COMMENTARY – Carlos Boozer has been the inside presence, or lack there of, for the Chicago Bulls since signing a 5-year, $80 million contract in the summer of 2010.
After losing out on the LeBron James sweepstakes, along with Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, Chicago felt the need to use their cap flexibility for a contributing superstar. Coming off a season where he averaged 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds shooting 56% from the field his final year in Utah, Boozer was believed to be a key component in helping to make the Bulls title contenders.
For the most part, the belief proved itself as the Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in Boozer’s first year as a Bull. However, Chicago has not been there since. Now, going into his fourth year in Chicago, Boozer and his hefty contract may be seeing an end to his time in the Windy City.
Carlos hasn’t been the same productive force he was in Utah, which is mainly the result of a personnel change at point guard. Deron Williams, now with the Brooklyn Nets, is more of a pass-first point guard who’s dribble penetration led to easier baskets for Boozer.
Rose, on the other hand, looks to leap over or maneuver through defenders on his way to the basket, leaving Boozer to fend for himself and get baskets anyway possible. When the ball is in Boozer’s hand to score, he is quite effective, but not dominate. Last seasons averages of 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds were impressive for Booz, but he did it at a less than stellar 49% field goal rate. Boozer is aging and his contribution will decrease. Chicago has to be one step ahead and act before having to react.
Boozer is one of two eligible Bulls, the other being Joakim Noah, who is a candidate for the one-time amnesty clause. His contract was signed before the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Under the CBA, the Bulls are able to remove 100% of Boozer’s contract from Team Salary for Salary Cap and tax purposes, while only paying a portion of his remaining contract. The amnesty of Boozer would allow for the Bulls to have more salary cap flexibility to resign Luol Deng in the 2014 offseason or pursue a different free agent.
It won’t be often that a team makes an offer for Carlos Boozer; I’m not sure it’ll happen once. Who’d want an underproductive player in his early 30s with an overwhelmingly expensive contract? If a reasonable deal comes up then the Bulls had better pull the trigger; there isn’t much trade value to work with. In a hypothetical trade, the Bulls may have to surrender over a draft pick or two to sweeten the deal for any team taking in Boozer’s contract. Taj Gibson has proven himself a valuable starter and could carry the void after Boozer is moved, and for a cheaper price.
The arrival of Carlos Boozer in 2010 was not an appealing sight for me. I’ve so long wondered when Chicago would rid themselves of Boozer and his time may now be coming to an end. With two years remaining on his contract, it’d be hard to see Carlos in a Bull’s uniform for that amount of time. As a Bulls’ fan, it has been painstakingly awful to see Carlos Boozer underproduce on a team looking to expand. His departure will not bring a tear to my eye, but a smile to my face.
Shawn Jones has been following the NBA since 2003. He also writes for SportTechie and studies Sports Communication at Bradley University. Follow him on Twitter @Shawn_Jones93 and subscribe to his blog:Shawntjones93.blog.com