Bulls Want a Tyrus Thomas Bailout
The great thing is that Thomas isn't ruined per se, he's just been stunted. And now he's on the block, with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reporting that the Bulls received more offers for T.T. after he'd been suspended a game by the team than at any time before. Unsurprising, that teams would try to lowball the Bulls when the disconnect between team and player reach a new peak.
The thing is, according to Woj, there will be no low-balling, because Chicago has set its price: a first-round pick and an expiring contract. This sounds fair enough if you simply consider Thomas's talents, his age and his almost overwhelming potential. But there's more to the story, which is that Thomas will be a restricted free agent this summer at the very least, and there's a solid chance he could be an unrestricted free agent come July. The Bulls would need to decide ahead of June 30 whether to present a $6-million qualifying offer to Thomas. If they don't, he's an unrestricted free agent. If the Bulls do offer it, so long as Thomas remains unsigned, the Bulls will have a "cap hold" of some $12 million tied up in Thomas. That means that if the Bulls otherwise had, say, $20 million in cap space to go get Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, $12 million of that would be unusuable so long as T.T.'s situation was left unresolved. (Teams can withdraw qualifying offers, making the player -- Thomas, in this case -- an unrestricted free agent and removing the cap hold. But it has to do be done by July 23, according to Larry Coon, lest it be subject to the player's approval.)
So the chances Thomas remains a Bull next season are very, very slim. There is literally no reason, in that case, for the Bulls to hang onto Thomas -- in fact, the qualifying offer and cap hold situations make it a disincentive to keep Thomas past the deadline (excepting the impacts on this current season). So teams bidding for Thomas ought to understand that the Bulls' demands in this case, strong as they be, mean little, assuming Chicago's front office will eventually act logically. The teams are bidding against each other, not the Bulls. I'd be shocked if the Bulls get a good first-round pick in exchange for the privilege of first dibs on negotiating with Thomas this summer. (And as Doug Thonus points out, Woj's top rumor -- Thomas to Charlotte for its first and expirings -- can't happen ... Charlotte doesn't have its pick. Because Charlotte's 2010 pick is conditional through 2014, the only first-round pick the Bobcats can trade is the team's 2016 pick. Something tells me Chicago wants a pick a bit sooner.)