Chicago Bulls Free Agency Rumors: Bulls to sign Nazr Mohammed, points to offseason ending

Feb 29, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Nazr Mohammed (8) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Thunder defeated the Sixers 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Bulls are expected to sign free-agent big man Nazr Mohammed, who played sparingly with the Thunder for the past two seasons. Peter Vescey of the NY Post had it first on Saturday evening, and it was later confirmed by those covering the Bulls. All indications are that it's for the league minimum, and that Mohammed chose the Bulls over the Nets. So that's kind of nice, as Darko was a frightening consolation prize. Mohammed will be 35 when the season starts, and though he's never had the reputation as a defender, he's gained an overall 'solid' reputation as he's managed to stay in the league on some high quality teams. Always has been a good rebounder, and is a decent-enough 4th big for the price.

Outside of the vacuum in the context of this entire Bulls offseason, though, this signing raises more questions. Most notably is its affect on the likelihood of matching Omer Asik's offer from Houston. For now all indications from KC Johnson is that it's not happening, and this signing all but cements it. The official deadline is by the end of Tuesday night.

A more official indication that the Bulls won't be matching, and that their offseason is nearly over, is the report that they will be signing Marco Belinelli for something more than the minimum. As KC mentions in his article, any use of the 'normal' exceptions, i.e. other than the minimum or the taxpayer MLE, means a hard salary cap of $4m over the tax line (~$74m) for the entire season.

If we follow through with those assumptions that Kirk will get $3m, Belinelli the $1.9m Bi-Annual exception, with Nazr and an 13th roster spot at the minimum, it puts them at nearly $73m. That puts the Bulls as a taxpayer for the first time in the rule's existence if they finish the season at that amount, but also extremely close (by my calculation, $1.5m) to that mentioned hard cap. That hinders their flexibility in a number of ways: They can't use that $5m TPE from the Korver deal if it puts them over that amount, and can't take in over that amount of money in any trade.

(for instance, lets be insane and say that either the Bulls or Howard changed their stance on the possibility of a trade to Chicago. If Orlando is looking for the Bulls to take on some more bad contracts as part of the price of taking their superstar, the Bulls would be limited in doing so to only the $1.5m they'd have under this hard cap)

One way around this would've been to acquire Hinrich in a sign/trade with Korver instead of using an exception to sign him, leaving the taxpayer MLE to Belinelli (who I initially assumed would be for the minimum too, but apparently his market's higher than that). One other cap-quibble is that I hope the Bulls merely split their full MLE on Hinrich and Belinelli instead of using the BAE at all, since as its name suggest it can't be used in consecutive years whereas the MLE can.

Some other notes on what may be the final shaping of the Bulls roster:

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