Nothing of much interest has happened for the Chicago Bulls this summer. Sure, they signed Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the draft was nice, but there’s been precious little of substance happening. To that end, we study the minutiae of the Bulls salary numbers, as provided by Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com, which is just an excellent website.
We’ll start with Dunleavy, naturally. His deal was initially reported as 2 years for a total of $6 million, but it has since been made clear that the deal is actually for 2 years and a total of approximately $6.5 million. The trick is that he was signed for the full mini mid-level exception, which is actually slightly more than $3 million. (3.19 million, to be more precise.) It may not seem like much, but that extra $326,235 on the Bulls cap for 2014-15 is…well, probably pretty inconsequential. Never mind.
Now, it has been reported in at least a few places that the Bulls have — depending on who’s doing the reporting — 11 or 12 players signed to contracts for this coming season. And that’s technically true, so long as you say 11 and you’re talking about only those players who have fully guaranteed contracts. However, if you count Malcolm Thomas’s non-guaranteed $884,293 for 2013-14 and Erik Murphy’s partially guaranteed $490,180, then there are but two roster spots available. Apparently, the Bulls want to fill one of those with Marcus Camby, although god only knows why.
Tony Snell will make slightly more than $1.4 million this coming year and about $1.47 million in 2014-15. Again, not particularly important, but worth noting if you buy into the so-called “2014 Plan” and want to figure out exactly how much cap space the Bulls will have.
Actually, as long as we’re here, let’s do that. ShamSports says the Bulls have about $64.6 million in salary on the books next season, assuming Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague both have their options picked up, which they most likely will. That number goes down to about $47.8 million if Carlos Boozer is amnestied. With the salary cap figuring to come in right around — probably a little under — $60 million next season, that would give the Bulls about $12.2 mil in cap space, right?
Not so fast. See, there are these things called “cap holds,” which are part of the mechanism that allows teams to sign their own free agents even if they’re over the cap. Cap holds have to be renounced in order to actually use cap space, or else the free agents attached to them need to be signed to amounts lower than the cap holds quickly.
For instance, Luol Deng’s cap hold for next season figures to come in somewhere around $19 million. If he were willing to sign for, say, $12 million a year, that $19 million number goes away and is replaced by the $12 million number, instantly freeing up 7 million in cap space.
For next summer, the Bulls will have Deng’s 19 mil cap hold, Kirk Hinrich’s 5.3 mil cap hold, about 1.15 mil for Malcolm Thomas — assuming he sticks for this season — about the same amount for Nikola Mirotic, and a little under 1 million each for Nazr Mohammed, Daequan Cook, Vladimir Radmanovic, Brian Scalabrine and Nate Robinson, although he’ll probably sign elsewhere and come off Chicago’s books. All told, that’s about 31.2 million in cap holds, which, as you’ll notice, is much more than 12 million. But, if the Bulls renounce Kirk/Nazr/Daequan/VladRad/Scal and Nate signs elsewhere this summer, that takes them down to only about 21 million.
In short, even renouncing Deng would only get the Bulls down to $10 million or so in cap space, well short of max-level cap room. And keep in mind that Mirotic is likely to command well in excess of his $1 million cap hold. Not to mention that Malcolm Thomas will be a restricted free agent, and the Bulls figure to be in some need of big men. In short, the “2014 plan” makes no real sense unless a trade comes to free up some more salary.
One final thing: There was a report a few days ago that the Bulls had used the “stretch provision” of the new CBA on Rip Hamilton’s remaining $1 million salary, spreading it out over this year and the next two. Deeks says he can’t confirm that, but it may well have happened anyway. If true, it saves Jerry Reinsdorf some money this year at the expense of about $333K in cap space down the drain next summer.