By trading away Luol Deng and his $14.3 million contract, the Chicago Bulls have begun the process of tearing down their current roster to position themselves as players in free agency this summer, with multiple draft picks as well.
As expected, the Bulls waived Andrew Bynum on Tuesday, a move that saved the team more than $20 million in cap space. Around the league, the belief is that general manager Gar Forman plans on moving more bad contracts from the team before the trade deadline and potentially use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer in July.
One of the biggest names who may be a free agent this summer is Carmelo Anthony, and Marc Berman of the New York Post reported last week that Anthony has a short list of teams he is willing to play for in a big market. The Bulls are on that list, according to a source familiar with the situation. Anthony is looking to play for a winner and pair with another star, which the Bulls already have in the 2011 MVP Derrick Rose.
Are the Bulls ridding themselves of bad contracts now and stockpiling draft picks to make a run at Anthony this summer? Is this part of the master plan that Forman and Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson have in store for the franchise?
Disregard the notion that the Bulls are “rebuilding”. Retooling is a more accurate word for what Forman’s plan entails. A team would have to rebuild if they did not have a franchise player or any players to build a solid core around – the Bulls have a superstar in Rose. The Miami Heat had Dwyane Wade before they retooled their roster and signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The Los Angeles Clippers had Blake Griffin who attracted Chris Paul to force his way there via trade before he was a free agent. Rose could be a recruiter just like Wade and Griffin were by helping the Bulls sign Anthony. Signing him provides the franchise with another star and could keep them relevant if Rose happened to sustain another season-ending injury.
The salary cap is projected to be set at $62.1 million next season according to Hoopsworld. If the Bulls amnesty Boozer, that would leave only Rose, Noah, Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague on the books for the 2014-15 season. With those contracts totaling close to $47.5 million, that would leave the Bulls with roughly $15 million in cap space to offer Anthony. However, veteran NBA columnist Peter Vecsey took to Twitter on Wednesday stating the next players on their way out could be Dunleavy and Noah: “Rockets hoping 2 acquire Dunleavy (give Harden more rest) when Bulls’ lottery lunge continues. Lone guarantee of loss: dump Noah & Mr Thibs”.
The team could clear another $16 million off their books by moving those two, thus enabling them to offer Anthony a max deal.
Anthony’s options may be limited this summer. The Los Angeles Lakers have been tied to him since Oct. 2012, but how serious are they in signing him to play with an aging Kobe Bryant? Plus, factor the issue with coach Mike D’Antoni into the equation. He could just re-sign with the New York Knicks for $129 million if getting as much money as possible is the end game for him. Teams like Utah, Philadelphia and Cleveland do not necessarily have big enough markets or stars to be in contention for his services.
The bottom line is that the Bulls have Rose, the star Anthony would want to play with – and Chicago is a big enough market where he could continue to grow his Jordan brand sneaker line.
If they can clear enough cap space, it may just be up to the Bulls to make a Rose-Anthony duo happen.