They have broached into the salary cap for the first time in their history, albeit barely.
They've signed numerous players and they've let several go. They made a trade. They drafted a player.
In short, it's been a busy offseason for the Bulls.
It's enough to leave the typical fan lost concerning what the present financial situation is.
Here is a one-stop shopping solution to get all the salary information, observations concerning which players are overpaid or underpaid, analysis of their financial health and, in the end, a grade.
Here are the present salaries for every player on the Bulls. In the parenthesis following are the total years and salary remaining on the contract, i.e. Derrick Rose has five years and $94.3 million.
Derrick Rose: $16.4 million (5/$94.3 million)
Carlos Boozer: $15 million (3/$47.1 million)
Luol Deng: $13.3 million (2/$27.7 million)
Joakim Noah: $11.0 million (4/$50 million)
Richard Hamilton: $5 million (2/$10 million)*
Kirk Hinrich: $3.9 million (two/$8 million)
Taj Gibson: $2.2 million (two/$5.3 million)**
Marco Belinelli: $2 million (1/$2 million)
Nazr Mohammed: $1.4 million (1//$1.4 million)
Vladamir Radmanovic: $1.4 million (1/$1.4 million)
Nate Robinson: $1.1 million (1/$1.1 million)
Jimmy Butler: $1.1 million (4/$7.6 million)***
Marquis Teague: $.9 million (5/($8.1 million)****
Total Player Salary: $74.6 million (five/$243.5 million)
For the first time ever, Jerry Reinsdorf will pay the luxury tax. With the Bulls $4.3 million over the luxury tax threshold, Reinesdorf will have to match that dollar for dollar and pay a 4.3 million tax in 2012-13.
*The Bulls have a team option on Hamilton's contract for 2013-14 of $1 million.
**Includes a $3.2 million qualifying offer in 2013-14, Gibson's restricted free agency year.
***Includes a club option in 2013-24 and in 2014-15 as well as a qualifying offer in 2015-16.
****Includes a qualifying offer in 2014-15, 2015-16 as well as a qualifying offer in 2016-17.
Boozer is easily the most overpaid player on the Bulls at $15 million a year. It's not that he's worthless, it's just that he isn't worth as much he's paid.
Offensively, he's actually not that bad, as he averages 18.3 points per 36 minutes on .532 shooting. The problem is that his defense is somewhere between nonexistent and merely deplorable.
As a result, he is often sitting on the bench at the end of games, while his understudy, Taj Gibson, takes his place.
If you're going to be paid $15 million a season, you should at least make it so that your team needs you when the game on the line—or failing that at least should be able to use you.
Richard Hamilton's $5 million a year might not seem that excessive unless you stop and consider that he's pretty much working part-time.
Hamilton missed a significant chunk of the Bulls' games last season, suiting up only 28 times. Often times when he missed games, Hamilton failed to even travel with the team.
Boozer at least made it on the court for every game this year, and when he was injured last year, he was on the bench supporting the team. Hamilton doesn't even do that much, which makes his paycheck seem relatively exorbitant.
Worse than not being on the court at the end of games is not being on it at the beginning of it, or even in the same state in which the game is being played.
Hinrich's $3.9 million deal is probably a bit more than he was worth, but it's not merely the contract itself that lands him on this list. The Bulls "overpaid" here by using part of their mid-level exception to obtain Hinrich.
They later traded Kyle Korver for a trade exception when they could have just traded him for HInrich, thereby reserving their MLE for use on another player, such as O.J. Mayo or Courtney Lee. This is perhaps more a matter of "dumbly paid" than overpaid, but this is the most fitting slot to include the complaint on.
Gibson is under the rookie contract, so it's a bit unfair to the Bulls to call him "underpaid," as they are paying him what they can, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
However Gibson will become a restricted free agent in 2013-14, and the Bulls are in negotiations with him. He has more than earned a substantial pay raise, and it would behoove the Bulls to pay him accordingly before he hits the open market, where he can get "poison-pilled' the way Omer Asik did with Houston.
Teague is on his rookie contract, but he's the only other player that you could argue is underpaid. That's because while it's standard practice to pay players 120 percent of their standard salary slot, the Bulls only paid Teague 100 percent of his salary slot, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
For the most part, though, the Bulls are not "cheap" when it comes to the paychecks. With the noted exceptions, they tend to pay their players a fair but not excessive amount.
An expiring contract is valuable for one reason—it means you can get better next year. That's why a player like Richard Hamilton could have trade value.
When trading players, the salaries only need to match up for the present season. Ergo, a team could trade a player with a three-year, $15 million contract, paid out at $5 million per year, thereby freeing up $5 million in salary cap space in the next coming season.
While technically, Hamilton has two years remaining on his contract, he has a team option on his contract with a $1 million buyout. That means they can give Hamilton a million dollars to go away at the end of the year, as can anyone who trades for him.
