Over the past couple of seasons, the Bulls have been part of many trade rumors involving TT Tyrus for Amare, TT for Carlos Boozer; some more recent rumors involving Kirk for Caron Butler, Salmons for any expiring, and even Noah for T-Mac!
So how does this all play out? And how does it affect the Bulls this summer?
Tyrus Thomas -
The Bulls did not extend Tyrus last summer, instead opting to let him play this season, show some development, and earn a contract extension. Makes sense. But, there is always a "but" with this organization, it seems clear the Bulls never wanted/intended to re-sign TT. Extending Tyrus last summer or re-signing him this summer would severely hurt the Bulls cap-space this summer, meaning we would be passing on all the available free agents to keep TT. (If you haven't heard, that list includes: D-Wade, Bosh, JJohnson, Rudy Gay, Amare.)
I was opposed to trading TT for Boozer or Amare when the rumors came out last year, but would be all for it knowing what I know now. I wanted to keep TT long-term, hoping that eventually his enormous potential/up-side would manifest itself in a Bulls uniform. Looks like that won't happen, so we might as well get something for Tyrus instead of starting another summer by letting another talented young player sign elsewhere.
Kirk for Caron -
I like Kirk, and I like Caron. They both have similar contracts, so that doesn't matter. I already said it in this space, but I don't see us getting Caron then adding another wing player (Wade, JJohnson, Rudy Gay) this summer, so it might limit options.
Salmons for expiring -
This is my favorite option in this list. While Salmons actually has an "expiring contract", he has a player option for next season. With the current economy and Salmons getting off to a terrible start this year (just got his FG% over .400), there is a pretty good chance that Salmons could opt in and take that money. (Even Boozer opted in last year, and is having a great season - so that will pay off for him.)
If Salmons opts in for next season, the Bulls will have virtually no cap space this summer. That means we will have another season of watching D-Rose have to carry an organization that has failed to give him a real coach, failed to develop him as a PG, and failed to surround him with any real talent (save JoaNoah).
Noah for T-Mac -
Laughable. Stupid. Not-worth-writing-about. This is one of those moves that would make me legitimately question my fanhood. (Or is it "fandom"? Either way, I would question it.)
So where does that leave the Bulls? I've written extensively about how the summer of 2010 may play out - I just have that feeling that the Bulls will fail to get Wade or Bosh, and could end up over-paying for a second-tier free agent, such as JJohnson or Rudy Gay. That is not to say those guys aren't great players ... but are they true franchise players?? I would say there are only about 12-15 REAL franchise players in the Association, and D-Rose isn't there yet. That list would include: Dirk, Melo, Kobe, Yao, CP3, KD, B-Roy, D-Will, LeBron, Granger, Wade, D12, and Bosh.
The Bulls are already stuck with Luol Deng's big money, long-term contract. If we offer another max or near-max deal to a less-than-franchise player, we will be severely limited in the future. It appears that trading TT or Salmons would give us a better chance to offer a max deal to either Wade or Bosh ... so those options have to be considered.
I would hate to give up TT just to get cap space, so if we move him, I would hope we can get back some combination of expiring contracts, draft picks or good players with reasonable contracts. I would give away Salmons for any expiring, just to ensure that he doesn't opt-in to his player option for next year. Other than that, excluding D-Rose and JoaNoah, I am open for any trade possibilities.
Right now, the Bulls are at risk to not have enough cap-space to offer some free agent (Wade or Bosh!) a max deal. On a recent podcast, Bill Simmons talked about the possibility of the Bulls making some moves (trading Kirk, Salmons for expirings) and then signing Bosh AND LeBron (who supposedly want to play together). I'm not a big LeBron fan because of his cocky-selfish-attention-whore attitude, but a team of D-Rose, Bron and Bosh would be unstoppable. I don't think it's a realistic possibility.
Best case scenario would be to move Salmons, sign Wade or Bosh, and replace VDN. Worst case scenario would be Salmons opting-in, Bulls over-paying for JJohnson or Rudy Gay (putting us over the salary cap), then keeping VDN to save some money. That is a huge contrast ... and I'm very scared that the latter could happen.