So Mark Deeks over at shamsports.com noted that Marquis Teague is the only rookie that hasn't signed a contract yet. Typically, rookies who sign late do so in order for the team to have more flexibility to sign other players or make a trade. However, Mark speculates that the financial angle might be involved.
You can check out Mark's full article to see the complete breakdown of finances.
In short, rookies are on scale contracts but can receive anywhere from 80%-120% of the scale. Virtually everyone signs for 120% as there have been only a few exceptions. Mark counts six of them in the time he's been following contracts which is about one per year over that time period.
Memphis attempted to do this with a couple of players recently and was absolutely destroyed in the press though perhaps one factor with that was they were attempting to do so with Xavier Henry who would have been the only lottery pick to ever sign for less than the 120%. Basically, there's nothing that says cheap like trying to short your rookie players.
This is especially true, because rookie contracts are already amongst the best value contracts in the NBA.
So there are a few possible reasons why the Bulls could not have locked up Teague yet.
They actually are trying to offer him less
There are two obvious reasons why they might be attempting to offer him less.
First, they now have a hard cap at 74.3 million, and they can't squeeze another minimum salary player under it presently without losing salary. That could be a problem with only four big men on the roster, and if they can squeeze Teague enough to fit in the vet minimum then they'll have additional flexibility to add a roster spot.
Next, they could simply be trying to save on the luxury tax bill that they're presently set up to pay. Every dollar they can save on paying Teague is actually two dollars. That said, even if they could convince him to sign for 100%, that's a total of 342k after tax payment which is a fairly paltry figure. I would like to think that even the Bulls aren't that cheap.
They're looking for a trade
Once they sign Teague, the rules around trading him change. While Teague is unsigned, the Bulls can trade away his rights without taking a salary back. Once he's signed that will no longer be the case. They also would be unable to trade him for 30 days after signing him.
This strikes me as fairly unlikely. The Bulls legitimately seemed fairly overjoyed that Teague fell to them, so I don't see why they'd be shopping him, plus if he fell to them then 28 other teams weren't particularly interested either, so his value wouldn't appear so high.
This makes Kirk Hinrich's deal look all the worse
The Bulls had theoretically agreed to terms with Kirk Hinrich at the MMLE, but when he actually signed we found out that it was for 900k more than that using a portion of the nontaxpayer MLE which instituted the hard salary cap [as did signing Marco belinelli at the BAE].
I'm not sure why the Bulls felt Kirk Hinrich was worth 2/7.8, because based on his past two seasons he certainly wasn't, and I'm not sure if any other teams were offering more than the 2/6 MMLE, but if the Bulls were going down that road both O.J. Mayo and Brandon Rush signed for 2/8 which seem like much better options than Kirk Hinrich to me at the same price.
In short, if the Bulls were looking to save money, what they spent on Kirk was fairly puzzling. PGs did go at a premium this off-season with guys like Kidd and Miller whom were expected to be potential targets at the vet min both signing three year nine million dollar deals which may have forced the Bulls hand.
Mark's sources say it's the money thing
In his article, Mark clearly states that the Bulls are offering less than 120% for financial reasons rather than for trade reasons. You have to wonder if Teague's horrific summer league played a role in that offer. Teague struggled mightily in summer league, but beyond simply struggling, he also appeared lazy and uncaring.
I think any team can accept a player needs to refine his game, particularly when they draft a project, but no team is going to accept lousy effort and since the Bulls didn't bring in Teague for an interview, they may have missed some of these negative personality traits when drafting him solely based on scouting.
Either way, as Mark said, "Why poke the bear?". There's been no squawking by Teague and his agent yet which is why I expect this still likely gets resolved with a 120% contract eventually, but the Bulls already have a horrible financial reputation around the league when it comes to paying players and spending to win.
Why enhance this by trying to save 340k this season (170k x2 for luxury tax purposes? It's a ridiculously paltry amount of money for an NBA franchise while the money being taken from Teague amounts to a 20% loss in salary which is huge for a player of his age and potential to completely wash out of the league.
This has the makings of a horrific PR move for the team with very little upside which is why I expect the team comes around sooner rather than later.