Well, it’s that time of year again in the NBA. The trade deadline is fast approaching, and of course, as it relates to the Bulls, the talk around Chicago is if the team will make a move.
The success the team has seen this season without Derrick Rose has some fans thinking that there is an outside chance of a deep playoff run and, possibly, even the NBA Finals. A good, competitive showing in the playoffs sounds more realistic than the Bulls reaching the Finals with their All-Star and MVP having been back on the court just a few months.
But that hasn’t slowed speculation that there’s an outside shot at the Finals and with the right trade, it could very well be a realistic possibility. Or is it?
Despite how well the team has played thus far, they have a few things working against them that would make it very difficult to pull off a trade, with the biggest obstacle being the salary cap. The Bulls are just barely over the luxury tax threshold and realistically only have about $200,000 to spend before they reach the hard cap.
In order for them to pull off a trade, they would have to give up and also take back salary of a similar amount. Which leads to the second issue: the Bulls don’t really have a lot of players of value that other teams would want and that they themselves would be comfortable dealing.
Rip Hamilton seems a likely candidate for a trade, but despite his relatively cheap and expiring contract, age and attrition make him less than desirable for other teams around the league. They could try and package Rip with another player, but who? Nazr Mohammed? No. Vladimir Radmanovic? Highly unlikely. Marquis Teague? Nope.
It doesn't seem like the Bulls would be willing to part with guys like Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, either. Truth be told, the most valuable -- and likely -- trade chips the Bulls have right now are Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Those are the only two players on the roster that the other 29 teams would have an interest in.
Butler, with the way he’s performed of late and the strides you clearly can see him making in his development, is likely untouchable. Gibson, who hasn’t played as well this season since signing his new contract extension, would be a likely trade chip, but dealing him would leave a gaping hole in the front line, especially if the team uses him to acquire the type of player they really need: another ball handler/scoring threat on the perimeter.
The reality is the Bulls don’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of tradable personnel and most importantly, salary. If they were to make a trade by the deadline, it would come as a complete shock and would most likely damage the chemistry the team has worked so hard to build this season.
So if you’re one of those people hoping for the Bulls to make a deal at the deadline, I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.
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