A two-time All-Star, Boozer had built up his market value and became a free agent at the perfect moment, cashing in with the Bulls for five years and $75 million.
Following his arrival to Chicago, commentators and fans have expressed their disappointment with Boozer's performance.
But what has changed? This is the same defense-less player who was with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Jazz. The same player who has missed 135 games in five years. Just because he gets paid a lot doesn't make him any better.
Here are five reasons why Boozer is getting paid too much money.
Before the season started last year, Boozer hurt his thumb after supposedly tripping over his gym bag. He missed 23 games. In Utah, he was known to take extended injury breaks.
Here is a history of his major injuries:
2004-5 – Ankle
2005-6 – Hamstring, hairline fracture in tibia, missed half the season
2008-9 – Knee, 44 games missed
2010-11 – Broken hand, 23 games missed
Boozer has missed an average 26.4 games per season. For $80 million, the Bulls took a huge gamble on Boozer staying on the court.
Boozer is a Buddhist monk on defense; he graciously welcomes the lane, free from struggle.
Putting it simply, Thibodeau’s defensive strategy is based on help. All five players need to work as a unit, switching on pick and rolls and filling the lanes. I wish there was a statistic on how many times Boozer just stands motionless when he should have picked up an assignment.
Is this something new? Jazz owner Larry Miller publicly criticized him for lack of defensive effort in 2005.
So the Bulls are paying him $75 million to average 15.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and play paddy-cake defense? For that money, Bulls should be getting someone who can average a double-double and defend the paint.
Looks as if they are getting a disappointing return on their investment.
Boozer was a part of a different game plan in Utah. He was generally the first scoring option, playing with a traditional distributing point guard in Deron Williams.
Boozer should have become a main focal point of the Bulls offense but has fallen behind Luol Deng in PPG, and as Richard Hamilton gets more minutes, Boozer will likely sit third in scoring.
The Jazz, who were not known for their defense, played mostly a shell zone. As Sam Smith points out, it was a very different defensive strategy, with not as much help and switching as you see on the Bulls. Under Thibodeau’s command, players are held accountable for their defense.
Boozer made it to the All-Star game twice in his career. In 2007 he was chosen as a reserve and was unable to play due to injury. In 2008, as a backup, Boozer played in the All-Star game for the first time and earned a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
He was making less money then.
For the money, Bulls should have a perennial All-Star, even if he's a reserve. Here is a list of three All-Star reserves last year whose contracts are less than or equal to Boozer's:
1. Ray Allen – 2yr/$20 million;
2. Al Horford – 5yr/$60 million;
3. Russell Westbrook – 5 yr/ $78 million (He makes a little more than Boozer, but it's close).
Boozer makes All-Star money, so he should play like one. Even if he could average 20/10, fans can see how one-sided his game is and will likely vote for more defensive-minded forwards like Al Horford and Kevin Garnett.
Just because it's expensive doesn't make it function any better.
It's hard to be critical of Boozer's performance because this is what he's done his whole career. This isn't an article calling out Boozer for bad performance. This is just a reality check.
Were the Bulls expecting anything different?
15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in 30.7 minutes. His career stats are 17.2 points and 10 rebounds in 32.6 minutes.
Very similar numbers with the decrease in playing time. Only twice has he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in a season.
Bottom Line: Boozer's five-year, $75 million contract is not reflective of the kind of player he really is.