Bulls salaries in 2010 and free agent possibilities

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:

Luol Deng $11,345,000
Kirk Hinrich $9,000,000
Derrick Rose $5,546,160
Joakim Noah $3,128,536
James Johnson $1,713,600
Taj Gibson $1,117,680
15th pick (guess) $1,443,300
Roster hold $473,604
Roster hold $473,604
Roster hold $473,604
Roster hold $473,604
Max FA Cost $16,568,908
Total: $51,757,600

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.

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  • Great sum up. The only question I have is do Sign and Trades operate under the 125% trade matching rule? Because if that is the case Deng + a few small contracts can get you to a matching figure (16.58 * .75). But there may be some provisions on how that works that I'm missing. If this is right, though, you could conceivably add 1 max FA, use whatever's left of the capspace on a small signing, then trade Luol plus , let's say, JJ and Taj for that second max.

  • Nice article, but if we did land to max fas without giving up Rose, Deng and Noah, it would really put the long awaited "reinsdorf will pay for a winner" theory to a test.

  • Gotcha. So you could potentially do both but it'd be way easier just to do Deng + considerations. Less moving parts.

  • Gar wasn't lying. They really do have flexibility. Option 1, as you note, after signing a big FA, is to explore these S&T scenarios. Doesn't work out? OK, they can always try to use the estimated remaining 3 mil productively--to re-sign Miller, to bring in a bench shooter, etc. They can just simply trade Deng or Hinrich for a non-FA who might be a better fit with their new core, depending on the position of the signee. They could even just keep Deng and Hinrich, which might make sense if they sign Bosh, for example--Noah/Bosh/Deng/Kirk/Rose starting with Taj + 3 million dollar shooting guard off the bench. Maybe not this year's champion, but a massive upgrade and EC contender for several years with remaining flexibility going forward.

  • Just curious.

    What do you know about draft day trades? Let's say a team like Minnesota wants Luol Deng. What would the Bulls have to take back from them in salary?

  • Thanks again for the salary/draft info Doug. So provided Gar/Pax come up with the most clever, loophole reaming, cost saving way to sign a Max F.A. while keeping the fewest, lowest cost salary slots etc., it seems to me these two things still need to happen.

    1) Derrick Rose needs to go off in this year's playoffs. I mean consistently game after game at an all-Star, sometimes superstar level. Part of that falls on Vinny/the coaches to help him find the best play or two/offensive set to thwart aggressive pick and roll defense/double teaming Derrick. If D goes off like he did in that four game stretch on that Western trip(before the Hornets ratcheted up the extended double team on Derrick), that will hugely effect the teams quality appearance win or lose. And it will mean the difference between possibly corralling a Chris Bosh or a second tier Joe Johnson.

    2) Prioritizing loss. It sounds like a very real possibility that if we do any dealing to sign a Max guy or do a sign and trade that someone's, Deng('s salary) or Taj or Joakim's talent will have to go. Of course if we can dump Hinrich's contract that's a no-brainer. Let's just say losing one of those three is at least a very real possibility.

    So who is the most and least expendable if we sign the PF/Big scorer we need ala Bosh, Stoudemire, Boozer etc.? It seems easier to me to acquire a serviceable SF then it does a quality PF who can play both ways. Same with a potentially game changing center. Deng's only 24. He's proven as earlier in his career to be a gutsy, tenacious player at just below All-Star quality. We can get something good right now out of Luol Deng's burgeoning value. Especially if he/the bulls show well in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he's the odd man out in my book.

    Also, if the Bulls keep/use their pick(and sign a Max PF) then I'd hope they draft the best SG or sf/wing available. In my mind the best SG would be the hyper athletic defensive lock down waiting to happen in Memphis' Elliot Williams. His freakishly long strides and hops are what enable guys to be big time scorers/get to the hoop and the free throw line(PER) in the NBA. Second option might be Dominique Williams or James Anderson.

  • In reply to SamS:

    "Deng's only 24. He's proven as earlier in his career to be a gutsy, tenacious player at just below All-Star quality. We can get something good right now out of Luol Deng's burgeoning value".

    Only two people have this view of Deng. You and his agent. After watching the system guy play in the last few seasons, how can you mention any variation of all star with Deng. Deng is owed 12 mil a season. Who looks at him and says he is my guy and my team has to have him?

  • Lets get real here. LBJ, Wade and Bosh are not going anywhere. Why would they give up 30million extra - money tops anything. Sign&trades ? yeah right... before the tradeline we heard the rumour Bosh for Deng+Noah. And maybe draft picks, and Gibson.

    Is it worth it ? absolutely no.

    So now we have cap space for a nice FA. Lets use in on a Lee or Boozer - cheaper guys - and still have space for good role players.

    Would the Bulls be championship material ? With Lebron and Howard on other teams - we can only give them a fight - and with a lucky season, who knows...

  • In reply to mjorey:

    This sounds like the smartest option. We pick up a 20/10 pf, with post moves and plays defense. He would come cheaper and there wouldn't be an ego issue about whose team it is.

  • I think it depends.

    The T-WOLVES clearly have a desire to upgrade at SF. Rudy Gay's name has been thrown out there as a possibility. Now, they could also land Evan Turner in the draft.

    Suppose neither of those guys are available to Minnesota, then maybe they would trade for Luol Deng. He would fit in good there and they do have the cap space to take on his contract.

    PG - Flynn
    SG - Brewer or Ellington
    SF - Deng or James Johnson
    PF - Kevin Love
    C - Al Jefferson (who they want to trade)

    * I think they want to trade Al Jefferson, so they can get their hands on Cole Aldrich of Kansas, but from Minnesota.

    It's something to keep an eye on, at least.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    How many teams consider Loul Deng an upgrade? Especially at 12 mil(it hurts to type this)a season.

  • FYI:

    Chris Sheridan of ESPN just did a chat and he said the Bulls top target is DWYANE WADE. If they can't get him, then they will probably go after Joe Johnson.

  • MINNESOTA TRADE THAT COULD WORK.

    To Bulls: David Lee (He's Noah's buddy.)
    To T-Wolves: Loul Deng (They need a SF.)
    To Knicks: Al Jefferson (They need a true Center.)

    That makes some sense.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    All three of those guys will make or do make around $11 million dollars a year.

    It's a good trade because the Bulls could play Johnson or Warrick at SF and go heavy after DWADE.

    The T-Wolves would get the SF they need and they could also draft Cole Aldrich to play Center.

    The Knicks would have a dominate big-man to help attract a couple of top level free-agents.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Jefferson isn't a true center, he's a power forward.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    What happens if the bulls do a sign and trade for a 2nd max free agent and have to lose Kurt, Johnson and Gibson? You're left with 6 players including the draft pick and no cap space left to do anything with. Even if there is any cap space, you're getting a bench full of Aaron Grays.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Who would want Deng @12 mil a season for the next few years? A 3rd/4th option player for 12 mil a season?

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