Chicago Bulls fans could probably live without Carlos Boozer.
If they had their way, he would have been amnestied right off the roster in favor of backup power forward Taj Gibson. This might be Boozer’s last chance to get in the good graces of Bulls fans, and he will finally live up to the high expectations.
Why does a player of Boozer’s caliber gets so much heat from fans? That question is very hard to answer. It could be the massive contract he signed with the Bulls back in 2010. Back then, the free agent class was very deep. There were multiple teams with a lot of cap space ready to pounce on some of the most gifted players in the NBA.
The Bulls were one of those teams with salary cap space. The top free agents in 2010 were LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudamire.
When James, Bosh and Wade decided to collaborate together with the Miami Heat and Stoudamire decided to sign with the New York Knicks, the Bulls were left with plan B. The Bulls decided to sign Boozer to a five-year deal worth $80 million. The fans’ reception of this signing was mixed. Bulls fans wanted the top-tier free agents and had to settle for Boozer.
Carlos Boozer came to Chicago as one of the top-10 power forwards in the game and a consistent double-double threat. His offensive game fit very well with All-Star point guard Derrick Rose. His rebounding was going to alleviate some of the pressure off center Joakim Noah, but none of this mattered to Bulls fans because they wanted more.
Boozer is unfairly criticized. He contributes in points and rebounds. He has averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game in three seasons with the Bulls. Those numbers would be judged as belonging to a very good player. But for Boozer, it is not enough. He is not the best defender. He seems to play flat-footed at times and a step slow. That type of effort irks fans.
So why will Boozer finally live up to expectations? For one, Derrick Rose will be back ready to claim his spot as one of the best players on the planet. This will take major pressure off Boozer and he can be that second scorer again. That is where he is comfortable. Boozer can get back to shooting those 10-foot floating jumpers from the slashing Rose.
Another thing that will help Boozer become more consistent is his health. He hasn’t missed many games since coming to Chicago. The more he is on the floor, the better the Bulls will be.
The fans don’t want to admit it, but the Bulls need Boozer. He is a consistent contributor to the team. His scoring, rebounding, passing and intangibles can’t be overlooked. The Bulls have something special coming together this season and Boozer will be a key factor. He knows that this might be his last year with the team, so he has no choice but to live up to his contract. If not, he will more than likely be out of here.