The Bulls have continued to look like a playoff team in the East despite the loss of Derrick Rose to another season-ending injury and the cap-relief trade that sent Luol Deng to the Cavs. Their salary concerns remain as well. After paying the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history last year, the Deng move signaled the front office’s aim to avoid paying the dreaded repeater tax enforced under the current CBA. Decisions surrounding their current roster will play a large role in whether their plans can accomodate a buyout of Nikola Mirotic‘s overseas contract and/or another major free agent addition this summer. Here are some recent rumblings in Chicago:
- Taj Gibson receives a $250K bonus if he makes either the first or second All-Defensive team this season, and that appears to be having an effect on the Bulls personnel decisions as they try to keep from crossing the tax line, writes Mark Deeks of ShamSports. Still, the Bulls have enough room under the tax to add to their roster even if Gibson earns the bonus, so Deeks surmises that the Bulls are worried another bonus, as yet unreported, could tip the scales. Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors also examined Chicago’s tax dilemma a few weeks ago.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times thinks that Gibson’s steady improvement as a player, coupled with Carlos Boozer‘s recurring injuries, makes the Bulls’ option to amnesty Boozer more attractive. Gibson is averaging career highs in points, blocks, and minutes per game.
- In another piece, rejuvenated Bulls point guard D.J. Augustin tells Cowley he would like to stay with the Bulls. ‘‘I definitely would like to be here [for the] long term.” Augustin said. “I want to be on a winning team, I want to be in a winning organization. Chicago is definitely those two things. When the summertime comes, that’s when I’m going to have to weigh everything.’’ It might take a home-town discount for the Bulls to retain Augustin, as Cowley points out that coach Tom Thibodeau’s penchant for getting the most out of his players ends up driving up their price when they hit free agency. Augustin fits that bill, and the Bulls might need him to spurn their competitors if they wish to retain the 26-year-old. “I’m definitely thankful for the opportunity Chicago gave me,’’ Augustin said. ‘‘You remember things like that, just that they gave me a chance.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.