NBA Free Agency of 2014 officially begins on July 1st, 2014 at 12:00 AM Eastern. The months of speculation involving unnamed “sources” and misleading articles will finally be replaced by concrete news and official signings made by each respective team. While the best option involving these reports is to defer the act of dwelling, it undoubtedly cannot hurt to see exactly how our Chicago Bulls can sign players each fan’s favorites.
In this article, we will go over each player’s salary as reported per HoopsHype and how the numbers crunch into a successful transaction. This does not reflect the likelihood of individuals joining/leaving the team, but only explains the complexity of each situation. The end product of Chicago’s roster will most likely completely differ from anything discussed by us fans.
All salary information reported by HoopsHype.com.
Current payroll for Chicago Bulls 2014/2015:
Derrick Rose, PG: $18,862,876
Carlos Boozer, PF: $16,800,000
Joakim Noah, C: $12,200,000
Taj Gibson, PF: $8,000,000
Mike Dunleavy, SF: $3,000,000
Jimmy Butler, SG/SF: $2,119,214
Tony Snell, SG.SF: $1,472,400
Greg Smith, PF: $948,163
The cap for 2014/2015 is projected at $62,000,000. This means Chicago is over the cap limit already by $1,402,653.
Let’s start with the most obvious; Carlos Boozer. If Boozer were amnestied, it would not clear all of his $16,800,000 salary off the books for next season. This means that a trade would be the most beneficial to the Bulls.
Carlos Boozer is a serviceable starter in this league. At $16.8 million, no. But for a rebuilding team, taking on Boozer’s salary for next year may be enticing if other pieces are involved.
That brings us to the other pieces mentioned earlier. The next least-valuable member of Chicago that eats up significant cap is Mike Dunleavy. Packaging Boozer ($16.8m) with Dunleavy ($3m) along with pick #16 in this year’s draft would clear a massive amount of cap room for a star, such as Carmelo Anthony.
Now, that leaves the cap number on the books at $43,602,653. That includes Rose, Noah, Gibson, Butler, Snell and Smith as the only players on the roster.
If Carmelo Anthony is indeed “Plan A” for Gar/Pax, around $18m is said to be in play to acquire his services. Carmelo’s salary last season was $21,490,000. That’s about a three million dollar drop in salary. However, let’s envision the marketability and increase in merchandise sales for ‘Melo.
Anthony is currently a Jordan/Nike brand athlete, which means that his growth potential, if he does sign in Chicago, would increase noticeably since he is in the heart of Jordan’s town. This increased brand exposure may bring Carmelo’s yearly salary at least close-to-or-more than last year’s earnings.
With Anthony ready to sign on the dotted line, Chicago could presumably sign Anthony for the difference in cap room, which would be $18,397,347 in his first year. That slots Carmelo just below Derrick Rose as the highest paid Bulls player. If Anthony wants the title of being the highest paid on the team, the Bulls could waive Greg Smith and his $948,163 salary to pay Anthony. That would slot ‘Melo in at $19,345,510 for next season.
That leaves the Chicago Bulls roster as such:
That’s six players. So already at full-cap and only half-a-roster.
No worries, though. The Bulls can go over-the-cap by paying a luxury tax and using a Mid-Level Exception (MLE) to fill out their roster.
As long as Chicago does not cross the threshold of $4M over the cap during the season, they will have a MLE of $5,305,000 to spend on free agents. So that’s $9,305,000 for six players.
Chicago, in this scenario, will have one PG, three swingmen, one PF and one C.
If the Bulls retain pick 19 in the upcoming draft, the slotted salary for next season is $1,266,000. A backup PG or PF candidate could be Elfrid Payton or Adreian Payne.
Veteran Kirk Hinrich, who made $4M last season, may take a discount for $1.5M. D.J. Augustin found success in Chicago, but could drive his asking price up. $2M could be about it in terms of payment for Augustin, as each penny is valuable. It’s unlikely both point guards are back next year.
Nazr Mohammed or Jermaine O’Neal could man the backup center position for a veteran minimum contract. Elton Brand could also be signed for a minimum.
Where does this leave Nikola Mirotic, the polarizing stretch-four overseas for Real Madrid?
It’s likely that Mirotic is used as trade bait if Chicago wants to sign Carmelo Anthony or acquire Kevin Love. The young European is most likely Chicago’s most valuable trade chip.
If the Bulls somehow clear enough cap by, say, trading Taj Gibson, then it’s possible that Mirotic signs for the MLE. However, Mirotic has never been on an NBA hardfloor yet, so sacrificing a proven Gibson to squeeze in Nikola may prove too much.
The Chicago Bulls even have interest in Kevin Love, who is set to make $15,719,063 next season. Landing Love and ‘Melo is not going to happen, so Chicago has to choose one or the other. If the front office opts for K. Love over Anthony, the process starts all over.
However, trading for Kevin Love or signing Carmelo Anthony may not even happen. The Bulls can trade for Arron Afflalo and his $7,562,500 salary to add shooting, or trade their #16 and #19 picks for #11 or #8 in order to draft Nik Stauskas or Doug McDermott.
The Chicago Bulls and their front office have a multitude of plans for many scenarios and went over these exact numbers long before any of us did.
Expect to see a different team under head coach Tom Thibodeau next season.