When considering Bulls trades, we should consider a few numbers:
1. $3.754 million. The amount by which the Bulls are over the luxury tax. The sort of trade the Bulls will want to make will reduce their team salary by at least this amount.
2. What is the financial impact on the team receiving Bulls players, especially if it's the apparently heavily shopped Carlos Boozer. I think their best shot to actually trade him might be the Orlando Magic. Why? Because they are one of the few times for whom taking back Boozer might make some kind of financial sense.
First, let's talk about why it doesn't make any sort of financial sense for several other teams.
A. A trade of Boozer for Bargs would cost the Raptors roughly $12M in additional salary, but also put them over the luxury tax for the next couple years, resulting in additional $10-15M to bring the total net cost up to something on the order of $20-30M in extra spending to bring in Boozer.
B. Same with the Nets. They might not care about money, but adding Boozer would add something absurd to their tax bill, potentially on the order of over $50M (including escalated repeater tax rates). I don't think they're that crazy.
C. Even for a team that's not over the tax line like the Bobcats would be paying something like $20M extra by swapping Ben Gordon for Boozer. That's a lot of cash. Folks point to the fact they took on Gordon in the first place. but the total cost there was only an extra $15M to acquire 29 year old Gordon for 33 year old Maggette, and a lottery pick to boot.
I'd think that sets about the upper end of the sort of transaction in which a team would take Boozer. If it's basically salary neutral, a team will take Boozer if he's a better player. If it's costing them an extra $10-15M, he has to be the best player in the deal and they acquiring team has to get a likely lottery pick (a la the Charlotte pick) back. I think much north of an extra $15M and even that seems like a very steep price to pay. Charlotte was desperate and needed talent. Many other teams would probably top about at $5-10M in extra salary for the same deal.
So are their any sorts of deals that fit this description?
Well, two teams I could see theoretically getting into that financial window where Boozer might be palatable would be the Magic and Pistons.
The Magic would still have to pay out to get Boozer, but depending on who they would send back a deal might make sense for them. A deal in which the Magic sent Harrington and Glen Davis to us in exchange for Boozer would cost them a net of $13.6M over this year and the next two. While I think that's still a substantial chunk of money, it's at least arguable that Boozer (+ pick and/or Teague) as a player would merit at least that much more than Glen Davis on the open market (and Harrington would have to be waived for the Magic to pay him only his buyout amounts).
In short, it's a somewhat reasonable deal from the Magic's perspective. The $13.6M buys them a PG prospect, perhaps a pick, and it gets them a significant upgrade at their PF slot in exchange for a guy who's basically lost for the season and a guy they're planning to waive this summer and will have to pay $7M to play elsewhere.
Of course, this doesn't quite satisfy the Bulls' issues, because they're just getting about $2.8M reduction in team salary, so it doesn't quite get them under the LT line and another move would be necessary.
Also, it would be a trainwreck for our frontcourt since Harrington hasn't set foot on the court this year and Davis couldn't likely play until the beginning of May (and a 290lb guy with a broken foot is a long term risk).
From the Window to Luol suggested a Boozer to the Pistons trade but I think his numbers didn't quite work because he wasn't factoring in the fact that Rodney Stuckey has a $4M buyout. Thus, acquiring Boozer would worsen their position next year by $3.3M rather than better it (Boozer would cost them $15.3M next year vs. Charlie V + a bought out Stuckey = $12M).
I think maybe the deal could be improved from the Pistons perspective to the point they'd consider it by including Jonas Jerebko, who for some reason they insisted on playing at the 3 and then got tired of. He's more a 4. But he's signed for a while. So if the Bulls were to take him back too, the Pistons would likely trade Stuckey, Charlie V and Jerebko ($42M in salary going out and $17.1M next year assuming a Stuckey buyout) for Boozer ($47.1M in salary, but only $15.3M next year). So the total cost to the Pistons is only about $5M total, and it actually gives them more cap space for next year. Boozer would be a better player for them than CV and Jonas, and a better alternative to paying Stuckey to go away.
The problem with this idea is that it actually hurts the Bulls cap position this year. Even if you include Teague and Belli going back to the Pistons (which costs them another $2.7M they may not want to spend, the Bulls run into the hard tax and don't get under the LT. Now, as From the Window pointed out, this could maybe be alleviated by getting a third team to take on Stuckey, but it's still a little bit of a crapshoot in my opinion, because those three and four team trades are very difficult to lineup.
My best shot, I guess, would be:
Boozer, Teague, Belli, Vlad to Pistons
Stuckey, Nazr to Magic
Villanueva, Jerebko, McRoberts to Bulls.
Alternatively, if the Bulls include Rip and a pick and take out McRoberts, the Bulls may land Redick and get under the tax.
Still, in both alternatives, the Bulls would be at or above the tax line next year, so I think the likelihood of keeping Redick is about 0. So I think I'd rather keep the pick.