For some reason, the Bulls are holding a press conference at 11 on Thursday to pat themselves on the back for re-signing Jimmy Butler. I suppose it gives Jimmy himself a chance to shine too, but he already had that when accepting his Most Improved Player award (and then the Bulls fired one of the guys he praised effusively).
I somewhat hope there will be questions asked of management on their strategy of simply bringing everyone back, but also dread the expected 'we really like our guys' response. They certainly look done for now, anyway.
With the Moratorium officially over (and expect changes to that whole thing after Wednesday night's DeAndre DeCommitment fiasco), the NBA released official figures for the 2015-16 Salary Cap. As to what that pertains for the Bulls, the Luxury Tax line was bumped up a bit from pre-offseason estimates to $84.74m, and Butler's first-year salary gets a corresponding bump as well.
Making several assumptions elsewhere on the roster, counting just the 13 reported guaranteed contracts (plus Rip!) puts the Bulls at just $1m (and change) over that tax line. Currently having E'Twaun Moore and Cameron Bairstow's contracts on the books adds another $2m, but they can be waived at any time.
There's a couple ways to look at that margin: it's both barely over to the point where you could spend more and stay under the Tax Apron ($4m over tax, where the penalty is basically just additional cash), yet also close enough to the line where they can easily get under at any point during the season. The Bulls professed at the start of Free Agency to be a taxpayer, but they also profess flexibility all the time. If the latter is a goal, you can see why this may be it for them, giving them plenty of wiggle room to get under if necessary before the regular season ends.
If they're more concerned with improving the team, the Taxpayer (mini) MLE also raises a bit to a starting salary for $3.376m. The Bulls still have this avenue to use, at the very least to add to depth for potential trades later. No, whoever remains isn't a game-changer, but this shouldn't be about the Bulls giving themselves a chance at contention, it's about giving themselves a better chance. Improving, even marginally, is a worthwhile goal.
That level of signing has started to pick up. Jeremy Lin to the Hornets, Gerald Green to the Heat, Wayne Ellington to the Nets...all for that MMLE amount (or lower). My fear, as always, is that the Bulls aren't being mentioned not because they missed (and kept it secret?), but because they're done trying. They like their guys.