In his latest piece for the Chicago Tribune, K.C. Johnson recalls a statement Bulls GM Gar Forman made less than a month ago, on draft night: "Our decisions this summer will be basketball decisions, not financial decisions." Based on the Bulls' moves so far this offseason, particularly with the team on the verge of losing Omer Asik and getting nothing in return, it's hard to argue that finances haven't been strongly considered, as Johnson writes. Here are a few Bulls-related updates from his column:
- Derrick Rose will "likely" be out until March, according to Johnson. We'd heard before that Rose probably wouldn't be back until the new year, but if the March ETA is accurate, that would mean the star point guard would miss most of the regular season.
- The Bulls still plan to clear major cap space for the summer of 2014 to be a player on the free agent market. Luol Deng's contract will expire that summer, and Carlos Boozer will likely be amnestied by then, leaving Rose and Joakim Noah as the only big investments left on the team's books. If Chicago is hoping to clear enough space for a maximum-salary player that summer, it's a little easier to understand why the club wouldn't want Asik's $14.9MM salary for 2014/15.
- Speaking of Asik, the Bulls still haven't officially informed the Rockets of their decision on the center's offer sheet, but league sources tell Johnson that Rockets management believes Houston will land Asik.
- The Bulls "appear close" to signing Marco Belinelli, as we heard on Friday. As Johnson points out, spending the bi-annual exception on Belinelli would hard-cap the Bulls at about $74.3MM this season, and with payroll already approaching that figure, I'd be surprised if the team imposed that kind of inflexibility on itself. We'll see if the Bulls can land Belinelli for the veteran's minimum instead.
- Extension negotiations for Taj Gibson are "next on the docket" for Chicago, says Johnson.
- Johnson adds that one factor to watch this year as the Bulls weigh "basketball decisions" and "financial decisions" is whether the team spends the $5MM trade exception acquired in the Kyle Korver deal.