June 24, 2010
Kirk Hinrich(notes) has been involved in trade rumors since his first NBA season, so rumors sending him away from the Chicago Bulls are nothing new. But just for the pittance of a conditional future second-round pick, one the Bulls may never see? What sense would that make?
Plenty, in fact. If anything, the rumored deal sending Hinrich and the 17th pick in Thursday night's draft (as Marc Spears has confirmed) to the Washington Wizards is a little one-sided in Chicago's favor. A lot one-sided, actually.
The deal, which could not be completed until July 8 due to salary cap restrictions, would knock $9 million off Chicago's books for next season, and allow the team to come very close to being able to offer two free agents a contract that starts at the maximum next season.
For the Wizards? Well, we have no idea why they're working this trade. Just a day earlier, the Oklahoma City Thunder grabbed the 18th pick in the draft from the Miami Heat for the pittance of $2 million and the acceptance of Daequan Cook's(notes) $2.2 million contract. Washington would have to take on $17 million with Hinrich over the next two seasons, scuttling its own cap space both this summer and next in the process. All for a little guard depth and the 17th pick?
Most readers know where my allegiances lie, so I'm being careful not to shout too loudly about the deal, which can still be reneged upon in the two week window between now and July 8, but this seems a pretty curious move unless the Wizards have more deals (either taking in more players, dumping Gilbert Arenas(notes), or both) on the ready. As it stands, Hinrich's stout defense and veteran guidance seem to be coming to Washington at a pretty steep price.
For Chicago, this is a deal to drool over. As it stands, tossing Hinrich away leaves them pretty thin in the backcourt, but in dumping his salary and sending Washington a first-round selection (guaranteed money), the Bulls will be nearly $30 million under the salary cap this summer, assuming the cap is set at $56.1 million. With maximum salaries starting at $16.5 million, Chicago could offer a second-tier free agent (perhaps Joe Johnson(notes), whose agent is quite close with Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and owes Reinsdorf a favor after Chicago dumped $60 million on Ben Wallace(notes) in 2006) just under the max after pulling in one of the bigger names in the free-agent pool.
Of course, this is all for naught if the Wizards back out. And while that would put them in poor standing around the league, it's quite feasible if no other moves are coming down the pike. Or even if a player targeted with the 17th pick is taken higher than expected. Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld has long liked Hinrich's qualities, but to like him this much? It seems like a bit of a reach.
Ric Bucher originally reported that the Sacramento Kings would have a similar offer in place if Washington declines to move on this deal, but that report has been quashed by several media outlets in the time since.
Chicago's reaching, too. Going all in for the summer of 2010's free-agent bonanza. If the deal, as reported, goes through? This is a huge move for the Bulls.