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The luxury tax. It’s something the Chicago Bulls have avoided like the plague for almost as long as I can remember. And since the Bulls are likely not title contenders next season due to the injury to Derrick Rose, all signs point to them doing all they can to get under that tax line yet again.
What are those signs you may ask?
Among various others over the past few days, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune put out a sobering report from the NBA Draft combine which pretty much implied that the “Bench Mob” will in fact be blown up due to financial reasons. The Bulls are already at $63 million in committed salary for next season, which is just about $8 million underneath the expected tax line. Add in a matched offer sheet for Omer Asik (Johnson curiously tabs this at $3.5 million, which seems awfully low) and you get even closer to that number. If the Bulls are to avoid the tax in this scenario, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson (we already have a rumor about him leaving) would all likely have to hit the road and be replaced by cheap free agent signings/draft picks.
And according to Johnson, that’s exactly what may happen.
The Bulls have given no official word to the camps of Brewer, C.J. Watson or Kyle Korver regarding their team options, which carry a July 10 deadline. But management has given signs they are pursuing less expensive options, discussing internally the prospect of re-signing John Lucas III as an alternative to Watson. A draft pick could also plug the point guard hole until Rose returns from knee surgery. (Chicago Tribune)
Brewer saying goodbye almost seems like a foregone conclusion by now, as earlier in the article, Johnson called his departure “expected.” That’s fine with me, considering a similar player in Jimmy Butler is already on the roster.
What does not sit all that well with me is the idea that Lucas would be re-signed as an alternative to Watson. Perhaps I’m taking this the wrong way, but I read that as Lucas coming back to start until Rose returns. If that’s the plan and the Bulls do not bring in any other type of upgrade at that position, I will personally drive to wherever Jerry Reinsdorf’s mansion is and slap him in the face (not really, but I would love to).
As for Korver, Johnson revealed that the Bulls’ sharpshooter was dealing with a rather severe foot injury during the first round series loss against the Philadelphia 76ers. Bulls.com’s Sam Smith hinted at this a couple of weeks ago, but this report sheds a bit more light on why Korver was so bad/played so little as the series went on. I still believe Korver should be brought back for his shooting, but it’s looking more and more like the “Hot Sauce” has run dry.
If at this point you’re still not convinced that the Bulls may be serious about dumping all three of these guys, Johnson says that none of them are confident that they will be back. Yay!
Also, multiple draft prospects (Kentucky’s Doron Lamb and Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham to name a few) at the combine have said that the Bulls are looking for combo guards who can shoot and handle the ball. That sure sounds like they’re looking for a guy to help replace what that trio of “Bench Mobbers” brought to the table.
I still have little idea how this will all actually play out, but I must say, I’ll be pretty impressed (not in a good way) if the Bulls are able to sign Asik and still find a way to avoid the tax. I guess I understand the strategy behind it due to the repeater tax coming into play in a few years, but it would still stink to see all these guys kicked to the curb in order to save a few bucks.