in the off-season that would land them two max level guys.

So what is the $20 million plan? Well, it's still possible to pursue a pair of top-level free agents, and much of the focus figures to stay on Johnson and Bosh. But the Bulls will need some help to get it done.

Specifically, they need a trade. By the summer, there are no expiring contracts, so creating more cap room is unlikely.

Here's how it could happen, though:

Let's say on July 1, Johnson tells the Hawks he's leaving. That's when the Bulls call and ask Atlanta, "Instead of losing him for nothing, why not take back Hinrich in a sign and trade?"

Well, I'd rather have nothing than Kirk Hinrich at 9 million dollars a year, but maybe if we threw in a pick or something, it might be more appealing to the Hawks to get some compensation for Joe Johnson than nothing. I'd also be less than thrilled about locking in to Joe Johnson for his years of decline (thanks to YaoPau's extraordinarily well researched piece on the matter), but I suppose removing Hinrich's future salary commitments softens that blow a bit.

The same thing would be true if Toronto agreed to take Deng or Hinrich back in a sign-and-trade for Bosh.

It might even help the Bulls' cause that Miami and New York have loads of cap room available. Bosh could tell the Raptors, "Trade me to the Bulls or I'll sign with the Heat and you'll get nothing in return."

Miami has enough money to re-sign Dwyane Wade, add a maximum-contract free agent and have a little left over for spare parts. New York could sign two top-level players or ink one and re-sign Lee. Neither of those teams can match the supporting cast the Bulls already have in place.

That's an angle I hadn't really given much thought to, the max FA's use of Miami and New York's cap space to leverage a deal with the Bulls. It's a good point, kudos to McGraw for pointing it out.

One enormous bright spot to the Bulls' season, though, has been the play of rookie power forward Taj Gibson, the No. 26 pick of last year's draft. Newcomer Hakim Warrick has looked good and shouldn't cost much to keep around. Brad Miller, still just 33, might play another year or two at a lower salary.

The Bulls could try a lineup of Rose, Johnson, Deng, Gibson and Noah, with Hinrich, Warrick, Miller and maybe another lower-cost free agent in reserve.

Could that team reach the Finals? Probably not, but the Bulls would be closer than they are now.

Et tu, McGraw? Taj fawning and settling for good enough? That'd be so Bulls.

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