NBA Trade Rumors: Chicago Bulls trade season

Marc Serota

The Bulls aren't buyers, but are they really sellers?

This post is part of a SBNation wide "Theme Day" on the start of trade season. Head to SB Nation's NBA page and check out what other teams are thinking. I kind of jumped the gun Monday when it came to idle trade speculation for the Bulls, but again: it's either this talk or referencing the team on the floor, yick.

Is your team a buyer or seller?

The Bulls are usually a stand-patter above all else. They're nothing if not deliberate. But in this season where Rose's exploding knee (no, the other one) has doomed the last chance for this particular supporting cast they're certainly not buyers.

On a roster level, you could conceive ways the Bulls could try and snag helpful players with an aim towards next season, but financially it likely just couldn't work. While I don't think they will do trades to intentionally make themselves worse this season, they will look to perhaps deal players who won't be around long-term for middling assets. Or do nothing.

What are the objectives in potential moves?

The Bulls not only would probably like to lower their luxury tax bill this season (if get entirely under the threshold, though that means jettisoning over $7m)  they are looking to possibly have cap space this summer.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what they can really be looking for. With an unwillingness to take on salary they're not going to get the better player of many deals, and as for their own players it's either keepers or ones they wouldn't get much for.

I also think it's possible that an objective is to not entirely piss off their coach, which means outright 'dumping' contributors without getting anything meaningful in return wouldn't work.


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What players are available?

I don't doubt that if a team would trade expiring contracts for Carlos Boozer the Bulls would jump on it, gaining them potential cap room to bring Nikola MIrotic over from Europe plus freeing up an on-court role for the Euro stretch-four. What's of lesser certainty is whether the Bulls would be alright with merely receiving less in 2014 salary if it meant moving Boozer ($16.8m next year) off the books. Because while the amnesty provision would get Boozer off the cap entirely, it still would mean a salary payout from the Bulls standpoint (minus a likely-middling claim). Based on what we've seen the past couple of seasons, the Bulls are willing to hurt their precious 'flexibility' if it saves some dollars.

Mike Dunleavy is another expendable player signed through 2014-15, and his 'taking less for a contender' contract could ironically make him easy to move. Dunleavy would be a fine shooter for a contending team, and it may only take expiring contracts to make that move from the Bulls standpoint.

Luol Deng is an already-expiring contract, but I'm not sure the Bulls will move him unless they receive a significant asset in return, which may be tough to accomplish. If not, I can see the Bulls preferring to hold on to his bird rights for the offseason, and I can also see Luol taking a lucrative 4-year contract elsewhere while the Bulls throw up their hands hoping for a discount. The Bulls did attempt to negotiate a new deal this past offseason, and you'd hope they learned enough to decide now whether it's realistic to retain him before it's too late to receive anything in return. But, again: the Bulls are deliberate.

I'd personally love if Kirk Hinrich was traded, he'd fit in well on a good team where he's not asked to do much and writers can talk about what he brings to to the table or whatever and most importantly he would rarely be on my TV. The Bulls are so thin at point guard, and simply love Hinrich, that it's less possible than it should be.

Everyone else is either useless or not going to be traded. I just can't envision the Bulls taking the risk of dealing someone they value like Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, and others are still on their rookie deals.

What are your specific trade ideas?

Oh, we've had so many since Rose went down. Going by the parameters of likelihood I've tried to set, a Luol Deng deal where the Bulls receive a gunner on a rookie contract (like Dion Waiters) could be the best the Bulls could hope for. And even then that's if the Bulls have determined they won't re-sign Deng this offseason.

If a team with very deep pockets and questionable decision-making would take Carlos Boozer (Some trade machine ideas: Lakers? Knicks?), that would be best, though personally I'd prefer just using the Amnesty bullet. Ownership has a different perspective on that, obviously.

Dunleavy and Hinrich could be sent to middling win-now teams like Washington or Minnesota, or maybe a preferred destination would be Charlotte since if the Bobcats made the playoffs the Bulls would get their pick.

The Bulls haven't made an in-season trade since 2010. But they've been pretty good since then, and in the years prior Chicago has shown a willingness to make deals when they were bad, the kind that shifts some money around (again: saving some on the tax bill this year will probably be motivation) and seem somewhat-competitive. So while it's not their preferred method, the Bulls may indeed show some aggression this trade season.

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