Tag: free agency

76ers Bulls Basketball

The Inbounds: How to avoid the luxury tax and influence the playoffs, a Chicago Bulls story


Welcome to The Inbounds, touching on a big idea of the day. It could be news, it could be history, it could be a tangent, it could be love. OK, it’s probably not love. Enjoy.

There’s something obscenely obvious in the fact that we, the media (but not really because most NBA media think Bird rights have something to do with trash talk about a three-point shot), the basketball twitter intelligentsia, fans,  whoever rail on the Chicago Bulls for doing precisely what we rail on other teams for not doing.

They don’t overspend. They don’t overpay for a non-contender, and they work diligently to get the best deal possible in every negotiation. Those are all good things, right? We acknowledge that the concept of overpaying is inherently bad? You can’t say the Miami Heat overpay for anyone, it’s not just that they win but the production they get from any given player relative to their position and standing is worth the investment made. The Spurs have made a killing off of getting their top guys to buy in to the point they actually take paycuts and then getting value guys on value deals to plug in around them. These values are good. You can argue the opposite, that if your owner is willing to swallow that luxury tax, the money doesn’t matter, at least not to fans, but it’s difficult to say that avoiding overspending is bad.

And yet it’s pretty conclusive that everyone finds the way the Bulls do business… distasteful.

And I’m not talking recently. Not like Jerry Reinsdorf just walked in off the dot-com craze. The man’s been cracking walnuts since Jordan. Let me re-emphasize this. We’re talking about a guy who busted spherical objects regarding the greatest player of all time, in his prime, his All-Defense perfect sidekick and arguably the greatest coach of all time, just to save a few bucks.

This is not some small-market, struggling franchise we’re talking about. Reinsdorf’s not selling his car(s) to pay his mortgage (since, you know, real estate is his bag, that would be especially shocking).  The Bulls have consistently been in the top five for attendance regardless of how good they’ve been, and in the top three for profit according to Forbes for several years. They make money hand over horns. It’s a major-market team with a cool color scheme who happens to be identified with the greatest player of all time. So yeah, they do pretty well. But that hasn’t stopped them from making fiscal responsibility their No. 1 priority at all times.

And we’re seeing it today. From Tom Thibodeau’s contract to whether to match Omer Asik, to all of a sudden, yes, signing Marquis Teague, there’s always something the Bulls are doing to scratch out a few more dollars. What’s up with Teague, you ask? Take it away, Mark Deeks:

Nevertheless, however small the 2012/13 saving will be in the context of overall payroll expenditure, it seems to have been deemed sufficient. As mentioned above, the Bulls are over the luxury tax as of today. They have $71,837,061 committed to only 11 players, not including Nate Robinson, nor Teague. They’ve never been above it before, and they surely don’t intend to be above it this time – it doesn’t take a great deal of foresight to see the Bulls trading Rip Hamilton at the deadline, with enough cash to offset his remaining salary, at a time that Derrick Rose is able to play again, and after Rip has (theoretically) rebuilt his value as a player. This is pretty much guaranteed to happen. And it will be much easier to achieve the less they sign Teague for. The cheaper he comes, the more dead weight salary Chicago can take back for Rip, the easier he’ll be to deal.

via ShamSports.com: NBA News That Doesn’t Really Matter: Marquis Teague is still unsigned, and you’re probably not going to like why.

So to make sure the have room to ditch Rip Hamilton in order to avoid the luxury tax, they’re working down the total amount of Marquis Teague’s rookie contract.

It’s here that we have to address the Boozer issue. The Bulls do in fact employ Carlos Boozer on a pre-2012 max contract. So you can say that they a. committed to a max deal for a free agent in order to contend b. overpaid for a player and continue to do so and c. have not amnestied him to get under the tax, despite two opportunities to do so. But you have to understand, when Boozer was given that contract, it was market value. It wasn’t a great deal, but it also wasn’t a disaster. It will look worse as time goes on because of the new CBA, and there’s no way to spin it was a good deal, but it was also not a bad deal. (It did, however, almost immediately morph into a bad deal. So there’s that.)

