While today's date, November 19th, doesn't mean a lot for most NBA teams, it's important for the Bulls, who are now eligible to sign a free agent for the veteran's minimum. Because they're hard-capped this season, the Bulls had previously been unable to add another player's salary to their roster.
NBA teams face a hard cap when they spend more mid-level exception money than the $3.09MM available to taxpaying clubs. Non-taxpayers were free to spend up to $5MM on a mid-level player this season, an option the Bulls took advantage of when they signed Kirk Hinrich to a two-year deal with a first-year salary of about $3.94MM.
Since they've used the non-taxpayer MLE, the Bulls must ensure their team salary doesn't amount to more than $4MM above the luxury tax threshold at any point this season. Chicago is right up against that line, with $73,548,398 on the books, per ShamSports — $3,241,398 above the tax line. That puts the difference between Chicago's team salary and the hard cap at $758,602.
Because veteran's minimum contracts are charged to the cap for $854,389, the Bulls had been unable to add a player using the minimum salary exception. However, the minimum salary pro-rates over the course of the year, based on the fraction of the season remaining when the contract is signed. The 2012/13 season is 170 days long, and we're 20 days into it, so a minimum salary contract signed today would only be worth 150/170 of $854,389. That amount? $753,873, enough to squeeze inside the Bulls' hard cap.
We heard over the weekend that the Bulls are eyeing Jannero Pargo. Kyrylo Fesenko or other camp invitees that were cut by Chicago last month could also draw renewed interest. Of course, there's no rush for the Bulls to immediately add a player — the team could potentially sign multiple players to minimum-salary or 10-day contracts later in the season when the cost is further reduced.