The only real trade buzz involving the Bulls on Tuesday night centered around an impending Houston decision on where to deposit Tracy McGrady and his massive expiring contract.
The Rockets will supposedly choose between the Bulls and Knicks on Wednesday, with New York considered the front-runner.
Multiple reports have the Bulls offering Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas and Jerome James for McGrady. Now, if the Bulls’ top priority at the trade deadline is to clear more cap space for the summer’s free-agent chase, and Joakim Noah is going to be out who-knows-how-long with a foot injury, how does this make any sense for the Bulls?
Answer: It doesn’t, unless the Bulls are determined to stop a Houston-New York deal.
If the Rockets were willing to take back Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill and Larry Hughes, as reported, then suddenly the Knicks would have the cap room to sign two top-level free agents this summer. And the Bulls wouldn’t, unless they can find a taker for Kirk Hinrich.
It once seemed impossible, but getting Jeffries’ $6.9 million salary off the books next year would be quite a coup for New York. Giving up Hill, the No. 8 pick in last year’s draft, would add another $2.6 million in cap space.
The price might be steep, though. There were reports that the Knicks would throw in their 2012 first-round pick and agree to swap first-round picks with Houston in 2011. New York’s 2010 first-rounder already belongs to Utah.
Losing Miller, Thomas and James wouldn’t create any additional cap room for the Bulls and it would leave them paper thin on the front line for the rest of this season.
Few teams are willing to take on Hinrich’s contract, which has $17 million remaining over the next two years. The Lakers appear to have the most interest.
John Salmons is another candidate to be moved. He has a contract option worth $5.8 million for next season, but trading him now would eliminate any suspense over his decision.
For now, it appears the Bulls will have to be creative to achieve any of their trade-deadline goals. They have until 2 p.m. Central time on Thursday.
Thomas played well against the Knicks on Tuesday, so he’s no lock to be traded. Even the rumored deal with New York for Al Harrington doesn’t make much sense as long as the Bulls need Thomas to help out on the inside.
ESPN.com reported that Minnesota told the Bulls it would not accept their offer of Thomas and Luol Deng for Al Jefferson. The Bulls’ pursuit of Jefferson was mentioned here multiple times during the past month.