The Chicago Bulls began the reloading process for the team's core as they traded forward Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Bynum and three draft picks late Monday night. With reported plans to amnesty Carlos Boozer this coming summer, it shows the team is looking to rebuild the core around Derrick Rose when he's healthy again and Joakim Noah.
Part of that rebuilding plan is also getting under the luxury tax threshold that is so deadly to the financial and roster flexibility necessary to continue building your team. The team took care of a big step in that respect Tuesday when they waived Bynum before the 5pm ET deadline that would have guaranteed his $12.25 million contract for the rest of the season. From the Bulls:
The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived center Andrew Bynum.
Earlier today, Bynum's contract was conveyed to the Bulls, along with multiple draft picks from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the contract of Luol Deng.
Only $6 million of Bynum's contract will have been guaranteed and paid out for the season, bringing the Bulls' salary number for the season from an estimated $79.28 million down to around $71.01 million (via ShamSports). The luxury tax for the NBA is set at $71.7 million this season, leaving the Bulls enough room to sign a veteran to the minimum for the rest of the season or sign players to 10-day deals to bring their roster up to 13 players. It's currently at 12 players.
Bynum is expected to clear waivers in 48 hours. After that point, he'll be free to sign with any team in the NBA.
For the Bulls moving forward, they've cleared quite a bit of room for them to add another significant player to their core as they hope to build a better cast of support around Derrick Rose. As Matt Moore opined Monday night following the trade between the Cavaliers and the Bulls, the Bulls have given themselves a lot of options in rebuilding a title contender to challenge the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
If the Bulls do in fact amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer, they'll drop down to roughly $48.1 million commited to nine players for the 2014-15 season. Depending on where the salary cap number ends up for next season, that could give them roughly $14 million in projected cap space. You'd have to subtract a cap holder for each empty roster spot (league minimum for each) and their 2014 first round pick (or two if they receive the Bobcats pick which is top 10 protected). They could also be looking to buy out Nikola Mirotic from his contract in Europe and bring him over.
This could give them roughly $10 million (cut by more than half if they sign Mirotic) to play with for this upcoming summer with tradeable assets in Mike Dunleavy (one year left after this season for $3.3 million), Taj Gibson ($25.5 million over next three seasons), and Marquis Teague (still on his rookie contract). If the Bulls want to get creative, they could move Dunleavy and Gibson for next to nothing in return and clear space for a max offer.
The Bulls' options would be LeBron James (unlikely), Carmelo Anthony (intriguing but they'd need full cap space available and Anthony's willingness to take less money to sign outside of the Knicks), Paul Pierce (over the hill and at the end of his career), Danny Granger (not entirely proven to be healthy), or use the cap space to acquire a star player in a trade.