Update 7/13/14: I'm updating this post with the aftermath of officially missing Melo, agreeing to terms with Gasol, and the word that we're unloading Greg Smith onto the Mavs for, basically, nothing I assume.
The key development would seem to be that since we couldn't agree on a S&T for Gasol, the Bulls will have to amnesty Boozer and fall below the salary cap in order to sign him to the approximately $6.5M starting contract we've promised him. Maintaining the assumption that Mirotic gets an MLEish deal (either his or Gasol will have to come in a tad under now that the cap has come in slightly below estimates ~$63.07M instead of 63.2M) the contract to Gasol reflects the entirety of our salary cap space.
|5||M. Dunleavy||$ 3.33|
|7||D. McDermott||$ 1.90|
|9||A. Randolph||$ 1.83|
|10||T. Snell||$ 1.47|
|12||Cap Hold||$ 0.51|
Add these up and you get $63.07M, which is the salary cap. We have the room exception left ($2.732M). Also, I assume the Bulls would manipulate their new contracts to stay a couple dollars below the cap to give them some different options in how they trade players. But basically, their options will be to use the room exception and sign veteran minimum players, and/or to pursue trades with the players they've got under contract.
One variable here is that we don't really know what Mirotic is going to command. At the low end of things, his current cap hold is only $1.08M. But because the Room Exception is only a 2 year contract and he must be signed for at least 3, we would have to use cap space to sign him if we don't use the rookie scale. I've also seen it supposed the $3M or so will get Mirotic. In which case we would have about $2.13M in cap space left. Which is a decent, if not overly large amount.
- Mirotic current cap hold $1.08M ~ $4M in cap space.
- Mirotic at $3M ~ $2.1M in cap space
- Mirotic at $5.3M (MLE) ~ $0 in cap space.
Next, let's consider trade possibilities in light of the acquisition of Gasol. It would be my basic point here that bringing in Gasol and Mirotic makes it easier to trade away Taj Gibson. It's not that I immediately want to trade Taj, I'm just pointing out the obvious here.
- I think this, combined with the fact that the Cavs actually don't appear willing to trade Andrew Wiggins, re-opens the possibility of trading for Kevin Love. In addition, Flip Saunders has made it known (that's how I'm taking the rumor) he'd actually like what the Bulls have. Actually, he'd like pretty much the entire Bulls team. I think that's excessive, but it's a starting point. If we're being realistic here, let's propose a deal: Bulls trade Taj, Mirotic, Butler, Randolph (not actually sure about this. The Bulls can trade him in combination with other players if they are below the salary cap. Which they would be at the beginning of the trade, but not after the trade, owing to KLove's additional salary putting the Bulls over the cap) future 1sts for Kevin Love. This largely splits the difference between what the TWolves want and what the Bulls would realistically give up. Yes, losing Jimmy hurts, but Rose/Love/Noah/Gasol with Dunleavy/McDermott/Snell/Room-Level Exception is better. End of story. And if you don't want to end the story there, you can consider the possibility of Jimmy's contract next year after seeing what guys this summer got (If PJ Tucker is getting $5M and Gordon Hayward is getting $15M, then Jimmy is gonna be closer to the high end).
- Or Bulls trade Taj Gibson, Tony Snell, future first for Goran Dragic. Dragic has been rumored to be available, and makes approximately the same amount as Taj. The Suns could really use a 4 after losing Frye, and we could really use a tallish playmaking guard.
- The Bulls trade Taj and Randolph to a team under the cap (e.g. Utah) Alec Burks and a future first and sign Luol Deng to a 3 year $30M contract. Yeah, I went there. And you look at this team and tell me it's not better than what we've got now.
1- Rose, Hinrich
2- Butler, Burks, McDermott, Snell
3- Deng, Dunleavy, McDermott
4- Gasol, Mirotic
5- Noah, Gasol
Would I trade Taj for Deng (who, by the way, is a month younger), Alec Burks, and a future first? You're damn straight I would.
