Summer agenda: Why Dwyane Wade is the key to the Bulls' offseason

Bobby Marks
The Vertical
Dwyane Wade has a $23.8 million player option for next season. (AP)

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, looks at the possible offseason plans and roster details for every team in the league.

Previous teams in the series: Nets and Suns | Timberwolves and 76ers | Magic and Kings | Hornets and Pelicans | Knicks and Nuggets | Lakers and Heat | Mavericks and Pistons | Pacers and Blazers | Hawks and Thunder

CHICAGO BULLS

Offseason focus

Realistic expectations

The Bulls had a complicated season.

They were .500 for a good portion of the season, had some issues with Rajon Rondo, and Dwyane Wade suffered an elbow injury that cost him 11 games. Chicago finished the season 8-3 to get into the playoffs and won two games at Boston to start the first round.

Now management has decisions to make.

Is the team past the inconsistency that plagued it throughout the regular season?

Or did the end-of-season run before Rondo’s playoff wrist injury justify the current roster returning?

The reality is the Bulls are likely to match this season’s first-round exit if the core returns.

The question is if Chicago will be content with the same result.

The veteran backcourt

The end of June will shape the direction Chicago goes this summer.

The decision on whether the starting backcourt of Rondo and Wade returns next season comes down to Wade and Bulls management.

Wade has a $23.8 million player-option deadline of June 27 for next season.

Wade is unlikely to receive that much on the open market, so he’ll have to choose between staying at home with a limited roster or signing with a contender at a substantial discount.

For Rondo, Chicago has until June 30 to guarantee his $13.4 million contract for next season, or eat $3 million and focus on developing former first-round picks Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant.

The free-agent point-guard market is star driven, however, electing to keep Rondo on a one-year contract with a plan to mentor Payne and Grant might be more beneficial.

If Wade opts out and Rondo returns, Chicago can move Butler back to shooting guard, have $27 million in room to find a small forward and keep flexibility in the future.

The future of Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler should remain in Chicago, and there are several reasons why that makes sense.

Butler’s contract is one the best bargains for an All-Star player.

Signed a year before the salary-cap spike, Butler has three seasons left at $17.5 million, $18.7 million and $19.8 million (player option).

Butler also can play multiple positions and is an excellent all-around player.

Chicago being at a crossroads with Butler is more about the franchise’s shortcomings in putting a suitable roster around their All-Star and having two coaches in the past three seasons.

Jimmy Butler is the least of the Bulls’ problems. (AP)

SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN

Guaranteed                                  2017-18                             Insider info
Dwyane Wade                          $23,800,000                 Player option June 27
Jimmy Butler                            $18,696,918                         Trade bonus
Robin Lopez                             $13,788,500                     Extension eligible
Cameron Payne                        $2,203,340
Denzel Valentine                      $2,186,400
Bobby Portis                             $1,576,320
Jerian Grant                              $1,713,840
Paul Zipser                                $1,312,611

Non/partial                                 2017-18                          Guarantee date
Rajon Rondo                           $13,397,000          June 30/$3 million guaranteed
Isaiah Canaan                          $1,577,230            June 30/$200,000 guaranteed

FA cap hold                                 2017-18                              FA status
Nikola Mirotic                           $10,986,655                      Restricted Bird
Joffrey Lauvergne                      $3,248,466                       Restricted Bird
Anthony Morrow                        $6,627,200
Michael Carter-Williams            $7,958,815                      Restricted Bird
Cristiano Felicio                         $1,671,382                  Restricted early Bird

First-round cap hold                  2017-18
No. 16                                        $2,247,480

Salary table                                   2017
Guaranteed salaries               $68,477,929
Non-guaranteed                     $11,284,745
Free-agent cap holds             $32,739,998
Salaries: cap                           $112,502,672
Salaries: tax                             $79,762,674
Salary cap                              $101,000,000
Luxury tax                              $121,000,000
Cap space                      None ($11,502,672 over)
Tax room                                 $41,237,326

Projected cap space

The Bulls’ cap projection this summer is fluid.

At the start of summer Chicago could be right at the cap with Wade or Rondo, or have about $33 million in space if Wade, Rondo and Anthony Morrow are renounced.

The room could increase based on the restricted free agency of Nikola Mirotic, Joffrey Lauvergne, Michael Carter-Williams and Cristiano Felicio. They could count a combined $24 million against the cap.

