According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors have engaged in "exploratory talks" for a potential trade. The players focused upon include Chicago's Carlos Boozer and Toronto's Andrea Bargnani.
General manager Gar Forman and the Bulls must avoid a Boozer for Bargnani swap at all costs.
Bulls fans have developed an occasionally irrational but always present hatred for Boozer. This comes after Chicago signed Boozer to a five-year, $75 million contract which suggested he is a superstar talent.
Although the former Duke Blue Devil has produced at a high level, he's far from what Chicagoans expected.
As for Bargnani, he was selected with the top pick in the 2006 NBA draft. Bargnani has since been crucified by Raptors fans for being weak on the glass and rather one-dimensional on offense.
Neither man can catch a break in their respective cities.
With that being said, trading one embattled player for the other would be nothing short of counter-productive. Both sides would acquire hefty contracts and neither would see the improvement that one might believe they could.
No matter how valuable a 7'0" three-point shooter may be, there are better ways to go about improving the Bulls' perimeter than trading Boozer for Bargnani.
More specifically, there are better ways for Chicago to improve the quality of their team than to trade a player of Boozer's caliber. Even with his hefty contract, Boozer has his benefits.
Unless you're truly receiving a fair deal in return, there is no reason to move the veteran. Bargnani doesn't meet that requirement.
Finding His Niche
Thus far in 2012-13, Carlos Boozer is averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. During the month of January, Boozer averaged 19.5 points and 10.1 rebounds.
So why would you trade a player who is tied for 10th in the NBA in double-doubles?
Whether or not Boozer is worth the money he receives is a question for another day. The fact of the matter is, he's one of the most productive power forwards in the NBA.
More importantly, he's one of the few offensive weapons the Bulls currently possess.
If that's not enough, note that Boozer has finally learned how to play next to Joakim Noah. Should the Bulls execute a trade for Bargnani, they'd hit the reset button on whatever chemistry had been built.
Not only must they allow Bargnani to find his niche, but they'd force Noah and Taj Gibson to re-adjust as well.
With the Bulls just 1.5 games off of the division lead without Derrick Rose, we approach a commonly asked question: Why fix what isn't broken?
As for those who believe Bargnani is what Chicago needs to cure its offensive woes, think again. Boozer may not have the three-ball, but he's a superior all-around offensive product.
Something Chicago fans would soon learn with the acquisition of Bargnani.
Comparing Boozer and Bargnani
Carlos Boozer is an active rebounder, a phenomenal pick-and-roll finisher and a solid mid-range jump shooter. Andrea Bargnani is a superb jump shooter and that just about sums it up.
Just check the numbers.
For his career, Bargnani is averaging 15.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. For those unfamiliar with the Italian, he is 7'0" tall and plays both power forward and center.
Even still, Bargnani is averaging just 4.9 rebounds in 30.5 minutes for his career. That's a number that is consistent with his year-to-year production.
In 2012-13, Bargnani is grabbing just 4.0 boards in 31.6 minutes. In 2011-12, Bargnani pulled down 5.5 boards in 33.3 minutes.
Don't fool yourself into thinking a career mark of 36.0 percent from beyond the arc offsets those deficiencies.
That's another issue with Bargnani—he's not as reliable a three-point shooter as the numbers make him out to be. He shot 29.6 percent from beyond the arc in 2011-12 and sits at 29.7 percent in 2012-13.
If that's not enough, Bargnani has averaged more than 1.0 offensive rebound just twice in his six-year career. His career-high is 1.3, which came in 2010.
Boozer is averaging 2.3 in 2012-13.
Poking Holes in Theories
The most common theory about the potential acquisition of Bargnani is that he would create an elite drive-and-dish game with Rose. Bargnani could either run the pick-and-pop or set up along the perimeter.
Not so fast.
Bargnani may have thrived in the spot-up game in the past, but he's always struggled to move off of the ball. His percentages have dropped because his shot locations have become predictable.
As a result, elite Eastern Conference defenses would be able to predict the drive-and-dish with ease and shut Bargnani down—just as they have during the past two seasons.
Even if Bargnani were to succeed in filling such a role, Chicago's shooting woes would be far from cured. Chicago ranks 29th at 4.8 three-point field goals made per game for a reason.
The Bulls need a more reliable perimeter.
Marco Belinelli and Richard Hamilton may fill in nicely, but they have proven to be either inconsistent or injury prone. What Chicago needs is a reliable shooter at the shooting guard or small forward position.
A J.J. Redick type of player, if you will.
While trading Boozer may free up cap space, it wouldn't end the Bulls' current woes. Instead, it would give Chicago another player that Tom Thibodeau struggles to fit into his defensive schematics.
As Chicago's 30-22 record displays, there's no need to fix what isn't broken. So why trade such a valuable commodity for a career underachiever?