I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about the best "2014 Plan" for the Chicago Bulls going forward. There are many current factors that contribute to this plan including: Derrick Rose injury, Luol Deng free agency, Carlos Boozer amnesty option, and Nikola Mirotic ending rookie scale. Based on the current CBA I am going to try to describe my rationale for what moves need to happen for the Bulls prior to opening game next season. Here are some facts:
- 2013/14 max salary cap figure: $58,679,000, 2013/14 luxury tax threshold: $71,748,000
- Mid Level Exception for 2014/15: $5,305,000
- Biannual Exception for 2014/15: $2,077,000
- Boozer's contract for 2014/15: $16,800,000
Alright, now lets assume/pretend the Bulls use amnesty provision on Boozer, get 2 first round draft picks near #10 overall (1st rounder from Charlotte), waive Erik Murphy, and resign no players including Luol Deng. That brings salary down to 47,324,513 for next year. Based on that you may think bulls have 11 million to use in CAP space but that is wrong.
According to CBA: If a team is below the cap, then its Disabled Player, Bi-Annual, Mid-Level (either the Taxpayer or Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level, whichever applies to the team) and/or trade exceptions are added to their team salary, and the league treats the team as though they are over the cap1. (http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q26)
- So, for the Bulls they would need to add: 47,324,513 + 5,305,000 + 2,077,000 = 54,706,513
BUT WAIT: Due to only have 9 players under contract (with exceptions), the Bulls have Cap holds on 2 1st round draft picks (2x 1,930,660) and 1 min contracts (884,293). That brings team salary with Cap holds to: $59,452,126
Which means, being conservative with max salary cap for 2014, the Bulls would already be over the salary cap and be able to sign NO free agents other than with Mid level and biannual player exceptions. This shows me a few things:
1. Even if Mirotic wanted to sign for > MLE (5,305,000) he really would not be able to unless bulls make more trades to clear more cap space. For example: The Bulls could renounce the MLE and biannual exception and also trade Dunleavy's contract. That would then move team salary to: $49,628,184. This would allow Bulls to sign Mirotic and other free agents with 9 million in Cap space; however, would have no exceptions to use!
2. The CBA structure demonstrates it is MOST beneficial for Bulls if they either resign Deng OR trade him to get over salary cap in order to use exceptions. For Deng to resign and STILL be able to use exceptions he would have to sign for less than approx 13,180,000. However this would again push bulls right up against luxury tax. (Bulls would renounce Biannual exception though and could sign Deng for 15,100,00 and still be under lux tax next year and be able to use MLE)
3. Mirotic would HAVE TO accept MLE for Deng to resign with Bulls. If Mirotic wants anything over MLE, Deng would need to resign for whatever salary space is left from 9 million (created by renoucing exceptions).
4. Deng cannot be traded for Max Salary player like Carmelo Anthony this season or else Bulls may be in luxury tax next season and not be able to use MLE on Mirotic. (They could make trades to Gibson or Dunleavy to create some space though)
All of these CBA rules make TOTAL sense as to why the Bulls are currently talking to Mirotic. They basically NEED to know if he will accept MLE. If he will not take MLE and wants to come to Bulls, then Deng will not be returning and the Bulls need to trade him for expiring contracts, draft picks.
If the Bulls are looking to build the best roster then they should do one of the following things: Resign or trade Luol Deng THIS SEASON. They cannot wait until offseason because this will impact Mirotic and use of exceptions. If they simply resign Deng and Mirotic agrees to MLE, they will still have use of Biannual exeption as well (which they used to sign Marco Belinelli two years ago). Here is a summary:
- If Mirotic agrees to MLE, Bulls can resign Deng or trade him for another player (who is less than 15,000,000 in salary next year)
- If Mirotic wants more than MLE Bulls need to let Deng walk or trade him for expiring contracts.
I hope this gave you all a better understand of the importance of Mirotic and Deng's pending salary negotiations. Please let me know of all the errors I made. I was just being conservative using Salary Cap #s from this year however they will likely rise next year and create a little more space.