The Bulls’ front office search has reached a boiling point.
Just on Wednesday, news surfaced of four candidates — Denver Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas, former Atlanta Hawks GMs Danny Ferry and Wes Wilcox, and former executive Bryan Colangelo — interviewing to be the team’s new head of basketball operations after Utah Jazz GM Justin Zanik interviewed Monday. Karnisovas is considered the frontrunner.
But now, it appears another has entered the fray: former Windy City Bulls great, and current Nets guard, Spencer Dinwiddie:
This is, of course, a facetious proposition. Only Dinwiddie didn’t stop there. Moments after firing off that initial post, he spouted a lengthy thread detailing his convoluted plan to save the Bulls rebuild, were he to be handed the keys to the franchise.
Because, oh, what else is going on in the world right now, let’s break that plan down — point by point — to determine if any of it is prudent. Or even feasible:
Step 1: Hire Spencer Dinwiddie as head of basketball operations
Simple enough, right? Not exactly. Because Dinwiddie is currently under contract with the Nets, this hypothetical scenario would probably have to involve the Bulls first trading for Dinwiddie, then appointing him to the dual station of player and GM. Dinwiddie saw that roadblock coming:
And, in fact, this swap is legal! Dinwiddie ($10,605,600) and Tomas Satoransky’s ($10,000,000) current salaries are well within the threshold required by the current CBA (175% + $100,000 for non-tax payers). Though if I’m the Nets, I probably ask for a first round pick.
Step 2: Acquire Anthony Davis
Things are moving quickly here. In Dinwiddie’s first move as general manager of the Bulls, he proposes packaging Thad Young, Cristiano Felicio, Wendell Carter Jr. and a first round pick in a sign-and-trade to bring Davis back to his hometown team (after, of course, signing with Rich Paul, who represents Davis. Crucial groundwork, he knows the business):
Ask TradeNBA’s trade machine, and this is another legal transaction (under Davis’ current salary, at least). Ask the Los Angeles Lakers’ sensibilities… Perhaps not so much.
Plus, if this is a sign and trade, it involves the Bulls swaying Davis to voluntarily leave the city of Angels and the allure of continuing on alongside LeBron James with a Lakers team that was 49-14 when the NBA suspended its season. His next destination would be a team that’s won 44 games in the past two seasons.
There are also a litany of complicated financial considerations here for Davis, the Lakers and the Bulls to sift through, but I don’t have close to the energy for them. The point is, all of this is absurd.
Step 3: Fill out the rotation
But let’s keep going, anyways. Here’s the current state of affairs as we enter phrase three:
Dinwiddie is right: This is a solid foundation from which to build. As for the bench…
Who’s going to tell him Antonio Blakeney spent this past season absolutely torching the Chinese Basketball Association for the Jiangsu Dragons? (And as an aside: Blakeney was a fan favorite?) Either way, it looks like Shaq Harrison is getting re-signed, Jared Dudley — or someone of his ilk — is getting the minimum, and Chandler Hutchison and Daniel Gafford are staying on board.
This is where things start to get a little stickier. Using this year’s salary cap of approximately $109 million (because who knows where that figure will be when all of this is over) as a baseline, the Bulls could theoretically offer one of Dinwiddie’s target wing candidates $9,246,000 in the form of the non-tax payer mid-level exception. With Davis on board, and the team’s total salary roughly static to this point, it’s safe to assume the Bulls would be right around the cap line right now, and well clear of the tax.
For Harkless, that $9.2 million figure feels well within reason on a flier for a contender. For Marcus Morris? The title contender pitch would have to be awfully compelling. Plus, with LaVine, White, Davis and Markkanen all already needing the ball, perhaps someone with a bit lower usage at that spot would be best.
I’d call Harkless (a free agent this offseason) the most realistic option of the four, including Terrence Ross and Robert Covington. Ross just signed a four-year, $54 million extension with the Orlando Magic last summer, so bringing him on would require a bit of legwork. Covington, entering the third year of an affordable four-year, $47 million deal with the Houston Rockets, would be difficult to pry away from Daryl Morey, who spent two first round picks to acquire him at February's deadline.
Step four: Draft a wing
Luckily, Dinwiddie should have a high lottery pick to help fill out that wing rotation. He intends to use it:
Isaac Okoro, Deni Avdija, Devin Vassell, Saddiq Bey or even Jalen McDaniels could be reasonable options, wherever the Bulls’ pick lands. (How about trading down to Orlando’s slot in a deal centered around Ross? Vassell, Bey or McDaniels might be reaches in the top 10, but at No. 15? Just spitballing here.)
Step 5: Swap Otto Porter Jr. for Andre Drummond
Whichever way Dinwiddie decides to go in the draft, he has his eye on an Otto Porter Jr. for Andre Drummond swap to cap off his first offseason as Bulls’ head of basketball operations.
Frankly, I don’t see this one. History says Davis won’t like the idea of playing center over the course of a full season (and Dinwiddie intends to value his input), but bringing Drummond on leaves you with just Harkless, Hutchison and your rookie at the small forward spot. We saw the consequences of not valuing wing depth with this year’s Bulls. Porter’s shooting and perimeter defense simply sound more valuable to this squad given its current construction.
But screw it. If he can find a way to make it work, cap-wise — given that both Porter and Drummond are due hefty player options after this season — who am I to stand in the way?
Step 6: Admire the finished product
Here’s what the Bulls are looking at entering next season if Dinwiddie has his way:
PG — Dinwiddie / Coby White** / Ryan Arcidiacono*
SG — Zach LaVine / Shaq Harrison
SF — Harkless / Hutchison / LOTTO PICK (I’d probably go Okoro, given Dinwiddie's valuing of defense)
PF — Davis / Markkanen / Dudley
C — Drummond / Gafford / Luke Kornet*
*Dinwiddie alluded to shedding Arcidiacono and Kornet, but I’m keeping them on. The two combined don’t match up in trades for Covington or Ross, who Dinwiddie expressed interest in.
**#StartCoby forever. But this is Dinwiddie's world, not mine.
Toss in a few more minimum or two-way guys (Adam Mokoka?), and that’s not half bad — albeit impossible for every reason enumerated above.
But what's important is he's bringing fresh ideas to the table. Hopefully, the Bulls’ new hire to head basketball operations will do the same.
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