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updated: 6/30/2012 7:36 PM

With limited cap space, Bulls will do their best to fill holes

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  • These NBA free agents -- Jason Kidd, Kirk Hinrich and Deron Williams -- represent the variety of points guards available: old guard, serviceable and sought-after.

      These NBA free agents -- Jason Kidd, Kirk Hinrich and Deron Williams -- represent the variety of points guards available: old guard, serviceable and sought-after.
    Associated Press/file photos

  • New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams directs the offense during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

      New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams directs the offense during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
    Associated Press/file photos

  • Atlanta Hawks' Kirk Hinrich during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, March 31, 2012, in Philadelphia.

      Atlanta Hawks' Kirk Hinrich during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, March 31, 2012, in Philadelphia.

  • New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams is seen during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, March 31, 2012. The Nets won 111-99.

      New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams is seen during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, March 31, 2012. The Nets won 111-99.

  • Atlanta Hawks' Kirk Hinrich during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, March 31, 2012, in Philadelphia.

      Atlanta Hawks' Kirk Hinrich during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, March 31, 2012, in Philadelphia.

 

On draft night, Bulls general manager Gar Forman said he still likes the team's core group of players and most of them will be back next season.

But as the free-agent negotiating period arrives Sunday, the Bulls have a couple of key spots to fill.

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They need Point Guard X, a veteran who can run the show while Derrick Rose recovers from knee surgery and help rookie Marquis Teague learn the ropes.

Then they'll be looking for Shooting Guard Y, someone who can spread the floor, share playing time with Rip Hamilton and possibly take over the spot in the future.

The problem is, the Bulls have limited means to add players and are bumping up against the NBA's luxury tax threshold.

It's conceivable C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver could end up filling those two vacant slots. Both players have non-guaranteed contracts for next season that are still on books. But the Bulls must decide soon whether or not to pick up their contract options.

A few numbers can illustrate why it's unlikely the Bulls will keep Korver or Watson. For one thing, Korver is set to make $5 million next season and Watson $3.7 million. Those salaries would push the Bulls well into the dollar-for-dollar luxury tax.

A couple more relevant numbers are 24.1 and 15.7. With a chance to shine as a starter, Watson shot a miserable 24.1 percent from the field against Philadelphia in the playoffs. Korver, meanwhile, played just 15.7 minutes per game against the Sixers and struggled to get his shot off without Rose on the floor to occupy defenders.

The Bulls would love to land a veteran point guard such as Jason Kidd or Andre Miller, but that might be too long a shot.

Yahoo reported Saturday that former Portland shooting guard Brandon Roy, who retired from bassketball a year ago due to knee problems, will meet with the Bulls this week. The three-time all-star is contemplating a comeback and will also visit with Minnesota, Indiana, Dallas and Golden State. Whether Roy can stay healthy long-term is anyone's guess.

One guy who fits a need and might fall into their price range is Clippers shooting guard Nick Young. During the 2010-11 season, the 6-foot-7 Young averaged 17.4 points per game and shot 44.1 percent from the field for Washington.

Last year, though, the Wizards finally had enough of his inconsistency and poor shot selection, and sent him to the Clippers. Young had one bright moment, scoring 19 points in the Game 1 playoff comeback against Memphis, but otherwise didn't do much for the Clips.

Now 27, he's had a chance to mature and maybe a different coaching staff can coax a better performance from him. It's tough to tell what kind of market there will be. The Clippers might see him as a long-term starter next to Chris Paul, for all we know.

But the Bulls want to get younger, more athletic and are looking for shooters. So Young certainly fits the bill.

The question is whether the Bulls will be able to foot the bill. Under the latest collective bargaining agreement, teams that pay the luxury tax are limited to a midlevel exception of $3 million and contract length of two years.

So the Bulls can use that, and they can sign as many guys to minimum-salary contracts as they want. That's not really enough to show anyone the money this summer, so they'll be trying to sell a winning situation.

The tax threshold is expected to remain pretty much the same as last year ($70.3 million). The eight players under contract -- Rose, Hamilton, Teague, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler -- give the Bulls a payroll of about $65 million. If they're serious about re-signing center Omer Asik, a restricted free agent, they'll be right around the tax threshold with those nine players.

The three guys with non-guaranteed contracts for next season -- Korver, Watson and Ronnie Brewer -- are still on the books as of July 1, which is why the Bulls are considered a tax team now.

The Bulls could conceivably trade one or more of that trio for a player already under contract. But the Bulls don't figure to be big spenders this summer with the luxury tax in play.

Another problem is about half the teams in the NBA have at least $8 million in cap room to spend. So the Bulls could be picking through leftovers. They'll cast a wide net and see what happens.

Would Kirk Hinrich take a low salary to once again live year-round in his Bannockburn home? Would Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, C.J. Miles and/or Randy Foye take what the Bulls have to offer? What about Raymond Felton, Jonny Flynn, Nate Robinson among the point guards?

The Bulls' front office will be working the phones trying to find out. The search starts today.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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