COMMENTARY | The question is a simple one.
Now, before you say that James won't exercise the early-termination clause in his current deal the first chance he gets, think again. There simply isn't an extension that the Miami Heat can offer him this season that keeps him in their uniform past the 2016-17 season, according to the Sun Sentinel. Even for someone as fantastically wealthy as the King is, passing up an additional three years at more than $20 million per is bad business.
So he's going to opt out, which will give the Bulls a window to try and secure his services. It is a window they should never open, though. Yes, James is a difference-maker, but signing him doesn't make fiscal sense.
Let's talk turkey.
If James signs a max contract with a team other than the Heat after becoming a free agent, he will earn $20,020,875 in 2014-15 and then get 4.5-percent raises per annum under the terms of the collective-bargaining agreement. That would put his scheduled salary for the 2018-19 season at $22,723,693, according to Luke Adams over at HoopsRumors.com.
Now, for the sake of conversation, let's say that the Bulls are that team. The addition of his contract to the team's payroll means it will have up to $67,883,750 in salary committed to just four players -- Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and James -- next season and will already be over the salary cap, which is being projected by Larry Coon to be $61.2 million.
Couple that number with the remaining players still under contract and the need to fill out the roster with fringe talent, and the Bulls are above the tax threshold and squarely in the unwelcome neighborhood of the "repeater tax."
Of course, the Bulls could jettison Boozer's contract by exercising the amnesty provision of his contract, which would give them a bit of space. Even then, though, putting James on the payroll puts the Bulls over the cap and just a few million away from the tax threshold.
And let's not forget about Nikola Mirotic.
While Mirotic's arrival this offseason is hardly guaranteed, the front office has been ramping up the rhetoric with him recently, according to Jorge Sierra from HoopsHype.com. Now, exact dollar figures are unknown at this point, but it is expected that the Bulls will have to offer him full mid-level exception to get him to leave Real Madrid, per Gringo Rican of Chicago Bulls Confidential. In other words, tack another $5 million (or so) on top of current payroll obligations.
Signing James is a bad move.
To be sure, there is no reason to believe that he would respond to any overtures the Bulls make anyway. He did snub them once already, and if is going to leave the Heat, it would likely be to join the Los Angeles Lakers or go back home to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Besides, it's not like Derrick Rose is going to try and recruit him or anything. As we all know, that's not his style.
Contract information courtesy of Basektball-Reference.com.
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