Complete Guide to Chicago Bulls' Salary Cap Situation

Andres MonteroContributor IJune 12, 2013

Gar Forman has made some great free-agency moves in the past few years.
Gar Forman has made some great free-agency moves in the past few years.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

One of the Chicago Bulls' biggest issues in this upcoming free-agency period is their cap room.

Chicago has eight guaranteed contracts worth just over $73 million for next season, putting it above the tax threshold. This limits what the Bulls can do in free agency.

Luckily for them, their starting lineup is all set, so filling out their bench with a few solid contributors is all they have to worry about.

With Derrick Rose set to make his return next season, the Bulls could benefit from adding a few three-point shooters to help spread the floor. This makes it easier for him to attack and adds another threat if defenses send double-teams his way.

They also have to address their frontcourt, especially the center position since Joakim Noah is the only center on the roster.

So what can the Bulls offer a free agent this summer? Who are some players that can fit under these restrictions?

What Chicago Can Afford

There are many exceptions for teams to sign free agents when they are over the cap or in the tax.

The Bulls have a taxpayer mid-level exception (MLE) which allows them to sign a player for just under $3.2 million to a maximum three-year deal. Aside from that exception, the Bulls can only sign players to a minimum salary for a maximum of two years.

The Bulls also have the option to split their taxpayer exception between two players, but that would equal to a small raise from the minimum, rendering it rather ineffective.

There isn't a lot of room for the Bulls to make a big splash this offseason, but they probably don't need a big name since they just have to fill out their bench.

With that being said, how can the Bulls spend this money? It starts with their own free agents.

Marco Belinelli or Nate Robinson?

Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson are two players that have been heavily mentioned as targets for Chicago this summer. The Bulls have two options with each player.

They can utilize the players' non-Bird rights, which will allow the Bulls to pay them up to 120 percent of their previous salaries. However, after the seasons that Belinelli and Robinson had, that might not be enough to bring either of them back.

That's where the Bulls' MLE comes in.

After playing for the minimum, Robinson would surely welcome a three-year deal for $3.1 million. His playoff performances show just how much he is capable of, and some more time under Tom Thibodeau would only improve his game.

Belinelli could be offered this as well, but with the versatility and production he displayed this season, teams may offer him the full MLE, which is a four-year, $5.15 million contract.

There's a higher possibility that the Bulls retain Robinson. Then again, that's only if they offer him the contract.

The Rest of the Market

Outside of their own players, the Bulls could look at a shooter like Kyle Korver.

He's familiar with Thibodeau's system and would help fill the Bulls' three-point-shooting void. He's coming off a $5 million contract, but his asking price could be lower this time around.

Randy Foye is another player the Bulls could consider.

This past season with the Utah Jazz, Foye shot 41 percent from downtown. His previous salary was at $2.5 million. This could be another option for the Bulls in which they use their exception.

Sticking with the shooter theme, Martell Webster is another player to consider. Coming off a $1.75 million contract with the Wizards and a year when he shot 42 percent from three, the Bulls' offer could be what Webster is looking for.

One last option is swingman Chase Budinger. He's a 36 percent three-point shooter for his career and has the ability to attack the rim as well. He has good size and quickness and could be a good piece to have backing up both Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng.

What About the Rookies?

Even though the Bulls are over the cap, the NBA allows teams to pay their first-round rookies even if their salary exceeds the cap.

The 2013-14 scale for the 20th overall pick is $1,174,200. The Bulls can pay that amount or pay either 80 percent of the salary or 120 percent (similar to Butler in 2011-12).

The Bulls should be set for the summer.

While they may not have a ton of spending room, their needs don't really demand it. They already have eight players under contract—five of which are starters.

They have enough to sign a solid player to their bench and can fill out the remaining three or four spots with solid veterans.

Free agency kicks off July 1, and it will surely be interesting to see what the Bulls can pull off.


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