Bulls waive injury-prone guard Richard Hamilton
The team had originally acquired Hamilton as a free agent in December 2011, after he signed onto a three-year, $15 million contract. The Bulls had been hoping he would take some of the load off guard Derrick Rose. However, over the past two season, Hamilton only appeared in 78 of 148 regular season games as he averaged 10,6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in almost 23 minutes per contest.
Hamilton’s game declined last season as he appeared in just 50 games, to average 9.8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.4 assist while serving as a backup shooting guard. He fell out of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s playoffs rotation as he appeared in just four of 12 postseason contests. However, Hamilton did considerably well further down the Bulls’ playoffs run last season, scoring 11 points in Game 4 and 15 point in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series loss to the Miami Heat.
"A lot of stuff in life you don’t understand," Hamilton said of falling out of rotation during the Heat series. "This is what I was brought here for. To not play and not help my teammates is rough. But I try to stay positive and not rock the boat.”
The 35-year-old Hamilton would have been owed $5 million for the 2013-14 season after the new league year officially began. But before Wednesday, the final year of Hamilton’s contract would have been partially guaranteed. So, the Bulls exercised the $1 million buyout option on Hamilton’s contract, which could also help the team cut back some money from their tight salary cap situation.
"You can’t be bitter. This league has always been great to me. I have fun enjoying something I love to do. That’s play basketball,” said Hamilton. “Sometimes it’s going to go your way. Sometimes you can’t control it. I couldn’t control it. So it’s like, hey, all right, I just got to deal with it."
The Bulls’ first luxury tax bill in franchise history fetched up to an amount of $3.9 million and with the NBA releasing next seasons’ salary cap figures on Tuesday, the penalty could further increase by next season. Though the cap hit – which is spilt among revenue sharing and non-tax teams – isn’t evaluated until the end of the season next year’s cap space is expected to be $71.748 million. Even with the Bulls releasing Hamilton on a $1 million buyout, next season’s payroll is projected be somewhere between $78-80 million.
Moreover, the penalties will become steeper next season, for the first time since the new collective bargain agreement. Previously, the amount of penalty was equally matched sum with which the team exceeded the tax line. But now, if a team exceeds by $1-$4.9 million the penalty will be charged at $1.50 per dollar over the salary cap. Teams going $5 million to $9.99 million over the cap space will be charged $1.75 per dollar in excess, and the penalties increase beyond that.
So, the Bulls are possibly looking at a luxury bill of $12 million or upwards following the next season.