The Chicago Bulls need Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson to solidify the future.
League sources said last week the Raptors were told the Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson deal for Andrea Bargnani and John Lucas III was available whenever they wanted it.
That move could take the Bulls below the luxury-tax threshold. Surely the Bulls would like to avoid paying tax if Rose doesn't play this season.
So, will Boozer and/or Robinson be gone?
Chicago must find a way retain each, though, because this team is playing quite well without Derrick Rose.
Without question, Boozer's contract is quite hefty, but he is also performing well right now. Averaging 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and shooting 71.3 percent from the line, Boozer's offense is needed for the Bulls who already struggle to score consistently.
Take that away and Chicago will drop even further down from No. 27 in scoring offense.
As for Robinson, he's the best option in the backcourt to complement Kirk Hinrich. Currently averaging 4.2 assists and 12 points per contest, Robinson provides some explosiveness to the offense.
Factor in his overall athleticism and Robinson is a competitive advantage in transition.
Everything here, however, traces back to whenever Rose gets back on the floor. Now, obviously that remains to be seen as there is no set date, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com:
Rose said he isn't sure when he'll return to the floor.
"I really don't know," he said. "I'm feeling good, but like I said, if it's where it's taking me a long time and I'm still not feeling right, I don't mind missing this year."
Just imagine the Bulls with Robinson for backcourt depth, as well as Boozer for whenever Rose gets back. That's excellent dependability at point guard, and Robinson is capable of contributing at shooting guard with Hinrich taking the point when needed.
Not to mention Daequan Cook and the potential of Marquis Teague.
If anything, Chicago's best bet would be to deal Rip Hamilton. And in an article by Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Bulls have opened this door:
Although they planned to be over the tax for the first time this season, Derrick Rose's stated reluctance to return from ACL surgery before he's "110 percent" presents a dilemma. Why pay the tax and burn a year on the clock that begins ticking this season toward massive repeater-tax penalties for a less-than-championship season? For that reason, sources say the Bulls are open to moving Rip Hamilton in a deal that makes sense and saves them a year on the repeater-tax rolls.
To go with the tax line, Hamilton is 35 years old and he's still a good enough player to make a trade appealing.
In knocking down 88.6 percent from the line, Hamilton is also hitting 43.5 percent from the field. With one year remaining on his contract, Chicago can certainly retain him for veteran experience, but the backcourt will also be loaded with more youth whenever Rose returns.
Robinson is among the potential 2013 free agents from Chicago's backcourt, including Cook and Marco Belinelli. Dealing Hamilton, though, and avoiding the tax impact simply keeps the Bulls younger.
We've seen the ceiling of Tom Thibodeau's squad during the 2010-11 campaign, which was the brink of an Eastern Conference title. Keeping Boozer and Robinson only gets Chicago over that obstacle, because Rose amplifies the production of everyone else.
It's just a matter of patience.