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How can Mike Sweetney still help?

[Well, Sweetney's qualifying offer may not even exist, according to RealGM. Rasberries]

Yeah, not much going on lately. But I've been thinking about that last roster spot and wondering what exactly is happening with Mike Sweetney. While whoever is in that spot may not be useful anyway, is it possible that Sweets and his qualifying offer can provide value even if he just sits on the bench and eats whole icecream cakes the entire season?

(I actually think he could be useful, but he's been in Skiles' doghouse for so long he likely made it his billing address. And the Bulls like their bigs to move and flop around, so it's just not a good fit. If he does get let go I'll write a more fitting obit)

The news on Sweetney has been sparse all offseason. He's been mentioned on a couple blogs, and the last Bulls related reference was from Paul Ledewski of the Southtown:

The Bulls made a $3.7 million qualifying offer to retain his rights, but the veteran center has no role in the master plan.

So what does that exactly mean?

In order to make their free agent a restricted free agent, a team must submit a qualifying offer to the player by June 30. The qualifying offer must be for one season.  A player can elect to accept his qualifying offer (the qualifying offer must be accepted by March 1) and play the following season under its terms. A team can withdraw its qualifying offer to a restricted free agent, in which case the player becomes unrestricted.

I've read no news that the qualifying offer has been pulled, so I'm guessing the waiting game is still out there to see if Sweets gets an offer sheet anywhere.

But maybe it'd be the best for both sides to just accept the qualifying offer. Sweetney gets a nice payday (hoopshype says the qualifying offer is for $3,654,375), and that salary now also becomes a coveted expiring contract to trade midseason.

...sort of:

Generally, a player cannot be traded until three months after signing a contract or December 15th of that season, whichever is later. In addition, if the player is playing under a one-year contract and will have Larry Bird or Early Bird rights at the end of the contract, he can't be traded without his consent.  If consent is granted and the player is traded, then he loses his Larry Bird or Early Bird rights, and enters free agency as a Non-Bird free agent.

So it's not like a typical expiring deal, clearly. But the trade consent and waiving of Bird rights may not be that difficult given a player of Sweetney's stature, as it's not likely he'd make more than the MLE anyway in a future deal.

The contract may come in handy, since the Bulls already used their MLE on Joe Smith, this is their best way to get another big contract. Then between Sweetney, Duhon, and Khryapa, that'd  be over $8.8m in expiring money to add to a prospect (or better, if the Bulls are going after a big fish) for a midseason deal.

It's an idea, anyway. I suppose it borders on cap circumvention, but if the player signs the deal then everyone should seemingly be happy. Deals and signings are made for cap reasons all the time so this isn't much different. But it reminds me of the idea floated by Bill Simmons (among others) that the Bulls should've tried to 'roll over' PJ Brown's expiring contract so they had another big trading peace for this offseason. Like, say, a deal last year sending PJ for Kurt Thomas (who makes similar money although he was signed for this coming season). Sure, it makes sense, but then the implication that you're trading for a guy with the clear intention to deal him a season later....just seems odd. But that's they way the NBA is these days, an era where lonely bloggers can look up Salary Cap rules and dream up situations where Mike Sweetney gets paid.

(for more of my cap ruminations, I had some fun at Celticsblog on Thursday as well)