How Will Chicago Bulls Address Growing Luxury Tax Concerns?

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How Will Chicago Bulls Address Growing Luxury Tax Concerns?
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With the signing of Nazr Mohammed the Chicago Bulls have essentially (though unofficially) announced they won't be matching the contract of Omer Asik for next year. 

The Bulls have now jettisoned virtually the entire bench mob, largely to release salary. Kyle Korver, $5 million, C.J. Watson, $3.7 million, Ronnie Brewer, $4.4 million and Asik, $2.3 million are all gone, relieving the Bulls of a total of $15.4 million in salary. 

In their places will be the likes of Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Mohammed. Jimmy Butler, who will be playing in his second season, will also see more extended playing time in place of Brewer. 

Don't think this means all sorts of financial freedom for the Bulls though, as they'll still be paying the luxury tax for the first time in team history. In fact they'll be paying the most they possibly can by league rules next year, $74.4 million in salaries.

They will be securing financial freedom next year though. This year might be a tough one for the Bulls even with them paying the highest salary in club history. 

For starters they'll be missing their superstar Derrick Rose until at least January. Second, their other All-Star, Luol Deng, could miss time at the start of the season in order to get wrist surgery. 

Furthermore their biggest strength last year, their bench, will be something of a liability this season. 

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With an entirely new "Bench Mob" to learn Thibodeau's defensive schemes, don't expect the Bulls to come out roaring this year, especially with Derrick Rose out until at least mid-January and potentially later. 

It appears the Bulls are using this as an opportunity to correct themselves financially, to put themselves in position to gain a second star-caliber player to play alongside Derrick Rose and give the Bulls an opportunity to win a title. 

Over the next three seasons the Bulls are potentially going to add five first-round picks, two of them lottery-caliber players. That would first be the Bulls' draft-and-stash pick, Nikola Mirotic, who has been tearing it up in Europe. 

Mirotic could come over next season, or at the latest the season after that. He is a pure shooter who is knocking down threes at a 40 percent clip in Spain right now. He's won the "Rising Star" award twice in a row. 

Other than Mirotic they'll also at some point be able to use that Charlotte Bobcats pick. Yes, they've had to wait some to grab it, but on the bright side, the longer the Bobcats are bad, the better the pick will be. 

On the outside chance that the Bobcats were to finish outside of the top 12 this year, the Bulls would have their pick. If Charlotte finishes better than 10 teams in 2013 though, the Bulls would get that pick. 

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On top of all that the Bulls can amnesty Carlos Boozer next season and by doing so actually free up enough money to sign a player in the neighborhood of $15 million. If you throw in the $5 million trade exception from the Hawks deal, the Bulls could even secure a max contract player to play alongside Rose. 

Or they could wait a second year and do that in 2015 when Deng comes off the books and just sign a max contract player straight up. 

Players that could be intriguing in 2014 to sign would include Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin and James Harden. In short, it's a gold-mine year for shooting guards. 

Imagine Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala guarding the wings, or a backcourt that had Derrick Rose and Monta Ellis or Kevin Martin. Perhaps even more exciting would be Rose and Harden. 

Then for good measure throw in a power forward that shoots 40 percent from three-point land to open the court for them. 

Then throw in a lottery pick just for good measure a year later. 

The Bulls won't be as good this year, but they'll be building for the future. It's disheartening to see a team planning for the future that was so close in the present. Management might have made completely different decisions if Rose weren't going to miss so much of this season with an injury.  

If Mirotic pans out and the Bulls can sign a premier free agent like Harden or Ellis, they could be putting a "big three" of their own on the court, and complementing them with the likes of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. 

However, given the cards they have to play, this might all work out better in the end. Of course the operative word here is "might." We'll have to wait a year or two to see if the Bulls have made the right decisions. 

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