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Report: Raptors can trade Bargnani for Boozer “whenever they want”

Feb 15, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls' Boozer reacts after being called for a foul in their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston

The Bulls have been an over-performing, scrappy team this year. Though Derrick Rose has missed every game rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee and the team has suffered other injuries to key players like Luol Deng and Joakim Noah that’s forced them out of action for stretches, the Bulls currently possess the East’s 5th best record and remain an elite defensive team.

That said, with recent reports that Rose is willing to sit out the entire year with his bum wheel, the outlook on this current campaign is starting to shift. And that, along with some salary cap savings, has them exploring all their options. Including trading Carlos Boozer in a long rumored deal with the Raptors. From K.C. Johnson with the Chicago Tribune:

League sources said last week the Raptors were told the Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson deal for Andrea Bargnani and John Lucas III was available whenever they wanted it.

The main driver behind such a deal, from the Bulls side, would be the avoidance of paying the luxury tax this season. The Bulls currently sit about $3.7 million over the tax threshold and a Boozer and Robinson swap for Bargnani and Lucus III would save them a little over $4 million and get them under out from under a tax bill they do not want to pay. The Bulls, under the ownership of Jerry Reinsdorf, have long avoided paying the tax even though they’re one of the most profitable teams in the NBA and reside in a major market.

The deal, though, would also be a sacrifice of talent. Though Bargnani has an intriguing offensive skill-set to pair with Rose (whenever he returns), he’s also no where near the rebounder that Boozer is and even less the defender (which is saying something). And while a Boozer move would open up more playing time for Taj Gibson, it’s not like head coach Tom Thibodeau has had any qualms about pulling Boozer in favor of Gibson and his better defense down the stretch of close games.

Whether this deal happens remains to be seen, and a lot of it will, of course, have to do with the Raptors willingness to take on more money after already adding Rudy Gay‘s max salary to a team that’s committed to above market contracts for Landry Fields and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors, though on a run recently, may not want to commit even more cash to Boozer even if it improves their team to the point that they potentially make a playoff run this season.

But, if they decide they do want to splurge, the deal is there if they want it. The Bulls are just waiting for the word.

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