Here's an upset: After being cautious with their spending all season, the Bulls will head into the playoffs with the full allotment of 15 players.
They signed veteran point guard Mike James and power forward Lou Amundson on Thursday, continuing a trend that began by bringing back Ronnie Brewer on Monday.
The Bulls are able to do this, because with less than a week left in the regular season, the added salaries won't send them into luxury tax territory. There are added penalties in the NBA's newest collective bargaining agreement for teams that pay the luxury tax three times in a four-year period.
Both James and Amundson have had previous stints with the Bulls. James, 38, was in training camp and started the season with the team, was released on Dec. 16, then signed a 10-day contract in late January. He's basically here for insurance in case Kirk Hinrich or D.J. Augustin get hurt during the playoffs. James also finished the 2011-12 season with the Bulls.
Amundson, a 6-9 forward from UNLV, has bounced around the league since 2006, playing for eight teams. He appeared in one game for the Bulls last season.
Brewer's defensive skills might be useful in the playoffs, but the new guys probably won't play much. All three likely signed deals that include a non-guarantee for next season, which means they could be used in trades this summer.
According to a league source, the Bulls will remain out of the luxury tax even if Joakim Noah receives a bonus for making first-team All-NBA and Taj Gibson gets a bonus for inclusion on the all-defensive second team.
Love makes his pick:
Joakim Noah got another vote for defensive player of the year, this time from Minnesota's Kevin Love.
"He's extremely tough," Love said after Wednesday's game. "In my opinion, he's the defensive player of the year. Anytime you go against a player like that, then they're coming to double-team, he's very tough. They're a good team. (Tom) Thibodeau has them working hard on both ends of the floor."
Noah a triple threat:
Joakim Noah produced his fourth triple-double of the season at Minnesota, which ties him for the league lead with Indiana's Lance Stephenson.
The last time a center led the NBA in triple-doubles was David Robinson with five in 1993-94. Noah is on pace to become the fifth center in league history to average at least 12 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists for a season, joining Wilt Chamberlain. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Bill Walton (who all did it multiple times).