The Bulls desperately need a second fiddle for Derrick Rose. Carlos Boozer has fallen short, and there’s no one else capable of playing the role that the Bulls thought the former 20-10 machine would fill.
Luol Deng, for all he is, is not a number two option, and the acquisition of Paul Pierce would satiate that hole within the Bulls’ attack.
What would the Bulls give up to obtain Pierce? Quite simply, like any other team, a good bit.
Namely, that third fiddle, Deng, would have to be dealt. Let’s look at a proposed deal between the two teams that I conjured on ESPN’s Trade Machine:
Boston gives: Paul Pierce & Jared Sullinger
Bulls give: Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, & Jimmy Butler
Why Boston Would do the trade:
Deng is younger than Pierce, and at this point would fit in well with what Doc Rivers wants to accomplish. He plays solid D; Doc loves D. He can hit the threes that will come from Rondo drive ‘n’ dishes. He rebounds the ball, and after Kevin Garnett retires, the C’s will need more of that.
Most importantly, Deng is 27, and just about to enter his prime. That could make him a staple in Rondo’s development, and allow the duo to stick together a good half-decade before Deng himself became expendable around age 32-34.
Taj Gibson is an upgrade over Brandon Bass or Sullinger. He’s a great undersized power forward, but he would have to be re-signed. Gibson is in the last year of a $2.1 million contract. If he liked Boston and re-signed, the C’s could have a very dangerous rotation that would look something like this in 2-3 years, after Garnett and Terry retire.
Butler is a very interesting young talent, and since the C’s are giving up Sullinger to both add talent and clear time for Gibson, it is only fair that they get a nice prospect like the 6’7″ forward from Marquette.
Butler hasn’t been overly impressive so far, but his mid-range jumper is better than his field goal percentage indicates, and he’s a threat on the offensive boards, a good ball handler, and a player who could develop into something.
Two to three years from now, the depth chart could look something similar to this
PG: Rajon Rondo / Dionte Christmas (?)
SG: Avery Bradley / Courtney Lee
SF: Luol Deng / Jeff Green / Jimmy Butler / Kris Joseph
PF: Taj Gibson / (Jeff Green) / (Brandon Bass)
C: Brandon Bass -or- Free Agent/Draftee / Fab Melo
The curious notation of a “free agent/draftee” means the C’s have work to do past this trade. Fab Melo doesn’t likely have the makings of a starter. But until Garnett retires, this isn’t a problem that has to be addressed. I only put Bass at the starting spot because of that group he is the default center.
That core of players has a lot of potential, and if the C’s were lucky enough to strike gold on a big man in the Draft, or pull a free agent heist.
The C’s will have a payroll of about $40 million if they decide to decline the final year of Garnett’s contract in the summer of 2015. That should be far below the cap.
There’s a lot that can’t be taken into account by projecting three summers ahead, but Gibson would require a re-signing, and a lot of moves can and will happen before then.
It’s just never too early to look ahead.
Why Chicago would do this trade:
They obtain the small forward needed for Derrick Rose to have to do less. Pierce would take a lot of pressure off Rose, and make the one-time MVP’s life that much easier.
Obtaining Sullinger might be Carlos Boozer v. 2.0, but Sullinger has a lot of promise, and if he became what Boozer was, I’d say the Bulls would be pretty pleased. Moreover, the Bulls will likely amnesty Carlos Boozer after this season, as he still is owed over $32 million the next two seasons beyond this year’s.
In all, the Bulls get stronger for the short term, but damage their prospects in the long term. The thing is, they aren’t going to get there with the pieces they have, and even at age almost 35 years of age and with 14 years under his belt, Pierce could help Rose a lot more than Deng or Boozer could offensively.
Try to win a ring. Win one. Win two. Then worry about the future. The Bulls have put the cart before the horse by not obtaining a superior veteran. Swing and a miss with Boozer. Let’s see if Pierce works.