The Chicago Bulls cleared away salary by shedding John Salmons contract at the trade deadline. I had previously written an article discussing various cap situations the Bulls could find themselves in after the trade deadline. However, now that we know for sure where the Bulls will end up, I felt it was a good time to take a look at the Bulls possibilities this summer.
First, here's the Bulls actual salary situation for next year:
|15th pick (guess)||$1,443,300|
|Max FA Cost||$16,568,908|
So first, as long as the salary cap is at least $51,757,600 they will have enough cap room to offer a free agent a max contract. Presently, the Bulls are set to get a pick lower than 15th which could free up a little more money, and since they have a swap option with Milwaukee, they will almost certainly not move up in the draft. They would need to fall down to 11th in order to pick higher than 15th, if they're 12-14 then Milwaukee would swap with us and give us a worse pick.
There's been some speculation that the Bulls could S&T for a 2nd max FA this summer if they sign the first. Now, that's putting the cart before the horse a bit in the sense that if we get lucky enough to sign one max FA then we should be cheering. Unless that FA is Joe Johnson.
However, I wanted to examine the possibility of signing the second max FA. Let's say the salary cap is 54-55 million. It seems like a reasonable guess given the league's various memo's on the salary cap situation this summer. The Bulls would be under the cap by rough 2.25-3.25 million..
For the Bulls to S&T for a second FA, they will need to match salaries. They can't simply offer a team a giant trade exception because their cap space is used by the first FA. So in the best case scenario, subtract off 3.5 million from the max FA pricetag, and we arrive at a salary of $13,318,908 which the Bulls need to match. Only Luol Deng can match that in a S&T outright.
However, would a team trading a max FA take back Luol Deng with four years left on his contract? Seems awfully unlikely.
Would a team be willing to take Kirk Hinrich back instead? Maybe, but the downside with this plan is Kirk doesn't make enough money to match a FA on his own. Once you add other players to the equation, you need to start add a roster charges for each player added. Kirk + Johnson for example is also not enough to reach this target, because the roster charge takes things away. Kirk + Johnson + Gibson barely meets the threshold.
Would a team take that package for their max FA? Maybe. The Bulls would likely need to throw in their 2010 1st rounder [whomever they take], the Charlotte pick, and likely the 2011 pick [trade would occur after the draft, so you could include the 2010 pick and the 2011 in that circumstance].
Is it likely? Probably not. However, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility. However, bare in mind, the Bulls would be facing a significant luxury tax bill if this deal were to pass. Think 3 years down the road when your two max FAs are making 20 million a piece, Rose is making whatever the max is for him (likely still 10+ million, Deng is making 13 million, and Noah will probably be around 8-10 million (even with a better CBA). Those 5 guys alone are probably putting your team over the luxury tax [assuming it still exists in the future], or could give the Bulls huge problems meeting a hard salary cap.
Overall, it's hard to speculate about the future impact of such moves without having any idea on how the new CBA will be put together in 2011. Also, if the Bulls get two great players, Joakim Noah might be a necessary casualty of that situation assuming the team can't find a way to move Luol Deng.