And the discussion of amnestying Boozer loses the point a little bit. If you’re trying to avoid the luxury tax, you want to save money, right? Well, even if you amnesty Boozer, and someone takes some portion of his deal on the amnesty waiver (which someone would), the Bulls are still paying for the remainder of that contract, plus the money to bring in players to replace him. Off the league’s books isn’t off Chicago. What’s the point in amnestying Boozer to save money when amnestying him if you wind up spending in total what you’d spend in the luxury tax anyway, paying him off and then replacing him?

(It should be noted the one huge counter to all this, the relative ease to which Derrick Rose was signed to his extension, only re-enforces the point. It’s not that the Bulls don’t spend the money on what they should, it’s that they tend to carry any opportunity to squeeze blood from stone to the furthest possible moment and then go on with it. Rose’s structure was determined by the CBA and there was little to carp on, hence why the deal got done smoothly. They’re still a team with a high payroll, just one that constantly is working to scrape the crust off the top.)

The Bulls are a classic example of what we expect from big-market owners. We expect them to break the bank to build a winner, to use the resources at their disposal to abuse the inherent advantages and develop a contender. The Bulls have instead tried to develop a contender with considerate, you can even say frugal spending, and have done a pretty decent job at it. But they’re judged on a big-market curve and it’s there that they fail.

Which is not to say that I’m advocating in favor of the Chicago Way, here. (They put one of your guys in the hospital, you trade Kyle Korver to the morgue!) The fans and city have provided them with one of the most successful franchises in sports. They’re asking for the team not to waste Derrick Rose’s career, to pay what they need to to contend, to not use circumstance (Rose’s injury, the new CBA, age, health, etc.) to justify spending cuts, which is a classic Bulls move. That’s pretty reasonable. Bulls fans wouldn’t be upset if the team was bad and they cut spending. They’d be happy. Fans want cheap losers to allow for improvements to make expensive winners.

The fact may be that despite all the punitive efforts of the new CBA, the new NBA model may dictate that for big-market franchises to compete at the level to which they have become accustomed to, they’re going to have to time when they want to bite that bullet. And Reinsdorf has repeatedly dangled that carrot. Somewhere, someday down the line, he may pay that luxury tax. But until then, he’s going to keep maneuvering to suck the most money out of late-first-round rookies, swapping out bench units when they become available to reach market value, tip-toeing around paying a top-three coach in the league what he’s worth, and making mountains of cash off the process.

It’s infuriating. It’s genius. It’s frustrating. It’s sustainable. It’s a bad way to run a team. It’s a great way to run a business. And they’ll still manage to succeed enough to put the criticism at bay when the ball is tipped. Thank God for Derrick Rose.

Grizzlies re-sign Hamed Haddadi


Laddi-daddi-who-likes-to-party? The Grizzlies have decided to re-sign Haddadi.

The Grizzlies re-signed center Hamed Haddadi on Saturday via the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The first Iranian center in the league has averaged only spot minutes for Memphis over the past five seasons, but is still an important cog for the team. They lack another legitimate reserve center behind Marc Gasol, instead opting to play small-ball consistently with multiple stretch forwards. And while Memphis has the rebounding capacity to keep pace, they’re not in a position to enter the season with that much on Gasol’s shoulders.

Gasol at times seemed worn down by the minutes he played, and so Haddadi’s presence is crucial. He’s nothing to get overly excited about, but he does make an impact with his seven-foot frame and touch around the rim. He can score a little bit, rebound a little bit, run the floor a little bit. Memphis doesn’t need much from him and they don’t get much from him. He’ll play spot minutes and help their overall depth.

Most importantly, it means more entertaining Tweets from the big man and maybe a few minutes rest for Gasol against bigger opponents.

The most ridiculous game of hide-and-go-seek ever committed in Vegas. Twice.

Houston Rockets Introduce Jeremy Lin

We really need to cover this. Because it’s hilarious.

So there’s this weird thing going on in free agency. For restricted free agents, here’s the process. Qualifying offer tendered, rendering the player a restricted free agent. The player is free to negotiate an offer sheet with any team in the league, and sign it. If they do sign an offer sheet with another team, the offer sheet then has to be delivered to the team that holds his rights as a restricted free agent. From there, the team has three days to match the offer and keep him, or let him go.

