Bulls Free Agency - Some Options

I was looking at potential FA targets, so figured I'd write this up. This is long, but wanted to include all the relevant info the Bulls will think about. Let me know what you guys think.

General Info:


Salary cap: $58.5M

Luxury tax: $71.6M


Salary cap: $62.1M

Luxury tax: $75.7M

Contenders team salary:

Teams Current
Salary +
Own FA
FA cost
Nets $ 94 $ 94
Heat $ 86 $ 86
Thunder $ 68 $ 73 Martin: $5
Bulls $ 73 $ 73
Pacers $ 56 $ 66 Dwest: $10
Clippers $ 48 $ 65 Paul: $17
Spurs $ 48 $ 55 Manu: $7

Bulls current roster:

- 8 players at $73.1M guaranteed (no Rip or Thomas)

- #20 cost: $1.2M

- #49 cost: $500K

- Nazr: $884K (2 year vet minimum – league reimburses min 10+ year vets to this level)

- 2 open roster spots to get to 13


With Snell on board, it seems we have our pure 3&D wing when we want defense/shooting out there. And we now have a stretch 4, if we ever want to give that set a look. So we have two remaining needs:

1. Instant offense guard/wing off the bench - preferably able to create his own shot

2. Backup center who can block shots and rebound

MMLE Options:

- Instant offense: Mo Williams, Budinger, Korver, Dunleavy, Morrow, Gary Neal, Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Will Bynum, Aaron Brooks, Randy Foye, Martell Webster

- Center: Sam Dalembert, Birdman, Zaza Pachulia, Andray Blatche

Min Salary Options:

- Instant offense: CJ Watson, JL3, Leandro Barbosa, Willie Green

- Center: Jermaine Oneil, Nazr, Cole Aldrich, Greg Stiemsma, Thabeet

Bulls free agents:

- Marco: we can offer him a 20% raise ($2.4M) and still use the MMLE. Question is will he accept $2.4M salary, and does he want multi-year deal?

- Nate: Probably out of our price range.

- Nazr: Likely to be retained at minimum.


- Best case: Resign Marco as instant offense wing off the bench, use MMLE for Sam Dalembert

- Worst case: Sign 2 min salary guys to fill roster – CJ Watson & Cole Aldrich

- Middle ground: Convince Jermaine O’Neil to take minimum to chase a ring, sign Mike Dunleavy Jr to MMLE (or resign Marco).

Scenario costs:

Cheapest Use MMLE Marco+MMLE
Luxury tax salary cap $ 71.6 $ 71.6 $ 71.6
Current salary (8 players) $ 73.1 $ 73.1 $ 73.1
Snell $ 1.2 $ 1.2 $ 1.2
Murphy $ 0.5 $ 0.5 $ 0.5
Nazr $ 0.9 $ 0.9 $ 0.9
Free agent 1 $ 0.9 $ 0.9 $ 2.4
Free agent 2 $ 0.9 $ 3.0 $ 3.0
Total salary $ 77.5 $ 79.6 $ 81.1
Taxable salary $ 5.9 $ 8.0 $ 9.5
Tax owed $ 9.0 $ 12.7 $ 15.3
Total bill - salary + tax $ 86.5 $ 92.3 $ 96.4

My take:

I don’t really know which scenario we’ll go for. I assume we won’t make a big trade, so our team is what it is this year, and so is our salary situation. Two questions we have is will we offer anyone more than a 1 year deal (protect 2014 plan), and will we offer anyone more than the minimum salary (resign Marco or use MMLE). I don’t think any of us know the answers to either of these. Including tax, using the MMLE costs us an extra $6M, and signing Marco with using MMLE costs us an extra $10M. Is the extra cash worth a better shot at a championship to JR? Who knows, but I hope so.

Our first need IMO is another scorer. We can’t count on Snell or Hinrich to provide much offense this year (for different reasons), and I don’t want to rely on Teague improving a ton. So I think the first priority has to be to get an instant offense guy off the bench, who can preferably play with Rose in a small ball lineup (especially against Heat).

The 2nd need is a backup center to give Noah rest. Noah will play big minutes in the playoffs, so I don’t think we need to invest in a world beater here. A solid big who can play 12-15 minutes, block shots and rebound will work just fine – young or old.


Although I’d love to use the MMLE and resign Marco, I doubt that happens due to cost. And to be fair to JR & Garpax, it doesn’t need to happen IMO. Hopefully we can get O’Neil or Stiemsma to take a vet minimum deal by promising them playing time as the primary backup center, and these guys would work just fine. It should also help that we will be in championship contention. If that happens, then we can use $2-3M to sign another scorer. And I’ll guess we can/will resign Marco. He said he loves this team, and maybe we offer him a 2 year deal for $5M, which isn’t much off his market value IMO. If we need to shed salary next summer, he should be easy to move at that salary…

Depth chart:

PG: Rose, Hinrich, Teague

SG: Jimmy, Marco

SF: Deng, Snell

PF: Boozer, Taj, Murphy

C: Noah, O’Neil, Nazr

I don’t know if this is good enough to beat the Heat, Nets & Pacers in the playoffs. But if things go right, we’ll have a good chance. Everyone needs to be healthy by playoff time. Rose needs to be his old self. Jimmy needs to be consistent scorer (14-15 PPG). Deng needs to shoot better (>35% from 3). And our bench needs to gel and play well when in there. If all that happens, we could win it all. If any one of those don’t happen, it will be very tough, unless the other top teams suffer injuries.

The good news is this team would feature the best starting lineup for the Bulls since Jordan left, and some good shooters off the bench, which we have lacked. We’d have 3 solid rim protectors, 4-5 good shooters from 3, and 2 shot creators (if Marco is one). Our D would be very solid, for both 1st & 2nd units. And most of the bench guys can play with Rose, so Thibs can mix/match lineups as he sees fit. The bench would be as good or better than our bench mob from 2 years ago IMO. If all goes right, this team could beat anyone…

What do you guys think? Who would you sign in free agency?

Some links:

Free agent list:

Bulls salary:

Salary Cap rules:

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