Since the Bulls apparently haven't done this, I'll get the ball rolling. The bottom line, as I see is, is that after running the numbers I believe the Bulls would have a hard time making a credible offer to Melo. They can't make a max offer without trading Taj Gibson away, but they could make a fairly sizeable offer that, if Melo is truly willing to take a haircut, could get him here.
Before we consider sign and trades and stuff like that, the Bulls first need to be able to sign him outright. Because if they can't do that, there's no reason at all for the Knicks to entertain a sign and trade. The threat of signing outright must be real in order to generate leverage for a sign and trade.
With a Boozer amnesty, the Bulls cap situation will be:
Rose $18.86 Noah $12.20 Gibson $8.00 Dunleavy $3.33 Snell $1.47 Butler $2.01 Hamilton (waived) $.33 Mirotic (cap hold) $1.08 2014 #15 $1.55 2014 #19 $1.27 Roster Charge ($510k x 2) = $1.02M Total =
If the cap is going to be about $62.1M as projected, that means the biggest offer the Bulls can make is approximately
$11.4M $10.9M. Not enough to make a credible offer to Melo (and please, if you're stupid enough to think this is a credible offer to get him to come and play here, don't share your opinion with the rest of us).
But... the Bulls could, I would guess, find teams to take Dunleavy, Snell, and their two 2014 draft picks for nothing if they so desired. This would clear another $7.61M off their books, but add another 4 roster holds at $2.03M, so it would net us the ability to make an offer of up to $16.99M.
Finally, we could ask Mirotic to stay overseas for 1 more year, which would let us add another $500k (net minus another roster charge) or so, to make a maximum hypothetical
$17.55M $16.48M offer.
That seems like the absolute best we could do while still keeping the core of the team together. Which we need to do, because the whole point of the exercise is to have a ready made team that has a legitimate shot at winning the title from day one. If not, there's not any more point in Melo coming here than there is to him going anywhere else.
So what it really boils down to is whether Melo wants out enough to come for
$17.5M $16.5M to starting salary. Basically, this would be a 4 year, $75M $70M offer.
If he stays with the Knicks or can get them to agree to a sign and trade, then he can get a 4 year $101M offer or a 5 year $130M offer. That is, he'd be leaving $31M on the table over the same amount of time, and another $30M of uncertainty vs. the final year that the Knicks could offer.
So... I think he probably wouldn't do this, because he's just leaving too much money on the table. We're not talking about a piddling amount here. It's $31M at minimum, and $56M at the upper end. So I think if I were the Knicks, I'd just refuse to engage in sign and trade talks in the first place, and call Melo's bluff. That's the key reason I don't think Melo will come here. The money is just too much.
Plus, while it's likely the Bulls can find takers for all of those pieces, it's not at all certain. The NBA is full of greedy bastards, and while occasionally a David Kahn type will do the Heat a favor and take Michael Beasley for nothing, more GMs would probably try to hold out for more. Not just because they can, but because they don't want to be the guy who gave some other team a title.
Finally, some will say we could just do the same thing with Taj, and trade him for nothing. Well... maybe, but again, the way I see it, that's upsetting the apple cart because the whole point is to get a title-ready team. Coming to a team with a gaping hole at a position isn't an obvious upgrade.
Edit: As pointed by poker_punker, I had a formula mistake, so I've updated the post to correct them. Turns out we could only offer about $16.5M, which makes things that much less likely.
So realistically, the only way we can get where we need to be is by being willing and able to trade Taj in order to create cap room to sign Melo outright. If we can do that, I suppose it's still a possibility to engage the Knicks in a sign and trade, but again, if I was them, I'd make us, and Melo, put up or shut up.