Hey guys. The Chicago Bulls have seemingly been written off for championship contention until the 2014 season when they can dramatically revamp their roster. This is dead wrong. The impetus for this post is the observation that the Bulls have relatively few gaps in their roster and that the Bulls will have the following assets for use in trade:
1. Kirk and Rip's contracts. That is, 9 million in trade-able salary. Further, as Rip has a 1 million dollar buyout, this is essentially a 5 million dollar expiring deal for the receiving team, attached to a very workable backup point guard and veteran presence.
2. A 5 million dollar trade exception. Note that this cannot be used in conjunction with a traded player. It is entirely for the purpose of taking back salary (YFBB did a post on the subject of this exception).
3. Taxpayer MLE. This is good for 3 million per year for three years and can be split up between players. I am decent at salary cap contortions and am pretty sure that we can use this one and that we won't be hard-capped in the process, but I may be wrong.
4. Charlotte pick, Bull's 1st and 2nd round picks, Marquis Teague.
Our two clear areas of need if we are to contend next year are the following:
1. A wing who can score.
2. Fill out the big man rotation.
For the sake of this exercise, I will assume that we draft Dieng of Withey as our fourth big man so we need only focus on getting that scoring wing with the above assets. For the record, I like the idea of starting Jimmy/Lu but we need someone who can really make baskets in that rotation if we are going to contend. Ideally, the mini MLE can become Kyle Korver so I will focus one more wing player to fill out the rotation using Kirk and Rip's contracts as well as other assets.
A. Kirk + Rip + Bulls 2014 1st rounder + cash for Marcus Thorton.
The Kings have way too much wing depth (although some of it may be exiting after this season) so it seems like we may have a shot at this guy. That Bulls 1st rounder may need to be upgraded to the Charlotte pick. I am not sure. The only thing I know about Thorton is that he kills us once or twice a year, and that I do like his game. A wing rotation of Jimmy / Lu / Thorton / Korver has it all. Thorton is on a good contract, making 8 million a year through 2015. If we can make it worth the King's while, they may just bite.
As a side note, this is pretty much the only moveable, desirable player in the 8-10 million dollar range. Contracts of this size are a wasteland of some of the all-time least productive NBA players.
B. Kirk + Rip for Shawn Marion + Dallas 2013 1st round pick.
Dallas does this because it trims 5.5 million from their payroll ahead of a free agency period where they are expected to be very active (difference in salaries + draft pick's salary). They also get a reliable point guard which they have been clamoring for all season. We get the draft pick and the matrix to fill out our forward rotation. I think that this portion is win-win. The timing is such that they would have to draft the player and then trade him to us in July, before they sign the player. I am pretty sure this is legal.
C. Boozer for Eric Gordon.
Gordon had the potential to be a top-5 wing in this league but has been derailed by injuries. I say this often, but the time to buy is when blood is running on the streets. He just got handed a big contract. He just got benched by his coach after a shouting match. He hasn't playing in over 80% of a season's games since 2009. The streets are red with blood! His value is at an all time low and may even be worse than Boozer's with his awful contract. Now, if Gordon can turn it around, then we are in a good spot. Never forget that this happened:
It is a huge risk but this is the type of big move that could get us into contention with our core as constructed. This would have to be coupled with a move for another PF. Suggestion B would work out quite well in conjunction with this trade.
D. Evan Turner for Bulls 2014 pick.
Philly is in a strange spot but, even with no real team identity, Evan Turner still does not seem to fit. I do not like his game much and his personality seems distasteful, but his contract fits in with the trade exception. Other players that we could get in this manner are Jason Terry and Lou Williams if you think that we need more of the bench scorer type.
Alright gang, that's it. You may or may not agree with any of these trades but, the fact is, with a little creativity, the Bulls have the assets to make some serious moves this off-season while still keeping the Lu / Jo / DRose core together. I would be pleased to hear any of your suggestions. I would be even more pleased if the front office used some of this "flexibility" to "put them over the top". Let's hear what you have to say.