(CBS) Bulls center Joakim Noah is having a career year, averaging career highs in points (12.0), rebounds (11.4) and assists (4.7) while becoming the face of the organization.
That’s all well and good, but if Noah keeps up his triple-double exploits and continues drawing national attention, it could actually hurt the Bulls. That’s because Noah has a clause in his contract that calls for a $500,000 bonus if he makes the all-NBA first team, reports Grantland’s Zach Lowe.
If Noah does do that, it would surely push the Bulls past the luxury tax threshold of $71.75 million, Lowe writes. They traded Luol Deng to get below the luxury tax but have been straddling it ever since.
Noah has played so well, he might be the favorite for the center spot on the first All-NBA team this season. Remember: The All-Star Game has done away with the traditional center designation, but it remains on the All-NBA ballot. Marc Gasol has missed 23 games, Roy Hibbert has fallen off a bit in the last month, Brook Lopez is long gone, Andre Drummond is still learning, Tyson Chandler has fallen victim to the Knicks’ stench, Tim Duncan remains positionally amorphous, DeAndre Jordan is not quite All-NBA caliber, Bogut doesn’t have enough juice, Nikola Pekovic and Pau Gasol have missed time due to injury, and DeMarcus Cousins ain’t the most popular cat in the league.
That first team spot may come down to Noah and Dwight Howard, and the resolution will mean a ton to Chicago.
In a one-year vacuum, paying a little luxury tax isn’t a huge deal. But the Bulls would miss out on the money all teams under the luxury tax receive from the tax-paying teams, and it would push them closer to becoming a repeat offender in the future, for which harsh penalties are imposed. Tax-paying teams also don’t have the same flexibility to use the mid-level exception, so it can tie a front office’s hands in building a championship roster.