Bulls move Hinrich, No. 17 to Washington for cap space
The Chicago Bulls have a deal in place that would move Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Washington Wizards, freeing up enough cap space to pursue two maximum-salary players in this summer’s free-agent market, sources with knowledge of the Bulls’ plans said Thursday.
It wasn’t immediately clear what Washington would send to Chicago in the trade.
The deal can’t be officially consummated until July 8, when the Wizards will have room under the salary cap to absorb Hinrich’s $9 million contract without having to send back anything of similar value.
Since it’s a good-faith deal for the time being, there remains a chance it could fall apart. But according to one source, the Sacramento Kings are prepared to make a similar deal with the Bulls in the Wizards’ stead if that were to happen.
Despite the report, the trade doesn’t quite get the Bulls the required cap room for two max contract players. The last cap estimate provided by Commissioner David Stern was $56.1 million at the start of the playoffs. The Bulls would have enough room for a $13,838,492 offer after signing one maximum free agent.
That number is below the second max threshold by $2,730,417 — an amount which can not be bridged without saving money by moving Luol Deng. James Johnson and Taj Gibson combine to make $2,831,280, but they’d have a $947,208 roster charge coming back if they’re traded, so the Bulls would still be shy by $846,345.
The Hawks reportedly offered Johnson a four-year $60 million contract extension last summer, which Johnson turned down. With available cap space, the Bulls could extend a four-year $62 million offer. We could therefore be looking at a Bulls core of Derrick Rose, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Joakim Noah -with a million bucks to spare. That’s an awesome combination.
While I wouldn’t necessarily hit the panic button just yet, the Bulls clearly offer a compelling value proposition.
And Chicago figures not to be done just yet. The teams still has lots of options, with several valuable assets remaining. Johnson and Gibson each had solid rookie campaigns this past season, and appears eminently tradable if owner Jerry Reinsdorf so desires. And then there’s Deng. Deng is certainly overpaid at $11.3 million, but he’s not exactly a James Jones or Daequan Cook. He could be a high-quality contributor, when healthy, for a potential suitor.
Things get downright scary if you feel Chicago will be able to find takers for both Deng and Hinrich. In this case, you could have both Lebron James and Chris Bosh tagging along in the Windy City, and throw in a leftover $8,614,583 of cap space for the effort. A Derrick Rose, Ray Allen, Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Joakim Noah squad could test the limits of immortality. But for now, this appears to be nothing more than unwarranted speculation.
As frightening as what Chicago is doing may sound, it may actually benefit the Heat. If you’re Pat Riley, it becomes substantially easier to sell LeBron James on needing to team up with Dwyane Wade simply to get out of the East.