Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Chicago Bulls Community!

A Guide to the Chicago Bulls 2024-25 Offseason

Will Gottlieb Avatar
May 6, 2024

After back-to-back losing seasons resulting in Play-In exits, it’s time for the Chicago Bulls to make some changes.

“I take full responsibility, however, and recognize when changes need to be made, and I believe that time is now,” Bulls chief executive Arturas Karnisovas said at his postseason press conference.

It remains to be seen how much change Karnisovas is willing to stomach — he has pushed back against the idea of undertaking a rebuild multiple times.

Here is a rundown of their assets, tools and options ahead of this pivotal offseason.

Draft picks

The NBA Draft Lottery will take place Sunday May 12 to determine the order of the first 14 picks. The 2024 draft is split into two days, with the first round taking place on June 26 and the second round on June 27.


  • First Round picks: Projected 11th pick (9.4 percent chance to move into top four, two percent chance at first overall pick)
  • Second Round picks: None


  • Outgoing First Round Pick: Top-10 protected to San Antonio Spurs. The pick is top-eight protected in 2026, and 2027. If not conveyed by 2027, Spurs receive one 2028 2nd round pick
  • Incoming First Round Pick: Lottery protected pick via Portland Trail Blazers. The pick is lottery protected each year until 2028. It becomes one second round pick in 2028
  • Second Round picks: None

Tradable assets

The Bulls can trade their own 2024 pick starting on draft night. They can trade the pick from the Blazers. They can only trade their own future picks starting two years after their pick to San Antonio resolves.

They have three future second round picks available to trade (2028, 2029, 2030).

Free Agents

Free Agency begins at 5:00 pm central time on June 30. Teams can officially sign free agents starting on July 6.

The Bulls free agents to be:

  • DeMar DeRozan (extension eligible until June 30)
  • Patrick Williams (restricted)
  • Andre Drummond
  • Javonte Green
  • Torrey Craig (player option)
  • Onuralp Bitim (fully non-guaranteed)
  • Henri Drell (two-way)
  • Adama Sanogo (two-way)

Alex Caruso’s contract becomes fully guaranteed on June 30. Starting July 6, Caruso is eligible to sign a four-year, $78.8 million extension.

Cap figures

Salary Cap: $141,000,000

Luxury Tax: $172,000,000

First Apron: $179,000,000

Second Apron: $190,000,000

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) rules have come into play making it more difficult for teams above the second apron to do business. More on the ramifications of the new rules and how it will affect teams doing business this summer.


The Bulls will almost certainly operate as an over-the-cap team this summer — they won’t be players in free agency. Instead, they can use exceptions that allow above-the-cap teams to sign free agents.

Full mid-level: $12,951,000

Taxpayer mid-level: $5,220,000

Bi-annual: $4,715,000

Teams above the cap but below the luxury tax can use the full mid-level. The taxpayer mid-level is for teams who are in the luxury tax. Teams become hard-capped at the first apron if they use at least half of the mid-level exception.

The Bulls have only paid the luxury tax once in franchise history, and it seems exceedingly unlikely they do so this season given the state of their team.

“My approach looking at the luxury tax is if you can prove that your team is going to be in the top-four, you go in the luxury tax,” Karnisovas said. “It just makes no sense to be in play-in if you’re going to be in the luxury tax. As long as I can put a team together that is going to be competing top-four in the East, that’s when you start look at retaining guys and go in the luxury tax.”

Roster building options

Given the above information, there are two general directions Karnisovas can choose. But first, a quick explainer on why Continuity 4.0 is not an option:

Continuity 4.0 is not happening

Part of the reason Karnisovas set the stage for change was because the Bulls failed to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The underlying element is the cap sheet. Financially, it is not possible to bring everyone back.

NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson reported that the Bulls offered DeRozan a two-year deal worth upwards of $40 million annually. Assuming Williams plays next season on his qualifying offer ($12.97 million) and the rest of the roster remains in tact (no LaVine trade, no medical retirement for Ball, while letting Drummond, Green, Craig, Bitim leave the team), the Bulls would be over $11.4 million into the luxury tax, $4.4 million past the first apron. That’s before the roster is even set.

Even reducing DeRozan’s number to $30 million puts the Bulls just above the tax, assuming no other moves.

Waive-and-stretch Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball reportedly opted into the final year of his contract at $21.4 million. He is still recovering from his third knee surgery, and has not played since January 2022.

The Bulls can remove his salary from their books if a panel of independent physicians deems his injuries to be career-ending. Removing his full salary seems unlikely given his efforts to return to play. If the Bulls cannot medically retire Ball but still want to clear space, they can waive-and-stretch his remaining money.

His money would be paid out over twice the years remaining on the deal, plus one. That makes Ball’s cap hit roughly $7.1 million in each of the next three seasons.

If the Bulls waive-and-stretch Ball, they would be $2.85 million below the luxury tax with only 12 roster spots filled. That’s not enough room to field a full roster, let alone make significant changes or upgrades.

Scenario 1: Re-tool around DeRozan

In order to pull off a re-tool around DeRozan at $40 million annually, the first order of business is finding a taker for Zach LaVine’s contract.

Salary dumping LaVine while retaining Ball puts the Bulls slightly above the cap. Dumping LaVine while waiving-and-stretching Ball puts them in a great spot — nearly $46 million below the tax with $14.8 million in cap space. This would allow them the ability to sign a pair of mid-tier players using their cap space and mid-level exception.

While it’s possible the Bulls can completely clear their books of LaVine, it’s unlikely any team will fully absorb his entire salary. Any money they take back for him in a trade will cut into their potential space. More likely, the Bulls take back similar salary to LaVine’s, but with fewer years remaining. This may help open up the books in future seasons, but doesn’t offer relief this offseason.

Timing is critical. Finding a new home for LaVine and determining Ball’s potential to return before it’s time to re-sign DeRozan and Williams will be a challenge. Free agency begins June 30, and it’s unlikely LaVine will be the primary target for any team on the star market — other domino’s will have to fall before teams turn their sights to LaVine.

By that time, DeRozan and Williams will have entered free agency.

The Bulls won’t risk getting stuck $11.4 million in the tax by signing DeRozan before resolving the LaVine and Ball situations. Attaching assets to LaVine in order to run it back with DeRozan would set the team back in the long term.

Even still, these project to be marginal changes, which won’t take the Bulls out the middle.

Would DeRozan want to return to a team destined for mediocrity at a discount? What if Williams gets a big offer sheet from another team?

By default, DeRozan may find a new home before the Bulls are able to resolve the Ball and LaVine situations, even if the Bulls would prefer to keep DeRozan.

Scenario 2: Rebuild

Realistically, the only way for the Bulls to move towards Karnisovas’ stated goal of winning a championship first requires a full rebuild.

If DeRozan and the rest of the veteran free agents expire, it opens space to lock Williams in longer term, which the Bulls should prioritize in a youth movement.

The Bulls could acquire more assets by moving Caruso, LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and DeRozan (via sign-and-trade). In this type of rebuild, it wouldn’t make sense to move LaVine and Vucevic unless they can return positive value. Rather allow them to accumulate big numbers before trying to move them at the 2025 trade deadline.

A more extreme teardown would also include capitalizing on Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White. Both will be up for much bigger deals in the summer of 2026 and if the Bulls cannot build a Playoff team around them, it makes sense to cash in at the peak of their value.

If Karnisovas can recoup a strong asset base and build around young players and draft capital while orienting towards retaining the protected pick they owe the Spurs in 2025, they will be in good shape moving forward.

If he attempts to run it back or re-tool and forgo opportunities to collect assets, his team will remain in the lower middle class, while his ability to recover long term becomes even more difficult.

Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!

Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!

Just drop your email below!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?