One of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference may be making a big change to their team.
According Marc Stein of ESPN, the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors have had discussions about a potential trade. In the deal, Chicago would send Carlos Boozer to Toronto in exchange for Andrea Bargnani. Other ancillary players would also have to be added to make the move work under the rules of the salary cap.
Bargnani’s name has been in trade rumors for much of the season. It has been suggested that he could be sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal for Pau Gasol. That seems unlikely now, since Gasol could miss the next two months with a foot injury.
Before the start of the 2012-2013 season, there were rumors that the Bulls could use their amnesty clause on Boozer. He is scheduled to make over $31 million over the next two years, and his numbers decreased when he signed with Chicago.
This season, however, Boozer has been an integral part in keeping the Bulls near the top of the East, despite Derrick Rose missing all of the team’s games with an ACL injury. Boozer is averaging 15.7 points and 9.4 rebounds in 46 games. He is also part of a defense that allows less than 92 points per game.
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Even with what the power forward has contributed to the team, the Bulls are considering trading Boozer for both monetary and basketball reasons. Bargnani will make approximately $9 million less than Boozer over the next two years. On the court, Bargnani would give Chicago the three-point shooter that they desperately need. Only the Memphis Grizzlies make fewer three-pointers than the Bulls.
Boozer has played much better than Bargnani this season, and is a much better defensive player. However, Chicago feels the Raptors big man could improve from playing with a returning Rose.
For the Raptors, acquiring Boozer would give them an inside presence that they haven’t had since Chris Bosh joined LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to play for the Miami Heat. Bargnani has been a disappointment since being drafted first overall in 2006. At seven feet tall, he’s averaging less than five rebounds per game for his career, and has missed 77 games in the past three years.
The report states that the biggest issue with a potential trade involves the Raptors payroll. The club recently dealt for Rudy Gay, and is wary of adding another player with a large contract. Acquiring Boozer might force the club to pay millions in luxury tax penalties, which is something they may not be willing to do.
The teams have until the Feb.21 trade deadline to agree upon a deal.