Bill Simmons has recently said on his podcast that he thinks Chicago makes the most sense for LeBron in 2010.
Anyone who has been a Bulls fan over the last five years knows the drill. Aside from the 2006-2007 season, we have made the playoffs. That's four out of five years. In every single one of those playoff years we have finished between 41-49 wins.
We have only won one playoff series in that span.
I'm sick of it. I think it's high time to blow things up and build around Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
Let's trade Luol Deng for LeBron James.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers won't accept a straight up trade.
But, 2010 is the year to make this happen.
We need to shed as much cap space as possible.
It I had my choice, I'd get rid of nearly entire player off the Bulls roster for expiring contracts.
Kirk Hinrich? Gone.
John Salmons? Gone.
Luol Deng? Gone.
If we can turn those three players into expiring deals, the Bulls would have more than enough cap space to sign two max players in the summer.
Imagine a Bulls starting lineup featuring Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah. Tell me that team isn't the favorite to win a title. Or even swap Bosh in there for James or Wade, and tell me that team isn't a strong contender.
Tell me that team doesn't get loaded with quality (or at least decent) veteran bench players trying to win a title, just like the Celtics after they traded for Kevin Garnett.
Now there are several possible ways to accomplish this. Basically, we need a GM to decide that he wants to take on Hinrich's and Deng's contracts. Contracts that are not untradeable, but not anything that many teams would be desperate to take on in the current economic climate.
Deng's contract seems reasonable, until one realizes his risk of injury.
Hinrich's is a little much, but I think Kirk needs a change of scenery, where he can be the PG. And he is a very solid defensive player. There is a reason he was added to the Olympic Roster prior to the 2008 Olympics, but there is also a reason why he came nowhere close to making the final roster.
But here is a possible proposal that would do just that for the Bulls.
Bulls get: Tracy McGrady (expiring contract), Brian Cook (Expiring Contract)
Rockets get: Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Luol Deng, and Tyrus Thomas.
This trade passes the ESPN's trade machine litmus test, and it makes a ton of sense for the Bulls—if they want to go all-in for 2010. Giving up Deng hurts, but are any of the other players given up (realistically) someone you could see being a starter on a championship team?
If the Bulls do this, they'd only have Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and James Johnson under contract heading into 2010 free agency. Those are all relatively cheap rookie contracts.
They'd have enough room to sign two max players and still have enough cap space to sign another player.
Now if the Bulls can do this, they become the most attractive option to LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.
They'd get to play with an All-Star PG in Derrick Rose, a great young center and (almost) an All-Star in Joakim Noah, and get to play with another of the big three.
They'd also get a ton of marketability (Michael Jordan, anyone?) in the United States third largest media market.
And they would be playing for a championship year in and year out.
The only hang up is...?
The Rockets accepting this deal.
The Rockets would (honestly) be crazy to accept this deal, because of the financial implications.
But, from a basketball standpoint, the Rockets would be set with a young deep core for years to come. They'd instantly become the deepest team in the NBA. But they'd be paying an awful lot of money for a team that (in all likelihood) probably wouldn't win an NBA title.
This trade does make some sense for Houston.
Deng would start immediately and have a positive impact. Hinrich and Salmons would be solid contributors of the bench. Thomas would be a young player with real potential, and a very high ceiling.
And they'd get all this for two players that have combined to play a total of less than a 100 minutes this year.
But they'd be going deep into luxury tax territory to do it, for a team that (realistically) would not compete for a title unless something very unexpected happened.
But a Bulls fan can hope, can he not?
Bottom line, I believe it is in the best interest of the Bulls to get rid of any and all long term contracts—even for just the chance to get two of the big three 2010 free agents: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade.
I could care less if the Bulls get anything, other than that chance, in return.