COMMENTARY | For the past two NBA seasons, the Bulls had the best defensive center tandem in the league in Joakim Noah and Omer Asik. When a team is built on defense, and has a defensive-minded coach, having two anchor defenders like that is a certain pathway to success.
When Asik became a restricted free agent over the summer, the Bulls desperately wanted to keep him. But they had salary issues, with huge contracts for Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Noah.
When the Houston Rockets offered Asik $25 million over three years, the Bulls were unable to match, but not because of the total amount of the contract. It was the new rules of the CBA that hog-tied the Bulls.
The deal the Rockets offered to Asik was for $5 million each of the first two years of the deal, and $15 million for the third. The CBA states that the Rockets could average that contract over the three years for salary cap purposes, which is approximately $8.3 per year.
The Bulls would have matched that deal under those specifications. But the CBA required the Bulls to list the contract as stated per year for salary cap purposes, which means in the 2014-15 season, he would have counted $15 million against the cap, and the Bulls could not pull that off and avoid the very expensive luxury tax now included in the CBA.
So the Bulls let their player go. The effect of the transaction will be felt when the Bulls visit Houston Nov. 21.
I don't care how much money these guys make. It's part of the negotiated deal. It's ridiculous, but it's what the market bears.
But I do care that it is easier under the CBA for teams to pluck players off of teams than it is for teams to keep their own players. If a team wants to pay their own player the same amount as a team trying to steal him, that initial team should be able to maintain control of the player and its own roster.
There is something to be said for continuity of roster, even in today's insane free agent atmosphere. For the past two seasons, the Bulls were the league's best example of a "team''. Fans could describe the Bulls' two units, player by player. It was an old school feel to the roster.
It is true that Asik is starting for the Rockets, something he would not be able to do for the Bulls as long as Noah was healthy. Now, the league is getting a better idea of just how valuable he is, something Bulls fans knew. In his new starting role, he is scoring in double digits, too, which was an eventual growth the Bulls knew would take place.
The fact that all of that is happening for the Rockets, when the Bulls were willing to pay him the same amount to do it for them, is wrong. For the Bulls and for the league.
Kent McDill has covered the Bulls for three different companies: for United Press International from 1985-88, for the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., from 1988-99 and currently for NBA.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title "100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die'' published by Triumph Books.
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