What goes better with your morning cup of joe? A piping hot free agent rumor, tied to a trade rumor, all wrapped up neatly just hours before the free agent bell is rung … that’s what!
According to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, the Chicago Bulls have looked to move Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky with free agency on the horizon.
One league source said Young has been dangled as much for productive players as he has been for salary cap space, which would suggest the Bulls are covering all their bases, especially because both the Celtics and possibly the Mavericks continued to be rumored to be in the Ball sweepstakes. Clearing cap space to sign Ball to an offer sheet that the Pelicans matched would be the Bulls’ worst-case scenario.
Either that, or the Bulls are confident they can execute the Satoranský-for-Ball sign-and-trade scenario.
Young and Satoransky are both on partially-guaranteed contracts, ones that we originally thought would become fully guaranteed on Sunday if not waived. However, Johnson now suggests the contracts do not go into full effect until the deadline. Perhaps an extension was given (Ryan Arcidiacono’s team option decision was also believed to be on Saturday but it came on Sunday)? Regardless, if the Bulls did trade either player, I think it is safe to assume the team that traded for that player would keep him for the season, thus fully-guaranteeing his contract.
The main motive behind moving either Young or Satoransky would be to open cap space for a run at Lonzo Ball come free agency (which begins tonight at 5:00 p.m). However, as Johnson notes, going the offer sheet route always comes with the risk of the Pelicans matching. Thanks to rumors last night about top Pelicans target Kyle Lowry likely signing with Miami, this has started to feel a tiny bit more likely.
The alternative, of course, is working out a sign-and-trade. I’m sure the team is still interested in throwing Lauri Markkanen into the equation, but New Orleans has expressed little interest so far. Instead, the Bulls could be able to use veteran guard Tomas Satoransky as the main trade chip.*
*Due to the Base Year Compensation rule, the Pelicans would only accept 50% of the money they send out in return. In other words, if the Bulls agree to a $20 million starting salary for Ball, the Pelicans could take back Satoransky’s $10 million.
Lonzo Ball is still expected to sign an offer sheet with Chicago, except the Bulls require a few financial moves before they can extend him the roughly four-year, $84 million contract that’s been discussed in league circles. Should Chicago find trade partners for Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young in the coming hours, that would provide further indication of the Bulls’ Ball pursuit, just like Dragic’s option with Miami. Although Boston’s interest in Ball continues to be mentioned by league sources as well.