July 17, 2012
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
The Bulls’ three-day clock to match Omer Asik’s three-year, $25.1 million contract doesn’t begin until general manager Gar Forman receives the paperwork from the Rockets. Most involved in the situation expect that to happen Wednesday in Las Vegas after the Rockets hear back from the Knicks on Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet.
If the Bulls match on Asik, they will enter luxury tax territory for the first time. They are expected to pursue minimum-salary-type big man like local product Nazr Mohammed if they don’t match.
The clock is ticking. Free agents continue to fall off the board while the Bulls are standing around, wringing their hands, and trying to figure out what to do about Asik.
The Bulls reportedly had shown some interest in unrestricted free agent shooting guard O.J. Mayo.
No matter. Mayo is off the board.
Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas writes:
The Dallas Mavericks and shooting guard O.J. Mayo have agreed to a multiyear deal, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Mayo, 24, spent the first four seasons of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 15.2 points a game. He is set to join a radically revamped Mavs roster around Dirk Nowitzki that includes center Chris Kaman, forward Elton Brand, shooting guard Dahntay Jones and point guard Darren Collison, all added in the last five days.
The third overall pick in the 2008 draft broke the news on his Twitter account, saying, “I will be signing with dallas! #Mavsnation.”
The exact terms of Mayo’s deal were not known, but it is a two-year deal with a player option in the second year. The Mavs had about $4 million in cap space remaining.
If those numbers are correct, the Bulls probably could have made a strong push for Mayo using the $5 million trade exception they picked up in the Kyle Korver trade (assuming the Grizzlies would have consented to a sign-and-trade).
Of course, Chicago’s front office is in cost-cutting/money-saving mode right now, and they were unlikely to shell out any money for Mayo, especially with Rip Hamilton still on the books and Houston’s $25.1 million offer sheet for Omer Asik still pending.
Just another sign, if anybody needed one, that the Bulls aren’t looking to improve the team this offseason.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
The Bulls completed the trade of Kyle Korver to the Hawks reported last Friday, however the Timberwolves dropped out of the thoroughly discussed three-team deal.
Korver’s $5 million contract becomes guaranteed for the 2012-13 season and slides into the Hawks’ trade exception created when they dealt Joe Johnson to the Nets. The Bulls received a $5 million trade exception and cash.
That cash was originally headed to the Timberwolves, who were going to send a second-round pick to the Bulls, a source said. A trade exception allows the Bulls to acquire a player whose contract is up to $5 million without sending out any salary. They expire after a year if unused.
And that, as they say, is that. This was a straight-up salary dump. The Bulls have so much cash committed to Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng that management is pinching every possible penny to avoid the luxury tax…which they’ll end up paying anyway if they match Houston’s $25.1 million offer sheet on Omer Asik.
The Bulls are going to be hard pressed to replace Korver’s three-point shooting. Last season’s two best percentage three-point snipers — Korver and C.J. Watson — are gone (Watson signed with the New Jersey Nets).
It’s hard to see the Bulls spreading the floor, especially early on when Rose and Deng are both out, which is going to have a really negative impact on the offense. Today’s NBA offenses are predicated largely on three-point shooting. Not sure how the Bulls are going to adjust now that they essentially don’t have any (save for Kirk Hinrich, who isn’t a high percentage three-point shooter).
July 16, 2012
Kyle Korver is scheduled to have a physical in Atlanta today.
Assuming he passes — and there’s no reason I know of to assume otherwise — the Bulls will be able to finalize the three-team deal sending Korver to the Hawks via the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What do the Bulls get out of this trade? Reportedly, they will receive a draft pick, a trade exception, and the benefit of not paying the $500,000 guarantee on the $5,000,000 non-guaranteed portion of Kyle’s contract.
Will the deal make the Bulls a better team? No. Will it keep money in Jerry Reinsdorf’s pockets? Yes.
It’s currently unknown whether Kirk Hinrich will be included in this transaction somehow. Reports have surfaced that unrestricted free agent O.J. Mayo is getting a look-see from Chicago management – Mayo is also receiving interest from the Lakers, Mavericks and Suns — and the Bulls may be trying to work out some sort of deal that allows them to get both Hinrich and Mayo while still, somehow, avoiding the luxury tax.
Which likely means moving Rip Hamilton.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
Along these lines, league sources said the Bulls have shopped Richard Hamilton’s expiring $5 million deal, which carries a mere $1 million guarantee for 2013-14. Thus far, there have been no takers.
No takers? Hard to fathom that. Who doesn’t want an injury-plagued shooting guard coming off his worst statistical season since his rookie year and who will turn 35 in February?
