|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
C.J. Watson wants to return to the Chicago Bulls next season, but he isn't sure about his future given the organization's uncertain salary-cap status.
Watson, who has a $3.2 million team option for next season, is in a holding pattern. With Derrick Rose (torn ACL) likely out for a large chunk of next season, Watson's return figured to be a relative slam dunk, but the uncertainty of the Bulls' cap flexibility and the organization's uneasiness with going into the luxury tax have muddled Watson's future.
"I had another meeting (Wednesday) with (GM) Gar (Forman), it went well," Watson said Wednesday on "Chicago's Gamenight" on ESPN 1000. "Met with (coach Tom Thibodeau). And they both explained how they want me back. Especially with the circumstances with Derrick being out for however long, but it's the business side of basketball, and it's up to the owner (Jerry Reinsdorf) if he wants to (go into) luxury (tax) with Omer (Asik) and whoever else we bring back. So I don't know."
The Bulls are expected to do everything they can to bring back Asik, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. If another team offered Asik $5 million a season and the Bulls matched the offer, they would be right up against the luxury tax threshold depending on the corresponding moves they make.
The Bulls also must decide whether to bring back Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer next season. Both players' contracts are not fully guaranteed for 2012-13.
Watson, who averaged 10 points and four assists last season, said he didn't get a feeling one way or another as to whether the Bulls will bring him back.
"They're on the fence, I guess," Watson said. "They keep telling me they want to bring me back, but it's all about luxury [tax] and all that kind of stuff. So we just have to wait and see."
Watson said it doesn't matter to him whether he starts or comes off the bench, but he would like to remain with the Bulls.
"It's very important," he said of remaining in Chicago. "I'm comfortable here, coaches know me, GM, all that kind of stuff. It's just fun to be here. Great city, a great city to play for, a lot of tradition here, and I wouldn't want to play anywhere else."
Watson, who had a procedure after the season on both his feet to fix the plantar fasciitis issues he dealt with throughout the year, said he is feeling much better and has resumed his training.
"[I feel] a lot better," he said. "I feel great now. I've had time to actually rest and get better. I had surgery to fix my plantar fasciitis, [so] that's a lot better. [I'm] just ready to start the season again."
If Watson does return, he is confident the Bulls can play at a championship level if the rest of his teammates return healthy. Rose and Luol Deng, who likely will have wrist surgery after the Olympics, will be out for a while. But he believes the Bulls can hold things down until they return.
"I believe so," he said. "We've shown it the first year we were together, that we have the ability to get there and get to the Finals and hopefully win a title. But last year everyone was hurt, and we'll have the same challenge next year with people being hurt. [We're] just trying to get out of that challenge and at least have a winning record, so whenever they come back we can make a big push for it."