For those of you who enjoy simple math, that deal would have Asik making around $8 million per year.
If you’re wondering how Houston was able to offer Asik that much cash, ESPN’s John Hollinger breaks it down detail-by-detail. Here are the main points:
Under the “Gilbert Arenas” provision of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, a player such as Asik — a second-round draft pick coming off his second season — can be offered only a maximum of the midlevel exception in free agency for the first two seasons but can be offered any amount up to the maximum in years after that.
Houston took advantage of this provision by limiting his offer to three years, rather than the maximum of four, and offering the maximum eligible salary in Year 3.
It’s so damaging because of how the league assigns the salary cap and luxury tax hits for the respective sides. In Houston’s case, the amounts are averaged over the three seasons, requiring the Rockets to have a little more than $8 million in cap room to consummate the deal.
As it turns out, the Rockets can absorb that cap hit without much trouble. The Bulls? Not so much. Hollinger continues:
The league calculates the cap charge differently for a team matching the offer sheet, using actual salaries instead of the average. So the Bulls get off easy in the short term; a $5 million cap charge for Asik this year and next should have been in their budget to start.
But then in 2014-15, it jumps up to about $14.9 million. And it’s not clear how the Bulls are supposed to handle that, especially given their aversion to the luxury tax and the fact they may be subject to the repeater penalty by then. Between Asik, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, they have $61.6 million committed and that’s without paying Taj Gibson, retaining Luol Deng, or adding any free agent or draft picks.
They’re almost certainly a tax team, in other words, and in fact they’re likely to be deep into the tax, even if the league’s tax level rises a few ducats by then. Which makes the effective cost of keeping Asik that season closer to $30 million than $15 million. And as much as I may admire his defense and rebounding, it’s inconceivable that Asik is worth anywhere near $30 million.
I have to agree with Hollinger. Omer isn’t worth that kind of money. Not when the team has several other holes that need to be filled.
And for the people who may be screaming for the Bulls to simply use the amnesty provision to dump Boozer’s contract, it’s not quite that simple, as Hollinger also explains:
Are there ways around this? Yes, but the medicine is worse than the disease. If in 2014 the Bulls were to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer, who would be on the final year of his deal, that would cut $15 million from their cap number (and likely from their luxury tax bill) that season, but they would still have to pay Boozer, which would still make Asik’s effective cost $30 million — except in that case, it’s $30 million and a starting power forward.
So that doesn’t make much sense either. Meaning the Bulls are kind of behind the eight ball.
As ESPN’s Marc Stein pointed out, Bulls GM Gar Forman said after the draft on Thursday that management will be making decisions based on basketball and not finances. It makes for a great quote…but at some point finances always come into play. And it almost certainly will here. At this cost, if the Bulls match Houston’s offer on Asik, it will require major changes to personnel. Ditto if they lose Asik.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Rip Hamilton is expected to sign a two-year, $10 million deal with the Bulls later today, thus ending the team’s search for an upgrade at the shooting guard position.
“I love the way (Hamilton) moves without the ball. I love the fact he doesn’t dominate the ball. If you’re going to have a backcourt partner with Derrick Rose, you want somebody who’s just going to catch and shoot or make a quick move. You can’t have somebody who’s going to dominate the ball, or put it on the floor because the offense will just stop.
“Rip’s a guy who can come off curls, screens and run all over the place, move the defense around so that even when he’s not scoring, he’s keeping people occupied, and that gives Derrick Rose driving lanes. I think it’s a great pick-up, assuming he has something left.”
Not everybody thinks the Hamilton signing will work for the Bulls.
That’s one way to look at it, I guess. Of course, despite all the dysfunction and turbulence in Detroit last season, not to mention reduced minutes, a reduced role, and a group of players that didn’t exactly fit together, Rip still compiled a better Player Efficiency Rating (15.8) than Bogans (9.0), Brewer (13.8) or Korver (13.0).
But when predicting Hamilton’s potential impact, it may be more important to consider his skill set versus what the Bulls already had at SG.
