1:03pm: The Bulls have issued a press release confirming that they’ve sent a heavily protected 2020 second-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for Luwawu-Cabarrot and cash. The team has also officially waived Anthony, lining him up to clear waivers on Sunday.
Chicago plans to hang onto Luwawu-Cabarrot, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).
12:39pm: The Bulls and Thunder are in the process of finalizing a trade that will send Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and cash considerations to Chicago, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Chicago currently has a full 15-man roster, so the club will need to trade or waive a player to finalize the deal. It sounds like that player will be Carmelo Anthony, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Anthony had remained in limbo after being sent from Houston to Chicago in a trade last month, but appears set to become a free agent, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers. The Lakers remain a “real possibility” for Carmelo, Woj adds (via Twitter).
The trade itself between the Bulls and Thunder appears financially motivated. Oklahoma City will be on the hook for a huge tax bill at season’s end, so clearing TLC’s $1,544,951 salary will save the franchise exponentially more than that in tax penalties. ESPN’s Bobby Marks pegs the tax savings at $7.3MM.
As for the Bulls, they’ll likely receive enough cash from the Thunder to cover more than Luwawu-Cabarrot’s remaining salary, so they’re essentially being paid to use a spot on their 15-man roster — the deal is similar to the financially–motivated swaps Chicago made with the Rockets earlier in the season. It’s not clear if the Bulls will hang onto TLC, an unrestricted free agent in 2019, for the rest of the season or if they’ll replace him with another player after trading for him.
The 24th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Luwawu-Cabarrot hasn’t developed into a reliable NBA rotation piece. In 142 career games (14.9 MPG) for Philadelphia and Oklahoma City, he has averaged 5.5 PPG and 1.7 RPG with a .385/.317/.829 shooting line.
The Thunder will dip to 13 players as a result of the deal and will have two weeks to add a 14th man to their roster. By signing a player – or player(s) – to a 10-day contract or a prorated rest-of-season deal, the club will save some money on its year-end tax bill. I explained this concept last week when I identified Luwawu-Cabarrot as a potential trade candidate.
Meanwhile, the Bulls will use part of the $2.73MM trade exception they generated earlier this season in the Justin Holiday trade in order to absorb Luwawu-Cabarrot’s salary, Marks notes. The Thunder, in turn, will create a TPE worth TLC’s salary ($1,544,951).