The Bulls have been cutting costs in a series of minor moves over the last week, having traded Jerian Grant, waived Sean Kilpatrick, and withdrawn David Nwaba‘s qualifying offer. As K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune details, the transactions signal that the Bulls are looking to create the flexibility necessary to complete a more significant move using cap room. A source tells Johnson that there’s a “strong internal belief” that Chicago will finalize another move.
Although the Bulls technically remain an over-the-cap team due to their various exceptions and cap holds, they can create up to about $20.6MM in cap room by waiving Julyan Stone and Paul Zipser, renouncing Noah Vonleh, and renouncing their trade exceptions. All of those moves are expected to happen, according to Johnson.
Johnson suggests that the Bulls’ forthcoming transaction will likely involve either shoring up their wing position or absorbing an unwanted contract with an asset attached. While Chicago has been linked to restricted free agents like Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, and Marcus Smart intermittently within the last few weeks, I’d be very surprised if the club intends to make an offer to any of those players that requires $20MM+ in space. Clint Capela is the only RFA who might warrant such an offer, but he seems like an improbable target for the Bulls, who drafted Wendell Carter just three weeks ago.
Accommodating a salary dump looks like a more logical path for the Bulls. One popular theory that has been making the rounds is a swap that sends Carmelo Anthony ($27.93MM) and draft assets to Chicago for Cristiano Felicio ($8.47MM). This theoretical deal, which we touched on earlier this week, was fleshed out this morning by cap expert Albert Nahmad.
Such a trade may appeal to the Thunder, who could clear about $20MM from their 2018/19 cap and create nearly $100MM in projected luxury-tax savings by replacing Anthony’s salary with Felicio’s. It’d also make sense for the Bulls, who could carve out additional cap room for 2019 and/or 2020 and could perhaps acquire an extra draft pick for taking on Anthony. The Bulls would subsequently buy out Carmelo in this hypothetical scenario.
However, this is all speculation at this point. All we know for now is that the Bulls’ recent series of moves suggests they have something in mind for their cap room. We’ll have to wait to see what exactly that is.