It's not been an uncommen sight to see the highest paid player on the Bulls be a veteran with serious mileage or limited ability. Last season, it was 33-year old Brad Miller. The season before, it was the often problematic Larry Hughes. Before that, often problematic and old Ben Wallace. The list continues.
This year, the highest paid player will for sure be under the age of 30. In fact, so far no Bulls player is past the age of 29. That can change in free agency seeing as Chicago only has 10 players on its roster, but by all accounts the highest priced player will still be 29-year old Carlos Boozer. A player who's been selected twice into the NBA All-Star game, is in the middle of his prime and who has a career rebounding rate of 10.2.
The main core on the Bulls has already been established. The team will roll its dices with Derrick Rose, Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah in the starting unit. An average age of 25.2 years. What makes this squad even more interesting is the value in which they sit at. Rose and Noah are still on rookie deals which is obviously an incredible talent to dollar ratio. Deng will earn $11.3 million and is the only player with a questionmark next to his on-court value. Because when you look at the deals signed by Boozer and Brewer ($15.2 and $4.16 million per year respectively) it jumps off the page as good value.
For comparison's sake, Chris Bosh got $110.1 million over six years, and Amar'e Stoudemire got $100 million over five years. Boozer at $76 million total over five seasons, might prove to be the best deal of those three. It doesn't hinder the Bulls from moving him the same way it did Ben Wallace, simply because Boozer is a better player at a better age and has a better all-around game. It's basically hard to imagine Boozer becoming an albatross contract unless a freak accident occurs.
Brewer at $12.5 million over three years is a deal that you essentially don't expect for 25-year old athletic freaks who plays defense and has a career TS% of 57.1. Yet, here we are. Brewer will step into the starting shooting guard spot and liklely get somewhere around 30 minutes a night. In Utah Brewer had two seasons of 30+ minutes, and one of the factors in his decision was due to the starting opportunity. So he will expect minutes.
Compare this current team to the days of Fred Hoiberg, Rick Brunson and Kevin Ollie, and the Bulls seem to have broken a pattern of getting old mediocre players onto their roster. They now have two legit All-Star players as their offensive foundation. Two near All-Star players who specialize in defense and one hard-nosed defender filling out the starting unit. It's not LeBron James, but you could do a lot worse.
Add to that the fact that such deals are easier to move in deals, and the Bulls' summer suddenly looks even better through long-term glasses. For the first time in years, the Bulls do not have a contract on their team which is hard to move. You could argue Luol Deng, but rest assured he's good enough to find a new home if the Bulls tried to move him aggressively. Seeing as there is no reason to do so currently, make him valuable in his own right to this team. With coach Thibodeau implying Deng will play a bigger role offensively, there is optimism for a strong Deng season.
The contracts of Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson (both at 3 years and $15 & $10.2 million respectively) also looks like smart down-to-earth signings that will provide the Bulls with necessary weapons. Compare this summer to Atlanta who paid their star Joe Johnson $123.6 million, and you're looking at a Bulls team which has combined the power of smart financing with under the radar players.
It seems that the days of finding weak talent at large prices has finally died and replaced by a competent decision-making process that has given the Bulls one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. And that, with just 10 roster places in place.