Apr 16, 2014, 9:22 AM EST
Because Andrew Bynum signed with the Pacers, Chicago can set off a portion of his salary ($105,564 in this case) — an amount I didn’t account for. That leaves them $791,165 beneath the tax line — more than the $750,000 in leeway discussed below.
Noah ($500,000 for All-NBA first team) and Gibson ($500,00 for All-Defensive first team) could still send the Bulls into the tax. However, even if the Bulls hadn’t signed Ronnie Brewer, Lou Amundson, Mike James and Greg Smith, they still would have had more than $750,00 but less than $1 million in leeway.
So, Chicago can absorb a $500,00 Noah bonus for All-NBA first team and a $250,00 Gibson bonus for All-Defensive second team and avoid the tax. But if Noah and Gibson each get $500,000 bonuses, Chicago will pay the tax.
It’s the same situation regardless of whether the Bulls made their latest run of signings.
In sum, these signings won’t make the Bulls more likely to pay the luxury tax, but they’ll cost Chicago a few extra real dollars. In return, the Bulls get more trade flexibility — a definite win for them.
Original post: The Chicago Bulls, like every team, would like to avoid the luxury tax.
Not only are luxury-tax penalties already costlier than ever, repeater penalties loom. If a team might be willing to pay the tax only while contending, it’s especially prudent not to pay the tax when out of contention.
That’s what makes the Bulls’ situation so fascinating.
With all due respect to the marvelous job Tom Thibodeau, Joakim Noah and crew have done this season, Chicago is an extreme longshot to win the 2014 championship. But once Derrick Rose gets healthy, Nikola Mirotic signs, the Bulls use both their 2014 first-round picks (one from Charlotte) and exhaust their pending cap space… Chicago could get really good – and really expensive – in a hurry.
Yet, the Bulls have flirted with the luxury-tax line this season while still remaining pretty competitive. It’s a tight line to walk – wanting to keep salary low without completely blowing up the team (a dichotomy the Luol Deng trade accomplished).
Chicago caught a big break in that quest when they waived Erik Murphy and the Jazz claimed him, removing his salary from the Bulls’ books. That positioned Chicago to add up to three players and leave $750,000 in leeway under the luxury-tax line for performance incentives potentially due to Joakim Noah ($500,00 for All-NBA first team) and/or Taj Gibson ($500,00 for All-Defensive first team or $250,000 for All-Defensive second team).
The Bulls opted to go another way, though.
Chicago signed Ronnie Brewer, Lou Amundson and Mike James to minimum-salary multi-year contracts, according to Larry Coon. Amundson’s’ agent, Mike Bartelstein, confirmed his client’s contract was for two years. James’ agent, Bernie Lee, did the same for his client.
The multiple years matter, because the NBA pays a portion of the minimum salaries for veterans with at least three years experience and the league’s portion of the payments are not taxed – but only for one-year, 10-day and rest-of-season contracts. By signing those three to multi-year deals, Chicago assumed all payments and the increased tax burden that comes with them.
Smith – like Brewer, Amundson and James – could prove useful in trades after the season. Smith is a talented young big man, and the other three have unguaranteed contracts, according to Coon. That allows their salaries to help a trade match, and then they could be released them without penalty.
All in all, the Bulls are now $685,601 below the luxury-tax line – meaning they can absorb only one of the bonuses potentially due to Noah and/or Gibson without paying the tax.
If the bonuses due to Noah and Gibson fall short of $750,000, the Bulls win. They’ll avoid the luxury tax and will have added potentially useful trade assets.
But if Noah and Gibson both hit their incentives, the Bulls will pay the tax, though they’ll still have tradable assets in Smith, Brewer, Amundson and James.
It’s a calculated risk that I think will work. I project Noah to make the All-NBA first team, but I don’t have Taj Gibson making an All-Defensive team.
However, the downside – paying the tax – is high enough that I don’t believe the multi-year deals were worth it. Had the Bulls waited until Saturday to sign Brewer, Amundson and James, Chicago would have kept its $750,000 luxury-tax leeway and still signed Smith, anyway.
Chicago is choosing to play with tax fire to better position itself for a trade later, perhaps a revealing strategy about the franchise’s long-term plans.
Dec 29, 2014, 11:25 AM EST
Grizzlies guard posts ‘Kodak Moment’ to Twitter
Dec 29, 2014, 10:37 AM EST
Kobe amazed by fan who drove nearly an hour to fight on Christmas to fight someone who doubted Kobe’s greatness
Dec 29, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Cavaliers guard exasperatedly gives up
Dec 29, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
Center traded by Bucks, waived by Clippers, signed in China since last season
Dec 29, 2014, 8:30 AM EST
He’s back. And the league is more interesting to watch with him in it.
Dec 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Hickson tries to make the right play, but it doesn’t exactly go his way.
Dec 29, 2014, 1:14 AM EST
Dallas, San Antonio pickup quality wins.
Dec 29, 2014, 12:18 AM EST
The Knicks next play Wednesday against the Clippers.
Dec 28, 2014, 10:30 PM EST
Flip Saunders said this a few weeks ago, too, but Rubio isn’t ready to stick to a timeline just yet.
LeBron, after Cavaliers lose by 23 at home to Pistons: ‘Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game’
Dec 28, 2014, 9:00 PM EST
An ugly home loss to a dismal Detroit team has LeBron telling it like it is.
Dec 28, 2014, 7:30 PM EST
It had been brewing for a while, but it still caught most of us by surprise.
Dec 28, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
Nice move by the Lakers, who pick up a promising big man prospect with an inexpensive non-guaranteed contract.
Dec 28, 2014, 4:29 PM EST
Knee injury suffered on Christmas Day will continue to keep Irving sidelined.
Dec 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
Bryant has uncharacteristically sat out the previous three games simply to rest.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
West shoved Garnett at the time, but was in a joking mood afterward.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Cousins had it all working in this one.
Dec 28, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
It was a risky move by head coach David Blatt.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
Western Conference ends season with huge advantage, begins another right where it left off
Dec 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
He was an offensive force Saturday. Who knew?
Dec 28, 2014, 12:28 AM EST
The Magic still won the game.
- PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 8: Kobe Bryant returns 4
- PBT’s Sunday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Cavaliers shouldn’t hit panic button, may want to locate it 3
- Carmelo Anthony sits out second half vs. Portland with sore knee 5
- LeBron, after Cavaliers lose by 23 at home to Pistons: ‘Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game’ 43
- Paul Pierce ‘shocked’ by Celtics trade of Rajon Rondo to Mavericks 16
- Kobe Bryant will return to Lakers lineup Sunday vs. Suns 16
- Kevin Love benched entire fourth quarter of Cavaliers win over Magic 30
- PBT’s Top 10 NBA stories of 2014, No. 10: Anthony Davis’ breakout 22