The Trade That Paved The Way
How the Corey Maggette trade impacts the Chicago Bulls and the rest of the NBA.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
During the season I had conversations with various local writers on more than one occasion about my wanting the Chicago Bulls to trade either Kirk Hinrich or Luol Deng. But each and every time I said it, I ran into the same opposing thought: “Look at their contracts, no team is going to want to absorb something like that.” While part of me understood the logic and wanted to agree with that line of thinking given the economic uncertainty surrounding the NBA right now and the much expected lockout looming at the end of the ’10-’11 season, the other part of me felt like the impossible is almost always very possible under the right circumstances and conditions.
Well, the right circumstances and conditions occurred when Golden State Warriors traded Corey Maggette to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
Maggette’s contract will pay him $31 million over the next three seasons. His and the contracts of many other mid-level, highly paid players just like him with more than a year left on their deals—including Deng ($51 million+ owed over four seasons) and Hinrich ($17 million owed over two seasons)—were generally seen as albatrosses and made the likelihood of guys like that being moved seem, well, unlikely. However, the Warriors/Bucks deal officially ended what was once thought to be the unthinkable.
Many have said that the Bucks got the better end of the deal and that the Warriors traded Maggette away for scraps. While that may be true, it’s just a smaller part of the bigger picture. That trade set the precedent and set into motion what will most likely be the shuffling of quite a few players who have exorbitant contracts with years left on them just like Maggette’s. Whereas many thought that teams were going to start tightening their belts during these uncertain economic times, because we’re currently in the “win now” era of the NBA, teams are more willing to do almost anything to either put themselves in contention for a chance at an NBA Championship, or at the very least remove themselves from the cellar and make their squads respectable again. So if that means adding additional payroll by bringing in a high-priced player to reach one or even both of those goals, then so be it.
As it relates to the Bulls, using Deng or Hinrich as trade bait certainly guarantees that they can get pieces in return much more valuable than the Warriors got in Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric. It also determines what they’ll do after they’ve signed someone in free-agency.
With LeBron James as the team’s top free-agent target, if they sign him they can then use Deng as trade bait to try and bring in another big to shore up the front line and get Joakim Noah some more help, or they could use him to go after a shooter to take some of the pressure off of Derrick Rose on the perimeter.
If the team loses out on LeBron and goes after and signs Joe Johnson, then they can keep Deng and use Hinrich as bait to try and get bigger up front. And if they sign either Amar’e Stoudamire, Chris Bosh, or Carlos Boozer, then Hinrich can be used to acquire their much needed perimeter shooting threat. There are a myriad of possibilities open to the Bulls now (including sign-and-trade scenarios and packages involving either player and a draft pick) with the Maggette trade taking place.
Obviously the team hasn’t publicly expressed any desire to move either Deng or Hinrich, but there have been some talks internally about trade situations involving them both. Even with $20million+ to spend on July 1st, I’m of the opinion that one of those guys still has to be moved for the sake of improving the team. I think the Bulls may have gotten all that they’re going to get out of both of them and as painful as it may be for the organization to part ways because each is considered good “character” guys by the team, it’s time to move on.
But again, all of this is purely speculation and just one man’s opinion. Both Deng and Hinrich could be back in uniform for the Bulls next season…but I seriously doubt it, Bulls fans. Expect to see one of them donning a different set of threads come next year.