I would first like to say I appreciated the feedback to my last post as I definitely found a very intelligent set of comments from the group here. In hindsight a few things I should have said:
In the previous post I only talked about the savings that amnestying Boozer would bring. However it would be very likely that if Boozer was amnestied then another team would sign him for around 7M. This would actually go back to Chicago so the savings on the deal would be closer to 50M and not 57M like I stated.
However, one thing I forgot to mention is that the mid level exemption changes based upon whether or not the team was in the tax the previous year. So for a team that was in the tax their MLE is only around 3.2M, whereas a team that was not in the tax has a MLE of 5.3M or so give or take. So if we go back to Chicago, the way Nikola Mirotic is playing in Europe now (think Kwame versus donuts) he is almost certainly going to be looking for a 3 year 15 million offer. So if Chicago stays over the tax they will likely have to sign Nikola using cap space, but if they go under they can likely use the MLE to sign Nikola. Using cap space to sign Nikola keeps them from getting much in the way of a free agent, so unless they plan on trading Nikola they really should get under the cap.
What these changes mean to me is that there is more incentive for the Bulls to get under the cap this year to improve their 2015 and beyond outlook but less incentive for them to trade Boozer. Enter Luol Deng. But before getting into the trade too much, first I want to talk about a way to value expiring contracts (or any contract for that matter).
Not all expiring contracts are that valuable. Some suck. The big difference is whether or not a player is paid more or less than they are worth and how easy it is to move the contract (hint lower numbers are bettter). Let's take Luol Deng. He makes 14.3M this year. The person he gets compared to most often is Andre Iguadola who signed a 4 year 48M contract (12M a year). That being said, Iguadola has had a career PER of around 18 (Luol's is closer to 15) and shows up on advanced stats as being an A+ defender. Luol is more of an A- defender and though he is great on sites like 82 games he isn't quite as high as Iggy. Luol also has a bit more red flags due to excessive minutes played and some strange injuries but is a little younger than Iggy. Bottom line is that Luol is probably worth a couple million a year less than Iggy, and if we say Iggy is underpaid we can put a value on Luol of 11M a year. Given that he makes 14.3M this year, that means that Luol is overpaid this year.
Now let's do the same thing for Turner. Turner's PER is 16 this year (just above Luol's) though historically it has been closer to 13. That being said Turner's improvement this year is mostly due to better shot selection, and his PER is being held back by unsustainable bad 3 point shooting so I think the PER in that range is reasonable. His defense rankings are neither good nor bad, but he is a young player with some upside especially if Collins isn't doing the coaching. Other posts have shown that every player with his stats has at least gotten 10M a year coming off his rookie contract, and I think that is reasonable for Turner (and probably Hawes as well). Thus since he makes 6.7M a year, he is probably underpaid right now by the difference (3.3M).
So even though Deng is the better player his expiring contract is worth say -3.3M whereas Turner's is worth positive 3.3M. In addition, Turner's contract (assuming a qualifying offer which will happen) is restricted, whereas Deng's is not. This again increases the value of Turner's expiring contract and decreases the value of Deng's. The exact value of this who knows, but let's say the contracts of both are worth 10.5M. Since Luol makes a lot more than that and Turner a lot less, Turner's expiring is worth a lot whereas Deng's is worth rather little even though Deng is clearly the better player.
The problem with any Deng for Turner swap though is that Deng is not the worst contract out there and he would in fact improve the Sixers. What the Sixers want to do is tank, and for Chicago to get value from Deng they really need to find someone with a worse contract than Deng to take him. Enter Memphis and Tayshaun Prince. Prince's contract has two years of 7M a year left on it and he has a PER of 10. He is between average and horrible by most metrics, and though it is tough to do a fair assessment of him he is likely worth around 2 or 3M a year. Deng would be a huge upgrade no matter how you look at it, and putting Prince on a team that wants to lose and has cap space would be a benefit to them (hello Sixers).
For Memphis the switch from Prince to Deng would instantly vault them back into the list of real West contenders. In addition, Prince's (and Koufos') contract is for 2 years whereas Deng's is only for 1. Thus getting those contracts off the books frees 10M in salary for next year which would likely enable Memphis to resign Deng if they wished or pursue another free agent of similar nature which could convince Gasol to stay.
For Chicago since Nate Robinson left Chicago has been heavily lacking in a shoot first (and turnover prone) guard to break down defenses. Since Chicago is positioning for the future, this person would ideally be cheap and controllable for the next three years on a rookie contract with potential to grow. Sorry guys, but Tony Wroten would be a near perfect fit for the Bulls. And since the Bulls want to get under the cap (reasons I discussed in my last post), it makes sense for them to trade Hinrich which will get them there.
As for Memphis, they have a number of trade exceptions (the biggest being Rudy Gay) which means they can receive more salary than they send out without going into the luxury tax which would normally make a trade like this impossible. To get Luol they pretty much need to swap their bench out to make the numbers work. Obviously for the Sixers to give up Wroten, Turner, and take on someone else's garbage we would be compensated via picks. So the trade:
Sixers get (T. Prince - Memphis - 2yr), (Ed Davis - Memphis - bench scrub - expiring), (J. Bayless - Memphis - bench scrub - expiring), (K. Koufos - Memphis - solid bench - 2yr), and (N. Calathas - will be cut) , Charlotte 1st round protected from Bulls, Memphis 2017 1st round pick top 10 protected
Bulls get - Evan Turner, Tony Wroten and under the luxury tax
Technically this trade won't work in the simulator though honestly it is so close it might work in real life as it shows 20k being the difference to make it work. For example, if Memphis and Chicago swapped their 2013 2nd round picks it would work (Murphy and Franklin), or if we added a fourth team and had Memphis swap scrubs with them it would work.
I see this as a huge win for all teams involved. I understand concern on Turner in Chicago, but it is a 1 year rental and he likely will be affordable at what the Bulls can offer. If they don't want to keep him they don't have to, and with Wroten on the team they have a cheap backup point guard for 2015/2016 out of this deal and get under the cap which gives them financial flexibility in the future. In my view the Bulls do the best and Memphis is a small market taking on a little extra salary, so let's say the Bulls send 2M in salary over to Memphis to help make this happen (they are saving around 40M from the trade so I think they can spare it). Another option would be the Bulls sending out a second round pick to someone to make this work, though truthfully I'm not sure which team the Bulls would send it to and they hate giving up draft picks historically even when it has been in their interest to do so. Thoughts?