Bulls close to Salmons trade; guard out vs. Knicks


Feb 17

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The Bulls are close to a trade of John Salmons that would clear enough salary cap space for the team so they will be able to offer a maximum contract to a free agent this summer, according to league sources with knowledge of the discussions.


As a result, the Bulls have decided not to play Salmons Wednesday against the Knicks in order not to risk an injury, which could void the potential deal.

The sources say both teams have agreed in principle to the main elements of the trade. It probably won’t be completed until Thursday morning before the 2 p.m. (Chicago time) NBA trade deadline.

Salmons is considered to be the most talented player in the trade. But the Bulls would be receiving a player or two who could help them the rest of this season with both on expiring deals. As a result, the Bulls could get to approximately $18 million under the salary cap for next season. A maximum deal is expected to be about $16 million to $16.5 million.

The identity of the other team is not known.

These talks also signal that the Bulls have moved on and will not pursue Houston’s Tracy McGrady, who may not be able to even play the rest of this season. The principal reason is the Rockets have been pursuing a major package of starting and young players, draft picks and expiring contracts which would cripple the Bulls chances to make the playoffs this season.

Though Salmons is a regular for the Bulls averaging 12.7 points and more than 33 minutes per game, the deal would not disturb the Bulls’ starting rotation. The Bulls are trying to get back a front court player in return in the deal to ease the burden on their injured big men.

With Houston making what many believe are such outrageous demands for McGrady’s contract, sources are saying the Knicks also are backing out and pursuing a smaller deal for Nate Robinson.

The Bulls still are engaged in talks with other teams in separate deals, but it is appearing less likely that any of those deals will be done.

But if the Bulls can complete this trade it would accomplish their principal goals of establishing enough salary cap room to pursue a major free agent this summer and not disturb their starting lineup so they remain in position to make a good run for the playoffs.

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