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Chicago Bulls trade rumors: do the Bulls need to make a move to stop the bleeding?

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oh, and get under the tax of course...

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Bobby Marks of The Vertical (and formerly a front-office exec) has a brief preview of the Bulls trade deadline, and it's as underwhelming as the actual deadline will likely be.

For one thing it's under the mindset of the Bulls still 'needing' to make the playoffs, which to be fair is likely the front office's goal still as well. And I don't even think it's an awful goal: staying 'meh' and not wasting a season is possibly a better environment to reload talent than getting the 14th pick while the franchise gets trashed openly. Free Agents are probably not that keen on coming anyway, but tanking will possibly make it worse, and poison the well for both Hoiberg and some key pieces who you'd like to keep.

(If you think all of those reasons, and more, are beyond hope anyway...I won't yell at you, but you should probably stop reading because this isn't to advocate a total tear-down)

So that's probably why you have Marks classifying Gasol and Gibson as guys you can't move, or Doug McDermott being an 'important' young player to keep, or Tony Snell having 'tremendous value' (huh?).

What that post doesn't get into is something I think the Bulls lifers in the front office could consider, and deftly pointed out in the FanPosts last week: a 'basketball reasons' trade that conveniently also gets the team out of the luxury tax.

It doesn't excuse the unlikelihood of the team being good enough to be, but the Bulls have now been so decimated by injury, with both Butler and Mirotic being out for a few more weeks along with Noah missing the season, that they could help themselves immediately by simply getting NBA Players on the roster. They can't play McDermott 35 minutes, Bobby Portis (under-rated how bad he's been) 25 minutes, and Cam Bairstow 5 minutes and be any good. The backup PG situation is as messy as originally understood now that Hinrich and Brooks have cooled off, Tony Snell should be on a different team while working on his passport, etc.

So what is this hypothetical trade? It uses Joakim Noah's $13.4m in dead money and tries to get back rosterable players, a combination of which would also provide savings of ~$4m to get the team under the Luxury Tax.

[Keep in mind, the Bulls do not need to get under the Luxury Tax, as they are in no danger of paying repeater penalties. But I can't imagine ownership wants to pay extra cash in this particular season, so it's just a likely incentive they'll have.]

So the Bulls will be looking to trade someone who can't play for those who can, AND try and save money...what would they be giving up? There are scenarios where they can help the other team save cash while taking on a cap hit (like Portland and their salary floor, it's complicated but possible). Using a first-round pick would be sheer lunacy, but possible a 2nd-rounder is required, either their own or maybe they can get one for Snell or Brooks. 2nd rounders are useful for this, so it's a shame they burned 3 on the McDermott trade.

Or a 3rd 'asset' they can use: their 2016 cap space. Even with the exploding cap, the Bulls won't cap space for a max player even if they let Noah and Gasol walk, so another team could use the Bulls taking on a player paid through next season in hope of increasing their own cap space.  MikeDC's example was something like the Knicks dealing the Bulls Jose Calderon and Kyle O'Quinn, to give you an idea.

This is a pretty bad outcome, as they'd be tying up their team next year on mediocre players, and lose Noah's bird rights and lack of cap space to re-sign him. But it'd be the kind of job-saving (or at least stay of execution) move the Bulls could possibly make, and if you turned off your brain it'd even look like a 'basketball move'. I think there are ways to move money while dealing Gasol (as the asset) to achieve this without eating into 2016, but it may not bring the immediate talent back to get the Bulls out of their tailspin. And that's something I think the Bulls are more concerned about than bigger-picture issues with this whole roster.