If the Chicago Bulls sign Dillon Brooks, it’ll mean someone’s money is off the books
The NBA’s salary cap will be set at $134 million for next season and assuming they pick up the option on Williams and DJJ picks up his player option, the Bulls will have a total salary of just over $122 million. They’re right up against it and that’s before factoring in extensions for Nikola Vucevic, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu.
The only way to make the money work in a Dillon Brooks deal is to work out a sign-and-trade. These are only possible if the team receiving the signed player goes over the cap to do so. Here’s one machination of this (assuming Brooks signs with Memphis for somewhere above $20 million per for at least three seasons):
By only receiving one player, an underperforming player, the Grizzlies might not see it as worth it. Yes, they’d wash their hands of the Brooks experience but it can’t be bad enough to take back just Caruso.
If not Caruso, then the possible trades get weird. Assuming Karnisovas is still committed to winning now (which I’m assuming is why they’d want a 27-year-old wing), they’re not going to move one of the core three, but what about Lonzo Ball?
As mentioned in my Lonzo Ball article last month, the options are dire for the Bulls. They can decide to wait it out, hope his injuries are career-ending, and have his money waived from Chicago’s books, or pay someone in assets to take him.
In this deal, the Chicago Bulls get off Lonzo’s money while also bringing in a contributor tomorrow.
Unfortunately, the Grizzlies almost definitely say no to this deal. They’re looking to win a championship as soon as possible and bringing in roughly $20 million in dead money won’t help their title chase.
Unless they see Lonzo as simply salary and are making this trade for the future picks. That Portland Trail Blazers first-round pick is protected 1-14 in 2024, 1-14 in 2025, 1-14 in 2026, 1-14 in 2027, and 1-14 in 2028 (aka. it’s not real) but a distant Chicago Bulls pick could be interesting.
The Grizzlies registered interest in Mikal Bridges and OG Anunoby at the most recent trade deadline according to Michael Scotto, Hoops Hype. Those talks didn’t amount to anything despite multiple first-round picks being involved.
Memphis could use Lonzo’s salary to make a clean swap for Anunoby (should the Toronto Raptors want to go in that direction this offseason) and throw an additional two first-round picks in the deal. If their own offer didn’t get a deal done at the deadline, how would Toronto look at it now after missing the playoffs and getting two more picks in return?
All of a sudden, it’s not too far-fetched that a team would want to take on Ball’s money.