NBA Free Agency 2012: Chicago Bulls Could Be Facilitator in Dwight Howard Trade

Kenneth JamesContributor IIIJuly 10, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic and the Eastern Conference laughs during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have officially taken themselves out of the Dwight Howard trade talks, at least for the time being.  The Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic have been looking for a third or fourth team to help facilitate a trade for Dwight Howard.  

The main hiccup is that the Magic want to unload some of their "bad" contracts in any Dwight Howard trade. The two teams interested in Howard as a rental (Atlanta and Houston) seem to be hung up on taking on those bad contracts because Howard could leave them in the free agency, and then those "bad" contracts are still on their team.

The quotation marks around bad are there because it's relative to the team that acquires them.  For example, Jason Richardson at six million dollars a year for three more years is a bad contract for a team that is rebuilding like the Magic. 

But for a contending team looking to add pieces, it's not such a bad contract. So a team like the Chicago Bulls could take some of those pieces away from the Magic in exchange for unloading one of their "bad" contracts on to whichever team takes Dwight Howard.

Carlos Boozer is, of course, the contract that I am referring to.  Boozer was supposed to be Robin to Derrick Rose's Batman, but instead he's just been Aquaman. Boozer isn't nearly as bad as he is made out to be by Bulls fans. He is simply overpaid. 

Boozer is in the top 40 in PER and in the top 25 of salaries.  So while he is overpaid, it's not as egregious as some might think. 

Now PER isn't everything, but Boozer's PER this past year was better than those of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Chris Bosh (to name a few).  I would personally rather have Rajon Rondo over Boozer no matter how much better Boozer's PER is, but his high PER just illustrates the fact that he is not complete garbage.

Let's get to the trade already.

Atlanta Hawks receive: Dwight Howard and Carlos Boozer.

Chicago Bulls receive: Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and Quentin Richardson

Orlando Magic receive: Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Richard Hamilton, a first-round pick from Atlanta and a first-round pick from Chicago


Why Atlanta Does The Deal: They get a year to convince Dwight Howard to stay long-term in his hometown and play with two of his good friends in Josh Smith and Carlos Boozer.  Not exactly the best big three, but only Boozer and John Jenkins would be on the Hawks' salary cap for next year, so they would have flexibility to add more pieces to the puzzle.

If Howard were to leave the Hawks, they could do a sign-and-trade with that team and get some first-round picks back.  Boozer isn't exactly the person to build a team around, but neither is Al Horford.

The Hawks cleared up cap space to go after the likes of Howard and Paul in the next offseason. If they are left with neither as an option, then Josh Smith is most likely bolting for another team, and that would leave the Hawks with just Horford. 

While Horford is better and younger than Boozer, he's still not capable of putting a team on his back. He's not at that superstar level, so why not roll the dice and try to land that superstar?  If it backfires, then the Hawks really aren't any worse off than they would be if they stand pat, but at least the possibility to jump to the next level is there if they take a risk.


Why Chicago Does the Deal:  One of Chicago's strengths last year was their depth.  They already let go of CJ Watson and Ronnie Brewer in order to avoid paying the luxury tax, and they have till Sunday to decide on Kyle Korver and Saturday to decide on Omer Asik. 

While Watson was replaced with Hinrich and Brewer most likely replaced with Jimmy Butler, the Bulls don't have any room to add new pieces this year or going forward.

Turkoglu's contract is only partially guaranteed for 2013-2014, so the Bulls would be able to save around nine million dollars off their salary cap.  The Bulls will have to extend Taj Gibson so with Boozer gone, the Bulls can essentially split his money between Gibson and Davis. 

Jason Richardson only makes a million more than Richard Hamilton but is three years younger and might be able to provide the stability at the two guard position that the Bulls have sorely lacked the past two seasons. 

Quentin Richardson is pretty much dead weight but the Bulls can hold out hope that he can be a somewhat reliable floor spacer.  Glen Davis is a quality backup at the power forward position, has playoff experience and knows Tom Thibodeau's defensive schemes.


Why Orlando Does the Deal:  Andrew Bynum would obviously be the Magic's first choice; but if Bynum is unwilling to sign an extension, then this could be their next best option.  Without another team to help the Brooklyn Nets take on Orlando's bad contracts, they would only be able to do a Brook Lopez and draft picks for the Dwight Howard deal.

In addition to Al Horford and the two draft picks, the Magic would get immediate and future cap relief.  They would shave 23 million dollars off of the books for this year—possibly more if this deal gets done before Sunday, and the Magic waive Korver. Then, it will only have Al Horford and a few small rookie deals on the books for 2013-2014.