In the NBA trade season’s latest turn, Marc Stein is reporting that the Chicago Bulls have entered the Andrea Bargnani sweepstakes, though the Toronto Raptors’ disappointing seven footer’s availability might not warrant an allusion to the lotto.
The likelihood of a Bulls trade became a real possibility when, according to Stein, the team “engaged in exploratory trade discussions” that would send Carlos Boozer north of the border.
The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson added that the Bulls initiated the talks.
So what to make of a potential Bulls trade that could quickly shake the landscape under the NBA’s elite?
Trade from a financial perspective:
The Bulls salaries currently total $74,061,083, or $245,119 under the NBA’s hard salary cap (per hoopsworld). Given owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s tax-avoidant parameters, the Bulls front office has little to no flexibility to add ancillary pieces to help aid a championship run unless they get creative.
This move would qualify as creative.
Boozer, making $15 million this season, is set to make $15.3 million and $16.8 million the following two, while Bargnani makes $10 million, $10.75 million and $11.5 million respectively.
The third year in Bargnani’s current deal is a player option that allows him to opt out, forgo the $11.5 million and become a free agent in ’14-’15.
Long story short, the Bulls would save $5 million per season over the next three, with the possibility of wiping the entirety of Boozer’s $16.8 million off the books before the ’14-’15 season.
Trade from a basketball perspective:
Losing Boozer would be another blow to the team’s interior rebounding, compounding the pain felt from this summer’s departure of Omer Asik (currently averaging a double-double in HOU).
In January, Boozer put together his best stretch in a Bulls jersey, averaging 19.5 points and 10.1 rebounds and earning Eastern Conference player of the month honors. The Duke alum is currently tied for 7th in the NBA with 24 double-doubles and also provides value as an underrated passer.
That said, Boozer is overpaid for his overall performance in Chicago, remains stuck in the mud on defense, and has fallen notably flat in two playoff appearances.
Chicago would lose interior scoring, toughness, rebounding, and arguably team chemistry by banishing the well-liked Boozer to Canada.
Gaining Bargnani would give the Bulls a player who could space the floor with his shooting touch while offering coach Tom Thibodeau a chance to go to work on the seven-foot Italian’s rebounding and defensive skills. So far, the seven-year pro has been an atrocious rebounding big man, averaging just 4.9 in his career.
You’d think more than 4.9 rebounds would hit you in the head at 7 feet tall.
Despite taking a lot of heat, his defense has also improved immensely and has risen to around the league average according to Memphis Grizzlies’ VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger.
It’s not far-fetched to believe he could be an above average defender playing what would be a very specified role in Thibs’ defensive attack.
Bargnani would likely be an improvement over Boozer on that end, and if he at least stays in one place and keeps his feet on the ground he won’t be any worse.
While the former number 1 overall pick has fallen short of lofty expectations and been tagged “charmin-soft” by Hollinger, he has two indispensable attributes.
Height and shooting ability.
Though his career shooting average of 43.8 percent (including 36.1 percent from 3-pt. range) doesn’t exactly have you conjuring images of Larry Bird, there’s no denying the dude can shoot. Bargnani, 27, still has time to develop and certainly time to become more accurate and efficient. At his size, many NBA big men have a history of taking longer to grow into their bodies.
Described “deadly” off the catch and utilizing an unorthodox move where he jabs off his wrong foot for a face-up jumper or right-handed drive, Bargnani would figure to be the ideal pick-and-roll partner for Derrick Rose.
In ’09-’10 Bargnani showed a glimpse of his capabilities when the Raptors’ big man averaged 21.4 points, shooting 47 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from beyond the arc.
As a career 82.4 percent shooter from the free throw line, Bargnani has always been reliable from the stipe.
The risk may be high in swapping Booze for Bargns, but factor in the added financial flexibility and the ceiling appears higher still.
Possible trade layout:
Johnson indicated that a deal appears unlikely for now, but mentioned that a trade could be revived with the addition of Nate Robinson and John Lucas III.
The following trade would be approved under the NBA’s current salary structure:
Bulls get: A. Bargnani, J. Lucas III, and Aaron Gray
Raptors get: C. Boozer, N. Robinson, and Nazr Mohammed
Though the Bulls would miss Robinson’s scoring punch and energy, Thibodeau is comfortable with Lucas III and Gray would be a decent upgrade over Mohammed on the frontline. Both Lucas III and Gray are former Bulls.
The NBA trading deadline is Feb. 21st, stay tuned.
Adam Jun covers the Chicago Bulls for Skyword, Inc. a search-driven media website
Photo Credit: Wikimedia