The Bulls owe Carlos Boozer $47,100,000 over the next 3 years. That’s a lot to pay for a player turning 31 next season who has averaged 11.8 points per game on 41.3% shooting in the playoffs the past 2 years.
Derrick Rose missing most of next year recovering from an ACL injury will likely mean the 2012-2013 Bulls campaign is a lost season. Even when Rose returns next year, he won’t be 100%. This situation should call for the Bulls to legitimately look at the possibility of using the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer this offseason.
The Amnesty Process
The Amnesty provision allows teams the one time option to “waive” a player and remove his contract from the team salary calculation. This player must have signed his deal before the last CBA was agreed to (i.e. players signed in the last off-season are not eligible).
Players enter free agency on July 1st. At this point, players who are eligible can be amnestied and are placed on waivers for 7 days. If the Bulls were to amnesty Boozer, teams would bid on him using their available cap space. Boozer is then awarded to the team who places the highest bid.
There are a handful of teams with $10 million or more in free cap space next year. Most of these teams find it hard to lure players like Boozer to their team in free agency, especially at a discounted price like this. Multiple teams should be interested.
Let’s say a team really likes what Boozer has to offer and they enter a bid of $25 million. Since he is owed $47.1 million over the rest of his contract, the Bulls have to pay the difference of $22 million over the next 3 years. This number does not affect our cap space. He is completely wiped off our books.
Why Would The Bulls Do This?
Freeing Up Cap Space
Is Carlos Boozer worth more to the Bulls than Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, and C.J. Watson combined? Keeping Boozer makes it impossible to bring back all 4 of those players without going over the luxury tax. Jerry Reinsdorf will not enter the luxury tax for a non-championship contending season. I believe keeping our depth outweighs the benefits of keeping Boozer.
Bringing back Brewer, Korver and Watson also allows the Bulls to have approximately $17,500,000 in expiring contracts when you throw in Richard Hamilton. That could be huge in the trade market for a team looking to unload a quality player for cap space.
Luol Deng’s contract is up after the 2013-2014 season. Suddenly, without Boozer and with Deng’s soon to be expiring contract, the Bulls have some flexibility heading into the next few seasons. Having multiple options in the future on how to successfully place players around Derrick Rose is a good thing.
The Taj Gibson Effect
Taj Gibson is a restricted free agent after next season. Wouldn’t you like to see if he can produce over the course of a full season as a starter before you match the hefty offer he will receive?
Taj’s per-36 minute averages last year came out to 13.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks. Seeing as how he only played 20 minutes per game last year, can he actually reach those numbers with most of his minutes coming against starting caliber players?
The Bulls obtained Mirotic with the 23rd pick in last year’s draft. He is a 21 year old, 6’10 perimeter orientated power forward with star potential.
He is the first two time winner of the “Euroleague Rising Star Award” and is young enough to be eligible again next season. Previous winners of the award include Andrea Bargnani (2006 1st pick), Rudy Fernandez (2007 24th pick), Danillo Gallinari (2008 6th pick), and Ricky Rubio (2009 5th pick).
Last year at the U-20 European Championships, Mirotic (MVP of the tourney) posted a stat line of 27 points, 10 rebounds, 1.4 blocks with percentages of 63.4% on 2 pointers, 40% on 3 pointers, and 85.1% from the line in 9 games. That is extremely impressive. Are you convinced yet? You should be.
Boozer is directly involved in this situation as he will be let go by the Bulls (assuming they resign Asik and Taj) when Mirotic comes over. Mirotic would be the Bulls’ 5th big man and Boozer will definitely be the least productive by then.
Due to Mirotic’s contract situation, this probably won’t be until the 2013-2014 season. He has a large buyout with Real Madrid and the Bulls can only contribute $500,000.
Why Would The Bulls NOT Do this?
Our Offense Would Suffer
Boozer averaged 15 points per game and played every game this year. That’s a lot of points that are going to have to come from other players who can’t create their own shot. Boozer’s game is largely jump shot reliant at this point in his career, but he is a damn good mid range shooter. The Bulls will struggle to consistently score points next year, and without Boozer they would be entirely dependent on their defense.
You could argue that with Boozer carrying an even larger offensive load with Rose and Deng out of the lineup, Boozer’s numbers could see an increase back to his career per game averages. This could definitely happen considering his minutes have decreased since joining the Bulls, but his per-36 numbers have remained constant.
If his numbers do increase, Boozer could have some trade value again. After next season he only has 2 years left on his deal and a team looking to clear cap space might be willing to take him on.
The opposite could also be true. Boozer might continue to decline and his trade value will either stay the same (nobody wants his deal) or even decrease (they won’t even take Gar’s phone calls).
It’s hard to imagine Boozer’s numbers increasing from last year. At 31 years old his athleticism will continue to decline and, without any playmakers to feed him the ball, his play will continue to suffer.
The Image of the Front Office and the Team
This the main reason I don’t think this will happen, even though it should. Using the amnesty on Boozer would be Gar Forman and the rest of the front office admitting the Boozer experiment was a total failure and next season is a lost cause. They will keep the status quo with the same team from last year and sell the public on Rose’s return for the playoffs.
The job of the front office isn’t just putting a team together, it’s selling the team you put together. Without Boozer you’re likely starting Watson, Hamilton, Butler/Korver, Taj, and Noah. Do we make the playoffs with that lineup? Now everyone will be talking about how we can dismantle and rebuild for the future instead of if we might have a shot with Rose returning before the playoffs.
The Chicago Bulls are a business trying to make money just like anything else, and selling hope for the future won’t make you as much money as putting a product on the floor now. Carlos Boozer will likely stay around at least one more season. That’s all that matters, yo.