Now, is it true that Hamilton is a lesser defensive player than Bogans and Brewer? Yes, it is. However, the Bulls were ranked first in Defensive Rating last season because of Thibodeau’s well-designed team defense more so than any one or two players.
No, Chicago’s problems were on offense, where they ranked 11th in Offensive Rating. The Bulls had trouble spreading the floor in no small part because their shooting guard was usually an offensive non-entity.
Bogans could spot up for open threes. That is the extent of his offensive skill set.
Brewer can’t hit threes (6-for-27 last season) and has no mid-range game to speak of (30.8% from 3-9 feet, 33.3% from 10-15 feet, 37% from 16-23 feet). His admittedly solid ability to finish at the rim is hampered by the fact that he can’t get there on his own in one-on-one situations and doesn’t earn many free throws (2.7 per 36 minutes).
Kyle Korver can’t create shots or get to the rim (0.2 attempts at the rim per game last season), usually relying on a complex series of picks and screens to get an open look. Plus he’s a poor rebounder and can be absolutely abused on defense in one-on-one situations.
If you watched the Bulls last season, you know that, on offense, their inability to spread the floor hurt them. Especially against good defensive teams like the Miami Heat, their primary rival in the East.
Much was made of LeBron’s ability to shut down Derrick Rose in those fourth quarters of the Eastern Conference Finals. I won’t make excuses — like pointing out that Rose was exhausted from shouldering the entire offensive load all season and all playoffs long or that he was still hampered by a sprained ankle he suffered in the first round — but I will point out that LeBron’s job was helped by the fact that Chicago’s shooting guard (usually Bogans or Brewer) and center (Joakim Noah) were relative non-entities on offense…which allowed their men to repeatedly sag off and cut off whatever avenues Rose might have had.
The Bulls do not need Rip to be a 20-point scorer. They need him to be a legit scoring threat.
That’s why I put more stock in Kerr’s analysis than the breakdown of Hamilton’s Wins Produced. Rip isn’t what he was. We know that. But he’s an accomplished, respected player with championship experience. Defenses will pay attention to him. He never stops moving. He doesn’t need the ball. He can generate shots. He can shoot threes, hit from mid-range, and get to the rim. He is not great in any one of these areas, but he doesn’t have to be.
Again, as Kerr pointed out, Hamilton does not need to hold onto the ball like, say, a Jamal Crawford would. Which makes him a good backcourt mate for Rose, who almost always has the ball in his hands. And, due to his abilities and constant movement, his defense can’t just leave him, as Bogans’ and Brewer’s defenders could.
Over the past two seasons, Rips skills haven’t been as sharp as they were. It’s hard to say how much of that was incompatible personnel and a bad situation, although it’s reasonable to suggest those factors played a part in his seeming decline. But, again, he doesn’t have to be the 2004 Richard Hamilton. He just has to help spread the floor and take a little of the scoring burden off of Rose.
Apparently, J-Rich decided to go for money over winning. After all, Dwight Howard has demanded a trade. So unless Orlando pulls off an amazing trade for several quality players, the Magic aren’t going to be very good this season. And maybe not for a long while to come.
Again, according to capologist Larry Coon, in order to make the numbers work in a deal which would include Hedo Turkoglu (there’s little doubt the Magic would include Turkoglu’s contract in any proposed deal for Howard) the Bulls would give up Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, plus probably a draft pick or two. Does Smith really want to build his post-Howard Magic squad around Deng and Noah? Both have had injury problems in the past; but what is surely more alarming to Smith is the fact that Deng and Noah have guaranteed contracts worth more than $100 million over eight years.
Not to mention the fact that Asik and Gibson are due for big raises over the next year. Does Smith really believe that the best deal to make revolves around that kind of guaranteed money within his own conference?
There are major questions whether Howard would even want to play in Chicago, and the deal outlined above simply wouldn’t be that attractive to the Magic…not if they’re going to rebuild. So let’s assume Dwight won’t be walking through that door any time soon. As in ever.
