July 22nd, 2008 – Dr. J-Water
The Hoop Doctors have very recently been given a heads up by a reliable source close to the Denver Nuggets franchise that the Nuggets have made contact with the Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson to discuss a possible swap of a Nuggets future first round draft pick for Kirk Hinrich. The Nuggets are hoping to use their newly acquired $10 million trade exception (in the Marcus Camby trade to the Clippers) to tempt the Bulls into unloading Hinrich’s $10 million annual salary and free up the Bulls overcrowded backcourt/point guard situation.
However, rumor has it that since the less than impressive performance of Derrick Rose in the NBA summer league, the Bulls are wary about Rose’s ability to immediately be their go-to point guard. They still believe they made the right choice in the draft for the long term, but are worried he may need to be weaned into the rotation carefully to ensure his confidence is built up and not diminished. This in itself may stop Paxson from biting on the proposed trade offer from the Nuggets, as they could use Hinrich to share the PG role with Rose. The temptation for the Bulls however in the Nuggets offer is that it would give them a lot more salary relief before next summer when they will have to make some big financial decisions on re-signing players like Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon, and Drew Gooden. The Bulls would also welcome the added financial flexibility in possibly extending the contracts of Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas next summer depending on their performance for the Bulls this season.
Next summer the Bulls could go from one of the lower salary committed teams in the NBA to one of the highest depending on how the players perform this season. What the Bulls would like to avoid is being in a position to have to choose between players of high value and cut someone loose who is a valuable asset. If the Bulls decide that the player they would eventually in that situation want to cut loose is Hinrich, they may want to make the move now and accept the Nuggets offer while it is still on the table.
The Nuggets have one year to use their trade exception. Although they have made it perfectly clear they will not make a trade just to use up their trade exception, they are open to making a move before the season or after if they can get a player that fills one of their needs. After the Camby deal Nuggets VP of Operations Mark Warkentien said “The deal was made for one compelling reason: The trade exception that we get from this provides us with great flexibility and more options for potential deals with other teams.”
Hinrich was identified specifically by the Nuggets because they feel he fits their point guard needs perfectly as a pass first guard who is a good solid defender and can consistently hit the outside shot. Playing with Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson would give Hinrich more offensive weapons than he has ever played with, so it would be an interesting combination to see how Hinrich’s assist numbers and shooting percentage may skyrocket.
Should Paxson pull the trigger on this offer for the long term goal of re-signing his assets? Or does Derrick Rose need more time to be integrated into the leadership role of running the point for the Bulls?