While it's not official, the Bulls are likely to stick to veteran minimum contracts this off-season and forgo the use of the MMLE due their position deep in the luxury tax already. Perhaps a bit frustrating when you see a team like Brooklyn going all in, but there was a long time we felt the Bulls wouldn't go into the tax at all, so hard to complain too much.
As I like to point out, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded away James Harden to avoid tax payments, when Chicago gives up a legit all-star, second scorer to avoid the tax, then we can really start the bitching.
That said, it's a stark contrast to the Brooklyn Nets who's willingness to pay the tax is so extreme that even I flinch. If the tax settles in at the reported June rate of just under 72 million, and the Nets agree to terms with Kyle Korver at the MMLE as expected and fill out their roster with two minimum salaried players they're looking at nearly 70 million dollars in luxury tax and a total payroll cost of 170 million.
I thought no one could break Isiah Thomas's record for total roster payout, but the Nets are doing their best to try. It will be interesting to see how long their owner is willing to pay these bills.
The Bulls on the other hand have dipped their toe in the tax and will likely have, by a good margin, the largest salary payout in the history of the franchise this season. I expect them to go cheap the rest of the way and pick up whomever the best players the vet minimum can buy.
The following names have been connected to the Bulls that I've seen:
Mo Williams, Will Bynum (Shams Charina, Realgm),
Andray Blatche [foo], Zaza Pachulia (David Schuster, the score (from thread on realgm))
John Lucas III (Mark Stein)
Monta Ellis (Ken Berger)
O.J. Mayo (Sam Amick)
So not to pour cold water on anyone's dreams, but the only one of these guys I think the Bulls have a shot at is John Lucas III (God help us). Maybe the Bulls will have a shot at Andray Blatche given the Nets won't be able to offer more than the minimum to him, and he might prefer to play for us for the minimum where playing time seems more abundant given the fragility of our front court.
ZaZa seems like he'd get more than the minimum to me which means more than we'd offer.
The rest of the guys outside of JL3 just seem like they'll be priced out of what we can do, in particular Mayo and Ellis whom don't even seem remotely in our fiscal ballparck. I'm not sure what the market on Mo Williams or Will Bynum will be, but neither guy really seems to fit what we need either, but I'd happily take either for quality of player even if the fit isn't perfect.
Another candidate I'll throw out there for Chicago is Ronnie Brewer. The Bulls obviously like Brewer as a locker room guy, they know what he can do defensively, and even if Jimmy Butler now gives you Ronnie Brewer + 5 in terms of talent, Brewer would give you another defensive option and help hedge against a Deng injury.
Brewer bounced around the league last season at the minimum and might be looking at another minimum deal this season. Would he come back to Chicago where he clearly liked playing or seek a team with a larger role on a less desirable team/location? Probably the first, as he'll want to prove himself worth more than the minimum which will be difficult here.
His signing might also stunt Tony Snell which could be a negative depending on how high management is on Snell.
The interesting thing about FA so far is that all the news centers around guards while the Bulls really should be desperate to add one more big man. Rose, Hinrich, Butler, Deng, Teague, and Snell make up six guards as it is. Maybe the Bulls are really down on Teague and don't want to trust Snell at all, but there sure aren't many minutes left in that perimeter rotation.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have three big men + Erik Murphy [we'll count Murphy after he makes the team which has to be viewed as a question mark right now] and all of them have had recurrent injury problems [though Booz has more or less been healthy since the wrist incident that started off his tenure]. Chicago will likely resign Nazr Mohammed, but Nazr offered very little positive last season outside of shoving LeBron James in the playoffs and shouldn't be looked at as a guy who can be a true rotation player.
All in all, free agency has started with a whimper for Chicago and will likely go out like that too, but if the Bulls can simply land one decent big man on a quality deal then they'll still be looking pretty good for next season.
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