[UPDATE: Bulls holding out on giving full 120% of scale?] Marquis Teague now the only unsigned first round pick

July 17, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Marquis Teague (25) during the game against the Boston Celtics at the Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

[UPDATE by your friendly BullsBlogger, 08/01/12 3:38 PM CDT: Mark Deeks at his own site just put up a post saying his sources tell him that the reason Teague is unsigned is indeed because the Bulls don't want to give Teague the (customary, if voluntary) 120% of the rookie scale contract]

I noticed last week that, aside from Houston, the Bulls were the only team left that hadn't signed their first round pick, Marquis Teague, as of yet. Well, over the last week, the Rockets, who had an otherwise busy off season, signed their three picks, and the very up to the moment Mark Deeks points out Teague is the last guy left.

Strange, huh?

Given that the Bulls have maneuvered themselves into the hard cap and signed two experienced point guards to play in Derrick Rose's absence, I wonder if the Bulls are looking to do something unusual with Teague. More likely than not, the Bulls are not doing anything unusual, but among the possibilities I can think of are... after the jump...

1. One possibility is the Bulls trying to sign him to less than 120% of the rookie scale amount. The Larry Coon's indispensable CBA FAQ tells us teams can sign a rookie first round pick to a contract at anywhere between 80-120% of the scale amount. It has only happened a couple times that a team has tried to get a pick to sign for less. Most recently, Michael Heisley got the Grizzlies somewhat ridiculed for trying and failing to do this with their 2010 picks. Sham has both exhaustive information and hilarious explanation here and here.

The reason the Bulls would do this is that, with the hard cap in place on them at $74.31M, there are some potentially dire consequences to going over. As BullsFan7210 dug out of the CBA FAQ:

If the apron becomes a team's hard cap, it cannot exceed the apron under any circumstance. If the team subsequently needs to sign a player (for example, to replace injured players) it must first create room under the apron by waiving player(s) with non-guaranteed salary, waiving player(s) with guaranteed salary and utilizing the stretch provision, trading downward in salary, etc.

That doesn't sound very good, does it? While I suppose in the event of an injury the Bulls would never actually be forced to do sign a player (the alternative would seem to be simply not putting an injured player on the inactive list and maintain the fiction that the guy could play if needed), that seems more than a little sketchy.

Anyway, my math (which again, is the same as BullsFan7210's) currently has the Bulls at $73.75M, or $558k below the hard cap. That means they literally can't sign a player to the veteran minimum of $854,389 without without freeing up some salary. They probably would, however, have enough to sign a couple of ten day contracts down the road.

However, I'm not sure that hard-balling Teague helps much there. Even if they got him to sign at 100% of the rookie scale instead of 102%, that brings his salary down to $857k. Which gives the Bulls only $730k of room. Still not too much. I suppose in the unlikely event he signed for 80% of the scale, that would put his salary at $690k and give the Bulls a total of $901k before they hit the hard cap. so they could go sign their TMac if they wanted.

But... it seems unlikely that they could get Teague to agree to such a plan, and it would generate some grizzlies-like bad press in the process. (But at least... it's a process!)

2. Another possibility I thought of is getting Teague to agree to go to Europe for a year or two. If they could line up a team for him, and get him to agree to it, is there any reason it couldn’t be done?

That would actually be a really interesting tactic if the Bulls could pull it off. Of course, Brandon Jennings did it before he was draft eligible, but I don’t see why an American player could be "stashed" overseas for a year or two just like Mirotic or the Euro bigs that the Raptors and Rockets drafted last year.

The nice thing is he’d come back matured from high level play, but the Bulls, I’d guess, would still have the entirety of his rookie scale contract.

It looks to me like the problem is that it just hasn’t been done before, and I imagine would require Teague’s consent. Of course, since he seems to have little shot at any playing time here with Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robsinson ahead of him, maybe they can bully him into it.

Or am I missing some rule this runs afoul of? It seems like this would be something that teams would want to do. Why waste your cheap rookie contract time developing a player if you can outsource the development and then have four years of good player?

Of course, Teague would have to agree to it. The only three choices, that I know of, for a 1st round pick are:

1. Offer him a 1st round scale contract.
2. Mutually agree, in writing, that he will not sign the contract this year (in which case, he’s no longer on team salary, but can sign for the 2013-2014 season, and his scale contract will begin then. (This is what the Bulls are doing with Mirotic, for example).
3. Renounce him (the way the Bulls did with Travis Knight back in 1996 (back in the heyday of Bulls absolute laziness in drafting).

3. A third possibility is the the Bulls are planning/looking to trade him. As an unsigned draft pick, Teague has $0 trade value. Not meaning that no one would want him, but rather that the Bulls can trade him away, and the team accepting him doesn't have to give any salary back. Unsigned draft picks count for $0 in trades, and thus are easier than the average player to trade. So perhaps he'd be an inducement for a team that'd take Rip or Boozer off our hands? Once he's signed, he couldn't be traded for 30 days, and his salary would count for traded purposes as it would for any other salaried player.

4. And of course, the most likely possibility is it means nothing at all, and the Bulls just haven't gotten around to signing him. But, since every other team has, and the Bulls have put themselves right up against the hard cap, I think the other possibilities are worth understanding.

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