The Bulls added a free agent Wednesday when Chicago native Jannero Pargo agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million.
The 6-foot-1 guard played for the Bulls from 2003-06, then had two successful seasons in New Orleans before spending last year overseas. Pargo can fill a couple of roles for the Bulls - backup point guard and an extra scorer to help offset the loss to Ben Gordon.
In 2006-07, Pargo averaged 9.2 points for the Hornets while playing just 21 minutes per game. He was a very popular teammate during his first stint in Chicago, serving as something of a locker-room comedian, even though he rarely seeks the public spotlight.
"I think he'll pick up where he left off in New Orleans when he was one of the top sixth men in the league," said his agent, Mark Bartelstein. "I think he could have done better (financially) if he waited a little bit longer, but he didn't want to lose the opportunity with the Bulls. We just thought it was a good fit."
Pargo might be the Bulls' last addition this summer, but signing a significant free agent next year remains an important goal, now that Gordon has jumped to the Detroit Pistons for nothing in return.
The summer of 2010 is supposed to be a free-agent bonanza, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili among those eligible to hit the open market.
The Bulls are one of about a dozen teams that expects to have $12 million or more in cap room to spend on free agents. Some of the other teams gearing up to do some shopping are Miami, New York, Phoenix, Houston, New Jersey, Minnesota and Oklahoma City. Cleveland will have the ability to re-sign James and add another expensive free agent.
The NBA shared some gloomy economic news on Wednesday, though. The league distributed a memo to teams forecasting a significant drop in the salary cap for the 2010-11 season. The report projects a drop ranging anywhere from $50.4 million to $53.6 million. Next season's cap was set Tuesday at $57.7 million, about a million less than last year.
The players association wasn't happy with the memo, suggesting it could discourage teams from signing players this summer.
"A memo of this nature can have a chilling effect on the market for free agent and rookie signings," executive director Billy Hunter told The Associated Press in a statement. "If it later turns out that the league did not have a good faith basis for making these projections, the NBPA will pursue all available legal remedies, including a treble damages claim for collusion."
NBA spokesman Tim Frank defended the league's actions, telling the AP, "The memo speaks for itself and it was issued to give our teams our best, good faith projections."
Should the Bulls be concerned about a droopy salary cap ruining the free-agent plans next summer? Well, that depends. If the cap falls all the way to $50 million, it would be bad news, for sure.
Right now, the Bulls essentially have seven players under contract for the 2010-11 season - Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, James Johnson and Taj Gibson - at a total of $38.6 million.
Throw in next year's first-round draft pick and the Bulls' payroll will approach $40 million. That doesn't include Tyrus Thomas, who is eligible to sign a contract extension this fall or become a restricted free agent this summer.
In order to sign one of the elite power forwards next summer, such as Bosh, Boozer, or Stoudemire, they probably won't be able to keep Thomas. That's why it might make sense to offer Thomas and an expiring contract for one of those players in the next seven months.
The only issues remaining this summer are what to do with a couple of veterans - guard Lindsey Hunter and center Aaron Gray. The Bulls might still be interested in keeping another guard, either Demarcus Nelson or Anthony Roberson.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.