The numbers crunch

Some Bulls fans are wondering why the team hasn’t been aggressively pursuing free agents, particularly Ben Gordon, whom they lost to the Pistons. As always, the answer is all about money.

As reported by Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, the NBA finally released the new salary cap and luxury-tax threshold: “For the second time since the cap was instituted in 1984, the number dropped. The new cap is $57.7 million, about a million less than last year. The luxury-tax threshold is $69.92 million. The mid-level exception, which is supposed to represent the average salary, is $5.85 million.”

What does that mean for the Bulls? A lot.

McGraw crunched the numbers for the 11 players the team already has under contract and the qualifying offer they made to Aaron Gray. Read ‘em and weep:

Brad Miller $12.25 million
Luol Deng $10.37 million
Kirk Hinrich $9.5 million
Jerome James $6.6 million
Tim Thomas $6.47 million
John Salmons $6.35 million
Derrick Rose $5.18 million
Tyrus Thomas $4.74 million
Joakim Noah $2.46 million
Aaron Gray $1.0 million
James Johnson $1.59 million
Taj Gibson $1.04 million

Total (including Gray): $67.544 million
Luxury tax threshold: $69.92 million

As you can see, the Bulls are already about $10 million over the new salary cap. Even worse, they’re within a couple million of the luxury tax threshold. Remember, for every dollar the Bulls go over that threshold, they have to pay a dollar in taxes. With the economy swirling down the toilet, that’s a penalty almost every NBA team has been bending over backward to avoid. The Bulls are no exception.

Even assuming the Bulls retain Gray, they’re still required to have a 13th player on their roster. Some teams even sign 14 players as an injury contingency. So, if Gray ends up wearing red this season, that means the Bulls have just under $2.4 million left to sign one or two more players. Realistically, the team could end up spending most or all of that money Jannero Pargo. And there’s no guarantee the Bulls can or will do that.

It’s also possible the Bulls will try to fill out the last couple roster spots with players from their summer league team. Pippin Ain’t Easy posted the Bulls’ summer league roster, and there are some potentials there: “Actual Bulls on the roster consist of new draft picks James Johnson and Taj Gibson as well as Anthony Roberson, Linton Johnson III and DeMarcus Nelson. The Bulls will play five games from July 14-19 at Cox Pavilion and the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV. Others included are some players with memorable NCAA Tourney experience/performances: Lorenzo Mata-Real from UCLA was a fun player to watch during the tourneys. James Augustine from the Illini and their 2005 tourney run. Taurean Green filled it up and won with the Gators.”

I said “potentials,” not “great potentials.” The bottom line is this: Bulls management wants to avoid the luxury tax while maintaining financial flexibility for next summer. They’re willing to bide their time and field an average to slightly-above average team this season, in the hopes that they’ll be able to make a move at the trade deadline or next summer. All I’m saying is, don’t expect John Paxson and Gar Forman to bring in any major help for the 2009-10 campaign.

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9 Responses to The numbers crunch

  1. josh.radde@gmail.com'
    Josh July 8, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    Portland has 7.5 million available that they don’t seem to want to shed. Maybe it’s time to look at deals to send Hinrich to Portland for Steve Blake, someone like Martell Webster or Travis Outlaw, and some cash. Blazers like Hinrich, plus Blake can hit the open three and can back up Rose.

  2. ccordes@indiana.edu'
    Colin July 8, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    For anyone that hasn’t seen it yet, the real kicker is the projected cap NEXT year, in the summer of 2010, when they project the cap to be between 50 and 53 Million!!! That is incredibly low and changes EVERYTHING in the NBA this year.

  3. emceemarshall@gmail.com'
    beegreezy July 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Go for Pargo, gone are the days when the Bulls seemed to be hoarding Guards for some unknown reason. Now we need one more to solidify this lineup and Pargo would fit beautifully. He’s not selfish, he’s a great team player, he’d just be an all around great pick. I’d like to see them wait to make some trades until the year starts going and we can take stock of where this team stands – losing BG is huge, but if everyone picks up the slack it might not be such a huge deal. I wanna see Luol Deng come back swinging, if not, shop him. I hate the idea of sending Hinrich out, he’s a lockdown defender at the guard spot and knows how to play his role, KU woot woot.

  4. bhood July 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    lebron and wade not leaving there teams .bulls have past on to many trades hoping players get better if a allstar is offered do it. becauses all bulls fulls crying no will bad mouth the team later

  5. urfuture88@hotmail.com'
    chappy July 8, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    for anyone who thinks a trade for steve blake and or travis outlaw has not done much homework on them. i’m from oregon and i know plenty about outlaw. you dont want him. he’s not smart with the ball. just look at the three he took against the rockets in the playoffs at the end of regulation to tie the game. and with steve blake, well hinrich is a lot better. basically its just not worth the trade.

  6. davidpaulroosa@yahoo.com'
    AK Dave July 8, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    Jerome James and Tim Thomas are KILLING us. If only we could put them on ice for a couple years to free up that money.., you know, fake their deaths and send them to the bahamas under new identities or something… you think they’d mind?

    It’s amazing how ONE playoff performance (with the Sonics in ’05) could set up Jerome James for life. He’s absolutely worthless. He makes Brad Miller look like a “hard worker”. He played well against Utah and San Antonio in ’05, and has completely disappeared off the face of the Earth the second he inked his contract with NYC. He’s more contract now than man… twisted and eeveeil…

  7. davidg July 8, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    where does the amount we pay for coaches come into play? does that count against our salary cap too?

    also this is a major development year for our key players. i don’t think trading for a bunch of randos is the right answer (Portland trade idea). im a big pargo fan and would be really happy seeing him back in red. and i think miller is a hard worker, he’s just slow, awkward, and white. but he busts his ass

    next year i think there is no way wade stays in miami. remember he wants to be a contender this year!!!! with boston, orlando, and cavs all juiced up, theyll barely get to the eastern semi finals. but yeah, that cap next year is scary…

  8. Anonymous July 10, 2009 at 6:24 am #

    bulls need to screw jerome james and tim thomas and theyre going to get chris bosh next year just watch kirk and tyrus are gone ,hello carlos boozer

  9. www.myt2w@yahoo.com'
    Robert Burgess Jr. July 14, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    How did we get stuck B Miller contract 12 mil! If you’re looking for space add him with James and Thomas. Next season or mid trade big time dump.

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