Watching the Bulls dish out a season-high 28 assists with Kirk Hinrich starting at the two-guard for the first time this season, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Bulls will try to go all-in on free-agency by trading John Salmons.
Salmons hasn’t played as well as the Bulls hoped and scored just 3 points off the bench in Saturday’s win over New Orleans. That’s not even the biggest issue, though. Salmons has an option to terminate the final year of his contract, worth $6.7 million, next summer.
There’s a good chance he will, since a decent number of teams will have cap room and even if he signs for a smaller yearly salary, he might be able to guarantee himself a greater guaranteed income over the next few years.
If Salmons doesn’t opt out, it would put a huge dent in the Bulls’ cap space. Without Salmons’ contract, the Bulls have around $33.1 million in commitments, which should give them more than $20 million to spend on free agents.
With that in mind, would they try to remove the doubt and deal Salmons for an expiring contract? That all depends on how much another team would value Salmons. The 6-7 swingman has been a good defender this year, even while his shot isn’t falling.
Anyway, here are a few ideas off the top of my head involving playoff-contending teams that might be interested in adding an asset and have expiring contracts to unload:
--To Boston for Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen.
--To Oklahoma City for Matt Harpring. The former Jazz forward is about to retire due to injuries, but the Thunder just acquired his expiring deal.
--To Dallas for Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas. This would be a funny one, but I doubt if the Bulls are allowed to trade for Thomas, since they bought him out last summer and are still paying a portion of his old contract. Maybe they can. I’ll look it up another time. The Mavs have other guys who could work.
--Don’t know if the Bulls want to mess with Houston’s Tracy McGrady. But they could do something like Salmons, Brad Miller, Jerome James and Aaron Gray for McGrady, Brian Cook and Joey Dorsey.
This is all just something to think about. Too soon to say if there could be any reality to this scenario. Teams generally discuss ideas in January and get serious in February when the trade deadline (Feb. 18 this year) approaches.
TAJ WILL STAY WITH STARTERS
Tyrus Thomas posted 21 points and 9 rebounds on Saturday, while rookie Taj Gibson celebrated his return to the starting lineup by picking up 4 fouls and playing less than 9 minutes. So I asked coach Vinny Del Negro if we could look for a quick return to starting status for Thomas.
“Let’s just stay with the way it is,” Del Negro answered. “Let’s not rush into it. We got a win; let’s just focus on that. The starting lineup is what it is for now. It gives us great versatility since Tyrus can play the three or four off the bench. It’s the first game and let’s just take it one at a time.”
BUZZ ON HORNETS
--I’ll never understand why New Orleans traded Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor. The Hornets have a serious lack of height on the front line and the 6-foot-10 Okafor still have four expensive seasons left on his contract at a total of $52 million. Chandler’s deal expires after next season.
Okafor had a rough night against the Bulls, going 0 for 5 from the field for 4 points and 9 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
--Funny that a slew of Bulls exited the locker room quickly on Saturday. John Salmons, Derrick Rose, Brad Miller and James Johnson were among those unavailable once coach Vinny Del Negro finished his news conference.