Chicago Bulls: Next Season Is Make or Break for Carlos Boozer

James Davis@@JDouglasDavisAnalyst IMay 31, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 21: Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Dallas Mavericks at the United Center on April 21, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Mavericks 93-83. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agress that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With Chicago Bulls fans, there seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Carlos Boozer; they either defend him or deride him.

Those who support Boozer often cite his consistent rebounding and ability to spread defenses with his outside shot.

For the ones who are not too fond of Boozer, they are quick to point out him being the only blight on an otherwise stellar defensive team and his disappearing acts against marquee opponents.

It has to be a tough existence for someone who has averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds for his career. Despite his consistent output, Boozer’s critics have always been louder than his extollers.

Boozer probably does not sweat the criticism much; his job seems pretty secure as Bulls GM Gar Forman has stated publicly that Boozer will return next season (via

Despite the vote of confidence, one can’t help but wonder if Boozer’s days as a Bull are numbered.

The truth is, despite his consistency, Boozer’s performance has yet to live up to the expectations heaped upon him, along with that lofty $75 million contract.

When stacked against a statistically comparable power forward like Luis Scola, Boozer is getting paid a lot more money to put up numbers very similar to mid-level players.

This is why the 2012-2013 season is going to decide the fate of Boozer as it relates to his future with the Bulls franchise.

With Derrick Rose possibly missing all of next season, the remaining core of Bulls leaders will be expected to step up tremendously to help keep the team in winning form.

If there is anyone over whom a cloud of doubt lingers, it is Boozer.

Without Rose’s dynamic game to cover up his shortcomings, every mistake Boozer makes will be amplified.

No longer can Boozer continue to avoid following up his missed shots, going up soft in the paint or lagging behind the fast break.

In his first season with the Bulls, Boozer produced like usual but had health issues again. During his sophomore campaign, his health improved tremendously, but his overall numbers were the lowest they have been since his rookie year.

Taking that into consideration, along with his relative ineffectiveness in Chicago’s short playoff appearance, it’s easy to deduce that Boozer needs a big year to avoid what some are deeming an inevitable amnesty.

With players like Taj Gibson waiting in the wings and Nikola Mirotic on the horizon, Boozer needs to use next season as an opportunity to prove that he is the stud that Forman and John Paxson thought him to be when he was inked in 2010.