I've been quite critical of the Bulls for not getting Lance Stephenson this summer. However, after seeing how all the deals came together, it became very clear why the Bulls didn't. There wasn't enough money for Mirotic and Lance.
Pau Gasol is finalizing a three year 22 million dollar deal. The Bulls attempt to turn this into a sign and trade was an attempt to make it a two year 20 million dollar deal instead. However, talks with the Lakers effectively went no where as they didn't want to take on Dunleavy's salary, and the Bulls didn't want to give up assets to make it happen.
So the Bulls blew up a little cap room in 2016 in order to pay Gasol while still leaving enough room to pay Mirotic.
Mirotic comes over on a three year 17 million dollar deal, and the Bulls would have likely gotten him for three years at the MLE, however, without the sign and trade of Gasol, the Bulls didn't have the MLE, so they had to pay him out of cap space.
How does this all relate to Lance? Effectively, like this, the Bulls didn't have enough cap room to bring over Mirotic and pay Lance. Even if they dumped Mike Dunleavy as well they would have been short of what Indiana offered and Lance already rejected. If they also dumped Snell and Butler they could have gotten to the point where they could make Lance a reasonable offer and bring over Mirotic, but the team would likely have not been better.
I like Lance, but not so much that I'm dumping Snell, Butler, and Dunleavy just for the right to pay him close to 12 million a year. So as it stands, the Bulls made the right choice there, and I officially apologize for ripping them on twitter for their moves.
Once Lance is out of the equation, the value signing of Gasol, even if it doesn't address our needs completely, makes more sense than any other move except possibly going after Isiah Thomas, however, Thomas would have been an odd fit in the rotation due to his size, and he was restricted.
The Bulls would have had to dump everything to make Bledsoe an offer which Phoenix would have matched anyway, so that's also a non starter, and there really are no other guys left who could create off the dribble.
Instead, of chasing need, the Bulls chased value, and I like the approach more after seeing how the whole off-season has come together.
I noted on twitter, that I believe Mirotic has received the most guaranteed money of any European player to ever enter the NBA, so the Bulls obviously feel pretty highly about his prospects of translating his talents to the next level.
We'll see how things go with the team this year which sits with a roster like this:
Taj, Mirotic, Randolph
(possibly Gasol starting with Noah of course, but putting guys in what I think their natural position place is).
That's a 10 deep roster with at least nine guys I'd view as legit rotation players [Randolph/Snell being my question marks]. I think there's a good chance Bairstow fails to makes the team, as his low salary doesn't mean anything this season since the Bulls aren't near the tax, and the difference doesn't matter after the cap room is gone.
This means the Bulls have one to two spots left for vet min guys to meet the roster minimum depending wither Bairstow is in and whether or not they carry more than 13 guys. Given their depth, I'd think they'll probably just stick at 13, no real need to expand.
Boozer will be amnestied
We can't trade him to bring back a contract, no one under the cap would take him on since they know they can bid on him in the amnesty process anyway.
We need to get rid of his cap number in order to make room for Gasol/Mirotic (again, due to the lack of S&T with the Lakers), so he can't be traded for Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo or any other ideas people have tweeted me about.
Bulls pulled out all stops for Melo
They offered to move Gibson to create room for a true max according to my info. They offered a two year deal to allow him to resign when the cap jumps with new TV money, they offered him more or less any contract that could legally be constructed.
I don't think it was the fifth year or the money that made him stay in New York. I think he really just wanted to be in New York, and then on top of that they also had the fifth year. Similar to how LeBron probably wanted to be in Cleveland, but also needed them to have a cast capable of winning.
I wouldn't blame management for missing on Melo, I literally don't think the pitch could have gone any better except possibly if Rose were more involved/enthused, but I think he was just going to take New York once he knew they really wanted him. I think there was a big part of him that felt the Knicks weren't that involved.
He also likely believes Phil will find a way to attract guys with FA money next year, and while I'm not sure who is available next year (assuming Love is moved this year), I do believe Phil will have a good shot at attracting them.
Bulls preferred Hinrich over Augustin
I really dislike this move, though I get it.
I think Augustin provides more ball handling, point guard skills, and shooting. He can create for himself and others. Something Hinrich can't do. That said, +/- numbers strongly favor Hinrich, he's a better defender, and he's steady.
D.J. signed with Detroit for three million per year (MMLE) hours after being told by the Bulls they were coming to terms with Hinrich. I think Chicago was hoping to bring back both and tried to persuade Hinrich to come at the minimum, but other teams offered him more, so they stepped up their offer and prioritized him by giving him the room exception they were hoping to get D.J. with.
The Bulls will likely look to take a flyer on a similar type of guy to Augustin/Nate as their third point guard again. Credit to @bleepbopbloop for mentioning Aaron Brooks to me on twitter, I haven't looked at guys available at the min, but Brooks might be and would fit the bill. Guy who can create off the dribble, lacks enough other skills to possibly be available that cheap, but could work well in that role for Chicago.
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