Asik, who was acquired by the Bulls along with a first-round pick in their 2018 trade with the Pelicans in exchange for Nikola Mirotic, appeared in four games at the end of the 2017/18 season for Chicago. However, he was ruled out indefinitely due to inflammatory arthritis at the start of training camp last fall, and hasn’t played at all since then. Asik was also diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2017.
If a player is diagnosed with an ailment believed to be career-ending, his team is eligible to apply for cap relief one year after he last appeared in a game, which the Bulls did in April. An independent physician (or a Fitness to Play panel) subsequently ruled that it would be a medically unacceptable risk for Asik to return to action. The 32-year-old center will still receive his remaining salary, but it won’t count against Chicago’s cap.
As a result of the move, the Bulls project to have just below $23MM in cap room available this summer. According to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (via Twitter), the extra cap flexibility won’t change Chicago’s plans — the club wants to split its cap room on a couple free agents and then use its room exception on a third player.
Besides Asik, Chris Bosh, Nikola Pekovic, and Mirza Teletovic are some of the other players who have suffered career-ending injuries or illnesses and had their salaries removed from their teams’ caps in recent years.