Rose will win on the bottom line soon. General manager Gar Forman said the formality of Rose’s five-year, $94 million extension is being finalized with Rose’s agents, Arn Tellem and B.J. Armstrong.
Said Forman: “Derrick is the centerpiece of what we’re putting together here. We want Derrick to be a Bull for a long, long time. It’s very important that we put the right pieces around Derrick.”
My take: We will soon see a Bulls team that look very much like last year’s squad…except that Hamilton will replace Bogans as the starting two guard. Which means, as long as everybody stays healthy, the Bulls can be as good as anybody.
Terms of the buyout of Hamilton’s $12.6 million contract were not disclosed, but a league source said the Bulls likely will offer a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $10 million to recoup most of what Hamilton gives back.
Hamilton’s midlevel exception over the next two seasons would limit the Bulls’ exposure to luxury-tax levels, particularly when Derrick Rose’s maximum contract extension begins in 2012-13. Restricted free agents Omer Asik and Taj Gibson also need new deals then.
Hamilton averaged better than a point every two minutes and threw in the 11th-best pure point rating at his position for good measure. At 33, he’s lost very little to age at the offensive end.
While he’s a solid 3-point shooter (38.2 percent), it’s not a shot Hamilton seeks out. Instead he runs off curls or through some other maze of screens to get himself clean midrange looks. He had a harder time than usual converting them last season, making 39 percent of his 2s from beyond 10 feet, although part of the reason was that he had to create some of them for himself at the end of the shot clock; Hamilton is much better off the catch. He’s one of the league’s fittest players and can run all day, so his off-ball movement often exhausts opposing defenders.
Defensively, Hamilton didn’t always seem engaged and he suffered mightily in strength matchups. What he can do, however, is stay in front of quick guards. With Detroit’s freakishly huge point guards, this frequently allowed him to switch defensive assignments and check the other team’s point man.
Their are a few red flags. Last season, Rip’s scoring was down (14.1 PPG versus 17.7 PPG for his career), his attitude became toxic, and he openly fueded with Pistons then-coach John Kuester.
Quite a fall from a former champion who was once known as a model teammate.
I’m sure the Bulls are assuming (or maybe just hoping) that Hamilton got caught up in all the dysfunction and losing that haunted the Pistons the last couple seasons. That team was a mess.
The Bulls, on the other hand, may be the tightest team in the league.
Regarding the reduced scoring, that seems to be a function of his reduced role and minutes, because his Per 36 Minute stats are pretty close to his career numbers.
At any rate, Rip would be a major upgrade over Keith Bogans. And Derrick Rose is a fan:
“Rip is a winner. I can’t say nothing bad about him. He’s got a championship. It’s great. He knows how to win. He came from winning programs. And if he comes along, I know that we’ll be happy to have him.”
The point is, several teams are being aggressive in their attempts to upgrade.
The Bulls, so far, have done nothing.
And although not every move is striking fear into my heart — the Heat taking a chance on Eddy Curry and the Milwaukee Bucks coming to terms with Mike Dunleavy Jr. spring to mind — I’d sure feel better if the Bulls seemed to be doing, well, anything.
Fact: Chicago’s biggest Eastern Conference rival is the Heat.
Fact: Miami was already the better team — they proved it in the playoffs last season — and now they’ve added Battier, a quality role player, elite defender and great locker room presence.
The Bulls already struggled to score against the Heat. Now, as ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell pointed out, Miami can use Battier to guard Luol Deng and move LeBron onto Derrick Rose full time, while Chris Bosh can negate Carlos Boozer and Dwyane Wade can smother any player the Bulls can currently use at shooting guard.
Unless Joakim Noah spent the summer learning post moves from Hakeem Olajuwon, the Bulls are going to really struggle to score points against the Heat.
Now, more than ever, management needs to do something about the shooting guard situation. The match-ups versus the Heat are now far too lopsided for the Bulls to expect to win by trying harder.
Patience and careful thinking has served the Bulls well. But, assuming the goal is to win a championship, a bold and decisive move needs to be made.