Of course, management’s efforts at moving Rip may have nothing to do with Mayo at all. The Bulls may simply be looking to avoid spending money. Which, as everyone knows, is their M.O.
Nonetheless, Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald has sorted through various Mayo-to-Chicago scenarios:
Complete details of the Kirk Hinrich acquisition and Kyle Korver trade to Atlanta have yet to be revealed, but those transactions should help the Bulls in the Mayo chase.
If the Bulls get a second-round draft pick out of the Korver trade, they’ll have a traded-player exception worth $5 million. To use that on Mayo, they’d have to talk the Grizzlies into doing a sign-and-trade and send some sort of draft pick and/or cash in return.
Sign and trades are limited to four years in the new CBA. So if that happens, Memphis could sign Mayo to a four-year deal worth a total of $21.35 million and send him to the Bulls.
Another possibility is using the full mid-level exception of $5 million. The most the Bulls could get out of that is the same four-year offer to Mayo worth $21.35 million.
To use that option, the Bulls would have to decline to match Omer Asik’s offer sheet from Houston. Otherwise, they’d be limited to the taxpayer mid-level of $3 million.
They’d also have to find another way to land Hinrich, either through a sign-and-trade with Atlanta or possibly even the bi-annual exception worth $1.9 million, which they could use if Asik walks.
There’s also a chance the Bulls could negotiate an Asik trade before he signs the offer sheet, maybe something involving the Rockets and Grizzlies. That would be a challenge to work out, but it could be done.
I know. My head’s spinning too. So many possibilities.
Speaking of Asik, there’s been an interesting turn of events that could affect his presumed offer sheet from the Rockets. Namely that the Knicks have reportedly decided not to match Houston’s offer sheet on Jeremy Lin.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The New York Knicks reportedly will not match the offer sheet signed by point guard Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets.
Lin, a restricted free agent, signed a three-year, $25.1 million deal with Houston. ESPN.com reported a Knicks source said the team would not match the contract because
Lin reportedly would make $5 million next season and $5.225 million during 2013-14 season. The Knicks have until Tuesday to match the Rockets’ offer. it contains a third year worth $14.8 million that would likely subject the team to the NBA’s luxury tax.
Since Lin’s offer and Asik’s reported offer are both backloaded, that means the Rockets would owe the pair of them close to $30 million in 2014-15. That’s an obscene amount of money for a largely unproven (if admittedly seemingly spectacular) point guard and a backup center.
And don’t forget Houston is still trying to land Dwight Howard.
Will the Lin situation affect Houston’s ability to make an offer to Asik? Can it?
I guess we’ll find out. The Knicks have until tomorrow to match Lin’s offer sheet. And at the moment it seems they’ll do what all teams do in this sitution: wait until the last minute to announce their decision.
Still, all signs point toward the fact that Bulls management is more concerned with saving money — both this season and in the future — than improving the team right now.
But maybe management has some amazing moves to make we haven’t seen yet.
July 11, 2012
Earlier today, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted the following:
“Source says Hawks had interest in Bulls F Kyle Korver but he’s likely headed to Minnesota in trade.”
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune added the following tweet:
“If Bulls trade Korver, which is likely, they aren’t on hook for $500,000 partial guarantee of his $5 million option.”
Not sure who the Bulls would be trading for from Minnesota’s roster. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Bulls GM Gar Forman told Ronnie Brewer’s agent that — although they opted not to pick up Ronnie’s $4.37 million option — the team might re-sign him at a reduced salary.
Said Brewer: “I will definitely test the market though. Whatever team I end up going to, I know I’m going to have another improved year.”
Of course, it could be that part of the reason Brewer’s option wasn’t picked up is that he didn’t really have an improved year last season.
In 2010-11, Brewer averaged 6.2 PPG while shooting 48 percent from the field and 22 percent from downtown. He also added 3.2 RPG and 1.7 APG.
In 2011-12, he upped his scoring average slightly to 6.9 PPG but — after a hot start — his shooting dropped to 42.7 percent.
Brewer’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) also dropped from 13.8 to 12.3 and his Win Shares Per 48 Minutes went from .147 to .113.
Comparatively, Jimmy Butler posted a PER of 12.5 and a Win Shares Per 48 Minutes of .144 last season, which project him to be about as good as Brewer.
In fact, Brewer’s Per 36 Minute stats (10.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.0 APG) are nearly identical to Butler’s (10.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 APG).
That’s not to undervalue Brewer’s contributions…it simply shows that the notion of letting him walk (or even possibly re-signing him at a reduced rate) may not be the the crazy/cheap move by management some fans are making it out to be.