Assuming Melo is really signing with New York, the Bulls best remaining option is to not exercise the amnesty option on Boozer, but instead pursue a trade of him for a useful player on a two year deal. This is because:
* Kevin Love no longer appears to be a realistic option for several reasons.
1. Nikola Mirotic was our most enticing trade chip, but he's signalled that he doesn't want to be traded as part of his negotiations with the Bulls. While he doesn't have total leverage over the situation, he certainly has some since he can state in Europe, and the threat is certain to diminish his trade value.
2. It sounds increasingly likely the Cavs might offer Wiggins for him.
3. Other suitors who lost out on FAs but have lots of space may be stepping up. It seems that perhaps Flip Saunders was not wrong. Of course, I'd feel better about that if the Bulls had made a more concerted pitch to get him last month. But they didn't.
* Lance Stephenson, the only other potentially high level young FA available, is probably out of our price range. If the Bulls were to amnesty Carlos Boozer, and trade Tony Snell, Anthony Randolph, and Mike Dunleavy for nothing, they would open up just under $16M in cap space. But they would need to use approximately $5.3M of it to sign Mirotic to a deal at around the MLE. That would leave only $10.6M in cap space.
|4||x M. Dunleavy x||$ 0.51|
|6||D. McDermott||$ 1.90|
|7||x T. Snell x||$ 0.51|
|8||x A. Randolph x||$ 0.51|
|9||G. Smith||$ 0.95|
|12||Cap Hold||$ 0.51|
That adds up to $52.59M, and if the cap is $63.2M, it gives the Bulls $10.6M to spend in free agency.
In a market where lots of teams have money, and Parsons and Hayward just got $15M/yr deals, I don't see how we realistically have the chance to land Stephenson for $10.6M. So we're better off not trying.
1. Again, without trades of some combination of Dunleavy/Randolph/Snell, we'd only have about a MLE level offer for them. Brooklyn will certainly offer more for Pierce, and Pau has lots of options to choose from at that price.
2. Plus it would be a silly extravagance to pay the amnesty bill ($13-16.8M?) on Carlos Boozer in order to sign one of these guys for that. Reinsdorf would be right to laugh at this request.
3. Other FAs you can think of basically fall into the same category. Are they worth spending the amnesty money on? Not really :|
* The much more cost effective strategy is to trade off Boozer to a team with a player who has a two year deal left. That way, instead of paying a net of say, $16+$7M = $23M for Gasol, we pay something like $15M for a guy like Eric Gordon. In fact, given the reality that my prior idea, Joe Johnson, is probably not feasible (the Nets aren't dropping his salary even if they should), Eric Gordon is probably a best case. He's young, and while his knees suck, he did manage to look pretty decent when he played last year.
Trade 1: Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy for Eric Gordon and Jason Smith (S&T 1 yr guaranteed @ $5M)
Trade 2: Anthony Randolph for Austin Rivers
The rationale for including Smith, Rivers, and Dunleavy is:
1. The Pelicans really, really need a SF. They really really want to make the playoffs. Dunleavy would be a pretty good fit here. With him traded, Butler moves to the starting 3, and Gordon is the starting 2. So we're fine.
2. On the other hand, with Boozer, Asik, Davis, and Ryan Anderson, they've got the big man spots pretty crowded, so they have little incentive to re-sign Smith (who's just the sort of clear out of way and shoot jumpers big man we want with Rose and Gordon attacking the lane. Also, we can make jokes about Josh Smith and Greg Smith being brothers.
3. Rivers is obviously not working out for them, but if we're gonna take a chance on a draft bust, I'd rather have a coaches son at need position (Rivers) than a knucklehead who's been through half the league.
1- Rose, Hinrich
2- E. Gordon, Snell, Rivers
3- Butler, McNickname, Snell
4- Taj, Mirotic
5- Noah, J. Smith, G. Smith
1- Holliday, Roberts
2- Evans, Morrow
3- Dunleavy, Evans, Aminu, Babbit
4- Davis, Anderson, Boozer
5- Asik, Davis, Ajinca, Withey