Unfortunately, as has become all too common for the Chicago Bulls, they seem poised to whiff on another marquee free agent. Carmelo Anthony appears to be headed back to the New York Knicks, which means the Bulls need to shift their focus to Kevin Love immediately.
Here’s the way it works: The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly asking any team trading for Love to take back Kevin Martin as part of the deal. The Bulls, if they amnesty Boozer, which they are apparently ready to do, have more than enough flexibility to manage that.
The transaction, due to the way the CBA limits the amount of money teams can take back in trades, would actually be broken into two separate trades. If you’re curious, you can read about it in Larry Coon’s excellent FAQ.
Trade 1: The Bulls receive Kevin Love in return for Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy Jr., the rights to Nikola Mirotic, the Sacramento Kings pick the Bulls received in the Luol Deng trade, and first rounders from the Bulls in 2015 and 2017.
This trade works because the Bulls are sending out $11.3 million in salary and receiving $15.8 million, which is within the CBA’s limits. The Bulls would have about $72.5 million in salary committed next year after this, below the projected luxury tax line.
Trade 2: The Bulls receive Kevin Martin in exchange for Tony Snell and the non-guaranteed contracts of Mike James, Lou Amundson and Ronnie Brewer.
This trade also works, as the Bulls send out just under $5.5 million and receive about $6.7 million, also within the CBA’s limits. They would also remain under the tax line.
For Minnesota, the draw comes from shedding Martin’s salary, three future first round picks, an elite prospect in Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson, who could be flipped for further assets, or kept as a very good starter on a very reasonable contract. As currently constructed, the Wolves would be slightly over the cap. After this trade (and after waiving James, Brewer and Amundson), they would have somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million in cap room, or they could elect to stay over the cap and use their exceptions without worrying at all about the tax line.
The Bulls, meanwhile, could amnesty Boozer and then keep the full mid-level exception ($5 million) and the Bi-Annual Exception, which comes in at around $2 million. That way, they’d have a decent offer to make to Pau Gasol, who they’re reportedly interested in, or somebody else who would also help. Ed Davis or Jordan Hill, maybe. They would also have enough cash to get a backup point guard and/or another wing.
Just imagine it: Derrick Rose, Kevin Martin, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love and Joakim Noah as the starters, then backup point guard x, shooting wing y, Doug McDermott, big man z and Greg Smith off the bench, with the final three roster spots filled by minimum guys. That is unquestionably a championship-calibre team.
You’re welcome, GarPax. Now go get it done.