But we’ve discovered a fun little gadget as part of this.

The offer sheet has to be physically delivered to the representative of the team, usually the general manager. It has to be physically placed in his hands. Like a subpoena.

As this is all going on during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, this has lead to high-ho hilarity.

From during the whole Lin saga:


Seriously. This is actually happening. In 2012, with so much of the world has all of their business done online, the NBA still has to have guys putting paper in physical hands. Deron Williams signed his contract on an iPad. But this is the way the NBA works with things. This after a reduction of the match period from seven days to just three. But, OK, the Knicks are silly, we knew this. Surely this won’t happen, again, ri…

Well, then.

NBA free agency has essentially been reduced to “You can’t catch me! Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!”

Couldn’t there just be a secure upload site that sends email notification to a GM’s email and phone via SMS? Am I crazy for thinking that we don’t really need to rely on couriers and hijinx in 2012? It’s just a pretty ridiculous situation, especially because it’s entirely aimed at giving the team with the players’ rights an advantage in determining whether to match or work on a way around it.

It’s not a big deal, but it yet another “only in the NBA” kind of stories. Representatives of a team in free agency chasing GMs all over Vegas as the GMs try and hide from receiving the offer sheet to start the clock.


Report: Celtics to sign Jason Collins, bench no longer complete disaster


ESPN Boston reports that the Celtics are set to sign free agent center Jason Collins to a veteran-minimum deal.

The 33-year-old Collins appeared in just 30 games last season for the Atlanta Hawks. Billed as the “Dwight Stopper,” Collins isn’t an elite defender but among veteran centers, he’s nothing to sneeze at. He’s able to maintain position and body even players of Howard’s size and while he brings nothing to the table offensively, he’s still a significant upgrade for the Celtics at center.

If Fab Melo proves unready for the NBA game, which is more than a small probability at this point, it allows the Celtics to send him for seasoning in the D-League without having to play Kevin Garnett exclusively at center. It’s not going to make a huge difference, but with Greg Stiemsma signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves, this helps with Boston keeping a stable bench rotation and gives them someone in case Dwight Howard crosses their paths in the playoffs for some reason.

The Celtics’ bench was a major issue last year but looks to be much improved next season, not just with Melo and Jared Sullinger, but Jason Terry (despite the loss of Ray Allen), Brandon Bass returning, and Jeff Green coming back. A front-heavy team has a better reserve system. One more run for the old guys.

Reports: Bulls likely to sign Nazr Mohammed, paving way for Asik to head to Rockets

Omer Asik

Peter Vecsey and ESPN Chicago report that the Bulls are “on the verge” of signing veteran C Nazr Mohammed. The big ramification of this is it signals the Bulls do not intend to match the three-year, $25 million offer sheet from the Houston Rockets for big man Omer Asik, clearing the way for Asik to join Houston.

The move for Chicago provides them with a talented veteran in Mohammed who has championship experience with the Spurs and in Tom Thibodeau’s system, should be able to provide good minutes, even if he’s as step-down from Asik. Mohammed played limited minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder, eventually having his roster spot jumped by youngster Cole Aldrich, but still gives good effort. He has the kind of floor awareness to do what he needs to in Thibodeau’s system to succeed. It’s a regression from Asik, but not such a massive one that it will cripple the Bulls’ bench. And, of course, it saves Jerry Reinsdorf some dough, which is always the objective in moves like this.

Houston will land a seven-footer with almost no offensive abilities for $25 million over three years. Asik has to be an absolutely dominant center for this move to work out as a win. While the Rockets will still have the ability to use the stretch exception should Asik crash and burn in his third year, they’ll still be on the hook for $15 million spread out over over three years, with a lower cap hit. (Unless there is an obscure CBA provision about this, which there could be. The thing is more arcane than the Necronomicon.)

It’s a huge gamble, but if he can be the defensive presence they need him to be, it could be a gamechanger for the Rockets’ defense which has struggled over the years. And if they land Dwight Howard, they could put out one of the biggest lineups in the league if they were to play them together. Big gambles in Houston.

(HT: HoopsHype)