Alex Kennedy of hoopsworld reported that the Bulls are close to signing Marco Belinelli at the BAE. Such a move would mean several interesting things.
First, signing Belinelli to the BAE [or possibly a share of the MLE] would guarantee the Bulls are not bringing back Asik. Using either exception instills a hard cap at 74.3 million, a hard cap the Bulls can not stay under while adding Asik's first season at five million.
Gar Forman also was doing an interview on summer league and when asked about Asik merely stated that they haven't seen the offer sheet yet and would decide when they did. Let's be honest, when you don't say anything about how good a player he is, how important he is, or hint about anything else, you're preparing the fan base for his leaving.
It's not like the Bulls don't know what the offer sheet is and actually need to see it. Granted, they may not want to give anything away at this point, but I think we can be fairly certain that Asik's a goner. I do think the Bulls put themselves in a tough spot by not trading him earlier at the deadline last season.
They're stupid if they match, they're cheap if they don't. I don't think they can match and swing him for something valuable later like some people suggest. I also think trading Asik at the last deadline would have been tough when the team felt it had a legit chance to win the title, so regardless, not a good situation.
Their real problem was taking a guy they felt was a lottery pick quality player and only locking him in to a two year deal. Maybe Asik refused to sign for more than two years because he wanted his pay day, but the Bulls should have held out for three years making him a standard restricted free agent and not allowing Houston's crazy offer.
At any rate, it's likely over soon.
As for Belinelli, he'd be a very good fit relative to guys left. I prefer Brandon Rush, but Rush may either not be available or out of our price range. It's possible that GS just matches what we can offer. Belinelli's a legitimate good shooter who will replace Korver. He's probably packing a bit more shot creation ability at this point in his career as well. I'd definitely approve a Belinelli signing.
The interesting thing about using the MLE/BAE on Belinelli to sign him above the minimum is it more or less kills any hope of the Bulls staying under the tax this season. While they're 1.4 million shy right now, they probably could have slipped under at the deadline with a Hamilton trade. Bringing in Belinelli will put them closer to 2.5 million over and that will be much harder to make up at the deadline.
As I noted before, the Bulls aren't in serious danger of paying the repeater tax, and the tax is still mild this season at a 1:1 matching ratio. That said, a Belinelli signing would show the Bulls aren't simply going ultra cheap on things which would be encouraging.