Chicago Bulls Free Agency Primer

From Flickr by Michael Wa

From Flickr by Michael Wa

The NBA free agency window opened up at 12:00 AM this morning which means we are in the midst of the most exciting two weeks of the offseason. The Chicago Bulls are widely expected to make a splash in some form or the other this offseason as they try to get the final piece to their championship puzzle. The past several weeks have been filled with many bits of news and rumors and the next few weeks are to be filled with the same. The sheer amount of information can be difficult to keep up with and, at times, overwhelming. The following is a small primer of the major points to monitor as a Bulls fan. Added in are some bits of friendly advice from your Bulls by the Horns staff.


Salary Cap Space

To this point we, the public, don’t know just how large the salary cap is and likely won’t know just how much cap space the Bulls have for another one to two weeks. At this point all we can hope is that the cap increased by roughly $5 million as the NBA projected towards the end of the season as that gives the Bulls the best opportunity to sign a max player while giving up very little.

The Pursuit to End the Melodrama

Obviously the major story of the offseason for the Chicago Bulls. It’s been an open secret since the All-Star break that the Chicago Bulls are interested in Carmelo Anthony and that various members of the team such as Joakim Noah have been actively recruiting him to the team. Carmelo Anthony has similarly expressed interest in joining the Bulls as he’s openly expressed his desire to play under coach Tom Thibodeau and along side Derrick Rose and company. His desire is to win a title and Chicago presents his best chance.

Despite opting out and declaring his desire to win, recent reports say Anthony still wants to be paid a max deal while also winning. If this is the case Melo and Chicago may be faced with an interesting dilemma. Carmelo Anthony can either choose the money and stay with the New York Knicks or he can choose to take less and try to win with the Bulls just as the Big 3 in Miami took less to win. Chicago is faced with the daunting task of getting Phil Jackson and the Knicks to play along with a sign and trade that involves Carlos Boozer, a player they’ve expressed zero interest in.

As of now everything is up in the air regarding Anthony. We do know that he has plans to meet with the Bulls first, followed by the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers. Chicago’s meeting with Anthony is particularly interesting because the front office is using Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah to sell the team. Both players are notably from New York and are could be there to discuss the transition from New York to Chicago. The inclusion of Gibson in the meeting is particularly interesting because the Bulls may need to move Gibson to even open up enough room to sign Melo outright. Gibson’s presence could be used to convince Anthony to take less money and outline a future in which the Bulls manage to keep him. Derrick Rose will also be at the meeting though this is hardly a surprise.

Anthony isn’t expected to make a decision until the second week of free agency so the Melodrama will continue for some time.

Doug McDermott Trade

In order to avoid posting what is still probably a hot take on my part, I’m allowing the draft day trade Chicago made for Doug McDermott to digest to give fair assessment (spoiler alert- I’m warming up to it). The most interesting part of the trade is the inclusion of Anthony Randolph. By taking on his contract the Bulls have added $1.8 million more in salary to the team which would only hurt the team’s plan to sign a big name free agent. The front office insists that Randolph is a moveable contract which, to their credit, he is. Many teams would be willing to take on an expiring and fairly cheap contract such as his. What is interesting is how the Bulls plan to get his contract off the books. To take him on with McDermott the Bulls had to absorb Randolph into a trade exception. By doing so the circumvented the rule that prevents a traded player from being traded for 2 months, however they are now in a different territory- Randolph cannot be traded in a package. How this will impact free agency, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Backup Plans

As much as everyone would like the Bulls to get Carmelo Anthony, we all must remember that this is the Chicago Bulls and the team has a history of striking out during free agency. Tracy McGrady, Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade are just a few of the big names that Chicago hasn’t been able to land in recent history. Chicago has made several contingency plans regarding free agents, many of which they’ve kept close to the chest. A few have leaked though, perhaps most intriguingly Chandler Parsons:

Though he isn’t the best at creating his own shot and is no Carmelo Anthony, Parsons is an intriguing prospect. He can stretch the floor and create some offense. Unfortunately Parsons is a restricted free agent and the Houston Rockets can match any offer so it’ll take a doozy of a contract to get him out of a red jersey. In essence it seems like it could be the JJ Redick scenario once again.

The Amnesty Clause

Let’s briefly circle back to that one guy I mentioned earlier- Carlos Boozer. The Chicago Bulls are one of the few teams who can still use their amnesty clause but have yet to do so. But the question remains- will the Bulls use the amnesty clause on him? If the Bulls can move Boozer in a sign and trade for Carmelo Anthony, there is no doubt the team will pounce on the chance. But will they be willing to pay him to not play for them for a year? Some reports immediately following the situation indicate that they may be and that it’s almost assured that Boozer will be gone after such an abysmal season. But we’ve heard this same story in the past yet Boozer continues to play in a Bulls uniform. The period the Bulls will be able to amnesty Boozer will be next week following the moratorium (technically free agency hasn’t started but negotiations have).

The Chicago Bulls and Nikola Mirotic- The Ross and Rachel of the NBA

Years and years we Bulls fans have been talking about the possibility of Real Madrid star Nikola Mirotic coming over to the NBA. It has essentially become the “will they, wont they?” discussion at this point with Chicago as dorky yet kind of lovable Ross and Mirotic as the always beautiful Rachel that everyone wishes they could have. Recently rumors have surfaced from a Spanish website indicating that Mirotic has played his final game for Real Madrid and that his arrival to the NBA is imminent. Several Bulls blogs have pounced on this story and the rumor has propagated considerably. As of now the front office claims they do not know if Mirotic is coming over and that there is no planned visit to the NBA. For now we can assume nothing regarding Mirotic and if he’ll be joining the Bulls next season. Almost everything depends on what actions the Bulls have to take during these first 2 weeks of free agency, what Carmelo Anthony decides to do with his future, and how much money the team can and must offer him.

Beware the Fake Accounts

The majority of people are now on social media, such as Twitter, and are waiting for the big gun national writers to break stories about who has signed where. Just a word of caution to always double check and make sure that whoever is breaking the news is a verified account. The sheer number of fake Adrian Wojnarowski, Marc Stein, Sam Amick, Ramona Shelburne, etc accounts is daunting and it’s easy to get tricked. As we type many reputable writers have actually been fooled themselves and are having to backtrack on their reporting by deleting tweets. Just be careful in what you read and what you believe in.


That just about covers everything we could think of. If there’s another story that you believe we should address related to free agency let us know in the comments below. Otherwise happy free agency everyone!

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