June draft picks

Chicago has its own first-round pick.

The Bulls will have the Kings’ second-round pick at No. 38.

Chicago does not have its own second-round pick. It was traded to New York as part of the Derrick Rose deal.

Future draft picks

Chicago has its own first-round picks in the future.

Chandler Parsons’ health is a major concern for Memphis. (AP)

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Offseason focus

Prioritizing free agents

Memphis has a balancing act when it comes to free agency.

The challenge is how the Grizzlies can retain two starters in JaMychal Green and Tony Allen, along with top reserves Zach Randolph and Vince Carter, and maintain a manageable payroll.

Can Memphis sign all four players and remain under the luxury tax? That’s unlikely.

Memphis currently has $92 million in guaranteed contracts, which is roughly $29 million below the luxury tax.

Losing each player does come with cost savings, but would not allow Memphis to find a suitable replacement under the cap.

The Grizzlies committed $75 million to $80 million annually to Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Marc Gasol for the next three seasons, so it will be tough to improve if the team is focused on budget restraint.

The current roster has a three-year window and taking shortcuts this summer could see Memphis land in the lottery next year.

Memphis will need to prioritize each free agent and have a comfort level in developing its young talent.

Green, the youngest of the four free agents, is restricted, and Memphis has the right to match any offer sheet.

Randolph, Carter and Allen have Bird rights, and the Grizzlies can exceed the cap to sign them.

The X-factor: Chandler Parsons

There is a risk involved when it comes to free agency.

The financial cost in a guaranteed contract along with how a player fits in the locker room and on the court are the risks every team encounters.

And when it comes to a player with a history of injuries, the risk is even greater.

Parsons, whose seasons ended with right knee surgery in 2015 and ’16 with Dallas, was signed to a four-year, $94.4 million contract.

After playing 34 games this season – mostly on a minutes restriction – his season ended early once again, this time because of left knee surgery. Needles to say, Parsons’ health weighs heavily on Memphis.

He is owed $23.1 million, $24.1 million and $25.1 million the next three years but hasn’t played more than 66 games in a season since 2013-14.

SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN

Guaranteed                                2017-18                           Insider info
Mike Conley                             $28,530,608
Chandler Parsons                    $23,112,004
Marc Gasol                               $22,642,350                       Trade bonus
Brandan Wright                        $5,955,760          Trade bonus/ extension eligible
Troy Daniels                             $3,408,520
James Ennis                              $3,028,410
Wade Baldwin                          $1,874,400
Jarell Martin                             $1,471,382
Deyonta Davis                          $1,312,611
Andrew Harrison                      $1,312,611

Non/partial                               2017-18                           Guarantee date
Wayne Selden                         $1,312,611

FA cap hold                              2017-18                              FA status
Zach Randolph                      $15,542,168                                Bird
Tony Allen                              $10,460,674                               Bird
Vince Carter                            $8,101,708                                Bird
JaMychal Green                      $2,820,497                        Restricted Bird

Dead cap space                      2017-218
Jamal Franklin                          $163,296

Salary table                                2017
Guaranteed salaries             $92,648,656
Dead money                             $163,296
Non-guaranteed                     $1,312,611
Tax variance                             $158,777
Free-agent cap holds           $36,925,047
Salaries: cap                         $131,049,610
Salaries: tax                          $94,283,340
Salary cap                            $101,000,000
Luxury tax                            $121,000,000
Cap space                   None ($30,049,610 over)
Tax room                                $26,716,660

Projected cap space

The Grizzlies do not have cap space this summer.

Memphis has the $5.2 million tax mid-level exception to use if its own free agents return.

The $8.4 million and $3.2 million exceptions could be available but only if Memphis stays below the luxury tax.

Using either exception would hard-cap Memphis.

June draft picks

Memphis will send Portland its first-round pick.

That pick had been traded to Cleveland and was eventually shipped to Denver as part of the Timofey Mozgov trade in 2015.

In February the pick was sent to Portland as part of the Jusuf Nurkic-Mason Plumlee trade.

Memphis does not have a second-round pick.

Future draft picks

Memphis owes a first-round pick to Boston from the Jeff Green trade.

The Celtics will have Memphis’ first-round pick in 2019, protected Nos. 1-8.

If there is no pick conveyed in 2019, then it would roll over to 2020, protected Nos. 1-6, and it would be unprotected in 2021.

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