In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Bulls were armed with a ton of cap space to sign nearly two max contract free agents. But with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh all electing to play with the Miami Heat, the Bulls were left to sign Carlos Boozer and a variety of role players to round out the roster.
At the time, signing Boozer to a five year deal worth over $75 million didn’t seem so bad. Boozer averaged a stellar 19 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists per game with the Utah Jazz during the 2009-10 season. The Bulls also lacked a true low post scorer at power forward for several season, so adding Boozer was a consolation prize that the team gladly accepted.
However, it has never gone as well as planned. Boozer’s production has tailed off nearly every season with the Bulls — averaging 13 points per game over the season — his lowest since his rookie year with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But if the Bulls want any chance to sign any free agents this summer, Boozer will either have to be amnestied or traded. The Bulls are rumored to be one of the prime destinations for free agent Carmelo Anthony. They’ve also dangled Boozer in trade talks with Minnesota Timberwolves center Kevin Love. Their alternate plan is also rumored to be signing Lance Stephenson or former Bull Luol Deng.
Although this seems like a terrific plan over the summer, none of it is possible without moving Boozer’s contract. And for the most part, Boozer is basically stranded in basketball purgatory until the Bulls decide what to do with him.
They remain reluctant to flat out amnesty Boozer and would prefer to trade him before doing anything else. Basically, when a team uses their one amnesty clause on a player, they are responsible for paying their full salary even though that player has been picked up by another team. By trading Boozer in the final year of his deal, the Bulls wouldn’t have to pay him a dime. But finding a suitor to take on Boozer’s contract could be a bit of a problem since most teams know that he’s likely to be amnestied.
Nevertheless, the Bulls entire summer relies on what the team is able to do with his contract. As it stands now, Chicago is right under the cap limit and would have difficulty signing any players over the veteran minimum. The quicker Boozer is gone, the quicker the Bulls can build for next season.