The Chicago Bulls ended the regular season $791,165 below the luxury-tax line.
That’s according to my calculations using salary data from ShamSports.com.
However, that didn’t mean the Bulls would avoid the luxury tax. A few incentives hung in the balance:
- $500,000 if Joakim Noah made All-NBA first team
- $250,000 if Noah won a championship
- $500,000 if Taj Gibson made All-Defensive first team
- $250,000 if Gibson made All-Defensive second team
That’s up to $1.25 million in performance bonuses – enough to push Chicago over the limit. But the Bulls – unless there are any unreported unlikely incentives their players have met – can now rest easy.
Noah could still make the All-NBA first team – the NBA hasn’t announced that yet – but he won’t win a championship. And Gibson won’t make an All-Defensive team.
Gibson finished 16th in All-Defensive team voting, and though he could have theoretically earned a spot at either center or forward, four bigs – DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis, Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard – finished ahead of him in the also-receiving-votes section. Gibson wasn’t really that close to landing a spot on the position-specific teams.
So, the most the Bulls will pay in incentives – again, assuming there aren’t any unreported ones – is $500,000, leaving them safely under the tax line.
The upside for Chicago could be immense.
For one, the Bulls will get any luxury-tax payments distributed to non-tax teams. Jerry Reinsdorf must appreciate that.
Chicago will also avoid a year counting toward the stiff repeater penalties for tax-paying teams. Now, if the Bulls want to dip into the tax in a future season, they’ll have more flexibility to do so.
And this summer, Noah’s and Gibson’s contracts won’t count more against the cap. If those players had the same incentive clauses listed for the 2014-15 season – which is probably the case – the amount of the performance bonuses would count against the cap until the players failed to achieve the benchmark. Since that wouldn’t be determined until this time next season, Chicago would have gone the whole offseason with a little less cap room. When you might be pursuing Carmelo Anthony and/or Kevin Love, those little details matter.
It’s possible the Bulls lose flexibility this offseason with Noah’s $500,000 All-NBA first team bonus, but considering they’re at least in the clear of the luxury tax, they shouldn’t mind too much.