This is in collaboration(basically we like to tell eachother how awesome our blogs are.) with NBA blog giants CelticsBlog and FB&G, and our respective readers (that includes you), to try and swindle the Timberwolves one last time. I'll offer up my thoughts and then I ask you then to supplement my ideas (or trash mine and have your own) by coming up with what you would offer for Garnett, with only the realms of plausibility(both talent and cap-wise) to guide you. This turns out to be pretty complicated given the Bulls current situation, and you have to make some assumptions...so I'll be lenient with the cap shenanigans. It's the curse of Pax's fiscal responsibility!
Go through the jump to the other side for the rest.
The Bulls were in a much better position to trade for Kevin Garnett over this past trading deadline, but unfortunately Minnesota decided to hold on to him. With a lot of expiring contracts (most noticeably P.J. Brown's $8m) coming off the books, the Bulls will have a difficult time coming up with enough salary to get within the range that can be matched with Garnett's $22m in a trade.
The problem (if you could call it that), is that the Bulls best players are still on their rookie contracts. The only two high-salaried players signed for next season are Ben Wallace and Kirk Hinrich. This may mean that they will be actually under the cap going into the offseason, but not significantly so.
The Bulls have 2 young players with expiring contracts, Chris Duhon and Viktor Khryapa, that could be worthwhile to Minnesota either for salary or talent, depending on how they'd fit in over that year. One of the major assets the Bulls could give up in a Garnett trade is Tyrus Thomas. Tyrus has incredible athleticism and is already a fine shotblocker, and could be a piece the new-look Timberwolves would want to build around. This year's pick from the Knicks is likely expendable, but doesn't carry any salary for trading purposes. (feel free to verify or disprove that, btw. If they can trade the pick after draft night that's likely around $2m)
One way to add salary is to include restricted free agent Andres Nocioni as a sign-and-trade. Nocioni has value and is still young (27) so Minnesota may be interested in trading for his long-term deal. But if they're not Nocioni will likely be able to get a long-term deal with another team.
Beyond that is where the tough decisions lie. The thing I think the Bulls need to be careful of is giving up too much and creating another hole and still being one player away even after getting Garnett. This has to be the move that gets the Bulls a championship. So including Kirk Hinrich (and his $11m contract) would be enough for a Garnett deal, but I really can't see the Bulls trading him with no in-house replacement, (and I'm including the possibility of Duhon not being traded, he's not an adequate starting point guard) and I don't think the Wolves sending back James, Hudson, or Jaric would help matters either. They also would likely hold on to Ben Gordon, as they'll need his scoring especially in late-game situations when Garnett is passing up instead of taking the last shot.
That leaves Luol Deng. We've all read that the Bulls refused to include Deng in the Gasol trade talks, but Garnett is a step above in performance and would immediately fit in with what the Bulls do already (defender, hard worker, etc). Would they include Deng in a trade? I think that may be what they would need to do, although Minnesota could be desperate to get something before Garnett opts out of his contract and may accept less.
So while some cap (and roster space) shenanigans may be in order to get this done, a package of Deng, Thomas, Nocioni (sign/trade), Duhon, Khryapa, and the '07 pick would be what the Bulls could potentially offer. They can use Thabo Sefolosha and Adrian Griffin to hold down the 3 position, as well as patch up the roster with their free agent cap exemptions.
But while it may work on paper, it's rare that a team can survive dealing away half of their active roster for one guy, even if it is Kevin Garnett. The major hurdle is that Garnett makes so much more than the current league maximum. I think going after someone in the $10-$15m salary range would make more sense, someone like Gasol or Zach Randolph. That would require less talent too. Or just continue to wait, either for Garnett to opt out or maybe even going after the class of '03 when their recently-signed extensions run out. Ben Wallace doesn't seem to be aging gracefully, but there's no reason to compound that (potential) big-money mistake by rushing into another one. Their current core is still very young and after next season should have fat contracts of their own that will make acquiring a max-level player much easier on me and the trade machine.
So have at it. Fix up this mockery of a deal and get the Bulls some bodies back besides Garnett...maybe getting a 3rd team involved. Or if you're willing to deal Hinrich or Gordon, let me know that as well. For reference, here is the Bulls future salary obligations, as well as future draft pick obligations.