Otherwise, the Bulls may as well concede ownership of the East to the Heat.
“On rumored Jamal sign and trade, probably wishful thinking from Hawks/Jamal camp. Crawford is a Bulls candidate, but not trading Brewer for him.”
The Bulls only have their $5 million mid-level exception to use…and it’s unlikely Crawford would sign for only $5 million a year. So unless management decides to part with a tradable asset like Brewer, I’d hold off on pre-ordering a new Bulls jersey with Crawford’s name on it.
After meeting with Caron Butler on Monday and coach Tom Thibodeau personally calling Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford and others, the Bulls currently have no more free-agent visits scheduled.
The strategy appears to be to let the market come to them as they try to upgrade at shooting guard, armed only with salary cap exceptions. With other candidates like the Suns’ Vince Carter not officially waived yet, management sounds confident one player will sign for the right price for the chance to play for a title contender alongside Derrick Rose.
According to league sources, the Bulls have not yet offered the $5 million mid-level exception to any player, including Butler, who is meeting with the Nets on Wednesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, last season’s starter, Keith Bogans, continues to work out at Berto Center and looks to be in great shape.
Glad to hear Bogans is in great shape. I’d feel better if he’d added the ability to create his own shot.
Other than that, all we have to go on is rumor. And on that subject, Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld has been tweet ing up a storm. He claims the Bulls and Hawks are discussing a sign-and-trade deal that would bring Jamal Crawford to Chicago in exchange for Ronnie Brewer and other bits and pieces (possibly C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik).
Crawford has definite upsides. He’s a big guard who can create shots out of thin air stick threes under pressure. He seems like a great fit for the Bulls, right?
Here’s a excerpt from ESPN’s John Hollinger’s player profile on Crawford:
He lost 4.4 points off his 40-minute scoring average, partly because he was asked to play a less active role offensively and partly because he didn’t make up for it with greater shooting efficiency (in fact he shot worse).
Additionally, his rebounding went from merely poor to You Can’t Be Serious. Crawford is 6-6 and athletic; nobody expects him to outmuscle Kevin Love on the block, but you’d think a few boards would come his way just by dumb luck. Instead he rebounded only 3.4 percent of missed shots when he was on the floor, the single worst figure in the entire NBA. In a league that employed J.J. Barea, Earl Boykins, Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills and Pooh Jeter, among others, Crawford — who, again, is 6-6 — managed to land at rock bottom.
This was not only the worst figure in the NBA last season, it was very nearly the worst in history by a player 6-6 or taller. However, it turns out that there was another 6-6 Hawk who was even worse — Randy Wittman posted a 3.3 in 1986-87, as did one other player (Jim Paxson in 1989-90). So Crawford will have to be content with the four-point play record.
The rebound rate ties in with another phenomenon — Crawford just doesn’t play that hard on defense. He lacks strength but his length and lateral quickness should offset it, especially when he’s defending opposing point guards. It hasn’t worked out that way.
Poor shooting efficiency. Doesn’t rebound or work hard on defense. Doesn’t exactly sound like a Tom Thibodeau-style player. Maybe the team culture would change him. Maybe playing with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and being coached by Thibs, would awaken Crawford’s inner defensive beast.
But I tend to think that, at this point in his career, Crawford is what he is.
Frankly, I’m not sure why the Bulls aren’t more obviously pursuing Jason Richardson. I mean, I’d prefer the ultra-efficient Aaron Afflalo, but he’s a restricted free agent and the team probably can’t afford him. Which means Richardson’s combination of scoring and defensive ability — and, hopefully, his desire to earn less money for a shot at a title — should make him the top target.
But the Bulls are taking a wait-and-see approach, apparently. So I guess we’ll wait and see.
Caron Butler begins a busy week Monday with at least four visits lined up to teams interested in signing the Dallas Mavericks’ free-agent forward.
Butler will visit with team officials from the Chicago Bulls on Monday morning, followed by trips to sit down with officials from the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday and possibly the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, a source close to the situation confirmed Sunday night.
