What Should the Chicago Bulls Do with Carlos Boozer?

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterSeptember 13, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 10:  Evan Turner #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers lays up a shot past Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

My default position has been, "The Bulls should amnesty Carlos Boozer." Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even for another year. But eventually, that more than $15 million per year becomes too onerous for a team in need of a higher ceiling.

Something changed, though. I'm not certain that it should alter the Boozer amnesty calculus, but the Bulls have more money on hand after losing Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer to free agency. Of course, the loss of those aforementioned players speaks to Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf's reluctance to spend money. Having "extra money" on hand may just mean having theoretical cash that Reinsdorf won't bother conjuring into reality. 

Regardless of Reinsdorf's frivolousness, the Bulls likely have to part with Boozer to move up an echelon, even though Carlos isn't a "bad" player at this career stage. Against a short-armed defender or defensively inept opponent, Booze can appear a a world beater. He rebounds well, and relies on a high arcing shot to compensate for his lack of length. When facing similarly short defenders, the shot is nearly automatic. His player efficiency number of 19.79 speaks to an ability to clean up over the course of an 82-game schedule. 

But in the playoffs, when facing stingier, lengthier defenders, Carlos Boozer can appear lost at sea. Next thing you know, half the undersized power forward's shots are getting thrown out of the paint, and his kid is chanting for the other team. 

We are talking about small sample sizes here, but the last two playoff runs have not been kind to Mr. Boozer. In 2011, he shot .433 from the field en route to a mere 12.6 point average. He was also worse on defense, though that's expected from stubby Carlos. In 2012, in the lone series against the Sixers, Carlos Boozer was .422 from the field for 14.6 points.

This was a series in which the Bulls really needed him, too. Derrick Rose had torn his ACL and Joakim Noah had gone down with an ankle injury. In theory, this was a perfect scenario for Boozer to reassert himself as an offensive focal point. But, the results were oddly as dismal as they had been in the previous year. As a role player and a primary option, Carlos has been lacking in the postseason. 

With big money committed to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, I'm not sure the Bulls can justify three years, $47 million. Carlos Boozer needs to do more offensively—especially in the playoffs—if he's going to often undermine a top defense like this. 

It's not just that Taj Gibson provides more on defense while performing passably on offense; it's that the Bulls are currently precluded from adding a replacement better than Taj.

Going forward, as his contract gets smaller, it should be easier to trade Carlos Boozer. But be it via trade or amnesty, the Bulls would probably be best advised to make a move. The Miami Heat aren't going anywhere, not for awhile anyway. Chicago needs something more than Boozer to stay competitive for a title in future seasons.