- Derrick Rose ($15,506,632)
- Carlos Boozer ($15,000,000)
- Luol Deng ($13,305,000)
- Joakim Noah ($11,300,000)
- Richard Hamilton ($5,000,000)
- Taj Gibson ($2,155,811)
- Jimmy Butler ($1,066,920)
- Kyle Korver ($5,000,000; partially guaranteed for $500,000)
- Ronnie Brewer ($4,370,000; partially guaranteed for $333,333)
- C.J. Watson ($3,200,000)
Free Agents (Cap Holds)
- 1st Round (29th overall)
- Guaranteed Salary: $64,167,696
- Non-Guaranteed Salary, Cap Holds: $16,714,584
- Total (not including draft picks): $80,882,280
2011/12 was a "What if?" season for the Chicago Bulls, who very well could be playing for the NBA title right now if it weren't for injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah early in the playoffs. Rose is expected to miss a good chunk of next season as well, but there's enough talent on the roster that the team should stay afloat without him, and could make a second-half run when he returns.
Before the Bulls take the floor in the fall though, a number of roster decisions face the team. Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and C.J. Watson all have non-guaranteed contracts for next season — Korver and Brewer have modest partial guarantees, but cutting all three players would still save the Bulls nearly $12MM.
I expect the Bulls to release at least one or two of the guys on non-guaranteed deals, but there's no real urgency to cut that salary. Chicago isn't in position to create room under the cap, and re-signing restricted free agent Omer Asik and filling out the roster will probably take the club into the luxury tax anyway. Replacing someone like Watson or Brewer with a lower-cost alternative, either through the draft or free agency, could be prudent, but that decision shouldn't affect the team's ability to spend elsewhere.
If they're a taxpaying team, the Bulls will only have the $3MM mini mid-level exception, along with minimum-salary exceptions, to spend in free agency. Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are rumored targets for Chicago, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. Nash, in particular, seems unlikely to choose a destination where he could only earn $3MM annually and a franchise point guard is already in place. Kidd might be a stronger fit though, and the Bulls could also kick the tires on guys like Raymond Felton, Chauncey Billups, and Kirk Hinrich.
Of course, Chicago doesn't necessarily have to allocate that mini mid-level to a point guard acquisition, but it seems like the most logical choice. Assuming the team re-signs Asik, which GM Gar Forman has suggested will happen, the Bulls are in good shape with Noah, Asik, Taj Gibson, and Carlos Boozer up front. With Luol Deng on the wing and Richard Hamilton at the two, the Bulls' biggest hole is at the point. The team will be targeting a player that can carry a heavy load early in the season, then settle into a smaller role when Rose gets healthy.
The Bulls also hold the 29th pick in a deep draft, and while they probably won't find their point guard answer at that spot, there should be plenty of intriguing two guards available. Given Hamilton's health issues this year, adding a scorer to back him up makes some sense. John Jenkins, Doron Lamb, and Jared Cunningham could be among the Bulls' possibilities at No. 29.
While some Bulls fans may be expecting the team to use its amnesty provision on Boozer or to explore a blockbuster trade involving Noah or Deng, I think it's unlikely Chicago does anything too drastic this summer. The Bulls finished the regular season tied for the NBA's best record in a year when Rose never seemed completely healthy. There's no reason to believe the team as constructed, with perhaps a few small tweaks, can't be a title contender with better luck on the injury front.
Rose's ACL surgery was certainly bad news in the short term, but as Forman has said before, it shouldn't affect Chicago's long-term plans. I expect the Bulls to exercise patience this offseason, rather than desperately looking for any quick fixes.