I think we can all agree on two things when it comes to the Chicago Bulls’ 2012-13 season. The first is they played really hard and never quit under some very difficult circumstances. The second being this series against the Miami Heat is over and it’s time to start looking towards the 2013-14 NBA season.
With the emergence of Jimmy Butler and then add on the emergence of Joakim Noah as a team leader, and next year’s Bulls will look nothing like the 2012-13 Bulls.
This will not be an easy off season for John Paxson and Gar Foreman. They have several very difficult decisions to make if this organization is going to make one final run to beat the Miami Heat. But what will make the necessary moves even more difficult to make is that this is still an organization under heavy financial limitations.
Unless the Bulls are able to find a taker for one of their big contracts, they will still be over the luxury tax. If you add up the contracts on just Noah, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, those contracts already put the Bulls over the salary cap.
One of the very first decisions the Bulls have to make is whether or not to use the one time amnesty clause on Boozer. The Bulls owe the veteran forward 30 million dollars over the next 2 seasons. Even if you use the one time act, it won’t put the Bulls under the cap anyways, so I say hold on to the Boozer until after the 2013-14 season when Deng’s contract comes off the book. You can use that cap space to add a really good piece to the puzzle.
The Bulls also can go of the way the Houston Rockets acquired James Harden last summer to improve their team. The Thunder had to dump the talented Harden because of one simple reason, the luxury tax. There will be teams that will be over the luxury tax and will have to dump payroll. It already started happening during this season, when the Memphis Grizzlies dumped talented players like Rudy Gay, Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights.
With the way the new NBA luxury tax works, if I were the Bulls I would sit back and wait for some All-Star or near All-Star to become available some time near training camp. When rival NBA owners see the money, they will have to drop if they are over the Luxury tax level.
The Bulls also have some interesting young assets they could use to potentially get to the top half of this year’s NBA Draft. They still have Charlotte’s first round pick from the Tyrus Thomas trade and the rights to European star Nikola Mirotic. Then add on a young talented Marquis Teague and Bulls could possibly have enough to make a trade happen.
Or could the Bulls take one of their young assets with one of their expiring contracts, like Deng or Boozer, to get that young shooting guard they so desperately need?
The one mistake the Bulls front office must not make is overpaying Nate Robinson. Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent and I believe some NBA team that has been hovering around 41 wins will get stupid and overpay him like he’s the next Oscar Robinson. If someone does, Paxson shouldn’t flinch and tell Robinson good luck in his new organization. The pint sized guard is just a role player and should be taken as nothing else but a role player.
Whatever happens for the rest of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, one thing is certain, and that is the Bulls will be one of the most active teams this upcoming offseason.