The Bulls have used their bi-annual exception in order to sign Tristan Thompson, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). The Bulls will be paying Thompson $1MM by using the BAE — a minimum contract for the remainder of the season would have been worth $774,289, Pincus notes.
The move is significant, because as the name suggests, the bi-annual exception is only available every other season — Chicago won’t have access to it in 2022/23. We project the BAE to be worth $4,017,000 next season. The Mavericks are the only other team to have used their BAE this season — they used it to sign Sterling Brown last summer.
The BAE is a way for a team to sign a player who may command more than the minimum salary, but less than the mid-level exception. Chicago already used its mid-level to sign Alex Caruso and Marko Simonovic last summer, so it wasn’t available for Thompson.
The BAE can be used for contracts up to two years, with a 5% raise after year one. It’s only available to teams that are over the cap and under the tax apron. In this case, it was used by the Bulls to ensure they could sign Thompson for the remainder of the season, as I’m sure other teams would have been interested in his services if he were only making the minimum.
Using the BAE on Thompson shows that Chicago is intent on competing for a championship this season and is willing to sacrifice future flexibility to do so. Thompson provides championship experience, leadership and rebounding for a team that lacked frontcourt depth.
The Bulls are currently 27th in total rebounds and 29th in offensive rebounds — areas Thompson has always excelled in. Among active players, he’s fifth in career offense rebounds and fourth in offensive rebounding percentage. He’s also tied for first all-time (with Dennis Rodman) for the highest career offensive rebounding percentage in the NBA playoffs.