COMMENTARY | The Chicago Bulls were a title contender as little as one season ago, yet they now find themselves in the precarious situation of being outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture with an injured star player, a high-priced power forward starring down the barrel of an amnesty clause, a max-contract free agent who could sign elsewhere, and a team payroll that had the Bulls paying $13 million in luxury tax this season.
If Chicago does not find a way to improve before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 20, it could be in for a long and arduous rebuilding process.
Fans who don't have an advanced degree in contract law may have a difficult time navigating all the rules -- and exceptions to those rules -- found in the murky waters of NBA trade scenarios. To make things easy, I painstakingly crunched the numbers and found the rare win-win-win-win blockbuster four-team trade that would help the Bulls, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics all get better.
Blockbuster Four-Team Trade
Chicago Bulls Get:
Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, New York Knicks (expiring contract)
Iman Shumpert, SG, New York Knicks
Kris Humphries, PF, Boston Celtics (expiring contract)
Houston Rockets' 2015 first-round pick
Houston Rockets Get:
Loul Deng, SF, Chicago Bulls
Raymond Felton, PG, New York Knicks
New York Knicks Get:
Carlos Boozer, PF, Chicago Bulls
Mike Dunleavy, SF, Chicago Bulls
Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics Get:
Omer Asik, C, Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lin, PG, Houston Rockets
Kirk Hinrich, SG, Chicago Bulls (expiring contract)
Why This Deal Benefits Chicago
This deal is all about the future. The Bulls would get back the expiring contracts of Stoudemire and Humphries, and be able to clear roughly $30 million from the salary cap for a team that desperately needs to shed some salary bloat. With this much money coming off their books, the Bulls would have the ability to sign another max-contract player in free agency this offseason.
Iman Shumpert would be the real prize of this deal. The Oak Park, Ill., native is a tough defensive player who would fit perfectly into coach Tom Thibodeau's style of play. At 6 feet 5 inches, Shumpert is a lengthy two-guard with the ability to create his own shot, and would constitute a serious upgrade over Hinrich.
Instead of losing Deng and Boozer for nothing, Chicago could team a 23-year-old up-and-coming star with Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose in the Bulls' backcourt, while also clearing enough cap space to go find another big man in free agency. Houston's first-round pick wouldn't be very high, but it would add value in any other type of package the Bulls might be able to pull off in this year's draft. Remember, Chicago will likely be sitting with two first-round picks in the 2014 draft thanks to the Tyrus Thomas trade in 2010.
Why This Deal Benefits Houston
After adding Dwight Howard and James Harden, the Rockets have wedged their championship window open and are looking to win right now. Houston is smack dab in the middle of the playoff picture in the West, but the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers have emerged as the true teams to beat.
Harden may be one of the best young scorers in the game, but he is little more than a conscientious objector on defense. Deng is an All-Star, as much for his defense as his offense. He would create a legitimate "Big Three" in Houston while giving it the type of player that could stick LeBron James or Paul George in a seven-game series.
Why This Deal Benefits New York
The Knicks have a lot of problems. Injuries and poor play has caused New York to become an NBA afterthought this year. After finishing second in the East last year, New York finds itself firmly in the cellar -- which is saying a lot in a year in which the Eastern Conference has become the NBA's JV team. While this season may already be a lost cause, the Knicks have to think about their future, a.k.a. Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony will be a free agent after this season, and New York will need to show him a reason to stay in the Big Apple. Adding Rajon Rondo might be enough to make Carmelo think twice about testing the free-agent waters, and the acquisition of Boozer to team with a healthy Tyson Chandler in the frontcourt could make New York able to quickly turn around its fate and be a contender again in 2014.
The Knicks were already rumored to be interested in trading Shumpert for the Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried to help bolster a depleted group of big men. Boozer is a similar power forward to Faried, but with a much better offensive game.
Why This Deal Benefits Boston
Rondo has all but worn out his welcome in Beantown. After rubbing teammates and coaches the wrong way during his seven seasons in Boston, it may just be time for a change. The Celtics have been rumored to have their eye on acquiring Omer Asik from Houston, and this deal would also give them Jeremy Lin, who is proving to be as dynamic a scorer as Rondo but without the string of injuries.
This trade would also allow Jeff Green to be left alone as a building block for the future. Green has been regularly mentioned as a possible player involved in trade scenarios with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dalton Russell is Chicago native and longtime follower of the Bulls. His championship expectations were irrevocably ruined by the Michael Jordan-led teams of the '90s and now impatiently awaits the next great chapter of Bulls basketball.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago Bulls
- Houston Rockets
- New York Knicks
- Boston Celtics
- Carlos Boozer
- Iman Shumpert
- New York