One Down, One To Go
If Emeka Okafor can get $12 million a year from Charlotte over six years, then better there than here. Question: Is Okafor a guaranteed All-Star, or might he go the entire $72 million without a single midseason berth? When you start spending near-max money on anything but elite talent, that's where you get into trouble.
Deng pretty much signed the same contract, and I think you could ask the same question about him. I think it's more likely that Deng will become a (semi-)regular All-Star than that Okafor will, but it's not a certainty either. This contract's much better than paying someone like Noce $7+ mil a year for what shouldn't be more than 20 minutes a night, but Deng has now got to bring it, every night, and in the clutch.
The corollary news is that the contract's size will make it tough to re-sign Ben Gordon, as the Bulls are now only $8 mil under this year's cap. Like BAB's Matt, I think losing Gordon would have disastrous consequences for the Bulls' offense, although I tend to agree with some of the commenters there that if some of the news reports are true that Gordon wants $13 to $15 mil. a year, he's dreaming. Monta Ellis' compensation seems right to me, about $11 mil. a year. That would be an improvement on the $10 mil. a year he was offered last year, which I think Ben was well within his rights to reject as slightly below his value.
My question is, is it legal under the cap for the Bulls to heavily backload a Gordon deal so that he gets around $8 mil or so for his first two years, and then gets roughly $14 mil. his last two years? That makes a lot of sense for the Bulls, as by the time those balloon payments come due, Larry Hughes' bloated deal will be long gone (and presumably Noce and/or Hinrich's contracts will have been dealt by then, as well). I checked the Online Salary Cap Bible and couldn't determine whether yearly increases or decreases have to be within certain percentages of the previous year, or whether ballooning contracts toward the front- or back-end is permitted. If it is, a heavily backloaded, 5-year, $55 mil. deal for Gordon strikes me as the most reasonable way to go. (Assuming he'd take it.)