While the Chicago Bulls anxiously await the Orlando Magic's decision on whether to match their three-year, $19 million offer sheet to J.J. Redick, Gar Forman and John Paxson should be forming a Plan B.
So suppose Chicago does not acquire Orlando's prized backup shooting guard.
Why not try to get the Magic's starting shooting guard then?
Yes, Vince Carter is not the same player he was in Toronto or New Jersey. Though his skills have deteriorated, he has something even more valuable to teams across the league: a huge expiring contract.
That contract could mean room for Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets' star would be a perfect fit on a Bulls team ready to contend in the Eastern Conference.
If the Magic re-sign Redick for the amount the Bulls offered, he will be an expensive reserve. In fact, he alone will cost Orlando roughly $14 million next season, because every dollar the Magic pay him will also have to be paid to the league as a penalty for exceeding the luxury tax.
Point being, if the Magic like Redick so much, they would be willing to shed salary to reduce their financial burden.
Here's where Vince comes into play.
The Bulls could propose a trade of Luol Deng for Carter. They could even throw in a draft pick or two.
It will save the Magic a good amount of money. The Bulls would get a shooting guard for a year, and cap room at the end of the 2010-11 season to pursue that final piece of the puzzle: Anthony.
At the same time, it would also lessen the financial strain of re-signing Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, both of whom are in line to get major raises.
For the Magic, Redick and Quentin Richardson would share shooting guard duties, while Deng and Mickael Pietrus could cover the small forward spot. Richardson would be able to play at a spot more favorable to him.
It makes sense for both teams. The only roadblock could be the two teams' unwillingness to help another threat in the East.
This is what makes the Redick deal so intriguing. Are the Bulls just setting a high price to force the Magic to spend well into the luxury tax, which could ultimately lead to Carter being dealt?
Or are the Bulls trying to take a critical piece away from arguably their biggest competition, while simultaneously boosting their own roster?
Beyond the obvious question of willingness to trade, another factor is the Bulls' strategy. Is this it? Are they stockpiling now and rolling the dice with the team they have?
Or do they have a two-year plan in place? Is another run at a big-name free agent in their minds?
It should be. The Bulls have done a wonderful job this offseason of getting the best players they could to surround Rose.
Yet it's not enough. A lineup of Rose-Redick-Deng-Boozer-Noah cannot compete with LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Mike Miller-Udonis Haslem-Chris Bosh. And that's without the Heat acquiring a starting center.
It's probably not good enough to defeat Jameer Nelson-Carter-Richardson-Rashard Lewis-Dwight Howard either.
Anthony still needs to be in the Bulls' sights. If the Heat indeed win a championship this season, it will validate the idea of great players teaming up to form a super squad.
Orlando won't have the cap space for Anthony, even if they keep Carter until his deal expires.
Boston won't have the cap space.
The Bulls could have the cap space if they play their cards right. And they could have a former All-Star at shooting guard.
It is a slippery slope to continue resting the success of a franchise on landing a free agent. Some may say Carmelo to the Bulls is a pipe dream.
But he fits with Rose and Boozer and would be the dynamic scorer the Bulls need to space the floor, create matchup problems, and become a truly fearsome team.
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