NBA Roundtable

2010 Cap Space: Chicago

In Free Agency, General NBA, Trade Talk on November 30, 2009 at 7:32 am

Updated version of this post available here following the trades of John Salmons + Tyrus Thomas.

Chicago Bulls Salaries

Contracts above $5 million

  • Luol Deng – $11.35 million
  • Kirk Hinrich – $9 million
  • Derrick Rose – $5.55 million

Luol Deng has four years left on his increasing contract while Kirk Hinrich has only two seasons left on his decreasing deal. Derrick Rose will be entering the third season of his rookie contract.

These three players total $25.9 million.

Rest Of Team’s Salaries

  • Joakim Noah – $3.13 million
  • James Johnson – $1.71 million
  • Taj Gibson – $1.12 million

All three players are on their rookie contracts. Joakim Noah will be in the final year of his rookie deal and will be looking for a big pay increase the following year ($10 million?).

Those contracts amount to $5.96 million and take the Bulls total up to $31.86 million.

Other Costs

  • Draft Picks — The Bulls should finish with a mid first round draft pick in the #14-18 range. That comes with a cap hold of $1.2-to-$1.47 million.
  • Player Option — John Salmons has a player option of $5.81 million. It’s difficult to say whether or not he’ll choose to opt in or out of his contract. He has a good opportunity to up his value this season and had a wonderful year last season but Salmons’ performances so far this season have been dodgy. If he can’t get back to his 17+ppg days then he’ll likely stick with his present contract. Although, not even that is definite, it could still be worthwhile for Salmons to opt out and claim one last long lucrative contract (30 years old). Five guaranteed years could be hard to turn down. Anyway, in summary, it’s unclear.
  • Open Roster Spots — Chicago will have seven players on their books plus possibly John Salmons … meaning a cap charge of $1.9-to-$2.38 million.

The additional costs here amount to $3.58-to-$9.18 million mainly due to the John Salmons decision.

That gives us a new total of $35.44-to-$41.04 million.

The Cap

The league sent out a memo at the beginning of free agency this year citing these numbers as possible cap figures for 2010

The NBA’s ballyhooed free-agent summer of 2010 might have quietly taken another hit late Tuesday night.

In a memo announcing next season’s salary cap and luxury-tax threshold, sent out shortly before the league’s annual July moratorium on signings and trades was lifted at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, NBA teams also received tentative projections from the league warning that the cap is estimated to drop to somewhere between $50.4 million and $53.6 million for the 2010-11 season.

2010 Cap Space

So, the Chicago Bulls will have:

  • Between $15-to-$17.9 million if John Salmons opts out
  • Or $9.2-to-$12.1 million in cap space should John Salmons opt in

Bulls Free Agency Options

Chicago cannot afford to

  1. Fail to create an opportunity to attain a top tier talent in free agency. This is their best chance to acquire an elite talent … and could risk the Bulls medium term future should they fail to acquire one.
  2. Risk losing that opportunity based on John Salmons’ decision on whether he’ll stay with his contract or look for a better deal in free agency.

Consequently, the Bulls must

  • Create additional cap flexibility in order to ensure enough cap space to offer a max contract to a free agent … either by
    1. Trading Kirk Hinrich
    2. Or by trading John Salmons

Kirk Hinrich is the clear and obvious choice to move. $8-9 million is too much money to pay a backup guard, especially when he’s playing behind a 36-39 minute starter + franchise cornerstone in Derrick Rose. Hinrich is too good a player to be playing such a small role so he’ll want a change of scenery at some point anyway (likely at the end of his contract).

Once Chicago clears up that cap space they can go on the hunt for a max contract free agent. Acquiring said free agent would give the Bulls an excellent core to build around for the next 5+ years.

Derrick Rose + Max Contract FA + Luol Deng + Joakim Noah

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