Beyond the Arc: A 'Melo' trade proposal

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Beyond the Arc: A 'Melo' trade proposal

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
4:35 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

OK, I know this seems like strange timing after Luol Deng scored a career-high 40 points Monday night against Portland, but then again, maybe its perfect timing for the Bulls to make another pitch for unhappy Denver superstar Carmelo Anthony.

In case you havent been following the behind-the-scenes drama, let me get you caught up. After the Nuggets opening night win last week, Anthony told reporters its time for a change. He added he wont sign the 3-year, 65 million contract extension offered by the team, saying now is the time for him to make a move to re-start his career.

The Nuggets front office was hoping Anthony might be swayed by re-joining his teammates and head coach George Karl after a long summer, and somehow be persuaded to accept the extension, especially given the uncertainties of what changes could come in the next collective bargaining agreement. But obviously, thats not the case.

Anthony saw Dwyane Wade recruit fellow superstars LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami this past summer and watched Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire move to major markets in the Eastern Conference. He also sees a Denver roster thats loaded with bad contracts and broken down players. Clearly, the long-term outlook for the Nuggets isnt all that encouraging.

So, Denvers first-year general manager Masai Ujiri is probably going to have to trade Anthony before the February deadline, or watch him walk away in free agency next summer with the Nuggets getting nothing in return.

The other development from last weekend came out of Philadelphia, where the 76ers' best player, Andre Iguodala, said hes tired of losing and might ask for a trade if the team doesnt begin to show some signs of progress after a slow start under new coach Doug Collins.

Reportedly, the Nuggets have interest in Iguodala, seeing him as a possible long-term replacement for Anthony at the small forward position. Ideally, Denvers front office is looking for an expiring contract, a young player with star potential and draft picks, but if they cant get that, a player like Iguodala might be their best hope of staying competitive while gradually re-structuring the team.

So, heres where the Bulls come in. Doug Collins has a long-standing relationship with the Duke basketball program, since his son Chris has been an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski. Doug has always spoke in glowing terms about Deng, and might see him as an ideal fit as the starting small forward in Philadelphia. And, if the 76ers need a little extra incentive, the Bulls could include a 1st round draft pick in a trade offer for Iguodala.

The trade then gets expanded to a 3-way deal, with Deng and a No. 1 going to Philly, Iguodala, Taj Gibson and the 1st round pick the Bulls acquired from Charlotte in the Tyrus Thomas deal going to Denver, and Anthony coming to Chicago. Im not 100 percent sure about the salary cap math, so James Johnson might have to be included in the package going to Denver for the salaries to match. The Bulls then instantly become the favorites in the East with a starting line-up of Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Keith BogansRonnie Brewer. And, they would be set up for at least a four-year run at championships, assuming Carmelo signs the same extension the Nuggets have been offering.

As youd expect, there would be a number of hurdles to clear for this deal to happen. Right now, Iguodala is starting at shooting guard for Philadelphia and Collins would have to be convinced its in his best interests to trade his best player for a small forward like Deng, who would join Thaddeus Young, Jason Kapono and former Bull Andres Nocioni to form a log-jam at that position. The trade would also force Philly to rush top draft pick Evan Turner into the starting lineup at shooting guard. Turner was the No. 2 pick in last summers draft and has a world of potential, but he struggled at times in the preseason, and Im not sure if Collins thinks hes ready to handle 35 minutes a night.

Also, its hard to know for sure how interested Denver actually is in a player like Iguodala, who started on the U.S. gold-medal winning team at the World Championships this past summer, but has multiple years remaining on a contract that pays about 12 million a season. The Nuggets might decide to go back to New Jersey and try to structure a deal based on promising rookie power forward Derrick Favors and Troy Murphys expiring contract, plus draft picks. Or, they could go to Anthonys top choice, the Knicks, for a package built around Eddy Currys expiring deal and one of two promising young forwards, Danilo Gallinari or former DePaul star Wilson Chandler, plus draft picks.

Any way you look at it, NBA general managers will be playing some serious poker over the next few weeks to see what if will take to get the Nuggets to cash in their talented chip.

So, what do you think? Would you make the deal suggested above? Or, should the Bulls just wait for Boozer to get healthy and play on with the team already assembled? Please post your comments in the section below or feel free to drop me an e-mail.

The Bulls played a great all-around game in win over Portland and Deng showed he can be a good fit playing off Rose in Tom Thibodeaus offense. But the reality is, this is Luols seventh NBA season and hes probably somewhere in the 10 to 15 range among NBA starting small forwards. The Bulls came up short in their bid to sign James or Wade over the summer, now they get a second chance to acquire one of the top six players in the league. If Denver would take Iguodala in a deal for Carmelo, isnt this an idea worth pursuing?

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

On the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Kevin Anderson, Vincent Goodwill and Kendall Gill welcome in SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell to discuss the Celtics' motivation to trade for Jimmy Butler. 

The guys also break down whether the league is undervaluing the Bulls All-Star. 

Later, they debate the contant Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan comparison and ask if it's fair after the King's poor showing in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. O'Donnell also analyzes the NBA Draft. He believes Terrance Ferguson is the right pick for GarPax. 

Finally, a behind the scenes look at Goodwill vs. Kendall on the court, and Kendall on the right way to parent a young athlete. 

Listen to the Bulls Talk Podcast below. 

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

Watching LeBron James tear through the Eastern Conference playoffs the way Michael Jordan used to do in his prime, it's become increasingly apparent other teams in the East will be chasing James and the Cavaliers for the next 3-5 years.

With that in mind, you have to wonder what kind of conversations are going on inside the walls of the Advocate Center as the Bulls' front office prepares for the June 22nd draft and the start of free agency on July 1st. 

