Is a trade on the horizon for the Chicago Bulls?
After losing 4-1 to the Miami Heat in the second round of the NBA playoffs, it is clear that the Bulls must make changes to their roster. The problem that they face is the salary cap. With eight players under contract for next season, the Bulls are already over the $72 million mark.
In order to catch the likes of the Heat, as well as other teams such as the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls face some difficult decisions.
Put simply, there is one trade Chicago must make in order to regain their position as Eastern Conference contender.
Who Are the Candidates for a Trade?
Taking a long look at their roster, which player would be available for trade?
The Bulls will have three players making over $14 million next season. Those players are Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng. Between the three of them, their salaries add up to over $47 million. That does not include Joakim Noah's contract figure of $12.1 million, nor does it include the $7.5 million Bulls have to pay Taj Gibson.
Clearly the Bulls are in a paradox at this moment. What should they do?
Do they have to break up the core in order to save money, and by saving money can they improve the team?
The Carlos Boozer Argument
The answer to the prior question is not as simple as it sounds. The one player who several fans have long wanted the Bulls to dismiss has been Carlos Boozer.
The fact that Boozer had his best season in a Bulls uniform goes lost on the minds of fans that want him gone. He was consistent in the playoffs and he led the Eastern Conference in double-doubles this past season.
It is difficult to fathom the Bulls giving up a player that nearly averaged a double-double throughout the season. The only way that would happen is if the Bulls get some type of value in return.
Rival general managers have officially been placed on notice! Carlos Boozer has begun to look like the player he was during his days with the Utah Jazz.
I understand the fans' frustration and wanting the Bulls to part ways with Boozer, but at the same time, are there many players that can score an average of 16.2 points and grab 9.6 rebounds? The answer to that question is a resounding no.
Boozer ranked in the top 10 (ninth place) in rebounding during the season. Of the other remaining nine players, only Dwight Howard averaged more points than Carlos at 17.1 points per game.
Be careful what you wish for. There are few players who can replace Boozer's output on the offensive end while being a monster on the boards.
Some Fans Have Asked for Rose to be Traded
No the Bulls are not trading Derrick Rose.
There have been several people who have turned on him for sitting out the season, but I implore you to exercise patience. Rose should not have rushed into the lineup if he was not physically or mentally ready to perform his duties of being the point guard/superstar for the Chicago Bulls. Asking him to do so has put the Bulls in a vulnerable position going forward.
All it would've taken was a minor setback that turned into a major injury, and then everyone in Chicago would be calling for the heads of Tom Thibodeau and the rest of Bulls management.
Consider this a potential crisis that was avoided.
The Remaining Bulls with Large Contracts
Another Bull who should not be on the trading block is Joakim Noah. He was a first-time NBA All-Star this season and should only get better next season.
That leaves two players, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson.
Unless a team needs a starting power forward and doesn't mind the Bulls' potential asking price, you can officially scratch Gibson's name off the list.
The only reason why the Bulls must consider trading Luol Deng is if they are unsure whether or not he fits into their plans for the 2014-15 season and beyond. As a free agent next offseason, Deng can walk without any compensation.
Can the Bulls risk losing him for nothing?
That is the question that they must face this offseason.
Trading Deng for a draft pick might be the best move for the Bulls. It won't be a popular one, but it would make sense for the future.
In a perfect world, the Bulls would not have to part ways with their best all-around player. But as of now, he is the closest thing that they have which resembles any type of trade bait.
Over the next few weeks and months, there will be some clarity to the Bulls' financial situation. Unfortunately, as it stands now, moving Luol Deng is the one trade that the Bulls must make.