Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
The NBA trade deadline is coming up on February 20th. One of the teams expected to be very active on or before that date are the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls are looking to free up money to also be active in the free agent market and the draft this offseason. There is a crop of great players in both markets that will be available this summer.
Even though they are just a game away from the third seed in the Eastern Conference, I do not believe anyone in the Bulls front office has any title dream this year. After Derrick Rose’s injury, the Bulls just washed their hands of this season and decided to try again next season.
Rumors are flying all over the place, so let me just put together a few of the possibilities.
The Golden State Warriors expected to have one of the top four spots in the tough Western Conference at the start of the season, but so far they find themselves fighting with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies for one of the last two playoff spots. They will be looking to be buyers at the deadline.
One of the spots Golden State is looking to shore up is point guard. They have one of the best shooters in the league in Stephen Curry, but he is fragile and they need a dependable backup.
The player Golden State is reportedly interested in is Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich is a perfect candidate to be a backup on a contending team. He is a strong competitor, dependable, and smart on the floor. Yes, he has broken down in his return to the Bulls, but that is because he is playing a lot of minutes he was not projected to play over the last season and a half.
The player who the Bulls may want in return for Hinrich is Harrison Barnes. The Warriors have a solid pair of wing players in Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson so they might be willing to part with Barnes.
Barnes is a young player who the Bulls could end up keeping. He is in his second year, is averaging 9.6 points a game for his career (10.3 this season) in about 27 minutes a game. Interestingly, last year as a rookie in the playoffs, his minutes went up to 38 and his scoring went up to 16. This could be an intriguing deal. Let’s see how the talks on this one progress.
The Houston Rockets are the fifth seed in the West so far. They need another shooter on the team, and there are reports that they covet Mike Dunleavy Jr.
The return for the Bulls could be draft picks. This would save the Bulls $3 million and a pick they could turn around and trade later. Remember, the Bulls are looking primarily to free up cap space for established veterans. Yes, they can get some young talent in the draft, but the vets are the prizes they are looking for.
Carlos Boozer opened his mouth last week and complained about his lack of minutes at the end of games. GM Gar Forman expressed his regret that Boozer went public with his displeasure, and that may hasten his departure from Chicago.
There are reports that the San Antonio Spurs are interested in Boozer (among other Bulls players). The problem with that is Boozer’s huge contract. He is making $15.3 million this season, and next season is due $16.8 million. To make a deal with the Spurs, players like Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner, and trade exceptions the Bulls have from trading Luol Deng and Marquis Teague, would have to be included. The Bulls will shed Boozer’s contract, but the Spurs will not be able to help them do so. Boozer seems headed to a town called Amnestyville.
Taj Gibson is having a career year. He has been one of the Bulls most dependable players. So dependable that he is the reason why Boozer is crying about his lack of minutes late in games.
Because of his great play, Gibson has become a hot commodity. The Bulls have yet to hear something that would pique their interest, however.
Gibson represents how serious the Bulls are at being big players this summer. If they trade him, then it looks as if they will make a run at getting Carmelo Anthony and perhaps another big name.
It will be a roller-coaster ride to February 20th. More rumors will be swirling around, some of them with some truth, some of them ridiculous. We just have to hold on until the dust settles.