Regarding the team’s decision, Brewer added: “They just said they’re going in a different direction and might try to sign me back once the dust settles with different trades and whatnot at a lower salary so they won’t go over the luxury tax or maybe something with a sign-and-trade situation. Who knows? My agent expressed to Gar that I appreciated the opportunity he gave me in Chicago. I enjoyed my time there.
“Coach (Tom Thibodeau) is one of the best coaches in the NBA, hands down. We’ve had a good group of guys with great chemistry in the locker room. It wouldn’t be out of the picture to go back, but I have to give other teams options to make an offer.”
As for Kyle Korver, Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times writes: “A different source said the Bulls were exploring sign-and-trade possibilities that could send Kyle Korver to the Minnesota Timberwolves or Atlanta Hawks, although his return to the Bulls hasn’t been ruled out.”
The Bulls have until Sunday to make up their mind on Korver.
Note: Stats provided by Basketball-Reference.
July 10, 2012
Even as Bulls fans welcome Kirk Hinrich back to Chicago, they must also bid a fond farewell to the Bench Mob.
One of the Bulls’ great strengths the past two seasons — during which they won a league-best 112 games — was a prolific second unit consisting of C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.
Gibson isn’t going anywhere. The Rockets are trying to steal away Asik — a restricted free agent — using a $25.1 million contract offer the Bulls may or may not match.
As for the remaining three…
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Brewer and Watson are gone.
Management has officially informed Brewer they will not pick up his $4.37 million option for the 2012-13 season. Watson had already been told his $3.2 million option for next season wouldn’t be picked up.
Brewer was already slated to be replaced by Jimmy Butler, whom the Bulls selected in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. And when Hinrich agreed to return to the team, Watson’s fate was sealed (and he was hanging on by the slimmest of threads already).
As for Korver, Johnson writes: “According to sources, the Bulls have agreed to inform Kyle Korver of their official decision on his $5 million option by Sunday so that if he is cut loose, he can pursue other jobs in free agency.”
Basically, circumstances forced management to start retooling the team.
Here are the cold hard facts.
Derrick Rose is going to miss some or all of next season.
The NBA champion Heat got stronger with the addition of Ray Allen.
The Brooklyn Nets traded for Joe Johnson, re-signed Deron Williams, and may land white whale Dwight Howard.
Out west, the Thunder are still stacked, the Spurs aren’t going anywhere, and the Lakers traded for Steve Nash.
And — I repeat — Derrick Rose is going to miss some or all of next season.
It all comes down to Rose.
Everything the Bulls can do and will do centers around that man. Without him, or even with him back but not 100 percent, the Bulls aren’t going to beat any of the teams I mentioned above.
They just aren’t.
So management has chosen the prudent course of action. (Or, some would say, inaction.) Rather than spend recklessly now, they are trying to massage salary, develop young talent like Butler and this year’s first round pick Marquis Teague, and keep a weather eye to the future.
After all, in a couple years, Deng’s contract is going to expire. And the team will likely amnesty Boozer as well. Cap space will open up and the team can pursue another star-level player to pair with Rose.
So the bottom line is: The Bulls may be good or even pretty good the next season or two. But they won’t be winning a title. And management isn’t going to overspend on a non-title team.
The Bulls will still be solid with Boozer, Luol Deng (even if he misses part of next season due to wrist surgery), Joakim Noah, Rip Hamilton, etc.
It’s all about adjusting and revising expectations. The Bulls will still be a talented, hard-working, well-coached team.
The championship dreams will just be delayed for a while.
July 9, 2012
Allow me to present the Kirk Hinrich Timeline:
June 26, 2003:
The Bulls select Kirk Hinrich with the seventh overall pick in the NBA Draft.
July 16, 2003:
Hinrich signs a four-year rookie deal with the Bulls that includes a team option for the 2006-07 season.
October 24, 2005:
The Bulls exercise their option on Hinrich for 2006-07.
October 31, 2006:
The Bulls sign Hinrich to a five-year contract extension worth $47.5 million.
November 2006 through May 2007:
Hinrich goes on to have his best season as a pro: 16.6 PPG, 6.3 APG, 44.8 percent shooting from the field, 41.5 percent on three-pointers, and a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 17.0. The Bulls finish 49-33 and, despite being eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, become widely acclaimed as The Team of the Future.
