The Bulls historically bad summer of 2012 just keeps getting worse.
That summer Chicago let C.J. Watson, John Lucas, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik walk while completing what might go down as the most frugal trade in Bulls history.
In that salary-dumping trade, the Bulls sent sweet-shooting Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks for cash considerations and a $5.1 million traded player exception. A trade exception can be used to acquire a player worth the amount of the traded player (in this case $5.1 million) within a year after the deal is completed. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the Korver trade, meaning yes, the Bulls literally traded one of the best shooters of all time for nothing. This quote from Gar Forman after the 2012 NBA Draft is officially funny.
“Our decisions up to this point and our decisions this summer will be basketball decisions. They won’t be financial decisions.”
… Yeah right. The moves made during the summer of 2012 were completely financial decisions. How else could you justify letting Asik sign with the Rockets? If Nazr Mohammed is a better basketball player than Asik, I’m watching the wrong sport. Cap relief shouldn’t even matter to owner Jerry Reinsdorf when the Bulls are the third most valuable NBA franchise. The only teams that have higher revenues than the Bulls – the Knicks and Lakers – could care less about spending over the cap. Just ask Mikhail Prokhorov as he burns another million dollars. What made this cheap move hurt even more was that Korver didn’t just have his normal outstanding shooting season; he actually ended up having one of the best seasons for any shooter ever.
Stephen Curry’s record-breaking 272 three-pointers took all the attention away from Korver’s quietly historic season. The 10-year vet made 189 three-pointers (fourth in the NBA) last season at a 45.7 percent clip (second in the league). The only other players in NBA history to put up those shooting numbers in a season was Dana Barros in 1994-95 and Glen Rice in 1996-97. Yep, only two players were as prolific and efficient from behind the arc as Korver was last season.
All in all, would Korver have made that big of a difference for the Bulls had he played for them last season? According to win shares, Korver would’ve made a sizeable difference.
Win shares is one of the best stats out there in terms of simplifying how much a player adds to a team’s win total. One win share is equal to one team win. Of course this stat isn’t perfect, but a teams’ win shares should add up to around the team’s actual win total, give or take 2-3 wins. Korver had 6.4 win shares with the Hawks last season, the second best total of his career. That number would’ve ranked third on the Bulls behind Joakim Noah (7.3) and Jimmy Butler (7.0). Marco Belinelli, who was essentially Korver’s replacement, produced only 3.0 win shares last season. So in simple terms, Korver would’ve added around three wins to the Bulls last season. A 48-34 record wouldn’t have changed the Bulls seed, but maybe a stronger Chicago team would’ve inspired Derrick Rose to, ya know, actually play. Win shares also doesn’t account for the spacing Korver would’ve provided, giving guys like Butler, Luol Deng and Nate Robinson even more room to operate.
This type of frugalness from the Bulls brings up serious doubts about Chicago’s willingness to spend in the future. Next summer the Bulls will have their most cap flexibility since the summer of 2010 (especially if they don’t re-sign Deng and amnesty Carlos Boozer).
Since Korver’s $5.1 million was too costly for Chicago’s front office last season, I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a Bulls spending spree.