The condensed NBA calendar has Free Agency starting in a few hours, less than 48 hours since the draft.
The Bulls took two players in that draft, though only one - first rounder Patrick Williams - will be guaranteed a roster spot. Additionally, the team signed a new player for their two-way deal.
This is how the Bulls roster stands heading into the new NBA cap year:
Guaranteed Contracts (assumed)
Porter, LaVine, Young, Satoransky, Felicio, Markkanen, White, Carter, Arcidiacono, Hutchison, Kornet, Gafford, Williams, Dotson (Two-Way)
Restricted Free Agents
Valentine, Mokoka (Two-Way)
That’s a lot of roster spots for a bad team that new decisionmaker Arturas Karnisovas had next to zero input in bringing on board.
The roster max is fifteen plus the 2 two-way deals. Do not think this necessarily means a roster crunch, a sentiment I read in the wake of their second-round pick being Euro-stash. That’s John “well, he’s under contract” Paxson and Gar “durrrrrr” Forman logic!
Roster spot constraints aren’t enforced until the day before the regular season, so that shouldn’t completely hamstring the Bulls yet; they can still go over and dip back below the line later.
They can do a trade where they send out more players than taking in and/or simply cut guys where the money stays on the cap for this season but a roster spot is opened. The former would be more nifty: I understand the desire for trade flotsam in keeping Cristiano Felicio’s $7.5m on the books, but if you could somehow aggregate his money AND Luke Kornet into a single stiff making $10-14m, that’d be even better.
As to the Bulls cap flexibility, no the GarPax regime did not leave their successor with ‘clean books’, even with the inherent advantage of failing to acquire star players. They will be effectively over the cap headed into free agency, with exceptions at their disposal:
Here is exactly what Bulls have to work with in FA:— The Bulls GM (@RyanBorja) November 20, 2020
Worth: 9.2 mil
Max: 4yrs/39.8 mil
*Can be split between multiple players.
Worth: 3.6 mil
*Can be split between multiple players
*Can not be used 2yrs in a row
Minimum contract https://t.co/FesOegTM4T
As to who’s available in free agency, HoopsRumors put together a top-70 list.
The 2019-20 Bulls headed to free agency mentioned was Kris Dunn (no. 27) and Shaq Harrison (in the no. 50-70 honorable mentions). Denzel Valentine was not ranked, but the Bulls extended him a qualifying offer so they have the right to match any contracted in his restricted free agency. The other two are unrestricted free agents, though it should be noted the Bulls can bring either back without needing cap space through Bird Exceptions.
But expand your mind, man...the whole league is available! This is the NBA, untradeable players are traded every year, with cap space being a useful tool to help facilitate movement in ways other than outright signing free agents.
I think we should be excited for the possibilities even with the roster this bad and relatively intractable. It appears that the new Bulls front office actually want to do their jobs, so we don’t need to expect the same old apathy.