Marquis Teague lone unsigned first -rounder; Is money an issue?

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Marquis Teague lone unsigned first -rounder; Is money an issue?

29 first-round draft picks have signed fully guaranteed contracts with their respective teams, all the way from No. 1 pick Anthony Davis (New Orleans) to No. 30 Festus Ezeli (Golden State).
The one first-rounder without a deal? Chicago's Marquis Teague.
According to a very in-depth report on rookie contracts from Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com, the issue between Teague and the Bulls' brass is regarding the pay scale in which Chicago is willing to pay the 19-year-old Teague.
Teams have the option to pay first-round picks 80, 100 or 120 percent of the pay scale the NBA suggests to each team, relative to the pick. As Deeks puts it, "almost everybody gets the 120, even when drafted late. The exceptions to this are very few and far between."
One of those exceptions Deeks noted was players drafted late in the first round. At No. 29, Teague would fit the bill. However, Jimmy Butler was drafted No. 30 last year and received the 120 percent pay scale contract, so it would be odd for the Bulls to not give Teague the same contract.
The difference between the 100 and the 120 percent pay scale over four seasons for Teague is 874,550 or as Deeks puts it, "theequivalentof one veteran minimum contract, but over a four-year period."
But the hold-up may not have anything to do with how the Bulls feel about Teague, but rather the flexibility it would give them to still sign someone this off-season.
After the Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich to the full non-tax payer's mid-level exception, they were put under a hard salary cap of 74.3 million. They can not exceed that number at any point this season.
With the 12 roster players (Robinson included, Teague not included), Chicago has 72,691,450 in salary. Adding Teague at the 120 percent pay scale would put them at 73,719,850 in salary, with 597,150 to spend.
Giving Teague the 100 percent pay scale would make his 2012-2013 salary cap hit 857,000, and the Bulls would have 73,548,450 in salary, with 751,550 to spend.
The salary cap hit on a veteran's minimum contract is 854,389. It's possible the Bulls are attempting to sign Teague to a pay scale that would get them below that number and able to sign a veteran, or are trying to move Rip Hamilton to free up cap space.
While the numbers can be confusing, what's simple is this: the Bulls do have enough cap space to sign Teague to the 120 percent pay scale, and it doesn't appear the 19-year-old point guard will budge on the issue, especially given the Bulls' history of paying their first-rounders 120 percent.
Deeks also believes the Bulls are not trying to pinch pennies after handing Kirk Hinrich 8 million for two years.
Deeks referred in his article back to 2010 when the Memphis Grizzlies attempted to short-change lottery pick Xavier Henry. What eventually happened was Henry getting his desired pay scale contract and a "PR nightmare to show for it" for Memphis.
That's something the Bulls don't want, so expect a deal to happen sooner than later.

As the NBA evolves, Bulls' Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez experiment with 3-pointers

As the NBA evolves, Bulls' Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez experiment with 3-pointers

Taj Gibson began working on his 3-point shot as early as this past offseason. That work in the gym from beyond the arc continued into training camp, the preseason and eventually the regular season.

The eight-year veteran didn't attempt his first 3-pointer until the 21st game of the season, and that came in the final minute as the Bulls trailed by nine against the Pistons. Gibson's 27-foot heave from the left wing was off, and he proceeded to play the next 17 games without attempting another.

But recently Gibson had a conversation with head coach Fred Hoiberg, who knew the 31-year-old power forward had been putting in additional time to work on his corner 3-pointers. Hoiberg told Gibson he believed in his corner 3-pointer and that he'd allow the Bulls' forward to shoot them in games.

On Jan. 10, Gibson took a pass from Rajon Rondo midway through the first quarter and hoisted a 3-pointer from the left corner. He connected, marking just the second made 3-pointer of his career, and his first since the 2010-11 season.

Between triples Gibson, always a reliable midrange shooter, attempted and missed 22 3-pointers. But with the added practice time and confidence, and a blessing from his head coach, Gibson believes the 3-pointer can become an asset, going as far to say he’d like to shoot two triples per game.

There is, however, one aspect of the shot still standing in his way.

"When you get out there you never really realize how far it is until you're lined up and the crowd is like, 'Shoot it!'" Gibson said after Thursday's practice at the Advocate Center. "Your teammates are behind you, but it's fun. Hopefully (I) look forward to trying to make some in the future."

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Gibson attempted two more triples in Saturday's win over the Hornets and another in Sunday's win over the Grizzlies. All three were off-target, but just seeing Gibson step into the attempts and fire with confidence was a sight for sore eyes on a Bulls team lacking from outside.

Through the season's first half the Bulls rank last in both 3-point field goal percentage (31.7 percent) and 3-pointers made (6.4 per game). Their 276 total made 3-pointers as a team are less than two pairs of teammates (Houston’s Eric Gordon and James Harden, 301; Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, 283).

The Bulls' expected top 3-point shooters – Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Denzel Valentine – have combined to go 114-for-350, or 32.5 percent. Starters Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade haven’t fared much better, albeit on fewer attempts, while Chicago's trio of point guards have made 29 percent of their 144 3-point attempts. Simply put, there's ample opportunity to see what Gibson can do from deep without messing up the team's current perimeter shooting.

"It's something that he worked on a lot in the offseason. So yeah if he's open in the corner we want those shots," Hoiberg said. "It’s obviously a huge part of today's game. The 3-point shot, to have multiple players that can stretch the floor out there, those teams are really hard to guard."

Gibson's not the only Bulls big man experimenting. Robin Lopez said he, too, has been working on his outside shot in practice. Gibson joked that Hoiberg hasn't yet given Lopez permission to fire away from deep, while Hoiberg cracked that Lopez might be jealous of the 5.2 3-pointers his twin brother, Brook, is attempting this season in Brooklyn.

Lopez, like Gibson, has always had a dependable midrange shot. Per NBA.com, his 44.4 field goal percentage on midrange shots is fifth among centers this season.

"That’s something I've been working on more this season. I don't know if it's game-ready yet. That's more of a confidence issue," said Lopez, who added he's been working with assistant coach Pete Myers on the shot. "I think the way the NBA is going, I don't see why not. If Brook can do it, I definitely can."

Lopez is 0-for-5 from distance in his nine-year career, including 0-for-1 with the Bulls this season. But the defensive-minded center knows the ever-changing NBA game now includes teams wanting to get as many perimeter shooters on the floor at once. If he and/or Gibson can eventually be part of that, he knows the difference it could make.

"I think it's wonderful for the game. I think there's a real premium on skill at all positions on the court. I think that's going to continue. You're going to have more skilled and more talented big men," he said. "There's always a new breed of big men right around the corner."

Bulls Road Ahead: Trying to get back to .500 yet again

Bulls Road Ahead: Trying to get back to .500 yet again

Mark Schanowski and Mark Strotman break down what the Bulls need to do to get back on track on this edition of the Bulls Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

A stellar win over the Grizzlies on Sunday has all but been forgotten, as the Bulls lost to the Mavericks on Tuesday. Now back under .500 for the fourth time this season, the Bulls will have to regroup as they prepare for a back-to-back against the Hawks and Kings.

See what else they had to say in this week's Bulls Road Ahead.