Chicago Bulls' Trade-Deadline Strategy Blueprint

Ernest ShepardAnalyst IIIFebruary 10, 2013

Oct 31, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson (left) and general manager Gar Forman (right) chat prior to a game against the Sacramento Kings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls must go into the upcoming trade deadline thinking, now is the time to set the team up with the future in mind. Bulls’ general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president John Paxson have a few tough decisions to make by February 21.

By now if you follow the Bulls or the NBA as a whole, the trade rumor (via ESPN) regarding Carlos Boozer to the Toronto Raptors for former No. 1 overall draft pick Andrea Bargnani have percolated your ears.

Several NBA observers and fans took their opinions to the radio waves and blog sites in droves to discuss their feelings in public. What surfaced was this surprising revelation: Carlos Boozer has value in the eyes of Bulls fans and basketball followers.

Every fan that once dreamed that Boozer be traded for a bag of balls, have reversed their courses. All of a sudden, Carlos Boozer is A-OK.

Should the Bulls complete the rumored swap?

That is a question that I cannot answer yet, but only because it raises a separate question. What should the Bulls' trade deadline strategy be?

Knowing the Bulls, they will play it safe, just as they always do. They will not do anything that will disrupt the chemistry of the team. They are also facing the luxury tax penalty for the first time in franchise history. The penalty is unavoidable unless they begin dumping salaries the way the Memphis Grizzlies have.  

If the Bulls make a trade, it will be a minor move or something that would send Richard Hamilton packing.

The Bulls are a team with several needs.

As you know, they need a second superstar to run alongside Derrick Rose. It has been a hole in their roster for as long as Rose has been in the league. The Bulls' management believes that in order to fix this problem, they have to be all in for the free-agency class of 2014.

That class features much of the top free agents of the 2010 offseason as well as a few others. You have the marquee names of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Chris Bosh to name a few.

These players are the who’s who of the NBA, but what are the realistic chances that either of them will be interested in signing with the Bulls? Here is a better question: why would the Bulls want to chase after players who will be on the back ends of their prime, or in Kobe’s case, a year or two from retirement.

Does a 30-year-old LeBron James really excite you?

What about a 33-year-old Dwyane Wade, does that do anything for you?

This is why my trade deadline strategy would begin with cutting the loses on this current Bulls team. It is time to press the reset button, one move after another. The first and only move would be to trade Hamilton for a draft pick or an underutilized player with talent.

This move would take the Bulls out of the penalty threshold, while adding an asset. Moving Hamilton frees up a spot in the starting lineup for Jimmy Butler or Kirk Hinrich, who could slide over to the 2-guard position, leaving Nate Robinson as the first guard off the bench.

I would forget about the free-agency class of 2014 and begin building for the future with a host of deals and excellent scouting. It is fine time for the Bulls to come to terms that they are not as desirable a free-agent destination as other franchises are.

The Boston Celtics built their teams through smart trades, as did the Los Angeles Lakers. The Oklahoma City Thunder built their team through the draft. These are just a few examples of teams who do not rely on free agency. The Bulls must take notes and follow suit.

Those teams were also more than willing to hit the reset button when things did not break their way. They take chances that other teams do not.

Trading Boozer for Bargnani is taking a chance. The only good argument against the trade idea is that it will take the Bulls out of the running for any of the 2014 free agents. Many of those same free agents have spurned the Bulls in the past, making the thought process behind chasing them faulty.

Enough with adding aging veterans to run with the Bulls, it is time to change that strategy.

Hopefully, that happen as the trade deadline approaches.