The deadline is one week from today — either teams reach terms on a contract extension with players from the draft class of 2009 or said players become restricted free agents next summer. A deal gets struck by Halloween or other teams can make a run at the guy next July.
There are some interesting questions out there for teams — would you extend James Harden? What about Stephen Curry? — but none may be as intriguing as what the Bulls will do with Taj Gibson.
The notoriously stingy Bulls see Gibson as part of the long-term future with Derrick Rose. That is the long-term. But if they pay Gibson they need him to step up because it almost ensures they have to amnesty Carlos Boozer next summer (unless they want to pay some healthy luxury taxes, and there is no way Jerry Reinsdorf does that).
Which is why many rival teams expect the Bulls to have Gibson signed to a new deal by month’s end, even though Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is seemingly never in a rush to do extensions.
The high dollars and luxury-tax implications are such in James Harden’s case that it wouldn’t totally shock the world if the parties reach November without a deal … but no deal in Gibson’s case would expose the Bulls to the same conditions that made it possible for Houston to pilfer Omer Asik in restricted free agency this past July. Which is something Chicago really can’t afford. Extending Gibson now and cutting ties with Carlos Boozer later via the amnesty clause, sources say, is still the most likely outcome here.
The Bulls are clearly looking long term with their roster moves — there are a lot of expiring contracts for the summer of 2014 that with Boozer gone (and Deng in) could allow the Bulls to make some runs at free agents. The Bulls see a lineup with Rose, Gibson and Joakim Noah as a group that can win in a couple years with another piece or two.
But that involves spending to get Gibson. By next week.