The Houston Rockets signed Omer Asik to a three-year, $25 million offer sheet on Sunday that is set to pay the center over $14 million in the final season of the deal. The offer sheet will become official on July 11, and the Bulls will have three days to decide if they want to match and retain the services of the 26-year old restricted free agent.
It's a tricky situation for the Bulls, who appear to be hamstrung by self-imposed restrictions. Chicago's payroll is over the salary cap and inching closer to the luxury tax threshold, a fine that orders teams to $1 for every dollar they go over. If the Bulls decide to match the Rockets' offer sheet, it will put them in tax territory for the first time ever.
It's important to remember the tax isn't assessed until the end of the season, so the Bulls could still find a way to avoid the fee, likely by dealing veteran shooting guard Richard Hamilton. The Bulls now need to decide if they've been bested by vaunted Rockets GM Daryl Morey, or if they'll keep Asik on the team for what amounts to a max contract in the 2014-2015 season.
We'll delve into the offer sheet in more detail later today, but what's interesting to me at the moment is the strong initial reaction from Bulls fans. A poll at the Chicago Tribune has 72 percent of 2,500 people saying the Bulls should say goodbye to Asik. A potentially more enlightened community agrees, as 73 percent of Blog-a-Bull readers also believe the it's in the Bulls' best to let Asik walk.
This surprises me, because remember: it's not your money. Don't ever let Jerry Reinsdorf tell you he's poor. The Bulls have sold out every game for two decades, and used to employ a dude named Michael Jordan. The have made lots of money. As it stands, Asik might be joining fellow "Bench Mob" mainstays Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson in a caravan out of town. The Bulls hold one-year options on each, though exercising any of them will only push the Bulls farther and farther into the tax.
Still, it's a tough situation and I'm not sure what the Bulls should do. That's why we'll ask you for an opinion, too. Cast your vote below.
For continuous updates of Bulls free agency, keep it locked to SB Nation Chicago. Head over to Blog-a-Bull and for a great breakdown of the salary cap fiasco facing Chicago heading into free agency.