NBA Free Agency 2012: The Chicago Bulls Have 5 Options with Omer Asik
Asik and the Rockets have agreed verbally to a deal that is worth $25.1 million over three years. The deal cannot be signed until July 11 and then the Bulls will have three days to decide if they will match it.
So one way or another, by the end of the week, we will know exactly which team he will be suiting up for next season.
Overall the offer contract isn't so bad, but it is the yearly breakdown that is a killer. The first two years of the deal aren't bad, but year three is a killer. Asik would receive around five million in each of the first two seasons but would get $14 million in year three.
The CBA states that a restricted free agent can't receive more then the mid-level execption in the first two years of a deal. There is nothing stopping a team from greatly increasing the salary in year three like the Rockets have done.
While it may seem like the Bulls have two options, match or don't match, it is actually a little more complicated than that.
Match It, Keep Everyone
Match it, enter the luxury tax and don't look back.
The Bulls are in their rights to bring back any of their own players at whatever price they want. However, under the new CBA, there are bigger consequences for exceeding the luxury tax.
With that being said when Asik enters the third year of his contract there will be very few players still under contract. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer would be the big money guys under contract, while rookie Marquis Teague and second-year forward Jimmy Butler would still be around assuming the Bulls picked up all their rookie options.
Asik would be getting his big pay day right after Luol Deng's contract expires, so basically one would be replacing another.
In my opinion this is the one option least likely to happen. Having so much money tied up in three big men would put a stranglehold on the team. If the Bulls do match then most likely someone else has to go.
Match It, Trade Taj Gibson
The first causality of matching the offer will probably be Taj Gibson.
Gibson is set to be in the same position next year as Asik is this summer. He will be a restricted free agent and should probably get offered a large offer from another team.
If given a starting spot, it is easy to see Gibson averaging a double-double, and he is not the type of player the Bulls can afford to lose for nothing. Trading him now or during the season would make the most sense, rather then dealing with a sign and trade next summer.
If Ryan Anderson and Ersan Ilyasova are worth $9 million a season, how much will Gibson be worth?
Some may argue that they have to keep Gibson, but how can they really pay four big men?
If they lock up both Gibson and Asik then it means someone else will have to go, but who?
The last thing the Bulls want is to have to deal with this again next summer. If they match with Asik they either have to prepare to trade GIbson or someone else.
Match It, Amnesty Carlos Boozer
Under the new CBA, every team is allowed to use an amnesty clause to remove one bad contract from their salary cap. The rules behind it were that to be a deal signed under the old CBA.
For the Bulls, they only have three possible players they can use it on. Those three are Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. The idea of using the clause on Boozer has been mentioned since the rumor of the clause was mentioned as part of the new CBA.
During the final year of Boozer's contract he will be due $16.8 million. That is the same year that Asik will make nearly $15 million.
Therefore the Bulls could plan ahead, and with Noah and Asik locked up, they could form to become the new twin towers. A pair of defensive minded post players, with each being seven feet tall is a very imposing idea.
With most of the current roster expected to be gone by then the Bulls could load up on scoring wing players that would compliment Derrick Rose and the defensive post players.
The only problem with the amnesty clause is it doesn't excuse the team from paying the money. It only removes it from the salary cap and luxury tax figures. Will the Bulls really be willing to pay Boozer that much to go away?
I guess if they match the offer sheet Houston gave Asik, we might just find out.
Match It, Trade Joakim Noah
This option probably makes the most sense if they do match the offer. If you are going to pay the backup that usually means he is ready to replace the starter.
It isn't hard to imagine that Asik can equal Noah's production. It also would be hard to imagine him replacing Noah as the emotional leader of the team.
If Asik received 30 minutes of playing time a night he would probably average about eight points, 10-11 rebounds and two blocks a game based on his current averages. Those are almost exactly what Noah produces currently.
He also comes without the injury issues that Noah has. Asik has yet to miss a regular season game during his first two seasons while Noah has yet to play a full season.
Asik is nowhere near the passer or shooter that Noah is but he might actually fit better alongside Boozer. He also would be coming in as a bargain during the first two years of the deal. Trading Noah might be the best way to secure a premier wing player that could fit in next to Derrick Rose.
However there is one final option.
Don't Match It
In my opinion this is the best option and the one the Bulls should do.
Don't match, or match and hope to God that you can trade Asik before he enters year three of the contract.
Investing so much money in a backup center seems insane. If they kept Noah, Boozer and Asik, they would all combine to make around $45 million during the 2014-2015 season.
There are many cheaper options available that the Bulls could sign. Jordan Hill and Nazr Mohammed are both more then capable of backing up Noah.
Hill is a year younger then Asik and has put up equal or arguably slightly better numbers during his first three year in the league. Mohammed could fill the role of tough guy off the bench and might like ending his career in his hometown.
While much has been made of the third year of the contract, what about the first two? Is a guy who averaged 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a game really worth over $5 million a season?
Let's hope Bulls general manager Gar Foreman says no and let's the Rockets overpay for the Turkish Hammer.