How much cap space do the Bulls have after re-signing Nikola Vucevic?

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

Entering this offseason, the Chicago Bulls appeared to be on the brink of suffering through a tremendous amount of roster turnover. With only six players from last year’s roster on guaranteed deals for next season, there was potential for a whole new-look roster to suit up for the Bulls next season.

Fortunately, things have started relatively well for Chicago this offseason, as they have managed to successfully retain their two primary centers, Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond. On top of that, the Bulls were able to jump back into the draft to pile on more depth at the wing by drafting Julian Phillips at No. 35.

After making all of these moves, it does leave one wondering just how much the Bulls have left to spend in free agency. Chicago will need to maintain as much financial flexibility as possible if they wish to retain its outgoing free agents while adding a few new key pieces along the way. Fortunately, Vucevic’s new extension seems to be backloaded, meaning the Bulls will have a little extra wiggle room to get the job done this summer.

Here’s how much cap space the Chicago Bulls still have to spend after bringing back both Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond.

Here’s a full salary breakdown for every guaranteed contract on the Bulls for the 2023-24 season:

  • Zach LaVine – $40,064,220
  • DeMar DeRozan – $28,600,000
  • Lonzo Ball – $20,465,117
  • Nikola Vucevic – $18,518,519
  • Patrick Williams – $9,835,881
  • Alex Caruso – $9,460,000
  • Andre Drummond – $3,360,000
  • Dalen Terry – $3,350,760
  • Julian Phillips – $1,017,781 (prediction per new CBA)
  • Total Payroll – $134,672,278

Since this is only a 9-man team, the incomplete roster charges necessary to round out the roster bring the real payroll up to just over $137 million, just above the $136 million salary cap. However, there’s still plenty of room left to navigate beneath the $165 million luxury tax apron, especially considering the Bulls have both the $12.4 million non-taxpayer MLE and $4.5 million bi-annual exception at their disposal. This leaves Chicago with just over $30 million to spend before hitting Jerry Reinsdorf’s sworn enemy: the luxury tax wall.

It should be noted that the Bulls have already tendered qualifying offers to Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, and Terry Taylor, making them all restricted free agents this summer. Their qualifying offers will count as cap holds — meaning Chicago cannot spend that money on other free agents — but it does allow the Bulls to match offers from other teams, even if it means they go over the salary cap to do so. Here’s how much each player’s qualifying offer totaled up to:

  • Coby White – $7,744,600
  • Ayo Dosunmu – $5,216,324
  • Terry Taylor – $1,801,491 (two-way contracts do not count against the cap)

If White, Dosunmu, or Taylor accept their qualifying offer, they’ll return on a one-year deal for the aforementioned amount. A far more likely outcome, however, is that they test their value on the open market and either leverage that in negotiations with the  Bulls or sign an offer with another team forcing the Bulls to match. Re-signing Coby and Ayo seems to be a priority for the front office this summer, so I don’t think they’ll walk for nothing this summer.

If both White and Dosunmu accepted their qualifying offers, the Bulls would still have $18 million to spend via the BAE and full MLE. If Coby signs a multi-year deal, the Bulls will still have access to the reduced taxpayer MLE and the BAE if they dip into the luxury tax for just the second time in franchise history. Although Arturas Karnisovas has indicated something he’s willing to do, I wouldn’t be counting on it just yet.

Taking him for his word here, the Bulls should be able to add two solid role players to the rotation for next season. It’s not much, but hopefully adding a few shooters proves to make a noticeable difference for next year’s roster. So to answer the question of how much cap space the Bulls have to use…

If the Bulls keep Coby and do NOT dip into the luxury tax,

  • They will be able to sign one player for the BAE, up to $4.5 million.
  • Every other signed player will have to be a veteran minimum.

If the Bulls do NOT keep Coby and do NOT dip into the luxury tax,

  • They will be able to sign one player for the BAE ($4.5 million) and can use the MLE ($12.4 million) on one player or split it amongst multiple players.

If the Bulls keep Coby and are willing to spend the luxury tax,

  • They will be able to sign one player for the BAE, and one player for the reduced taxpayer MLE (approximately $7 million annually).
  • Every other signed player will have to be a veteran minimum.

Next. 3 player comparisons for both of the Bulls new rookies. dark