Several Weeks ago, I wrote an article about Carlos Boozer and the amnesty clause. It talked about how he could avoid being amnestied from the team and outlined a few ways he could ensure his future would stay in Chicago with the Chicago Bulls. However, with Taj Gibson getting an extension on his contract–which we all expected to happen–it makes Boozer’s chances of staying in Chicago that much less likely.
So what are Chicago’s options? They have two. The first one is to amnesty Boozer and save themselves an upwards of $70 million. The second, is to give him the season to accumulate better numbers across the stat line, gain some trade value and generate interest from other teams around the NBA. But how can they go about doing that? It comes down to production, and Boozer is in the best spot to have a highly productive year with superstar Derrick Rose out indefinitely. With Rose out, Boozer should get more touches which should translate to more points. But it comes down to where he gets his touches. Yes, he has one of the best looking jumpers in the league and yes, he is pretty accurate from about 16 feet from the basket, but those aren’t the spots he wants to be shooting from.
When Boozer was with the Utah Jazz, he and then-point guard Deron Williams mastered the pick-and roll play. Boozer would pick the man covering Williams and then roll to the opponents weak side of the basket. Williams would hit him with the ball and Boozer would covert an easy layup or kick it out to an open shooter. This play worked perfectly and thus led Boozer to a career high in field goal percentage (56%) in his last season with them.
Unfortunately, Chicago doesn’t operate the same way. Chicago likes to run the pick-and-pop play where Boozer will pick the ball-handlers defender and then pop out to the wing or free-throw line where he will catch and shoot the ball. Again, while Boozer is an accurate shooter, it not what Chicago needs to run for him. The pick-and-roll will allow Boozer to cut to the basket and pick up easy fouls that will send him to the line. If he isn’t fouled, the defense will still collapse in on him and allow him to kick it out to any one of Chicago’s long range specialists.
Chicago is sitting atop the Central Division with a 4-2 record right now and their playing hard-nosed basketball. Regardless though, they still need to re-think how they use Boozer on the offense. If they can play him more effectively, it might pay dividends when teams looking for a power forward come knocking. Boozer is still a top forward, and teams desperate for a low-post threat might offer a nice sum of money or a young promising player for him.
With that in mind, Chicago should let Boozer play out the year, use him frequently on the offense and see where it gets them. They might be surprised on how much better he might become if he has plays run for him where he knows he can do damage.