What the Bulls’ trade means

Yesterday, we discussed the nuts and bolts of the Hinrich-to-Washington trade, but ESPNChicago speculates more about what superstars the Bulls will be able to sign.

But that hardly matters as moving Hinrich and his $9 million contract, and dumping their draft pick, would fatten the Bulls’ free-agent budget from $20 million to $30 million, nearly enough to pay two max-salary free agents.

In Chicago, this news is met with unabashed glee because now we get LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

Too bad because it’s a no-lose for the Bulls. And yes, that’s even if, horrors, James stays in Cleveland or goes somewhere other than Chicago. Even if he takes Bosh with him.

After Bosh, and assuming Dwyane Wade stays put, Joe Johnson is reportedly frothing to come to the Bulls, so much so, according to the Tribune, that he would be willing to sign early. At off guard, Johnson would form a dream backcourt with Derrick Rose. Carlos Boozer would complete that picture nicely. The Bulls don’t appear especially interested in Amare Stoudemire. But the next-tier David Lee, a restricted free agent and a 20-12 guy, is out there. Ray Allen is too, even at nearly 35.

Things are set up nicely for Chicago, who are set at point guard (Derrick Rose) and center (Joakim Noah), which are two positions where this free agency class is most certainly lacking. Moreover, they are still on their rookie contracts which means that the Bulls can sign LeBron/Bosh or Johnson/Boozer and then pay Rose and Noah in a few years.

Unless the Bulls completely strike out in free agency, they’ll have a core group of talented players that should be together for the next five years.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Bulls send Hinrich, #17 pick to Wizards

Take that, Miami!

Following in the Heat’s footsteps, the Chicago Bulls are trying to clear even more cap space so they can make a run at two big-name free agents on July 1.

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 on this summer’s free-agent market, sources with knowledge of the Bulls’ plans said Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Washington would send to Chicago in the trade.

Since it’s a good-faith deal for the time being, there remains a chance it could fall apart. But according to one source, the Sacramento Kings are prepared to make a similar deal with the Bulls in the Wizards’ stead if that were to happen.

Hinrich is a good defender and is talented enough to be the fourth or fifth best player on a contender, so the Bulls are giving up a good player, even though it’s creating the flexibility to sign two max free agents.

Now the Bulls can go to LeBron James and Chris Bosh and offer to sign them both to max or near-max deals to play with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.

In order to get this much talent together, a team has to have plenty of cap space (check) and 1-2 budding stars that are still on their rookie contracts (check, check). The only con to playing in Chicago is the long shadow of Michael Jordan. Will LeBron want to play in a city where his legacy has almost no chance of measuring up to that of the greatest player ever to play the game?

The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

Salmons, Hinrich trade talk

In Marc Stein’s latest trade deadline column, he discusses potential new homes for Sacramento’s John Salmons and Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich.

San Antonio, meanwhile, is in the hunt as well, pursuing Salmons — with an offer of Bruce Bowen and Ime Udoka — as a far more affordable trade target for its perimeter rotation than Vince Carter. New Jersey’s Carter has tempted the small-market Spurs for days but can be absorbed by them only in a hugely expensive and complicated deal.

There is another complication for interested parties: Sources revealed Tuesday that Salmons has a 15 percent trade kicker in his contract that would require the team that acquires him to pay him a bonus of nearly $2 million and add that figure to its payroll. Salmons otherwise would rank as one of the league’s better bargains, earning just $5.1 million this season while averaging 18.3 points and shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.8 percent on 3-pointers.

Salmons is playing heavy minutes this season and isn’t the same player coming off the bench, so if the Spurs were to acquire him, it would behoove them to insert him in their starting lineup. This might be a tough pill to swallow for a franchise that is all about chemistry and players knowing their role. If the Spurs can find a way to add Salmons without losing Roger Mason or George Hill, it would be a pretty nice move. Salmons can start, but he may not finish if Gregg Popovich goes with Mason and Manu Ginobili in crunch time.

Minnesota, according to NBA front-office sources, has strong interest in Hinrich and is pursuing the 28-year-old to address a void at lead guard that hasn’t been filled by Randy Foye (whose success this season came after a shift to shooting guard) or the undependable Sebastian Telfair.

The Wolves also have two expiring contracts of their own (Jason Collins and Rashad McCants) that they’re prepared to shed.

Wow, it’s interesting sometimes to see how far a guy’s stock has fallen. Kirk Hinrich has a very affordable contract — $26.5 million over the next three seasons — but an injury got him off to a slow start this season and he isn’t shooting the ball particularly well, so the Bulls may be willing to trade him to Minnesota for cap relief. Derrick Rose is the future at point guard and the move would allow them to re-sign Ben Gordon (though that ship has probably already sailed).

Hinrich could provide solid leadership in Minnesota. Prior to this year, he has averaged at least 6.0 assists for five consecutive seasons, and if the T-Wolves feel that Foye is really an off guard, then Hinrich should be a nice complement. With a core of Hinrich, Foye, Al Jefferson and Mike Miller (if Minny keeps him), the Timberwolves could be competitive.

Larry Hughes unhappy with limited role

Larry Hughes is averaging 19 minutes in the four games he’s played in since returning from injury, and he’s not happy with his role.

“I don’t want to play like this,” Hughes said. “I’m not comfortable with 15-20 minutes. Something has to change.”

“You have to understand that situation and I do,” Hughes said. “We have a lot of guys at one position. Somebody has to come off the bench and you accept that role. But I’m not expecting 15-20 minutes, and I don’t want to deal with that.”

Hughes, a former All-Star and starter for an NBA finalist, said he would accept coming off the bench as long as his minutes increased.

“We all understood the situation going in,” he said. “I want to give it a little time, but being put in a situation not to succeed doesn’t do me or the team any good.

“I have a lot to offer as far as helping guys out. I want to be a positive influence. But not being out there in crucial times, I don’t see the benefit.”

Where do I start?

Hughes is shooting 38% from the field in four games and he’s demanding more minutes? His dreadful FG% would not be a big deal if he had a history of being a solid shooter, but he shot 38% last season and 40% the year before, so it’s not like he’s going to suddenly light it up.

Speaking of lighting it up, Derrick Rose is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors while Ben Gordon is averaging 20.6 points on the season, so it’s not like Hughes can argue (with a straight face) that he should get more minutes at their expense.

Then there’s the issue of Kirk Hinrich coming back from injury. I’m afraid that Hughes is only going to see his minutes decrease when that happens, so he should be making the most of the playing time he’s getting now instead of complaining about it to the press. If he were more productive, the Bulls might be able to trade away Hughes and the two-years/$26 million remaining on his contract to a team that would be able to give him more minutes.

As it stands, it looks like Hughes will remain a Bull, and an unhappy one at that.

Related Posts