Are the Bulls putting a backup plan in place, or do they have something larger planned?
That’s the question I had to ask myself when I saw the latest report from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski about the Bulls pursuing a trade for Orlando’s Arron Afflalo. For months we’ve heard all about the Bulls and their interest in guys like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, but as any Bulls fan knows when it comes to bringing a top player to Chicago, backup plans are a must. So is that what Afflalo is? Here’s what Wojnarowski wrote.
The Chicago Bulls are pursuing a trade for Orlando Magic swingman Arron Afflalo, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Afflalo, 28, has two years left on his contract – including an Early Termination Option (ETO) provision next summer – and front office executives believe the Magic are prioritizing a trade for Afflalo over working to extend his contract.
In his tweet of the story Woj described Afflalo as “very available,” but no matter how available he is, with the Bulls cap situation, they’re going to have to send salary back to Orlando to get him, as well as at least one of their two draft picks next week. But rather than break down what would be included in this deal, I’d rather know what it means for the bigger picture.
If the Bulls do trade for Afflalo there goes any chance of signing Carmelo Anthony as a free agent, as it would have to be a sign-and-trade with the Knicks. That means that we’d likely be sending Taj Gibson and possibly even Jimmy Butler to the Knicks in the Anthony trade. Butler becomes somewhat surplus if you have Derrick Rose, Afflalo and Anthony, unless the plan is to make him a sixth-man off the bench. Which, honestly, might be a role he’s suited for. The new Taj Gibson, if you will.
But that’s a problem as well. Taj is gone, and Boozer has been amnestied to make room for Anthony and the trade. So now the Bulls have three scorers as well as Joakim Noah in the starting lineup, but the four suddenly becomes a very thin position. One the Bulls would have to address with minimum deals via free agency, or possibly through another trade. Even if Nikola Mirotic comes I think the odds of Tom Thibodeau inserting him into the starting lineup are just as good as the odds Tom Thibodeau gives up coaching to become a stand-up comedian.
Maybe Melo plays the four and Butler remains at the three?
What if the plan is to trade for Afflalo and then send him to Minnesota as part of a deal for Kevin Love? I would think that if Minnesota is going to trade Love it would find itself starting over, and would prefer the Bulls draft picks rather than a guy who can opt out of his deal and leave Minnesota like everybody else does after next season. So, no, I don’t think this has anything to do with Love.
Maybe Afflalo is just the backup plan. Though it can’t really be a backup plan without failing to get Carmelo or Love first, so if the Bulls are going to include draft picks in an Afflalo trade they’d have to know they have no shot at either of them before next week’s NBA Draft, and I don’t see that being the case.
Another possibility, which may seem a bit too complicated, is that the Bulls are interested in Afflalo for this year and want him to opt out of his deal following the season. His option for 2015-16 is for $7.75 million, and if Afflalo has another season like the one he just had, he’s going to command a lot more than that on the market. So maybe the Bulls take him for the season, he opts out, and then the Bulls use that cap space to sign Kevin Love as a free agent next year.
Remember, just because Kevin Love wants to leave Minnesota doesn’t mean Minnesota needs to trade him just yet. He’s still signed through next season, and Flip Saunders is both the team’s coach and general manager. Coaches generally don’t trade away their best players.
Now the problem with this theory — which I fully admit I also believe is far-fetched, but I’m just going through this from every angle — is that it’s incredibly risky. Sure, there’s a chance Minnesota won’t trade Love this summer, but Minnesota just might trade Love this summer. Then the Bulls are left standing there looking like idiots. So, no, I don’t think this is the thought process behind this possible deal.
As for Afflalo himself, I’m certainly not against the idea of him in a Bulls uniform. He’d be a better two-guard than anyone the Bulls have had in a long time, as he averaged 18.2 points per game last season while shooting 46% overall and 43% from three. He’d help the offense quite a bit, and I’d be a lot more comfortable with him at $7.5 million than I would be with Lance Stephenson and whatever his crazy ass would cost.
It’s just I’ll feel bad for Afflalo if the Bulls go into the summer talking Carmelo and Love and end up with him and him alone.
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