Jimmy Butler also has a team option on his contract, but unless he has a horribly disappointing year, the Bulls should pick that up.
Taj Gibson's contract expires this year, and he'll be a restricted free agent next year.
Chicago also has a number of players whose contracts were only one-year contracts that end this year; this consists of the bulk of the new players the Bulls signed this offseason, namely, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and Nate Robinson.
In all, if the Bulls were to let everyone walk they would free up $10 million in salary, although that by itself would still leave the team roughly $4-6 million over the cap depending on what it is next season.
The Chicago Bulls have plenty of trade chips, and if they should chose to make a big move, they would be able to. The question is what exactly that move could be.
In order to get better, they would have to give up one of their core players, and in doing so, they would effectively be digging one hole to fill another.
That hole they would be filling would be shooting guard, the position they have been trying to fill since they broke up the team in the spring of 2010 to try and land LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade through free agency.
Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are the most attractive chips in terms of veteran players with reasonable contracts who could be the base of a package.
For example, a scenario which could be intriguing to both teams might be a package sending Joakim Noah and Richard Hamilton's retiring contract to Oklahoma City in return for Kendrick Perkins' inflated contract and James Harden.
Other trade chips the Bulls have include Hamilton's retiring contract, the "draft-and-stash" pick from 2011, Nikola Mirotic who has been shining in Europe, and the conditional 2013 first-round pick of the Charlotte Hornets.
Additionally, Taj Gibson could hold interest for some teams, though the Bulls aren't likely to look to trade him. However, if the current contract negotiations don't pan out, that could change.
Finally, they have a $5 million trade exception obtained by sending Kyle Korver to the Hawks, but that's a chip they would not be able to use until the offseason, as they are hard-capped this season because they used the full mid-level excpetion.
The Chicago Bulls presently have four double-digit salaries they are paying out. The combination of Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng combine to make almost $56 million just between the four of them this season.
That's all but $2.3 million of the salary cap all by themselves. That's the downside.
The upside is that when that group plays together, the Bulls tend to win. They are 50-9 over the last two seasons when the foursome starts. That's a winning percentage of almost 85 percent. If they could stay healthy and maintain that percentage, they could threaten 70 wins.
The problem here is the "if they could stay healthy" part. The foursome have only started 59 games together over the last two season, meaning that at least one of them has been out for the other 89 of them.
The financial outlook for the future is very much tied into the health of their players. Rose is coming back from a torn ACL, perhaps some time after the All-Star game. Boozer just played an injury-free season for the first time in his career. Deng and Noah both have been prone to injuries in the past.
Chicago's future could be either bright or dim, depending on how healthy its stars can stay. If Rose never comes back to the same level of play, it could be disastrous for the Bulls, who would be sitting on a five-year max contract.
Whichever it is, unless they use the amnesty clause on of the four big contracts, the Bulls will be somewhat restricted in what they can do in free agency next season as well as this. Deng's contract comes off in 2014-15, though.
The major question that will be hovering around the Chicago Bulls all season long, and particularly over Carlos Boozer, is whether Boozer will be amnestied next summer or if he will still be a long-term part of the future.
Of late, Taj Gibson has been the player on the court at the end of games in spite of his smaller paycheck. Now that he's looking to get a bigger one, it's easier to justify doing that.
What's already hard to to justify, and could get harder, is the notion of paying Boozer $15 million when he's not one the court when the game is on the line.
It's easy to say that the Bulls should just amnesty him. It's not so easy if you're Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Bulls. Amnestying Boozer would entail Reinsdorf giving him $32 million to not do his job.
If it's your $32 million, you're probably not as exuberant about the idea, but it's a good bet that Boozer could be entering his last season as a Bull.
Overall, the Chicago Bulls are financially set better than it might seem since they are slightly over the luxury tax. That won't be a huge problem unless they enter into "repeater" territory, and that's not likely to happen in the near future if they amnesty Carlos Boozer.
What's attractive about the Bulls' situation is that they have a number of good, high-quality players to pair with Derrick Rose, their MVP-caliber player. Those players will be taking up the bulk of the Bulls' salary cap.
They also have young rookie-contract players to supplement those players, and there will be a steady influx of them over the next few season. Jimmy Butler was added last year. Marquis Teague came this year.
Nikola Mirotic is coming from overseas in the next year or two. The Charlotte pick will come available eventually. This flow of young, and more importantly, cheap, players is invaluable to keeping a competitive team without building a massive tax in the process by entering repeatedly into the luxury tax.
This should allow Chicago to maintain a deep roster, and as Tom Thibodeau has shown in the past, he gets the most out of his roster.
They would be better off if they had a little more breathing room in free agency, but they have a core set and a good crop of players in the pipeline. That's better than most, but not all, of the teams in the NBA, and is good enough to land them a B+.