By: Steve Rawnsley
The Bulls are destroying the very thing that has gotten them to be an elite team. Yes, Derrick Rose, and his injury will really hurt. However, they could buy time without him, illustrated by their 7-2 stretch during the season without Rose.
They did it because of their strong bench unit, but the Bulls have decided to dismantle that unit and it will have enormous consequences this upcoming season, and down the road.
The reason why the Bulls are doing this is to save money and to be able to keep Omer Asik. Asik will receive an offer sheet from Houston, according to sources, here soon that is a three year, 24-25 million dollar contract. In order to compensate for his eight million dollar per year salary, the Bulls have let bench players, CJ Watson go via free agency, waived Ronnie Brewer, and traded Kyle Korver for a trade exception.
I do not care if they think Asek is a good player or not. Simply from a roster and salary cap standpoint, what the Bulls are doing makes little sense. Roster wise, you have thrown out both of your backup wings, and backup point guard for your second big. I love bigs as much as anybody, but the league is getting smaller. Who was the player that started for Richard Hamilton when he was out for most of last year? It was Ronnie Brewer. Now, Richard Hamilton is not getting any younger. His career is already in a downward spiral. What happens if he gets hurt again next season? Who starts for him? Jimmy Butler, a starter? Come on now. Not only that, but who are the wings off the bench now? They need quality wings because Hamilton’s best days are behind him.
CJ Watson has signed with the Nets. The Bulls answer now at point guard is Kirk Hinrich, as they will sign him according to multiple sources. Is he better than CJ Watson though? Hinrich it seems has lost a step or two. He does not seem like starting material, while last year CJ Watson did a good job of filling in for Derrick Rose. The Bulls, however, did draft Teague from Kentucky that can contribute at point while moving Hinrich to the off guard.
Brewer, Korver, and Watson, averaged 24.8 minutes, 23.7 minutes, and 22.6 minutes per game respectively. Meanwhile, Omer Asek averaged only 14.7 minutes per game last year. That playing time will not change much for Asek considering he is behind Boozer, Gibson, and Noah in the depth chart at the PF/C spots, unless one
of them gets hurt.
From a salary cap perspective it does not make any sense either. In order to pay someone eight million per year, they need to get more than 15 minutes per game. The biggest reason though that this does not make sense is Taj Gibson is coming off of his rookie salary next season. He will only make $2.1 million this upcoming season. However in free agency, he will demand about the same amount as Asek, if not a little more. What happens then? The Bulls are left alone with Noah, Boozer, and Asek will be at about $35 million in salary committed for the 2013-14 season, and that will keep growing. If you want to keep Gibson, it should cost around about $8 million. You then have committed $43 million to two positions, and none of the players can really play any other positions.
That is cap suicide. Throw Rose in there, and you are already over the cap, and between these salaries discussed, you have only filled three of the five starting spots.
(Now, the Bulls have not used the amnesty clause. This is an option most likely on Boozer, and would be used after the season. His $32.1 million dollars remaining for the next two seasons come off the cap, but they still have to pay him that amount.)
In essense, the Bulls have traded Korver, Brewer, and Watson, for Hinrich and Asek. Remember, Asek only played about fifteen minutes per game last year.
Usually, you can find someone to play fifteen minutes for a few million per year. Instead, they are overpaying for those fifteen minutes, by being thin at spots they cannot afford to be thin at. This is also not the first time they will have to give a post man a significant raise, and what happens then? The Bulls could be in big trouble soon, and all they have to blame is themselves for these moves.