The Chicago Bulls would love to get under the luxury tax threshold, and could use the upcoming trade deadline to do it. In order to do that and ensure a bright future, GM Gar Forman must find a way to deal shooting guard Richard "Rip" Hamilton.
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, this is a move that the Bulls could very well pursue.
This season, Hamilton has posted just 10.7 points per game, his lowest since his rookie season with the Washington Wizards back in 2000. He has shot 43.5 percent from the field and a respectable 34 percent from long range, but that does not take away from the fact that the man has missed a dozen games this season due to injury and is 35 years old. His being due $5 million this season and as much as the same amount next season is just the icing on the cake.
Bulls fans and management would probably prefer to move Carlos Boozer and his max contract, but he at least remains of some value to the team. As disappointing as he has been since coming to the Windy City in 2010, he can at least play a solid low post game and be consistent in his scoring and rebounding, plus hot streaks. The money is a lot, but still worth it in the long run.
That just isn't the case with Hamilton. Some could argue that Chicago should just amnesty him this summer, but his $5 million being non-guaranteed for 2013-14 makes that approach unnecessary. He still has some value left as a shooter, so Forman needs to start dangling him in offers now.
It may seem like a bad move this season, but mark my words. Trading Hamilton will ensure that Chicago's future is one full of long playoff runs and, potentially, championships.
The fact of the matter is that once Derrick Rose is back, the need for a shooting guard basically shrinks. Nate Robinson and/or Marco Belinelli could fill that role for the remainder of this season, and the Bulls can pursue their next option either in free agency or via the draft. Seeing as how cheaper options like Kevin Martin, Randy Foye and Nick Young could be available, it's clear that Hamilton needs to go.
The reason the Bulls need to deal Hamilton also goes far beyond his age, health and lack of production. Chicago is a solid defensive team that ranks sixth in rebounding and third in points allowed, but a mere 27th in points scored.
That low number can be attributed to Rose's absence, but consider that Chicago ranked 21st and 18th in that same category in the two seasons preceding this one. The team needs to rank higher in that department, and won't be able to do so with an aging and injury-prone Hamilton in the starting lineup.
That means that Gar Forman needs to roll the dice, put Hamilton on the trade market and, most important of all, not be picky in terms of what other teams are willing to give up for him. Any trade package should be considered a gift and if it means the Bulls' future looking promising and finally stepping out of the shadow of a certain Number 23, all the better.
The fact is that Hamilton has become obsolete on the Bulls, and hanging onto him means holding the team back.