I think there's a looming crises over this. If you're looking at the Bulls from another team's perspective, what do you see.
Especially as a team that's under the cap the way Philly, Memphis, and possibly now Miami will be?
You look at the Bulls and see a team with a pretty solid core of young players and a threat to lure your star player (Wade?, Gay?) in a couple years when they will have significant cap room.
Plus, you view them as a team that will doggedly re-sign their own guys but won't make a move to significantly improve if it means flirting with the luxury tax.
If that's the case, you obtain great benefit by make them pay $12-14M/year for Deng instead of the $10-11M they would otherwise pay.
- It greatly diminishes their ability to go after your star player in a couple years.
- It might even lead to shaking Deng or Gordon lose from them. The Bulls currently project to be about $19M under the luxury tax threshold for next year. If Deng and Gordon get backloaded offers of around $64M, they can both be signed for about $17M next year.
- Not deal with Gordon and hope he doesn't get an offer starting at more than about $6M from another team. This seems unlikely to me. This really isn't a choice since it's not something the Bulls can control. Other teams, and Gordon see how the Bulls operate, so they'll think they've got a chance to get him.
- Let him go.
- Pay the luxury tax.
Thus, I think it's starting to look like a real problem for the Bulls.
I think to some extent this is avoidable. The best ways would have been to try and work a sign and trade for Noc last year, not whiff on Wallace or sign Smith. Given the Bulls' reticence to pay the tax, they shouldn't have been spending that kind of money on role players and aging stars.
But even now, there are things to be done.
- See if you can turn Noc or Smith into an expiring contract (and hopefully a cheap prospect)
- See if you can move Wallace.
- See if you can find the right move for Gordon (hint: I've mentioned Rudy Fernandez a few times).