Yes, we've heard numerous trade/FA signing ideas for James Harden
since Ibaka got that big contract a few days ago, but for the Bulls
, free agency really isn't a big opportunity with so many teams likely to go after his services and the lack of cap space(if he hits the market in the first place, that is)
I think that this is a great trade that could benefit both teams:
Expiring contracts of Rip Hamilton and Bellinelli, Chicago's 2013 First Round pick, CHA's future protected pick (most likely a lottery pick)CHI Gets:
OKC gets a potential lottery pick and great asset in CHA's pick, and a 18-24 range first round pick considering Rose will miss much of the season. They also get a solid veteran who can replace Fisher's playoff experience and leadership while also providing something on the court with his scoring an playmaking. In addition, they get the "pure shooter" they lack (Cook can shoot the rock, but he's inconsistent and not on Belli's level, and Belli himself isn't the shooter that Kyle or Ray are, but he's better than Cook). This is one of the reasons they would love to have Jimmer, but is there really anyone who would take Jimmer over... anybody? In addition, these are essentially expiring contracts, with Rip's having a team option, so they can stay under the tax easily next season if they want, but also get back great first rounders for Harden rather than losing him for nothing. Depending on how high GarPax are on Harden, they might throw in Mirotic as well.
Chicago, meanwhile, obviously gets their long term "star" fans crave at SG (whether he is a better choice than Evans is a debate for another day... notice I said "choice", not "player" when considering Evans is just as young, bigger, more athletic and is a consistent jumpshot away from being better than Harden IMO).
They also offload about $1.5 mil in salary in this trade (for this year), and can trade Hinrich and bring back Mike James
to get under the tax line before the season ends, assuming this is a midseason trade. There really is no point in wasting a year of the "4 in 5 repeater tax" for a season you will not contend in anyway. Even if an extension isn't worked out, they can match his offers during restricted free agency (he is going to cost the max anyway).
The Bulls can dodge the tax this year, amnesty Boozer after next season, and match offers on Harden and Taj (In fact, they can resign Taj even before the season starts since this is a trade scenario for Harden, while doing that in a "free agency" scenario would cost them valuable cap room). The roster would look somewhat like this:
Rose: $18 mil
Harden: $15 mil
Deng: $14 mil
Taj: $9 mil
Noah: $13 mil
Backups: Teague, Butler and minimums, which would bring the total to about $75 million which really isn't bad.
Hell, they could trade Deng's expiring contract after the season for a pick, and fill out the bench with quality players with Jimmy starting at the 3. What do you guys think?
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