So with the dead and gone, we now look ahead to the offseason. I'm assuming this summer won't bring as much fury as last, but you never know with GarPax at the helm. What new faces will we see? Will the Bulls' mostly stand pat? Will they look to make a big move? (hint: the answer is probably no) ' 2012-13 campaign
Like last offseason, we're going to tackle the key questions facing the Bulls individually, but first, we'll do a quick primer to get everybody ready for what's coming.
Naturally, the first thing to look at is the salary situation. The cap this season was $58.044 million and the tax was at $70.307 million. I would expect each of those to go up $1-2 million, but we'll find that out a bit later in the offseason.
As for the Bulls, they currently owe about $72.04 million in guaranteed money to Rose/Boozer/Deng/Noah/Gibson/Hinrich/Butler/Teague. Richard Hamilton is expected to be bought out for $1 million (decision must be made by July 10), although the Bulls could use him as a $5 million trade chip on draft night. However, considering how much the Bulls owe in salary already, I doubt they'll be wanting to take back more in a Rip deal.
Speaking of the draft, the Bulls have the 20th pick in the first round. There has been a lot of talk about drafting a backup center, which is an idea that I can certainly get behind. There are a plethora of solid bigs being tabbed as first round picks, as there are currently eight centers in the top 20 of the DraftExpress Top 100 prospect list. So if the Bulls want a center, they should be able to grab one. If they are looking elsewhere, I'd like for them to target a sharpshooting wing to help with the three-point shooting/general scoring woes. Either way, that first-round pick will likely add about $1.5 million in salary (Evan Fournier, the 20th pick last year, got $1.42 million this season). The Bulls have a second-round pick as well, and if they keep it, that'll cost roughly $800,000.
If we're doing the math here, that's already over $75 million and pushing the apron, which is $4 million above wherever the luxury tax line is set. This means that if the Bulls keep the core together, the only avenue of signing free agents is the mini-MLE and the minimum. Sign-and-trades are essentially out because you can't go over the apron when acquiring a player via S+T. This limits the possible use of the Kyle Korver trade exception (expires July 16), although much like the Hamilton situation, I doubt the Bulls will really be looking to use that exception to take on salary.
The use of the mini-MLE (a tad over $3 million per year) is where things could get really interesting. First of all, if the Bulls really believe in their 2014 plan, they may not offer a multi-year contract to any prospective free agent. They could still use the mini-MLE for a one-year deal if they wanted, but I'm thinking most players looking for that contract would want a multi-year deal.
Next, we look at the Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli situations. The Bulls do not own their Bird Rights, so if the Bulls wanted to bring them back, they could offer up to 120% of what they made this year (Robinson made the minimum and Belinelli the bi-annual exception of $1.957 million). I know both guys really enjoyed their time here this season, but I'm guessing that wouldn't do the trick. In that case, the mini-MLE would have to be used if the Bulls decided they really wanted one of those guys back. I think the Bulls would certainly like to have both guys back, but it wouldn't really surprise me if neither of them were.
If the mini-MLE doesn't get used on Nate or Belinelli, the Bulls could then look outside the organization. I know a return of Korver has been discussed around these parts, but I think the Hawks or some other team will offer more than the mini-MLE, so I'd consider that possibility a long shot. If the Bulls have to look elsewhere, a shooter would be ideal, and we'll look closer at options when we tackle that situation individually.
At the very end of the bench, Nazr Mohammed may have earned another contract next year with his improved play over the course of the year. Malcolm Thomas never got much of a chance, but he'll be with the team over the summer and perhaps he plays his way onto the team. Otherwise, expect some other non-descript minimum guys.
Everything could be thrown out of wack if the Bulls somehow pulled off a trade of Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer, but I expect both guys to be back next year. It would be prudent of GarPax to seek out possible deals, and I'm especially keen on trading Boozer. But again, I don't really expect it (that won't stop us from discussing deals ad nauseum). And no, Boozer isn't getting amnestied.
So buckle up kids, get ready for another Blog a Bull offseason. I'm not expecting any fireworks, but maybe we'll be surprised?