News broke that the Chicago Bulls signed sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy Jr away from the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. Dunleavy Jr reportedly verbally agreed to a contract worth the Mini-Mid Level Exception of $3 million, despite being offered contracts worth much more money by other teams. I am not necessarily a huge fan of signing Mike Dunleavy Jr, but the signing itself is a very positive sign for the organization.
First and foremost, the fact that Dunleavy signed her for less is proof that players feel they can win in Chicago. Last season, Kirk Hinrich also took less money to play for Chicago, but he’s a Chicago guy already, and he was promised a starting role. Mike Dunleavy Jr has no obvious connections to the organization, will likely be in a mitigated role, and still agreed to come here to try and win a title. If guys feel like Chicago is a “destination” city to win, that will help immensely with recruiting efforts in the near future.
The other incredibly positive aspect of this deal comes from the financial side. For years, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been characterized as incredibly cheap in the context of the Bulls organization. Until last season, Reinsdorf had refused to pay the NBA Luxury Tax. Reinsdorf said that he would pay the tax if he felt he had a team that could win a title, and he supposedly had never felt that way. This season however, Chicago chose to use the Mini Mid-Level Exception of $3 million to sign Dunleavy. There were rumors that due to their being in the luxury tax, the Bulls would not use the MMLE in order to save money, but Jerry Reinsdorf decided to take the financial hit and make the move for basketball reasons. While I still don’t imagine Reinsdorf will be a huge spender heading forward, it is encouraging that he finally feels this team is worth paying big money for. As mentioned before, this will drastically help any recruiting efforts next off-season, being able to say that Reinsdorf will pay big money to win.
The signing of Mike Dunleavy isn’t necessarily a spectacular signing in my opinion. The Bulls could really use a backup center. There were a couple wings who the Bulls could have signed who might have fit better to a comparable contract, including Kyle Korver, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson. However the signing of Mike Dunleavy bodes well for future success, and sets the stage for a huge comeback season in 2014.