Basketball Insiders writer Steve Kyler wrote this morning that the “Bulls are actively open to moving guard Derrick Rose."
The news that the Bulls are shopping Rose is not surprising given his injury history and that the former MVP has one year left on his contract. If the Bulls believe he will leave (or if they have no intention of re-signing him) then it makes sense to try and get something in return for him now before his value diminishes. As a rule, even if Rose has a great season, you won’t get much in return for him as a trade deadline rental next February.
The main question then becomes, which teams make sense as a landing spot for Rose? Here are the criteria for any team that would realistically approach the Bulls in trade talks for the Chicago native.
1. Cap space, and plenty of it.
Reason: Rose is due $21.3 million next season. The Bulls don’t want to take on a bad contract in return, so any team trading for Rose would have to be able to absorb his contract into its 2016-17 cap space.
Eliminates: Thunder, Spurs, Raptors, Warriors, Cavs, Clippers
2. Lack of a star already at point.
Reason: Let’s be honest. Any team that trades for Rose believes that he’s an upgrade over their current point guard. The Blazers aren’t trading for Rose just to backup Damian Lillard.
Eliminates: Blazers, Pistons, Celtics, Hawks, Heat, Wizards, Hornets, Pelicans, Rockets, Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies (Note: Memphis may lose Mike Conley in free agency. If they do, they’ll need PG help)
3. No potential star that a team is trying to develop.
Reason: A team that is trying to develop a young point guard isn’t going to trade for Rose unless they believe that adding Rose will catapult them from the lottery into the playoffs.
Eliminates: Lakers, Nuggets, Magic, Jazz
4. No central division teams.
Reason: Can you imagine if Rose plays 70 games next season and puts up 20 and 6 a night in a different uniform? The last thing the Bulls front office wants is to trade Rose to a division opponent and get torched by him four times a season.
Eliminates: Pacers, Bucks
5. Your new head of basketball operations is a former Bulls coach who had a messy divorce with the Bulls front office.
Reason: Do your job
Alternate reason: More than enough to win
6. Must have worthwhile asset to offer.
Reason: Unless the Bulls want to just dump Rose’s salary, they will want some compensation in return. Likely a mid-to-late first round pick or a rotation player.
Eliminates: Nets (seriously, have you looked at their roster?)
This leaves us with just three teams that are viable trade options: the Kings (who will likely lose Rondo), Sixers, and Knicks. All things equal, the Bulls would likely prefer the Kings because you only have to play Rose twice and there’s no threat of facing him in the playoffs.
The Kings are also interesting because the Bulls reportedly rejected a trade deadline offer for Pau Gasol that centered around Ben McLemore and big man Kosta Koufos. The Bulls could request that the protection be lifted off the 2017 pick that the Kings owe Chicago (top-10 protected) but the Sixers would have to get involved since they have the right to swap picks with Sacramento courtesy of the Nik Stauskas trade. It’s messy, and wouldn’t be an easy part of the deal to pull off.
The Knicks and Sixers have both the assets and cap space. Philadelphia is especially intriguing because they have the 24th and 26th picks in the first round and could be willing to part with one (or both) for Rose. It’s well-known that Philly believes it can be a playoff team next season and drafting two projects at the end of the first round doesn’t fit into its post-process plans. The danger here is that it’s widely considered to be a weak draft but Gar Forman and John Paxson have shown they can pick gems at the end of the first round.
There is no pressure to trade Rose, he is still loved by the average fan, and he believes he has a lot left to give a team. For any trade to work, both teams have to feel they are getting good value in return. This is not a Deng-salary-dump-to-Cleveland situation. Trading Rose would be a bold move, especially for a front office that is not known for making ‘big’ trades.