November 2007 through April 2008:
Hinrich regresses as a player — 11.5 PPG, 6.0 APG, 41 percent shooting, 35 percent on threes, PER of 13.1. The Bulls also regress as a team, winning only 33 games and missing the playoffs during a season in which 51.9 percent of the league’s GMs predicted they would win the Central Division (and 22.2 percent had them winning the Eastern Conference). Hinrich’s extension suddenly looks ridiculous.
May 20, 2008:
Despite a mere 1.7 percent chance of success, the Bulls win the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery.
June 26, 2008:
The Bulls select Derrick Rose with the first overall pick of the NBA Draft.
November 2008 through May 2009:
Hinrich spends the 2008-09 season coming off the bench behind Derrick Rose and submits his worst statistical season (9.9 PPG, 3.9 APG, 4 starts) while making $10 million. Hinrich officially goes from being “The Next John Stocton” to “The First Guy To Be Traded If The Bulls Can Convince Another Team To Take On His Contract.”
July 8, 2010:
Almost four years dozens of trade rumors after signing that $47.5 million extension, Hinrich is shipped to Washington in an effort to clear cap room for the LeBron/D-Wade/Bosh sweepstakes…which the Bulls lose.
February 23, 2011:
The Wizards trade Hinrich (along with Hilton Armstrong) to the Atlanta Hawks for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and a 2011 first rounder draft pick (which is used to select Chris Singleton).
April 28, 2011:
Hinrich injures his hamstring in Game 6 of Atlanta’s first round playoff series against the Orlando Magic. Hinrich would miss the rest of the Hawks’ postseason…which was comprised of a second round playoff elimination by the Bulls.
December 2011 through May 2012:
Hinrich misses the first 18 games of the lockout-shortened season due to his recovery from left shoulder surgery. Hinrich has by far his worst season as a pro — 6.6 PPG, 2.8 APG, 34 percent three-point shooting, 9.2 PER — and the Hawks are eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
April 28, 2012:
Derrick Rose tears the ACL in his left knee during Game 1 of the Bulls’ first round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
May 12, 2012:
Rose has surgery on his ACL. Estimated recovery time is 8-12 months. The Bulls suddenly have a need for a solid, veteran PG to run the team until Rose is able to return from injury.
May through July 2012:
There is much speculation about what the Bulls will do to address the PG situation. It is widely agreed that drafting Marquis Teague with the 28th pick of the NBA Draft won’t solve the problem. Further, the Bulls seem hesitant to pick up the team option on backup PG C.J. Watson. Fan sentiment for the return of Hinrich begins to grow. The Bulls reportedly show interest in bringing Hinrich back.
July 8, 2012:
Reports surface that Hinrich has agreed to a two-year deal with the Bulls.
July 6, 2012
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweeted this today:
Add two names to Bulls’ free-agent possibles: Michael Redd and Jerryd Bayless, who just became a UFA after Toronto pulled qualifying offer.
So…Bayless (player bio) and Redd (player bio). Okay then.
I’ve never been a Bayless fan. He’s a shoot-first point guard who’s shot 41.2 percent from the field and 35 percent from the downtown for his career (although he knocked down 42.3 percent of his treys last season). He is neither an accomplished passer (3.8 APG versus 1.7 TOs) nor a capable defender.
He was decent last season — 18.0 PPG and 6.0 APG per 36 minutes — but played only 31 games due to injuries (hip pointer and then a partially torn left oblique). But he’s reasonable well-regarded around the league and will likely draw interest significant interest.
As for Redd, he was an almost-great player a few years ago. Then he tore his ACL and was never the same. He got some traction going with the Suns last season (19.5 PPG per 36 minutes on 40 percent shooting). But he’s a scorer (period) with with a history of knee injuries and iffy conditioning. I would categorize Redd as a “last resort” possibility.
The Bulls reached out to Brandon Roy…
…and Roy has reached a verbal agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves to sign a two-year contract worth $10.4 million.
It’s not too surprising. The Bulls didn’t have that kind of money to offer Roy.
So another free agent is off the board.
The options are dwindling. While C.J. Watson and his $3.2 million team option hang in limbo — the Bulls have until July 10 to decide whether or not to retain him — the team will probably continue to look at the likes of Kirk Hinrich, Jonny Flynn, Courtney Lee and Derek Fisher.
With all the cash committed to the contracts of Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng, the Bulls are going to dangerously close to the luxury tax no matter what they do. With the Rockets making a big push for Omer Asik, management is pretty handcuffed at the moment. All Chicago can offer is minimal salaries at this point. Would Hinrich — who has several teams interested in his services — take a low ball offer just to return to the Windy City?
If the Bulls are going to continue standing pat — and there’s every reason so far to believe that’s the case — it seems more and more that they should keep C.J. around.