The Bulls traded Kirk Hinrich

The biggest implications of the proposed (let's assume it goes through, for sanity's sake) trade, using #17 to dump Kirk Hinrich's contract on the Wizards, is obviously the added cap space. Subtracting his contract, plus no cap hold for that first rounder, and the Bulls can now afford 2 (ish) max (ish) free agents (maxes are different, thus the 'ish'-es) this summer.

Immediately, it suggests the Bulls really do believe they're in play for LeBron James. But I think this is a more accurate predictor of the Bulls signing Joe Johnson. It was a bit curious that KC Johnson mentioned the Bulls interest in Joe Johnson early Thursday in print and on the radio, and specifically the possibility of them striking a deal early. By now it's been well reported the relationship between Jerry Reinsdorf and Johnson's agent Arn Tellem, and it's not hard to imagine a deal already being discussed.

But if it happens, that's now not the apocalyptic scenario that it would've been seen as recent as that morning, since Hinrich's money is now off the books. If Johnson is signed, hopefully not at max dollars, he won't be the only piece that the 2010 plan produced, but merely the first. And hopefully one that's mere presence can help recruit others, like LeBron or Bosh.

And unlike some more drastic measures (like a similar deal with Deng), the opportunity cost of this cap-saving move is low...just Hinrich. Yet that's the most fascinating thing about this deal if you're a long-time Bulls fan: not the cap space, not the LeBron dreams, but that the Bulls finally traded Kirk Hinrich.

He's been rumored to have been traded seemingly since he's been drafted, but certainly since his awful '07-'08 season (not that he was the only one) leading to the drafting of his replacement in Derrick Rose. But what seemed like a no-brainer candidate to be traded, wasn't. For 2 years. And it reinforced all my predeceived notions (as VDN would say) about the Org. and their tenets: loyalty over performance, grit over skills, hustle over talent. And Hinrich over Gordon.

Nearly a year ago, I had the exact opposite feeling about this teams free agency plans and the cost of it. It involved cutting future payroll for cap flexibility, which was an understandable concept, but executed in a way that never sat well with me. They seemed to pick who stayed and who went based (I believe) on the aforementioned ideals of the Org., or just who Reinsdorf 'liked'. If the stated plan was to build through free agency, it never made sense to have a player making $9m who was backing up your current best player, and it made the whole 'plan' seem like not much of one at all. Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, even John Salmons sent out the door, yet the Bulls couldn't pull the trigger to send out Kirk Hinrich? I won't deny this resentment bordered on being irrational (I was only half kidding about believing a jersey retirement ceremony was in his future), but even if the Bulls had a successful free agency, I'd still question why Hinrich got to stay instead of the others.

But now both Gordon and Hinrich are gone, and it is a sense of closure. The deal of Salmons midseason was the first real step in the 2010 plan, what guaranteed one max slot of cap room. But this trade really makes it serious. It still will require luck, and they've already had a healthy dose with the Cavs flaming out of the playoffs and the Raptors not even getting that far, but this shows the type of serious dedication to free agency that I've been waiting for. A real plan.

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