Chicago Bulls avoid the luxury tax

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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:

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.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.