Jimmy Butler earned third-team All-NBA honors on Thursday, putting him in position to earn the Designated Veteran Player Extension with another All-NBA selection in either 2018 or 2019. Under terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that could mean a contract starting at $42 million in 2019-20 with a total five-year value of over $246 million.

Are the Bulls prepared to pay that kind of money to a player who has logged big minutes over his career and will turn 30 just before the 2019-20 season?

If not, the best time to deal Butler would be right now. Butler is coming off the best season of his NBA career, including a starting spot for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game. Plus, he still has two more guaranteed years on his contract at far below market value for one of the top 15 players in the league.

Tuesday's draft lottery pretty much eliminated Boston from a potential Butler trade. Celtics' GM Danny Ainge loves Washington point guard Markelle Fultz and is locked in to drafting him with the number one pick. Boston's future couldn't look brighter after finishing with the best regular season record in the East, advancing to the Conference Finals, and winning the lottery.

The Celtics will add Fultz and still have enough cap room to offer a max deal to free agent swingman Gordon Hayward, who played collegiately for Boston coach Brad Stevens at Butler. How does a starting line-up of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Hayward, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley sound, with a second unit of Fultz, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk? It might not be good enough to take down the Cavs or Warriors, but should position the Celtics for a long run as a serious contender.

So, if the Celtics are out, where would the Bulls look for a possible Butler deal? Phoenix probably holds the best combination of assets, starting with the No. 4 overall pick. If point guards Fultz, Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox go 1-2-3, the Bulls could grab Kansas forward Josh Jackson, an Andrew Wiggins-clone who could wind up being the best player in this draft.

The Suns also have a pair of intriguing young power forwards in Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, both top 10 picks a year ago. Plus, Phoenix could include 23-year-old small forward T.J. Warren and Chicago native Tyler Ulis in the package going back to the Bulls.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough is reportedly under pressure to show significant improvement next season after winning just 47 games combined over the last two years. Adding another young player to the roster isn't the best way to improve the team immediately, so don't be surprised if the Suns make a pitch to acquire Butler in the days leading up to the draft.

Similar story in Philadelphia, where the Sixers own the third overall pick next month. Under former GM Sam Hinkie, the "trust the process" approach led to a roster purge and the acquisition of lottery picks. Right now, the Sixers are overloaded with young players like Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Justin Anderson and Nik Stauskas.

Would current GM Bryan Colangelo be willing to trade the pick, along with Okafor and Anderson in a package for Butler? The Bulls could choose between Jackson and Kentucky's lightning-quick point guard Fox with the draft pick they’d acquire, potentially adding three young starters to a new-look line-up. 

Given all the trade rumors surrounding Butler in the past, you can expect a number of teams will be calling the Bulls leading up to the draft, including Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves, coming off a disappointing season with assets to offer like Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh overall pick. 

Ultimately, it comes down to which direction the Bulls' front office wants to go. Try to build a contender around Butler, or use him as the trade asset to start a full re-build. We should get our answer in the days leading up to the draft.

Around the Association

Thursday's All-NBA announcement could lead to a pair of All-Star forwards changing teams this summer. We already mentioned Hayward's situation in Utah. Without the designated veteran player extension, he might be seriously tempted to join his old college coach in Boston. 

Hayward could sign a one year contract with a player option for a second season in Utah with hopes of earning the DVPE next summer, but if Hayward hits the open market, it's clear he'll be the number one target for the Celtics this off-season. 

Paul George also could be in play after failing to make one of the three All-NBA teams. The Pacers were hoping to sign their All-Star forward to a max five-year extension at over $200 million, but George isn't eligible now. George still could sign an extension with Indiana, but not at the dollars he would have received had he made All-NBA. 

Rumors of George's desire to join his home-state Lakers in free agency after the 2017-18 season continue to grow, especially with Magic Johnson likely to add dynamic point guard Lonzo Ball in next month's draft. The Pacers might be forced to trade George to get some assets now, rather than let him walk away for nothing in free agency next summer.

Back to the Bulls, who will bring in dozens of prospects to Chicago to work out at the Advocate Center before the draft. Unless they make a major trade to move up, the front office almost has to go "best player available" with their picks at Nos. 16 and 38. Look for them to focus on an athletic wing in the first round with Louisville's Donovan Mitchell, Indiana's OG Anunoby, Duke's Harry Giles and Australian pro Terrance Ferguson among the likely options. 

But if the team decides to part company with restricted free agent Niko Mirotic, that could open the door for the Bulls to select a power forward like Cal's Ivan Rabb, Wake Forest's John Collins, Utah's Kyle Kuzma or UCLA's T.J. Leaf. They could even draft an athletic young center like Jarrett Allen of Texas, Creighton's Justin Patton or UCLA's Ike Anigbogu.

In Round 2, the Bulls might look to add another young point guard to the mix like Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans, Iowa State's Monte Morris, Villanova's Josh Hart, Gonzaga's Nigel Williams Goss or Big 12 Player of the Year Frank Mason from Kansas.

Quotes of the Week

The Celtics might have edged Cleveland out for the top seed in the East during the regular season, but after watching Game 1 Wednesday night, it's clear Brad Stevens’ team will be lucky to get a win in the series.

This from Stevens about the NBA's version of Benjamin Button, LeBron James. "It's hard to believe, but he's better than when I got into the league. A lot better."

Still, Celtics' star Isaiah Thomas isn't about to concede the series just yet, saying, "We're not afraid of Cleveland. They're not the Monstars."  

Well, Thomas might be right about the rest of the Cavs. But if you remember the movie "Space Jam", I'm pretty sure James would be a good fit in that Monstars line-up. And the Celtics don't have Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny or Bill Murray!