After signing Carlos Boozer, the Bulls look to be on the fast track to becoming one of the best teams in the conference.
The Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Atlanta Hawks are the other four teams in the conference with whom the Bulls will need to contend. Of those teams, the Bulls should pass up the Hawks and Celtics (if not this year with the Celtics by next year). They're positioned as, at worst, the third best team in the conference long term.
Most Bulls fans are thrilled with Boozer, see improvement, and are now speculating on what to do with nearly 18 million in cap room left. The answer may be nothing, or at least nothing big.
See if the Bulls commit, if they go all in, then they're going to have the luxury tax man knocking on the door in a couple of seasons. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are both going to get 8-10 million doller per year pay raises in the next two seasons.
This situation was created by moving Kirk Hinrich's salary for cap room. If the Bulls had kept Hinrich and had room for one max, then hinrich's contract coming off the books in two seasons would have paved the way for Rose's extension. Now the Bulls will have to look to replace his salary spot and likely use more years to do so.
The cap presently sits at 58 million, if we spend up to it and add 16 million on top of it, we're sitting at 74 million in salary, 4 million over the luxury tax this year. On top of that, much of the roster will be increasing outside of Rose/Noah with 8-10% raises each season, so throw on another 3-4 million and we're looking around 77 million.
Whether the Bulls are really committed to winning will become apparent in the next couple of weeks. If the Bulls use the rest of their cap room on long term contracts then they're either committed to paying the luxury tax, or they're morons.
If they find ways to come up with short term deals then the team is hedging its bets and isn't really prepared to pay for a winner, and the reasons as to why LeBron, Wade, and Bosh ultimately said no to us will also be clear. We'll have continued to cement our reputation as a profit before winning franchise.
Jerry has said he'd pay the tax for a winner. No crap. If the team is generating massive profits due to extra playoff games, merchandise, ad revenue, and all other revenue streams then it's not really paying for a winner. It's an increase in expenses that's offset by an even greater increase in revenues.
What the Bulls fans want to see is the franchise actually leave some of their record breaking profits on the table in order to put a better product on the floor. Maybe come in 2nd or 3rd in profits once instead of first in order to make the team better.
Show the world that the Bulls aren't spending like a small market team and will pay for a chance of greatness rather than only after greatness has been obtained. In order to truly improve the team this summer, the Bulls have to do that. Will they?
I think so, but we'll have to wait and find out.