Bulls fans hoping for a splash in the 2020 offseason were dealt a blow Sunday night.
As expected, Otto Porter Jr. plans to accept his hefty player option for the 2020-21 season, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. It's the final year of the four-year, $106.5 million max offer sheet Porter signed with the Brooklyn Nets -- and was matched by the Washington Wizards, who drafted Porter -- in July 2017.
Porter re-upping pushes the Bulls to 12 guaranteed roster spots, and his salary, which Spotrac tabulates as $28.5 million, brings the team’s payroll to roughly $106 million -- about $3 million below the current $109.14 salary cap line.
Once the Bulls sign their 2020 first-round draft choice -- and they currently own the fourth overall pick -- they’ll have 13 of 15 roster spots committed for next season. Using 2019 No. 4 overall pick De’Andre Hunter’s first-year salary ($7.1 million) as a reference point, said signing would also take the Bulls over the salary cap.
Operating as an over-the-cap team, the Bulls will have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($9.3 million) and bi-annual exception ($3.6 million) at their disposal to outright sign players. As of this writing, they’re in no real danger of eclipsing the luxury tax line ($132.6 million) next season.
They also have three notable free agents to reconcile -- all of whom can be restricted free agents if the Bulls extend a qualifying offer -- in Kris Dunn (qualifying offer: $7.1 million), Denzel Valentine ($4.7 million) and Shaq Harrison ($1.7 million), and a second round pick in the 2020 draft (No. 44 overall). Qualifying offers are due Nov. 19, the day after the draft and the day before free agency opens, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
All of which is to say, the Bulls are tight on dollars and roster spots this offseason. Still, those exceptions, and a top-five pick, offer a bit of wiggle room for the new front office regime helmed by Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversley to toy with. The league moratorium on trades lifts Monday at 11 a.m. CT.
Porter, for his part, has been effective when healthy since being traded to the Bulls prior to the 2019 trade deadline and, as a sharp-shooting two-way wing, fills a position of need. But his time with the team has been marred by injury. He appeared in just 14 of a possible 65 contests in the 2019-20 season, and has played in 29 of a possible 93 games since arriving in Chicago.
He’s set to enter unrestricted free agency at age 28 next summer, so this season, which tips off Dec. 22, will be a crucial one.