It's that time of the year when we can all jump to conclusions about every little report and discuss the possibilities. Now, with the NBA Trade Deadline less than 24 hours away, talks are starting to heat up, and the Rockets are reportedly in discussions with the Chicago Bulls with regards to Richard Hamilton.
This, from Sean Deveney of Sporting News:
[Hamilton] can be had by any team that has the cap room or trade exceptions to absorb his contract, and the Bulls have gotten plenty of inquiries, most notably from the Houston Rockets.
Not exactly overwhelming evidence that there is a connection, but a potential deal for Hamilton makes a lot of sense for both sides. Hamilton is due $5 million this year and $5 million next year, and the Bulls are looking to shed salary to get under the luxury tax. Ditching Hamilton and allowing the Rockets to take him into their cap space would allow them to slip under the luxury tax line, saving them millions and preventing one strike in the repeater tax book.
For the Rockets, the acquisition would serve two purposes. Firstly, the Rockets would bolster a relatively weak and young second unit with a proven scorer, giving the team a go-to scorer off the bench. Perhaps more importantly, however, the Rockets would receive an asset for their troubles, most likely in the form of a 1st round pick from the Bobcats (protected through 2017) or the rights to European big man Nikola Mirotic.
The Rockets could take on Hamilton, give the Bulls a top-59 protected second round pick, and get an asset in return. Because Hamilton's salary is guaranteed for just $1 million next year, they could cut ties with him with little impact on their cap room to fit Dwight Howard or another top free agent. Using the stretch provision, the Rockets could spread the cap hit for the buyout over three seasons, cutting their cap room by just $333,333 per year. Given the benefit of improved chances for this season and the pickup of an asset in the meantime, it seems like a perfect pairing.
However, at this point, it's unclear how willing the Bulls will be to surrender an asset simply to get under the tax threshold. If the Rockets can't extract a first rounder or Mirotic, it's not clear that picking up Hamilton would be worth the Rockets' troubles. Still, it seems like a match made in heaven and a backup use for the Rockets' cap space if bigger deals don't materialize.