The Chicago Bulls had a very difficult job to accomplish.
They had to figure out how to cut salary and open up cap space for next year’s big free agent market, while keeping the current team in the playoff hunt.
Looking back on this the day after the deadline, it can be said that the Bulls job was successfully accomplished.
The Bulls traded away Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons to Charlotte and Milwaukee, respectively. The Bulls, overall, received Ronald Murray, Joe Alexander, Hakim Warrick, and Acie Law. They also received a future first round draft pick from Charlotte.
All four of the players received have expiring contracts. With the moves Chicago made, they have opened up $18 to 20 million in cap space. They currently have enough room to sign one max free agent deal, and there will be a ton of options come July.
But not only do these moves allow for the Bulls to sign a top free agent next summer, they also don’t compromise this year’s run at a playoff spot.
The Chicago Bulls need to make the playoffs this year and give their players, like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson, valuable playoff experience. Rose and Noah played in the epic seven-game series against Boston last year in the first round, but the more playoff minutes the better.
The Bulls did not want to throw away this year’s team at the deadline, and they didn’t. They kept Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson. They dealt Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons, two bench players who weren’t having great seasons and were not living up to their expectations.
The five starters remain intact, lead by Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Noah is still nursing an injury and it is unknown when he will return, but he will likely be back on the court soon. He is currently average 12 rebounds per game, good for third in the NBA. He also is the reason the Bulls lead the league in rebounds and blocks.
The bench does lose two players who, while not living up to potential, where solid contributors to this Bulls team. One can hope that at least one of the four players the Bulls received in the trades can contribute off the bench.
It would be very disappointing to see the Bulls miss out on the playoffs this year. They play in the Eastern Conference, in which, if the season ended today, the Bulls would be the sixth seed. And they are only 27-26. It should be fairly easy for the Bulls to qualify for the playoffs with their current roster because of the key pieces that they didn’t trade away.
The outlook that this team has is a good one. You can expect a playoff berth, but you can also expect a fast exit. Next summer though, you can expect the Bulls to be in the thick of the race for at least one of the big free agents.