It’s a gray, snowy afternoon in Auburn Hills, Mich. And yet, the inbox still works.
The Bulls are going to have to make a push for Melo this offseason, right? --Philip K.
Ah, the Carmelo Anthony question. Here’s what it would take to land Anthony: Use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer. Trade -- at least --Taj Gibson to a team with salary-cap space, taking nothing in return. Do not sign Nikola Mirotic. And then start next season with Joakim Noah, Anthony, Mike Dunleavy, Jimmy Butler (unless he had to be traded as well to clear cap space), Derrick Rose, Tony Snell and a bunch of minimum-salaried players and whatever rookies are added.
After trading Kirk Hinrich to Washington in 2010 to go all in for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, I don’t see the Bulls doing this. Clearing enough cap space to sign Anthony to a max or near-max salary also would place two $20 million players on the Bulls at a time when they hope to sign Mirotic in the future, extend Butler past his rookie scale contract and possibly talk extension with Noah, whose deal expires in 2016.
People talk about a sign-and-trade. Even if Anthony and both teams were agreeable, the Knicks would start by asking for Noah. Given that he was off-limits when Anthony moved from Denver to the Knicks and the Bulls monitored those trade talks, I again don’t see this happening. The dream scenario would be merely to use the amnesty provision on Boozer and sign Anthony for the $10-12 million of salary-cap space the Bulls would have this summer. Anthony has talked about signing for less to play for a championship. But I don’t see him doing so for that staggering a difference than the five-year, $127 million deal the Knicks can offer.
Could Anthony wind up with the Bulls? Never say never, and I think it’d be a great fit. I think Anthony’s reputation as a selfish ballstopper is way overblown. He played lights out, team-oriented basketball at the Olympics when he was surrounded by talent. But it’s an extreme long shot that any of the above scenarios come to fruition.
Is it possible for the Bulls to sign another shooting guard? They always talk about the 13th roster spot, but in reality with Derrick Rose out for the season, they have 12. Please advise. --Keyvan C., Beverly Hills, Calif.
Possible, yes. Prudent, no. The big reason the Bulls dealt Luol Deng was to drop below the luxury tax line in a season Rose is out and a championship is unlikely. Signing another player would push them over the luxury tax, and it’d be idiotic to do so for someone like, say, Roger Mason Jr. As it is, I think Jimmer Fredette will barely play. Getting out of the tax resets the clock on repeater tax penalties and allows the Bulls the full use of salary cap exceptions moving forward.
Why does everyone think Carlos Boozer is the root of all the Bulls’ woes? --Kevin, Chicago
His teammates, coaches and executives who signed him don’t. And that’s really all that matters. A wise person taught me long ago to always look past payday and at production. It’s not Boozer’s fault the Bulls signed him to the deal he did. Is he overpaid for this point of his career? Sure, but that’s typically what happens in free agency. And I’d even argue the Bulls got good value out of this deal. They got close to four seasons of very solid offensive production for a team that is offensively challenged. Boozer’s numbers have dipped this season, but part of that is because now he hardly ever plays in the fourth quarter. Previously, Thibodeau would determine what the game called for in terms of offense or defense and close with Boozer for offense and Gibson for defense. But Gibson’s jump at that end has relegated that mostly pointless. Yes, Boozer is a poor defender. And he no longer consistently finishes strong at the rim, settling for jumpers. But between his passing and shooting ability, he still forces defenses to make a decision on him. And on this team, that’s saying something.
Now that we know Cleveland won’t be re-signing Luol Deng, what do you think he commands in unrestricted free agency? Will the Bulls be able to re-sign him at $8 million per? --Thomas D., Chicago
The first of these is a fascinating question which, obviously, will draw an answer of the educated guess variety. The second is a yes, they’d be able to, if they use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer. But I don’t see the Bulls pursuing that avenue at all. There are some I’ve talked to within the league who think Deng will still get paid. There are a ton of teams with cap space and, as we saw with Josh Smith, it only takes one general manager to overpay for someone. Deng is certainly a better player and winner than Smith, who got a little under $14 million on average. Others I’ve talked to have said Deng will regret turning down the Bulls’ three years, $30 million offer. Now, I don’t fault Deng for doing so one bit, mostly because he was less upset by the monetary value of the offer than how the negotiations transpired. But it will be interesting to see if Deng becomes the next Ben Gordon, a proud player who later regretted turning down the Bulls’ offer. My guess is Deng gets in the $10-12 million range annually. The Lakers supposedly have cooled on him a bit, although that can change. I’ve also heard him linked to possibly the Mavericks. Whatever happens, I hope Deng finds a good situation. He’s a fantastic teammate who plays the game for the right reasons.
Thanks for your questions. Talk to you next week.