Bulls waive Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Canaan, re-sign Cristiano Felicio

On the eve of 2016 NBA free agency, the Bulls had a first-day, in-town visit with Rajon Rondo scheduled. Days later, Dwyane Wade felt Pat Riley and the Heat spurned him and he chose his hometown team.

This year's free agency, which began at 11:01 p.m. Friday, will carry no such big-name pursuits.

That's what happens when an All-NBA player, Jimmy Butler, is traded and a full rebuild begins. It's all about the young players now.

That's why the Bulls on Friday officially waived Rondo, whose $13.4 million contract would have been guaranteed fully if he remained on the roster when the NBA's new fiscal year begins. Instead, the Bulls paid him $3 million to go away despite valuing his leadership and mentoring skills.

Now, it's all about players such as Kris Dunn, Cameron Payne and center Cristiano Felicio, whom a source said the Bulls re-signed for four years and $32 million as free agency began.

Rondo, who endured a wild lone season in Chicago, is expected to draw interest from at least the Pelicans and Pacers. The Bulls also waived Isaiah Canaan, whose $1.5 million salary for next season carried $200,000 of guaranteed money.

Like Rondo, Canaan traveled an up-and-down road in his lone season with the Bulls. Benched for long stretches, he finished the first-round playoff loss to the Celtics as a solid starter after Rondo fractured his thumb on top of a significant wrist injury.

Yes, the Bulls are down to one alpha, and there are no current plans for a buyout of Wade. Last week, executive vice president John Paxson said any such talks if Wade chooses to initiate them would have to be "advantageous" to the Bulls.

Wade posted messages of thanks to Rondo and Canaan on his Twitter account.

Rondo coined the "Three Alphas" nickname for himself, Butler and Wade last July. This July figures to be quieter.

Beyond Felicio, who emerged as an athletic defensive presence last season, the Bulls have sounded confident they will retain restricted free agent Nikola Mirotic.

"We value Niko," general manager Gar Forman said. "We see him as a 26-year-old, 6-foot-10 guy who can shoot. He has to get better in certain areas, but Niko made it clear he wants to be in Chicago.

"He's comfortable here. His family is comfortable here. We made it clear that we would like for him to be in Chicago. (We) hope (to) get something done when July 1 comes."

At some point after the initial market flurry subsides, one or two more players will be added.

Paxson has said "the right veterans" are needed for a rebuilding effort. Mike Dunleavy, whom the Hawks waived Friday, is a logical candidate, although he will draw interest from contending teams. Amir Johnson and Nick Collison are potential targets if Mirotic isn't retained.

Contrary to some international reports, the Bulls aren't pursuing Serbian guard Milos Teodosic right now.

Management has debated internally whether or not to renounce its salary-cap space after extending qualifying offers to Mirotic and Joffrey Lauvergne. This would allow the Bulls to keep four salary-cap exceptions open, including two trade exceptions the Butler and Taj Gibson deals created that would go away if they are below the cap.

These trade exceptions of $15.3 and $1.5 million are available into next season and allow the Bulls to take a player from another team into that space without sending back matching salaries.


Twitter @kcjhoop

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