Not sure how I feel about a 31-year-old coming off a sugery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee. Plus he’s a career 31.9 percent three-point shooter. He did knock down an uncharacteristic 43.1 percent of his treys in 29 games last year before suffering that season-ending injury. Although Butler can create his own shot, the Bulls need to be able to space the floor better and thus need a better long-distance threat.
Vince Carter isn’t a free agent yet, but sources close to the situation say the eight-time All-Star will be thrust onto the open market shortly after the end of the lockout.
Based on an amendment in his contract obtained by ESPN.com, Carter must be waived by the Phoenix Suns within 72 hours of the official start of free agency or his $18 million salary for the 2011-12 season becomes fully guaranteed.
The Suns, sources said, have already decided to waive Carter within that window.
Here’s what I think about the idea of bringing in Carter:
Look, Carter takes bad shots, rarely attacks the rim anymore, and dogs it on defense. Tom Thibodeau demands all-out desire and intensity from everybody on his roster. Is Vince Carter going to provide that?
The Bulls kick off the season against the Lakers in L.A. on Christmas Day.
Now the Chicago faithful are left to wonder: What roster changes will be made between now and then?
The Bulls are set at point guard. Obviously. And center. They have one of the best non-All-Star small forwards in the league. Carlos Boozer was a bit of a disappointment last season — especially in the playoffs — but he puts up points, shoots at a high percentage, and is one of the best defensive rebounders in the league.
The bench is fantastic.
And Keith Bogans is the shooting guard.
It’s the problem that hasn’t gone away. That won’t go away. Because the Bulls can’t win an NBA title with Keith Bogans starting at the two spot any more than the Chicago Bears could win the Super Bowl starting Caleb Hanie at quarterback.
The same names keep popping up. Arron Afflalo. Jason Richardson. O.J. Mayo. Courtney Lee. Jamal Crawford. And of course veteran reclamation projects like Rip Hamilton, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady.
There are significant problems with every player on this list. Either they don’t quite fit the team’s needs — an athletic two who can stick threes, create his own offense, defend at a high level — and/or the Bulls probably can’t acquire or afford them.
There isn’t a perfect answer out there.
If he decides to play at a discount rate for the chance to win a championship, I think Jason Richardson would be one of the most likely candidates. The front office also has two players in Taj Gibson and Omer Asik that could be used in a trade or trades…although management seems understandably reluctant to give up either player.
In the end, the Bulls probably don’t need an absolutely perfect fit. The Heat might have beaten then in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Bulls were right there in every game they lost. They just need someone who’s a little bit better, a little bit more of a scoring threat than Bogans.
The Bulls need an upgrade at the shooting guard position. Management knows it. Fans know it. Everybody knows it. And when Gar Forman chose not to use a draft pick to address that need, it was (one assumes) a sign that he plans to fill that spot via trade or free agency.
Personally, I was really hoping the Bulls could swing a deal for O.J. Mayo or Rudy Fernandez. Unfortunately, the Dallas Mavericks already snagged Rudy. Mayo’s availability is currently unknown. But I’m going to save trade speculation for another day.
For a full list of available free agents, click this link. Here are my thoughts on some possible FA targets.
Jamal Crawford: He can score. There’s no question about that. And his offensive game has variety: He can hit from midrange, knock down threes (although not at a high percentage), come off screens, and create open (and contested) looks off the dribble.
Unfortunately, Crawford’s mug shot can be found next to the word “streaky” in the dictionary, and he can submarine his team when his shot isn’t falling. That’s because scoring is pretty much all he does. And he’s never shown much determination or focus on defense. He’s sort of the Bizzaro version of Keith Bogans.
Still, the Bulls would give Crawford a chance at the right price, and with good reason. His scoring could open up the floor and I’m willing to bet Tom Thibodeau could make him into a servicable defender. I’m just not sure whether there’s enough cap space to make a competitive offer.
Jason Richardson: For starters, I don’t think the Bulls will be able afford him. He’s 30 years old and probably seeking his last significant contract. And even if the Bulls could afford him, would they want to give him the long-term deal he’s likely to be seeking?
