Updates from Thursday, June 26
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Afflalo is Denver bound:
Updates from Wednesday, June 25
With multiple trade offers coming in and LeBron James deciding to opt out of his contract today, the Cavs' decision may have just got even harder.
Of the offers they've received, a source says the Cavs aren't enamored by either the Sixers' offer (Thaddeus Young and the No. 3 pick) nor the Jazz's offer (Derrick Favors and the No. 5 pick). However, the Cavs do have some interest in the Magic's offer of Arron Afflalo, the No. 4 pick and the No. 12 pick.
Despite looking like the logical next man out in the wake of the Dwight Howard trade, the Orlando Magic have kept Arron Afflalo on the roster amid a sea of rumors the past two seasons.
This summer, those rumors look increasingly like they're going to be consummated.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that the Chicago Bulls are dangling at least one of their two first-round picks (Nos. 16 and 19) in exchange for Afflalo. Wojnarowski did not indicate how deep into negotiations the two sides were, but the framework of any trade would have to involve the Bulls giving up more than a draft pick.
Even accounting for the non-guaranteed deals of Lou Amundson, Mike James and Ronnie Brewer, Chicago is expected to be over the $63.2 million projected cap for 2014-15, per ESPN's Marc Stein. The Bulls can carve out enough salary to swing an Afflalo trade by using the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer. Shaving Boozer's $16.8 million from next season's cap would give the Bulls enough room to not only add Afflalo's $7.5 million but also add another piece at a salary approaching the mid-level exception.
As Wojnarowski notes, though, the one major roadblock here is Chicago's pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. In recent days, reports linking Anthony to the Windy City have reached a fever pitch. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times reported Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been asking coaches around the league about Anthony and is making a concerted effort to lure the All-Star forward.
Adding both Afflalo and Anthony would be nearly impossible due to Chicago's salary structure. Carving out enough space to offer Anthony a max-level contract is a difficult proposition to begin with, one that may force the Bulls to trade forward Taj Gibson and amnesty Boozer.
It's possible Chicago views an Afflalo deal as a cheaper, more realistic alternative.
Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote of the situation: "Perhaps the Bulls realize they aren’t the favorites to land Anthony, knowing how difficult it would be to get far enough under the salary cap to make a competitive offer to him."
Afflalo, 28, would give the Bulls their most consistent shooting guard of the Derrick Rose era. After struggling in his first season as a primary scoring option in Orlando, Afflalo thrived last year. He averaged 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 42.7 percent from three-point range. Afflalo has increased his scoring average each of his first seven seasons—one away from matching the NBA record, per John Denton of NBA.com.
While that growth would be unlikely to continue in Chicago, Afflalo would fit right in with Thibodeau's rule-oriented defensive system. He's an above-average defender on the perimeter and would work alongside Jimmy Butler to give the Bulls one of the league's best wing pairings. The return of Rose gives Chicago designs on challenging Miami's Eastern Conference dominance, and the Pacers' ability to challenge LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the perimeter may serve as a blueprint.
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel also reported earlier this month that Afflalo "wouldn't mind" being moved to a contender. Orlando has won a combined 43 games since Howard's departure after finishing above .500 the prior five seasons. Though Afflalo has done his best to keep his frustrations out of the media, his quotes to Denton were telling:
You play this game because you want to have the hope of winning a championship. Only team is going to win it this year, so every other team is going to go home dissatisfied to some degree. But you want to have the hope that you can have that chance to win until the final day of the season. Playing weeks and months without that expectation of being able to compete for a championship, it’s difficult. But I still have to be professional, play hard and do my job.
Should the Bulls find a way to land Afflalo, sign international import Nikola Mirotic and add another mid-level piece without jettisoning Gibson, the sum of those parts may be greater than landing Anthony. The Heat's loss to San Antonio in the NBA Finals only highlighted the precarious nature of over-reliance on stars.
Chicago itself knows a bit about title contention lost due to injury, with Rose missing much of the last two seasons. Afflalo wouldn't be enough to put this team over the top, but he might be a piece of a much larger puzzle.
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