Bulls trade rumors: Phoenix reportedly 'has some interest' in Rip Hamilton

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

From an Aggrey Sam mailbag (ht: Bulls101, Hoopshype):

The team holds an option to re-sign Rip Hamilton next season, making him the equivalent of an expiring contract due to the low guaranteed money, and since the summer I've heard that they would be receptive to offers for him and have even dangled his name a bit.

However, with his recent injury, that could be hard to pull off unless he makes an impressive return in the month or so leading up to the deadline, so it might not be possible to move him. Actually, I'm sure they could find a taker -- Phoenix, for one, is a team that I've heard has some interest -- but at this stage of his career, Hamilton and his representatives might not be open to playing for a non-contender, even for half of a season.

Not sure what that last line implies, as if Hamilton would sit out if traded? Eh, he did something similar to get his way out of Detroit, so I guess. Beyond that, Phoenix makes sense, as: they're trying to not be terrible, need help at SG, and perhaps figure their world-renowned training staff can keep Rip in one piece for a while. And though the Bulls are pushing the tax next season to the point where Rip's $5m option is very likely to be bought out for $1m instead, it's not that bad of a contract. As has been pointed out here before, it may be better than Hinrich making $4m that same season.

Is there anything in it for the Bulls, though? It depends what their goals are this trade deadline, and sadly getting rid of some 2012 payroll (and thus luxury tax payments) may trump what Rip can still bring on the court for a team that needs depth and is still competitive.

The Suns are actually still $6m under the cap, so they can take on Rip for nothing while the Bulls would get a trade exception. Not sure it'd be enough for Phoenix to get a player 'for free', though you'd hope the Bulls wouldn't dare give up a real asset (and instead something like a future 2nd-rounder) to help convince them. As far as players that the Suns could be willing to send back, Jermaine O'Neal has had a brief renaissance and would be needed here, but at a minimum deal there's little incentive for Phoenix to part with him. Wesley Johnson is out of their rotation and an expiring contract, and though intriguing if only because he's 10 years younger than Rip, the salary difference for the Bulls would be under $1m* and Johnson would be very unlikely to stay beyond the season.

I suppose a lot between now and the deadline will depend on if Rip can actually return and start playing soon. Latest update had a possibility of that happening by the weekend. It could mean the difference between the Bulls actually getting something for him, nothing for him, or worse of all: paying a team to take him.

*That's in cap calculation difference. It would be more factoring in the tax. Also as the crafty Mark Deeks suggested earlier this month, other teams can take minimum salary players (and thus cap hits). For this hypothetical case, Suns could take Rip AND Vlad Radmanovic, with Bulls would've already paid some of Vlad's salary this season and could send cash to cover the rest, and he'd be off their books for when the tax is calculated after the season. In the meantime the Bulls could go a couple weeks under the minimum required roster spots (this is allowed) until they can sign 10-day deals on 1/10.

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