Update 2/18 10:17 am: Reports are now saying that there is some flux on whether the Bulls want Kurt Thomas or Hakim Warrick in combination with Elson. Warrick’s contract is for only $3 million expiring as opposed to Thomas’ $3.8 million expiring. Same basic structure, just a different role and a bit less money.
2/17 9:15 pm: Yahoo! Sports is reporting the Bulls have completed a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks for Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson.
The Bulls have been concerned with Salmons’ $5.8 million player option for next season, when they’re trying to clear as much space as possible. By dishing Salmons, the Bulls save some money this season and clear more space for this summer. They’re now looking at $36 million in salary locked up for next season, meaning they’ll be about $17 million under the cap after draft picks are signed.
It also represents a pretty significant capitulation on the part of the Bulls. The Bulls are currently in the eighth spot, but that’s an offensive weapon, limited it may be, that they just traded to the team in the 9th spot. And this team has almost no offensive weapons. There’s no intent to play either Thomas or Elson, these are both expiring contracts brought in specifically to clear space.
For the Bucks, it’s a no-lose. After Michael Redd went down, they needed a 2/3 that could score, and Salmons will probably help in that department. If he opts out, great, more cap-space. If not, he’s a movable expiring they can use to build on what they do this summer.
This move likely symbolizes the end of the Tracy-McGrady-to-Bulls idea. With Salmons gone, the Bulls probably were unable to find a suitor for Kirk Hinrich’s expensive services. Bulls fans will have little else to look forward to other than the hope of July.