Bulls expected to sit out of trade-deadline drama

Bulls expected to sit out of trade-deadline drama
February 20, 2013, 5:30 pm
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With the Bulls up against a hard cap of $74 million and change for this season, it’s highly unlikely the Bulls will be making any moves before the 2:00 p.m. NBA trade deadline on Thursday. The front office would love to get below the $70 million luxury tax threshold to avoid their first strike under the new collective bargaining agreement's repeater tax penalties, but that seems pretty unrealistic at this point.

Trading Rip Hamilton’s $5 million salary would get them under the tax, but honestly, which team would be willing to help the Bulls by taking on Hamilton’s contract? The only way to get that done would be to throw in a first round draft pick in the deal, and I don’t think the Bulls are willing to do that.

We’ve also heard rumors of Carlos Boozer being made available, but again, which team would be willing to take on Boozer’s contract -- which has over $30 million remaining for the final two years -- without getting multiple future assets in the deal? Add it all up, and it sounds like the Bulls' current roster will be the one that finishes the season, with the likely return of Derrick Rose at some point before the playoffs.

There’s no shortage of rumors around the league as we move closer to the deadline. Always aggressive Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge is burning up the phone lines, trying to see what kind of return he could get for aging veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Garnett says he won’t waive his no-trade clause, but if Ainge is able to work out a deal for Pierce first, he might force Garnett’s hand. We know the Clippers would love to add a veteran frontcourt player like Garnett for the playoff run, and Ainge would gladly make a deal if he could acquire young players like DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe to begin the rebuilding project in Boston.

Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak is adamant he won’t trade Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol is likely off the market because of his foot injury. That means the Lakers will probably stagger forward with the bad chemistry and ill-suited offense that’s made them the league’s biggest disappointment this season. Given Howard’s poor relationship with Kobe Bryant and bad fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, the Lakers would probably be best served to trade him now, rather than risk having Howard walk away as a free agent this summer and get nothing in return. But after working so hard to acquire Howard last summer, it sounds like Kupchak is prepared to ride out this failed experiment, to the possible detriment of the Lakers’ long-term future.

Other teams to watch around the league include Bulls’ division rival, Milwaukee. The Bucks are working hard to pry Josh Smith from Atlanta and possibly J.J. Redick from Orlando. The Hawks want Monta Ellis in any deal for Smith, but Smith doesn’t want to commit to re-signing long term in Brew-Town unless the Bucks can retain the explosive backcourt duo of Ellis and Brandon Jennings. The Celtics, Nets and Suns are also trying to acquire the talented.

Other names to watch include Danny Granger, Eric Gordon, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Granger is available because of Paul George’s rapid rise to All-Star status as Indiana’s top scoring option. Gordon has made no secret of his unhappiness in New Orleans, and given his long history of injuries, the Hornets might be willing to find him a new home and get out from under the huge contract Gordon signed last summer. Utah is also looking to get something for their two veteran big men since both players become free agents in July.

Don’t be surprised if most of the rumors we’re hearing lead to very little movement before the deadline. With the new CBA, trades are more difficult to complete than ever before. I’m predicting Smith, Redick and at least one of the Utah big men will be moved, while the other major transactions will probably have to wait until the summer.