Theand have engaged in exploratory trade discussions on a deal that would swap the Bulls' for the Raptors' , according to sources familiar with the discussions.
Other players with smaller contracts would have to be added to the deal to make the salary-cap math work should talks indeed progress to a more serious level. But sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that both teams have considered the move.
From Chicago's perspective, sources said, Bargnani's arrival could help address its glaring lack of 3-point shooting and brighten the overall look of its payroll, given the Italian forward makes $5 million less than Boozer this season.
KC Johnson has followed up with the tidbit that the Bulls were the ones who initiated the talks.
Boozer for Bargnani isn't an entirely new idea: they're both ultimately disappointing players on large contracts that run the same length. But this is the first time it's rumored to have been discussed by the teams themselves.
Now as you try and figure out scenarios, keep in mind that while the Raptors would have to take back more money in any deal (as Bulls are hard-capped), they are (by my quick calculation) a little over $4.3m under the luxury tax themselves. The Bulls are currently $3.75m over, so there are ways for this potential deal to get the Bulls under the tax while keeping the Raptors under as well.
Honestly (and sadly, I guess), that may be the primary motivation for such a trade. And it'd be similarly beneficial for with next season too, as the Bulls will then be in just as costly of a tax situation as they are now. This would be potentially bad for any plan of 2014 free agency, as Bargnani has an $11.5m player option (specifically, an ETO) for 2014-15. Boozer is owed $16.8m that season, but he is eligible for the amnesty provision whereas Bargnani wouldn't be. But remember, while amnesty is a way to clear off a cap figure, it still requires the Bulls paying that money. It could be possible they don't want to do that even if it helps their cap situation.
Now when it comes to on the court, and this requires more thought, but: Boozer has been better this season and throughout his career. Booz also, despite what Bargnani can potentially bring in terms of addressing team shooting weaknesses, a better fit for a playoff push. But long-term, we really can't be fooled by Boozer's great few weeks, and instead must recognize he's on a downward trend. Bargnani has been awful the past two seasons but is much younger with the potential to be Thibs-dusted. I wouldn't consider this to be a move that helps the Bulls, but those factors offer some reason for subjectivity involved in determining that.