The Financial Future of the Chicago Bulls

Thanks to the hefty contracts paid to Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah, the Bulls will be over the salary cap for the foreseeable future. The projected cap next season will be around $58 million and the Bulls currently have $63 million dollars in guaranteed salary (according to Sham Sports).

That’s not necessarily a problem, but the luxury tax will be around $70 million and the Bulls still have to decide whether or not to bring back Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, and Omer Asik. I hope you enjoyed the “bench mob” for the last couple of years because there’s a chance you might not see it again.


  • Omer Asik – Restricted Free Agent – $2,321,875 Qualifying Offer

Asik is likely to get a large deal thrown his way this off-season. 7 footers with Omer’s defensive talents aren’t exactly abundant in the NBA.

We hold “early” Bird rights on Asik meaning we can sign him to a contract and go over the cap. Unlike full Bird rights though, “early” Bird rights limit the amount we (and other teams) can offer him in his first 2 years of his contract to the full Mid Level Exception ($5 mil). This is called the Gilbert Arenas provision. The catch is that teams under the cap can back load the deal considerably.

Teams are now limited in the salary they can offer in an offer sheet to a restricted free agent with one or two years in the league. The first-year salary in the offer sheet cannot be greater than the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception. Limiting the first-year salary in this way enables the player’s original team to match the offer sheet by using the Early Bird exception, or Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception (provided they have it and haven’t used it already)1. The second-year salary in such an offer sheet is limited to the standard 4.5% raise. The third-year salary can jump considerably — it is allowed to be as high as it would have been had the first-year salary not been limited by this rule to the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception2. The salary in the fourth season may increase (or decrease) by up to 4.1% of the salary in the third season. The offer sheet can only contain the large jump in the third season if it provides the highest salary allowed in the first two seasons, it is fully guaranteed, and it contains no bonuses of any kind.

Basically, a team can offer Asik a deal of $36 million over 4 years and back load the deal to make it look like this:

Year 1 – $5,000,000

Year 2 – $5,225,000

Year 3 – $12,628,613

Year 4 – $13,146,387

If Asik gets this type of deal offered to him, the Bulls will have an extremely tough decision to make. The Bulls will be at $68 million in guaranteed money if they agree to a deal like this. Remember that the luxury tax will be around $70 million. Jerry Reisndorf has never paid the luxury tax.


  • Ronnie Brewer – 1 Year Team Option – $4,370,000

Ronnie is probably the most likely candidate to get sent packing. He’s a good, athletic wing defender, but Jimmy Butler will give you similar production at a fourth of the cost. You know exactly what you’re getting from Brewer. Butler’s ceiling is much higher. This also benefits Stacey King’s throat since he won’t have to growl out “Rrrrrrrrrroonnnay Brrrrrewah” a few times a game.


  • Kyle Korver – 1 Year Team Option – $5,000,000

Korver averaged 22 minutes this year while making 1.8 threes per game at a 43.5% clip. That’s exactly what you expect out of him. Do the Bulls potentially want to go into the luxury tax to keep him around? If the Bulls sign Korver and Asik, they will be looking at $73 million in salary and will dip into the tax.


  • C.J. Watson – 1 Year Team Option – $3,200,000

You’d have to think the Bulls will bring C.J. back with Rose out a sizeable chunk of next year. He’s a cheaper option and plays a more important role than Korver or Brewer. I’d say C.J. is likely the only one of these 3 to come back next year unless the Bulls try to package some of them in a trade.

The Bulls have some really tough long and short term decisions to make. What do you guys think? Who should we bring back? Are you willing to (potentially) pay that much for a backup center with zero offensive skills? The luxury tax isn’t calculated until the end of the year, so the Bulls could potentially bring everyone back and package them together in a trade.


One thought on “The Financial Future of the Chicago Bulls

  • May 18, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Great insights. I think the Bulls keep Asik and CJ. They may have to bite the bullet and dip into some luxury tax over the next few years but that 4 man rotation we have in the post: Noah, Boozer, Taj, & Asik makes us deeper than any team in the league. Give us a full off-season of player development with Asik and Butler to help fill out their offensive game a bit more and we’re set for a while. Oh yeah… we’re going to need to address the fact that we’re going to be missing about 40 points a game in offense til about the all star break with Lu and Rose out of the line up. Hmmm

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