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Chicago Bulls Trade Rumors: Bulls up against luxury tax

just a reminder...

wake up! it's the trade deadline!
wake up! it's the trade deadline!

No new Bulls rumors today, but we should take the opportunity to reiterate the likely motivations of the Bulls this trade deadline. Ken Berger of CBSSports had a league-wide rumors update that included what we already 'know':

Although they planned to be over the tax for the first time this season, Derrick Rose's stated reluctance to return from ACL surgery before he's "110 percent" presents a dilemma. Why pay the tax and burn a year on the clock that begins ticking this season toward massive repeater-tax penalties for a less-than-championship season? For that reason, sources say the Bulls are open to moving Rip Hamilton in a deal that makes sense and saves them a year on the repeater-tax rolls.

(I'll try not to go into a ranting tangent (a rantgent) on the nonsense that Rose's recovery 'news' having to do with anything.)

Here's the keys that you need to know approaching Thursday:

  • The Bulls are currently $3.754m over the luxury tax line. Here's a handy reference of all teams close or over that line, which can help show who is more motivated to deal (Celtics, right?), and why a Bulls-Raptors trade likely can't work without a third team: for Bulls to get under, Raptors would have to go over.
  • Dumping Rip Hamilton isn't the only way for the Bulls to get under, just has always been seen as the most likely way due to his sorta-expiring (plus a $1m buyout in the offseason) contract. And a 'dump' means a team having either cap space or a trade exception to acquire Rip and send no money back. As we can guess, suitors haven't been lining up for Rip (hopefully the Bulls won't bite and throw in assets), and thus the Bulls have moved on to a possible Boozer trade.The Bulls can also just reduce their tax bill by a trade, though only through getting fully under will they receive the payout that teams under the threshold receive.
  • Why the desire to get under? We covered in the offseason about the cost of the tax in terms of money and 'flexibility' (i.e., exceptions).

Try not to fall for the line that it's more about the latter than the former. And specifically to that money issue: the 'repeater' that Berger references is what happens after you're in the tax 3 out of 4 seasons. Thus, a scenario where the Bulls pay the luxury tax this season, next season, 2014-15, and then incur an added penalty when they pay it again in 2015-16. In the previous 11 seasons there's been a luxury tax, the Bulls have paid...(::does math::) times. And have received nearly $28m from the payers.

The Bulls have been pretty adept at dumping money through trades in past deadlines (2007, 2010) in ways that you could talk yourself into being justified as 'lost seasons', or 'can't get over the top', or 'hey-Jimmy-Butler-can-play-more-right?' type of reasoning, but they may have their work cut out for them this season. But try to have faith in the financial champs.