As we've read since free agency began, the Bulls are lurking (I'm being nice) around the fringes of the guard market. KC Johnson's latest report, though mentioning a new 'target', is a reminder of how impotent the Bulls are in this:
the Bulls have cast an extremely wide net in free agency, even making perfunctory calls to the camps of veterans like Chauncey Billups, who would have little interest in signing for any of the exceptions or minimums the Bulls are willing to offer.
So that's sad. [Update: Billups has since re-signed with the Clippers]
But I want to do a follow-up on the Bulls actual options this offseason. We've gone over their luxury tax situation, and the differences in cap exceptions. Now, there are the usual self-imposed Bullsian limitations that exist, but also real CBA impossibilities working against them:
As Bulls Confidential reminds us, the time to use the Watson and Brewer NG contracts to take on a salary dump was on draft night. Now it's over. Both have to be guaranteed or waived by 7/10. The current 'moratorium' isn't over until 7/11. With a few exceptions, everything announced now is unofficial, and there literally cannot be any trades in the time before these contracts are guaranteed. I suppose it could be negotiated to extend that guarantee date, but I don't see why either guy (and their agent) wouldn't rather make them FAs right away when the spending begins.
If the Bulls match the contract offer to Omer Asik, they will lose the ability to use the full ($5m) MLE, as doing so would put them over the tax 'apron' of $4m over the luxury tax. They will only have the taxpayer aka mini MLE ($3m) available to them. This is likely the reason Courtney Lee is only mentioned in the context of not matching the Asik offer.
So in some ways, the Bulls are genuinely stuck. There are some outs, like the Korver NG contract (he has no such guarantee-by date), or figuring Brewer, Watson, and Rip Hamilton are expiring contracts this season that could make them somewhat attractive, or somehow dealing Rip (or anyone) to a team able to absorb some salary to free up room under that tax apron.
But there's a reason the Bulls are (as a commenter reminded me) sticking to last season's edict of "letting the market come to them". With other teams able and willing to offer more, those are the ones making noise first. There were rumors to start the offseason that they'd be in the market for Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, and both have now signed for larger-than-expected multiyear deals. It's another reason it's a bad move to waive these valuable bench players on 1-year contracts, since there aren't a lot of good ways to replace them.