Bulls try to navigate NBA numbers game
The NBA released two numbers on Tuesday night. The salary cap for 2013-14 was set at $58.679 million, while the luxury-tax threshold is $71.748 million.
What do these figures mean for the Bulls? It’s better to take a look at them individually.
SALARY CAP: This means nothing to the Bulls this season. Even by using the amnesty clause, they won’t have any cap room.
But they are hoping to have cap space next summer. The salary cap hasn’t changed much since the recession hit. The number was actually higher in 2008-09 (by $1,000) than it is this year.
So next year, if the Bulls let Luol Deng depart as a free agent and used the amnesty on Carlos Boozer, they’re looking at a payroll of $47.723 million for Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Marquis Teague, Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell.
Full teams need 12 players, so by rule, they have to add minimum salary players to the list and a first-round draft pick, giving the Bulls a potential payroll of around $50.3 million.
Obviously, they’re not going to have a ton of cap room next summer unless they dump some players (not likely). If the salary cap stays about the same, the Bulls could open around $9 million in cap space. NBA collective bargaining agreement guru Larry Coon predicted tonight a salary cap of $62.5 million for 2014-15, which could give the Bulls around $12 million to spend.
The Bulls are hoping to bring Nikola Mirotic over from Spain next summer, so they’ll need money for that. As far as roster flexibility goes, it’s probably going to be more about getting under the tax threshold and being able to use the full mid-level exception (worth $5.15 million) than signing a big free agent in 2014.
Also, it’s more likely Deng will be traded or re-signed than walk away for nothing in return. Anything is possible at this point, though.
LUXURY TAX: The Bulls’ first-ever luxury tax bill is due. They owe just under $4 million from last season. The tax penalties went up this year, so that figure will climb.
Under the new rules, teams must pay $1.50 for every dollar, up to $5 million, above the tax threshold. From $5-10 million above the threshold, the penalty climbs to $1.75
The Bulls are likely to wind up with a payroll around $81 million, which would mean a tax penalty in the neighborhood of $16 million.
In comparison, Brooklyn could be paying a tax bill of $77 million after adding Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
The tax money is split between the non-tax teams, so those tanking teams will get a payoff even without winning the draft lottery.