Rejoice: The Craptain is back. Kirk Hinrich is picking up his $2.8 million player option for next to return to the Chicago Bulls, according to Shams Charania of Real GM. This puts the Bulls' projected roster for next season at around $80 million if you factor in the max contract offer the team will make to Jimmy Butler. This would put the Bulls right up against the luxury tax line even without re-signing Mike Dunleavy Jr.
The luxury tax is projected to be $81.6 million, according to Cody Westerlund of The Score. That means that if the Bulls want to re-sign Dunleavy, they will be a tax paying team for only the second time ever.
GM Gar Forman told The Score the team is planning on paying the tax to bring back Dunleavy:
"We like the core of this team, Derrick getting healthy, Jimmy making strides" Forman said in an interview Thursday night on 670 The Score. "I have talked about improvement now has got to be internal because we're not going to have flexibility this summer. We're going into the tax, so we don't have money to spend per se in free agency. But we think we have good depth. We think we have a core of guys who have been together and have faced adversity. Sometimes you have to face that adversity to get over the hump and get where you want to go."
"I don't know," Forman said. "We really like Mike and would like to have Mike back. And Mike was has been a very, very good player for us these last couple of years — he had shooting, veteran leadership, a lot of things. I know in our conversations with Mike, he's really enjoyed a part of being with this team and this organization. So I know he's very interested in coming back. Usually when both sides want the same thing, you can find some common ground and get something done. So we're optimistic we can."
The Bulls signed Dunleavy to a two-year, $6 million contract in the summer of 2013. Even with a bigger role likely coming to Doug McDermott next season, the Bulls could still use wing depth. Dunleavy is the ideal player to fill that role. He averaged 9.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Bulls last season while shooting 40.7 percent on 4.2 attempts per game from three-point range.
As for Hinrich, disappointed this didn't happen:
Need a Hoiberg vs. Kirk dunk-off in practice. If Fred wins, Kirk gotta turn down his player option and take spot on staff.— Greg Osterswag (@worldwidewem) June 4, 2015