After being one-upped in the all-important “Cap Space Race” by the Miami Heat — who created extra financial flexibility by trading Daequan Cook and their first round pick in last night’s draft — the Bulls countered by reportedly agreeing to send Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Washington Wizards for (you guessed it!) extra financial flexibility.
Take that, Pat Riley.
According to ESPN the Magazine’s Ric Bucher: “The Chicago Bulls have a deal in place that would move Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Washington Wizards, freeing up enough cap space to pursue two maximum-salary players in this summer’s free-agent market, sources with knowledge of the Bulls’ plans said Thursday.”
Now, the reason I say the Bulls have “reportedly” agreed to this trade is because it cannot become official until July 8. See, that’s when the Wiz will have enough room under the salary cap to absorb Hinrich’s contract without exchanging a player or players of similar value.
So last night, the Bulls selected Kevin Seraphin with the 17th pick. And yes, he slapped on a Bulls hat after his name was called, but it’s somewhere between “very unlikely” and “highly unlikely” that he’ll ever wear a Bulls jersey. He’s headed to Washington. Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.
After picking Seraphin, Gar Forman released the following statement:
“This evening we selected Kevin Seraphin with the 17th overall pick of the NBA Draft,” Forman said. “At this time, we are currently in discussions to trade our draft rights to Kevin Seraphin; however, we will not be able to complete a trade until after the moratorium period concludes on July 8.
“With that said, we are not at liberty to identify the team that we are talking to or reveal any other specifics of potential trades. Therefore, we will have no comment on this selection until we have completed all trade discussions.”
Mind you, Chicago’s agreement with the Wizards is what you’d call a “good-faith deal.” In other words, either party could back out before July 8. Obviously, the Bulls aren’t going to — they started trying to dump Kirk’s contract about fve minutes after the ink dried — but Washington could.
However, it appears the Sacramento Kings — who relieved the Bulls of Andres Nocioni’s contract back in 2009 — would be willing to make a Hinrich-for-cap-space exchange if the Wizards get cold feet.
But assuming the trade goes through as planned…what does that mean?
According to Bucher: “Either way, moving Hinrich and the pick would push Chicago’s space under the cap from $20 million to more than $30 million. That puts the Bulls on equal footing with the Miami Heat in pursuing not just one but two members of a free-agent class that is expected to include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson.”
So…although a theoretical core of Bosh-LeBron-Wade would trump LeBron-Noah-Rose, would it trump Bosh-LeBron-Rose-Noah? Or LeBron-Johnson-Noah-Rose? Or Boozer-LeBron-Noah-Rose? Or LeBron-Noah-Rose-Stoudemire? Or Bosh-Johnson-Rose-Noah? Or…?!
And that’s not to mention Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and James Johnson. The only other supporting character the Heat have on staff right now is Michael Beasley…and they want nothing more than to get rid of him.
Look, I was a big fan of Kirk Hinrich. I liked the utility he provided. I liked the way he could play both guard spots, the way he could defend three positions, the way he never backed down and did what he was told with relatively few complaints (the occasional sour look notwithstanding).
But let’s face it: Expunging his salary opens up a lot of amazing possibilities for the Bulls. Many things will have to happen before it’s all said and done — two big-namers must agree to sign, and management will have to fill out the roster with a couple shooters and a few capable backups — but the Bulls could become championship contenders by as early as…
And seriously, why wouldn’t the big-namers want to come here? As John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times pointed out: “With a nucleus of point guard Derrick Rose (the team’s first All-Star since the Jordan era), center Joakim Noah, small forward Luol Deng and power forward Taj Gibson, the Bulls have more quality talent in place than any other of the teams with significant cap room.”
And don’t think the big boys aren’t taking notice.
This is what Bosh had to say on ESPN Radio yesterday: “Chicago is a team worth checking out. When you have a city like Chicago and you have young talent like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and a new coach like Tom Thibodeau, that’s something worth looking at. I know they’re all about winning. I know they have a winning tradition in Chicago and I know they’re trying to get back there.”
Of course, Bosh also said: “Toronto is a great place. … They have a lot of good things going. And they’re definitely a team that I’m going to be looking at very hard because they can do things that other teams can’t.”
In other words, they can offer him more money than anybody else can. So, like I said, many things will have to happen before Bulls fans start buying their 2011 NBA Finals tickets in advance.
But it’s starting to look like the sky’s the limit.