According to Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Richardson turned 30 in January, and that’s a dangerous time for swingmen of his ilk. Seventy-two percent of players with a similarity score of 95 or higher to Richardson, based on our SCHOENE Projection System, declined the following season. On average, their overall performance dropped off by nearly 10 percent. Michael Finley, one of Richardson’s closest matches, is a good example of what might lie ahead for Richardson. Finley’s last above-average season came at age 31, and a year after that, the Mavericks used the amnesty provision in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement to waive him.”
That pretty much says it all. Richardson is worth a look, but I’m guessing his asking price will be too high for the projected returns.
J.R. Smith: Not gonna happen. Like Crawford, his skill set begins and ends with “scoring.” He’s as streaky as they come, capable of shooting his team into and out of games. And, as Charles Barkley might say, he’s instant offense on both ends of the court. But the biggest concern is his attitude. Smith has a history of fiery behavior and questionable decision-making, which doesn’t fit in with the basketball culture Gar Forman and Thibs are trying to create.
Shannon Brown: Here’s an intriguing possibility. Brown is a super athletic player who can finish at the rim (especially in transition) and shoot from midrange and long range. He doesn’t have great handles and can’t create his own shot. He also doesn’t get to the line as often as his athleticism should allow. Those are problems. As is his relatively low accuracy from three-point range (34.9 percent last season). But Brown has championship pedigree, loads of potential, and (most likely) a low price tag. Plus Chicago is his home town. He fits in with the whole “high character” and “build for the future” components of the team’s culture.
Anthony Parker: There was a lot of talk about the Bulls obtaining Parker at the trade deadline last February. Now he’s an unrestricted free agent who will probably draw mild interest around the league. He’s a dependable veteran who defends, has three-point range (40.9 percent for his career), and can be counted on to work hard and make good decisions.
Still, Parker is 36 years old and the (relatively few) skills he has seem to be in decline. He might make a nice addition off the bench, but he isn’t a solution to the team’s shooting guard quandary.
Tracy McGrady: Ha! Just kidding.
Michael Redd: Hm. Redd could be a bargain pickup at the vet’s minimum. However, he’s a former “franchise” player who was used to getting most of his team’s shots, and there’s no way to know how much he has left after multiple knee injuries. Redd can shoot, but can he fit in as a role player? That is, can he score efficiently while getting only 5-10 shots a game? I kind of doubt it. And he was a terrible defender before all his injuries. Now imagine him facing off against Dwayne Wade…
Richard Hamilton: He’s not a free agent, but he could be if the Pistons waive him or trade his contract to another team (such as the Cavaliers) who then waive him. If that happens, Rip would definitely be worth signing to a bargain (and probably short-term) deal. He’s more of a midrange shooter who has never hit a high percentage from three-point range (34.7 percent for his career), so spacing could be an issue. He’s obviously great moving without the basketball, plus he can create shots and draw fouls.
Still, Hamilton is 33 and (as ESPN’s John Hollinger points out) his PER and TS% have been in steady decline. What’s more, last season’s reported feud with former Pistons coach John Kuester makes you wonder where his head is at these days.
Vince Carter:He’s not a free agent yet, so this is speculation made under the assumption that the Suns will waive him to get his radioactive contract off their books.
Quick question: Is he an upgrade over Keith Bogans? Quick answer: No. Lazy on defense and increasingly apathetic on offense, Carter’s star has collapsed on itself, creating a black hole that could suck the life out of a team. The fact that he was traded to Phoenix last season and didn’t experience a strong surge in scoring is a real red flag. I mean…13.5 PPG on 42.2 percent shooting while playing with Steve Nash? Uh oh. And He averaged only 1.9 FTA after the trade.
I suppose there are a few reasons to take a chance on Carter assuming he’s willing to accept a minimum deal and a vastly reduced role. But he’s a 34-year-old former superstar with a history of dogging it or disappearing entirely when the going gets tough. The Bulls seem to be building for the future on a foundation of high-character players.