The Bulls are among multiple Eastern Conference playoff teams interested in Gary Neal, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (on Twitter). The soon-to-be free agent guard won’t return to the Timberwolves, though he won’t take any meetings with prospective suitors, Wolfson also tweets as he raises the possibility of a sign-and-trade.
A sign-and-trade would be tricky for the Bulls, who can’t take on any player in such a way if they’re to exceed the tax apron, a line $4MM above the tax threshold, at any point in 2015/16. The Bulls have about $63MM in guaranteed salary for next season, including Kirk Hinrich, who opted in today, but not including an expected max deal for Jimmy Butler or any sort of contract for Mike Dunleavy. Thus, Chicago seems poised to exceed the projected $81.6MM tax line, if not the apron.
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reported in March that the Wolves would be interested in re-signing the late-blooming five-year veteran who turns 31 in October, but apparently that won’t be happening. Neal seemed eager to leave Minnesota around the trade deadline, shortly after the Wolves acquired him from the Hornets. The Bulls, as well as the Hawks and Wizards, all Eastern Conference playoff teams, reportedly had interest in him around that time.