Kevin Durant just blew up free agency with his bombshell trade request. Durant has the Suns and Heat on top of his list, but the Nets will do what they can to get the best offer possible, per Woj. That likely isn’t coming from the Bulls, but a boy can dream.
Back in reality, the Bulls have multiple needs to address in free agency, but the biggest priority is re-signing Zach LaVine. The good news is all signs point to LaVine getting a new max contract when free agency begins.
The latest from K.C. Johnson at NBC Sports Chicago:
Zach LaVine has told people he plans to re-sign with the Bulls. He and the Bulls are expected to quickly work on a five-year max contract worth roughly $215 million.
LaVine was expected to return to Chicago, though there were some weird rumblings about him possibly looking to go elsewhere because he wasn’t thrilled with taking a backseat to DeMar DeRozan. Even with that noise, it always felt like LaVine would be back as long as the Bulls took care of him. Barring a shocker (like LaVine somehow going to the Nets for KD), this deal should hopefully be done soon.
The Bulls are also in the market for size and shooting. There have been a good amount of rumors about frontcourt options, and P.J. Tucker was an interesting addition to the rumor mill earlier Thursday based on this report:
Multiple teams — including Atlanta, Minnesota, Brooklyn, Chicago and Philadelphia — are expected to compete for PJ Tucker in free agency. All are expected to offer the full mid-level/TPMLE exception. He is unlikely to return to Miami, per sources.— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) June 30, 2022
The assumption has been for a while now that Tucker is going to Philly, so who knows how legit this this. This report would also fly in the face of the suggestion that the Bulls won’t use the full mid-level exception (about $10.5 million for 2022-23) because of luxury tax concerns.
With the cap projection rising to $123.6 million, the tax projection is now over $150 million and the hard cap apron will be around $157 million. Using all or most of that MLE would trigger the apron. Acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade would also do that. The Bulls also have a $5 million trade exception from the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade last offseason, and that expires next week.
Here’s a look at the current state of the roster with Tony Bradley exercising his player option and Troy Brown Jr. not getting a qualifying offer. They will be pushing up the tax, and there’s no excuse not to go into it in order to get the right guys:
I'm no capologist, but some modelling after the LaVine deal goes through, albeit with some omissions that may swing this total calculation slightly i.e. cap holds, minimum salaries etc.— Mark K (@mkhoops) June 29, 2022
12 guys totaling $140.2m
Tax line projected to be $150.2m
NPMLE is projected to be $10.49m pic.twitter.com/QfjB0Qs7Rp
As free agency gets underway amid the KD trade request, the Bulls have +5000 odds to win the NBA title, according to DraftKings. Durant’s request has already shifted odds around a ton, but the Bulls probably won’t move much unless they make a big move themselves, such as a Rudy Gobert trade.
Let’s get wild.