Bulls Set to Court Bosh, Which Could Tip LeBron
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After beginning the free-agent process late Wednesday by talking on the phone with some of the players (or agents of the players) they have interest in, the Bulls conducted their first face-to-face meeting with Dwyane Wade on Thursday.
The Bulls always have had great interest in the Chicago native, but it was assumed he had little interest in leaving the Miami Heat and was more focused on trying to lure other free agents to join him in South Florida.
Although that's likely still the case, it never hurts to talk -- especially since Wade was conducting meetings in Chicago.
Much more will be on the line today when the Bulls sit down with power forward Chris Bosh in Chicago. (Like Wade, Bosh is represented by Chicago-based agent Henry Thomas.)
The Bulls would love to strike a quick deal with Bosh to make their roster even more attractive to LeBron James, but that's unlikely to happen because they don't have enough money to offer two maximum contracts.
The Bulls have five players under contract for a total just under $32 million. The projected salary cap is $56.1 million, but that doesn't mean they will have $34 million of cap room.
Because they have fewer than 12 players on the roster, the Bulls have a cap hold of $473,604 (the minimum rookie salary) for each empty roster spot, reducing their available cap room to roughly $31million, which is not nearly enough to pay two maximum contracts of $16.8 million.
Although the Bulls can try to work out a sign-and-trade with the Toronto Raptors, the only way that would seem to work is if Luol Deng and his $11 million-plus salary is included. Trading Taj Gibson ($1.1 million) and James Johnson ($1.7 million) won't be enough because the roster holds would eat up much of the savings.
Of course, the Bulls could make it work by trading Joakim Noah, but that isn't an option they are likely to consider.
The best option may be working out a sign-and-trade after convincing Bosh to take less money, which would be a tough sell.
Bosh arrived in town on Thursday and met with the Heat.
If the Bulls can strike a deal with James, perhaps Bosh might make a financial concession.
Because he can get a sixth year in a sign-and-trade, the total value of Bosh's deal could exceed a maximum five-year deal.
If that doesn't work and the Bulls can sign James, they could look elsewhere for a power forward. They have expressed interest in Carlos Boozer and David Lee, who was scheduled to meet with the Bulls today in Chicago, according to a source. Both would be less expensive options.
As for James, the Bulls will get their chance to sit down with the prize of this year's free agent class on Saturday in Cleveland.
According to a source, James is scheduled to meet with just six teams. He met with the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks on Thursday and is scheduled to meet with the Heat and Los Angeles Clippers today.
After meeting with the Bulls, James will wrap up his visits by sitting down with his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then he is expected to mull his options for a day or two before deciding.
Not too long ago, Hedo Turkoglu went on NTV SPOR in Turkey to say that he did not want to return to the Raptors.
As free agency shakes out, the Raptors' need for a small forward to replace the disgruntled Turkoglu -- who would presumably be heading somewhere -- was part of the reason some felt Toronto might consider taking on Luol Deng's big contract in a sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh. Such a move would make the Bulls exceptionally attractive for players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
However, Turkoglu's back on the same TV channel on Thursday, only this time after spending some time listening to the soothing tones of newish Raptors' assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo, who is now in Turkey telling Turkoglu how much better things could be.
Here, translated into English, is some of what Turkoglu had to say:
- "As a basketball player, my only goal is to perform at the highest level again. I want to play in a system that fits me. I’m happy that Carlesimo is here, he’s a good friend of mine since my Spurs days."
- "Everybody makes mistakes, that’s a fact. Both parties [Hedo and Raptors management] think that it’s time to correct them. Toronto wants me back and to take the leading role. I’m happy that Carlesimo is here, and we will all see what summer brings. I don’t have any problems with the city of Toronto or the Raptors. I want to be able to perform at the highest level."
- "I don’t know about the free agency frenzy. I haven’t talked to Bosh. He’s one of the greatest power forwards in NBA right now. And he’s very clever, too. Bosh will decide what’s best for him."
- "For LeBron James and others, I don’t have any information about guys’ choices. But if I have to make a guess, I think LeBron will choose the Clippers."
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