Bulls expiring contracts don’t matter if Zach LaVine signs max contract

Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls may not have the best payroll situation, but they have a solid amount of money coming off the books following the conclusion of the 2021-2022 season.

And even better, a good portion of that money will come from players who have hardly contributed all year.

Jones Jr. is averaging five points for the Bulls this season and has fallen out of the rotation. He hasn’t appeared in a game for the Bulls since Mar. 18., and has had knee problems throughout the season. With the Bulls struggling to defend perimeter scorers, it’s puzzling as to why Jones Jr.’s minutes have been cut, but it’s clear head coach Billy Donovan doesn’t think he’s worthwhile of valuable minutes.

The veteran spent last season with the Portland Trail Blazers and was expected to help the Bulls’ perimeter defense and fast break production. However, he was never able to make an immense impact, specifically when Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso went down with injuries.

Here’s who will be helping the Bulls clear cap space this offseason

Jones Jr. headlines the list of salaries the Bulls will be happy to see go away:

  • Derrick Jones Jr. Expiring Contract: $9.7 million
  • Troy Brown Jr. Expiring Contract: $5.17 million
  • Matt Thomas Expiring Contract: $1.669 million
  • Tristan Thompson Expiring Contract: $1 million

And then there’s Zach LaVine’s expiring $19.5 million, but it’s expected he remains in Chicago on some sort of a max contract assuming his knee issue is able to get cleared up before the start of next year.

The NBA salary cap will be set at $149 million for next season. The Bulls, as of right now, have $100 million committed to next year’s payroll, which doesn’t give them a ton of room if they sign LaVine to a deal that will pay him $35-$40-plus million per season, which is very much in the cards. Essentially, paying LaVine that kind of money will negate the rest of the expiring contracts coming off the Bulls’ payroll.

The biggest adjustment that’ll likely have to be made is getting Nikola Vucevic’s $22 million off the payroll, which will be very possible since he’ll be on an expiring deal come 2022-2023, and other teams will value that flexibility. If that happens, then the Bulls will be able to retain LaVine and continue to build around the remaining valuable pieces.

But if they keep the status quo, the depth will be greatly affected and we might be looking at more of the same come next season.

Related Story. Is Zach LaVine worth a max contract for the Chicago Bulls this offseason?. light