Yes, it’s only been a day since free agency opened, but for those of you who may be interested, here’s a look at the Chicago Bulls from a roster and financial perspective at this point.
Point Guard: Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Marquis Teague
Shooting Guard: Jimmy Butler (Richard Hamilton is technically still on the team at this point, but will soon be waived according to CBS Sports‘ Ken Berger)
Small Forward: Luol Deng, Mike Dunleavy Jr. (reportedly agreed to two-year, $6 million deal yesterday)
Power Forward: Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Malcolm Thomas (if the team picks up his option)
Center: Joakim Noah, Nazr Mohammed (announced on Twitter that he is coming back for another year, will likely sign for the veteran minimum salary again)
Team Count: 10 out of 15 spots officially filled (does not count Hamilton or Thomas)
Unsigned Players from 2012-13: Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Daequan Cook, Vladimir Radmanovic
Team Salary for 2013-14: $75,104,343 in guaranteed money — meaning it does not include Hamilton’s or Thomas’ potential salaries.
As a side note, the NBA‘s salary cap for each team during the 2013-14 season will be set at $58.5 million, which means the Bulls are just under $17 million over the cap. The NBA’s threshold for the luxury tax is $71.6 million, and the Bulls are about $3.5 million over that as well, but they will just pay the taxes and not worry about it as they’re one of the most profitable franchises in the league.
Also, the Bulls have their mid-level exception (a roughly $5-million exception for teams over the salary cap to sign players with) coming off the books officially on July 16 — which was used on Kyle Korver several years ago — they will be able to put Dunleavy’s $3 million salary into that, and then have about $2 million remaining to sign another player.
Now that all the numbers are out of the way, what can we expect from the Bulls the rest of free agency?
They are definitely interested in trying to keep Robinson and Belinelli, but more than likely do not have the funds to keep both. Robinson will probably get offers that are much higher than the $2 million they have available in their MLE, but Belinelli has great potential to be right in that range. My guess is that they make it a priority to bring back Belinelli for two-three years with that and then sign another two-guard for the veteran minimum to add depth.
The team is set at point guard with Rose and Hinrich getting the majority of the minutes next year. Teague will simply be there in case of injury or for the last few minutes of a blowout. Small forward also appears to be set with Deng and Dunleavy. We should even see them playing together a bit next year as Deng can move over to the four-spot, and then they could have a lineup of four legitimate shooters and Noah, who can tip in any misses.
As for power forward and center, they should be good with Boozer, Gibson, Noah and Mohammed. They could pick up Thomas’ option, but I would rather them bring in another veteran at the minimum that can play the 4-or-5 spot. Either way, that fifth big will be an end-of-the-bench guy barring any injuries.
If the Bulls intend to play it safe, which I think it’s safe to assume they will because that’s the way this team has been run over the last few years, then this will likely be the way the team looks come the start of training camp. If they want to get creative and make any moves, we could see someone like Deng get traded. Now, I don’t anticipate this, but there have been rumors out there lately and some of the scenarios in which they get another good scoring guard and move Butler to the small forward position do make sense and deserve some thought.
Anyway. Hope this provided some solid information and insight on the state of the Bulls right now, and if anything changes, I’ll be here to tell you what it means for the team moving forward.