The Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors have engaged in exploratory trade discussions on a deal that would swap the Bulls’ Carlos Boozer for the Raptors’ Andrea Bargnani, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Other players with smaller contracts would have to be added to the deal to make the salary-cap math work should talks indeed progress to a more serious level. But sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that both teams have considered the move.

From Chicago’s perspective, sources said, Bargnani’s arrival could help address its glaring lack of 3-point shooting and brighten the overall look of its payroll, given the Italian forward makes $5 million less than Boozer this season.

Despite his well-chronicled defensive deficiencies, Bargnani would figure to be an effective pick-and-roll partner for Derrick Rose once the point guard makes his expected return from knee surgery after the All-Star break.

The biggest impediment to such a trade, sources said, is believed to be whether Toronto can realistically afford having both Rudy Gay and Boozer on its payroll beyond this season.

The Raptors, who acquired Gay from Memphis last week, have been openly shopping Bargnani, who resumed the most disappointing season of his career Wednesday night after missing 26 games with an elbow injury.

Although Toronto’s desire to upgrade its front line is an open secret — as confirmed by its long-running interest in trading for the Los Angeles LakersPau Gasol before the forward’s foot injury this week — it’s believed the luxury-tax implications of trading for Boozer ultimately could dissuade the Raptors from such a deal, even if Chicago proved willing.

Raptors president Bryan Colangelo told local reporters after the Gay trade the team was prepared to stray into luxury-tax territory for the “right transaction.” It remains to be seen whether a deal for Boozer qualifies.

 

My initial reaction

 

My follow up thought – I understand this is a Salary Cap move but I still don’t like it. As bad as Boozer can be for the money we pay him, and he can be bad (just wait for the playoffs), Bargnani is worse. He’s a 7 footer that averages 4.9 rebounds a game. That’s unreal. Yes he can stretch the floor but the one knock on Boozer has always been that he’s soft, well Bargnani is softer. And I understand the allure of cap space in 2014, don’t get me wrong shedding Boozer’s deal should be a priority after this season, but 2014 cap space only happens if Bargnani opts out of his contract. Do you think Bargnani is getting better at basketball? I sure as fuck don’t. So there’s no way he opts out.

 

I will admit that at the end of the day if this deal happens its not the end of the world for three reasons.

1) Bargnani is younger

2) Thibs can make anyone better

3) Bellinelli will have someone to talk to.

 

But even with those 3 things I think I’d still rather have Boozer. Which is incredible because I, like most Bulls fans, have wanted to trade Boozer since forever, just not for Andrea Bargnani.