Former Bull and BlogABull hero Ben Gordon was traded to the Bobcats late Tuesday. Corey Maggette goes back to the Pistons, and it's the 2013-14 salaries that make the difference: Maggette is off the books that season, while Gordon will still has a player option of $13.2m. So to get the Bobcats to incur the (likely) risk that Gordon picks up that option, the Pistons sent them a protected first round pick.
Now, set aside the fact that the Charlotte Bobcats are now my League Pass team with Gordon and Tyrus Thomas (if he's not amnestied: Tyrus had a career-worst season last year). Heck, they may be more fun to watch than the home team if the Bulls are led by John Lucas III. The point of examining this deal is that It's an example of a team willing to take on salary to get an asset.
Doug Thonus at ChicagoNow swiftly and forcefully hammered the point home that it's the type of move the Bulls should be doing, and can definitely achieve with the non-guaranteed deals of Korver/Brewer/Watson. Those could've been used in combination with eachother or Rip Hamilton's 1yr, $5m salary (which Detroit could've hilariously bought-out again) to beat Charlotte's Gordon package, and figures:
Say what you want about Gordon, but he's much better than Hamilton and some dude we're going to waive anyway and while improving the team considerably we also get a likely future lotto pick for our troubles. Seems like a great deal until you start looking at the finances.
The Bulls would probably end up around seven million [and closer to 12 million in the scenario where they don't move Hamilton] in the luxury tax this year after such a trade. Now of course, we're willing to pay the tax to win a championship, but apparently we aren't willing to pay the tax to get lottery picks and improve the team considerably this season.
Doug goes into the hollowness of Reinsdorf's 'promise' (which, again, was always vague and thus unimpeachable) to pay the tax for a championship, and reasons that the team (that's accumulated massive profits) could immediately improve their talent and assets by taking advantage of teams who are looking to pare down salary. Instead of acting like one themselves.
The clock's ticking for the chance that the Bulls still do this kind of deal, but if these three contracts are waived it'll show the Bulls won't spend to improve.
I'm sure the mention of Gordon's name at all will miss the point. It's not about this deal in particular, or blowing out your payroll for many years Mark Cuban style (which even he says his Mavs won't do anymore given the new penalties), but instead about strategically using your financial advantages. It's less dramatic than the idea of a smoking-gun move to get a title, or the more likely case of keeping a championship roster together if you get lucky and win one. But it's the type of move that could be done this very offseason, instead of willingly taking a step back on the court instead of the balance sheet.