So how did the trades of Salmons and Thomas affect the Bulls for this summer's free agent frenzy?
As previously noted, the trade of Salmons removes the possibility of the player exercising his 5.8 million dollar option. Thomas's trade leaves the Bulls with an extra first round pick in the future, and no decision to be made at the end of the season regarding his status, as to whether he should be resigned or not.
This leaves the Bulls with about 21 million dollars under the cap, possibly a little less. (They have about 32 million dollars committed to six players - Hinrich, Deng, Rose, Noah, Gibson and James Johnson, last year's other first round pick. The best case scenario sees the cap at about 53 million dollars.) That's enough for one maximum contract of 16.5 million dollars. They will also have a draft pick in the 1-1.5 million dollar range. (Let's assume about 1 million here.) That leaves 3.5 million to fill four roster spots.
I believe the minimum salary is around 500 thousand a year, if you take three of those, you come up with about 2 million left for one middlin' veteran.
Let's say that the veteran they pursue is Chris Bosh, and that they are successful in getting him. Next year's Bulls team would look something like this: Starting lineup would be Noah, Bosh, Deng, Rose and Hinrich. Taj Gibson and James Johnson would have to come off the bench, along with their first round pick next year. The other four spots will be taken up with perhaps a second round pick and two more minimum salary guys, and then a veteran player, maybe even Flip Murray or someone of that ilk.
Is that a good enough team to compete in the East? Well, it certainly is on the starting 5. But there isn't much depth on this team.
It will be an interesting summer.