NBA’s salary cap increase will help Bulls re-sign key player

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

While the breakout of rookie Ayo Dosunmu was one of the most heart-warming stories of 2022 for the Chicago Bulls, the attempt to keep him around past this season may prove to be one of the most heart-wrenching affairs of 2023. Fortunately, recent news from the NBA may help Chicago keep the hometown kid right where he belongs.

The projected salary cap for 2023-24 is set to kick in at the beginning of the next offseason, and will be $10.4 million higher than it was this past offseason. These projections are higher than expected and will be crucial to Chicago’s effort to retain Dosunmu.

This comes as a pleasant surprise for several teams around the league, as we see more and more franchises willing to dip into the luxury tax to compete for a championship with each passing year. Even if teams are already over the tax threshold — and thus unable to use this extra cap space — it will still provide a fair amount of financial relief.

Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news of the NBA’s salary cap hike earlier this week.

The Chicago Bulls will need to scrape together every spare dollar they can find to keep this promising core together for years to come.

After stepping up in a big way to compensate for the loss of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso in the starting lineup, Ayo proved he is ready for the NBA and could become an essential piece for the Bulls moving forward. He averaged 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.6 rebounds as a starter for Chicago last season en route to receiving All-Rookie Second Team honors.

Due to the fact he was drafted in the second round, Dosunmu’s contract is not the typical four-year rookie scale contract we typically see top prospects on. His deal will expire following this upcoming season, after just two years with the Bulls.

Since Chicago will lack the three-year tenure necessary to secure Dosunmu’s full Bird Rights, the most the Bulls can offer him on Early Bird Rights is 105% of the average league salary. However, they won’t be allowed to exceed the salary cap to do so. This means the Bulls will be forced to walk an extremely fine line as they already have an expected $120 million on the books before free agency and the draft even begin.

There is another route to re-signing Dosunmu even if the Bulls can’t clear the cap space, often referred to as the Gilbert Arenas provision. However, this should only be used as a last resort due to the fact the backloaded nature of the contract has been known to significantly damage teams’ long-term financial flexibility.

If the Bulls wish to avoid another team offering Dosunmu a poison pill contract that they’re forced to match with the Arenas provision, it could end up doing more harm than good down the line. That’s why using this extra salary cap and inking Ayo to a new deal should be at the top of Chicago’s priority list this summer.

Next. Chicago Bulls projected to win 48 games, simulation says. dark