With the Chicago Bulls now heading into another offseason, the question of Carlos Boozer being amnestied is being raised once again. There are arguments for and against such a move, and we wanted to analyze both the pros and cons of doing so.
Boozer did play better this year. He even won Eastern Conference Player of the Week at one point. However, he also disappeared frequently, making it difficult to keep him away from the ire of Bulls fans.
As a result of his bipolar play, both sides of the argument have a following.
If the Bulls were to get rid of Boozer, we wouldn’t have to deal with the constant bothering over him anymore. That alone is worth something.
Chicago fans can be a fickle bunch. Even hometown hero Derrick Rose isn’t immune to the criticism that can suddenly emerge from the Windy City faithful, so a hired mercenary like Boozer isn’t going to escape controversy when he’s playing poorly.
Rose’s return and Boozer’s bumbling are the two most consistent controversies from Chicago last season. Rose will be back next season, so if Boozer is to be amnestied, both controversies would be resolved. And a peaceful city is a better city.
Getting rid of Boozer might put the “united" back in “United Center.”
The Chicago Bulls can free up some cap space by amnestying Boozer but not the dollar-for-dollar sum that many think. They can’t cut him and then spend that $15 million. Because they are over the cap, they are still going to be restricted in regard to what they can do.
Coupled with the release of Richard Hamilton, the Bulls would have roughly $53 million next summer in committed cap space. If the cap remains the same, they won't have any cap space after cap holds for their No. 20 pick and the veterans' minimums.
The Bulls would have two pluses come out of this, though. First, they would be able to use a full mid-level exception rather than the taxpayer mid-level exception, which means they could add a better player than they can right now—though it's doubtful he would be better than or as good as Boozer.
Second, they would be able to stay under the cap, which would mean they wouldn’t hit the repeater tax next in 2014-15.
That's important because of Luol Deng’s expiring contract and the possibility of Nikola Mirotic coming over. In 2014, Deng’s expiring contract, along with the amnestying of Boozer’s contract next summer, would mean they could add a second superstar alongside Rose.
Avoiding paying the luxury tax now means they can avoid having to pay the repeater tax in 2015-16, which would also make it easier to afford that second star.
This is by far the biggest pro to releasing Boozer now.
It would be hard to make a case that Carlos Boozer is earning every dime he makes in every minute of every game. At the same time, there have been far more ridiculous contracts than his in the grand scheme of things.
In actuality, Boozer’s contract isn’t great, but it’s not that bad. Players who were paid more than him but were amnestied include Rashard Lewis, Elton Brand and Gilbert Arenas.
Then there were the players who didn’t play or hardly played because they were hurt, such as Derrick Rose, Andrew Bynum and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Then there were those who played but weren’t as productive. As measured by win shares, Boozer outperformed Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson and Rudy Gay, who all made more money than Boozer.
There are a wide range of bad contracts, and on that spectrum, Boozer’s is less awful than most.
A team can do a lot worse than get 16 points and 10 rebounds a game from a player, and it is going to have difficulty finding such output for the NBA veteran’s minimum or at the mid-level exception, which is all the Bulls would get if they amnesty Boozer.
He might not earn $15 million, but he does earn about half of that, which you can’t replace with $5 million.
The Bulls made it to the second round of the playoffs this year. They beat the Heat, in the postseason, on their own home court, without Deng, Hinrich or Rose. This makes you think about what they might be able to do with those guys in the game.
Granted, the Bulls lost the other four games and were completely obliterated in two of them, so you can’t just praise the one win. But you can’t ignore it either, especially when you remember that the other two losses were close and the Bulls had the win that stopped the Heat's historic win streak.
The bottom line is this: The Chicago Bulls could be contenders the way they are set up, or close enough that some offseason tinkering would make the difference. There is little chance that they are going to get better immediately if they jettison Boozer. That being said, what’s the harm in letting them have one go at it with everyone healthy?
The team has developed since they went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011. The blossoming of Jimmy Butler could mean they are better than ever. Joakim Noah has emerged as a top-25 player in the league.
Why fix what isn’t broken?
The Chicago Bulls already need to find a fourth rotation player to complement their big men. Having to find another one after releasing Boozer would make that search more difficult.
Boozer might be caught out of position from time to time (usually between the first minute and the 48th minute, barring overtime), but he at least knows the defense.
With the Bulls, so much of what they do is based on their system. Both this year and 2011 showed that it takes time for the new players to adjust to their roles and learn them. However, once they do, coach Tom Thibodeau has shown he can work his magic on just about anyone.
Nazr Mohammed, as a result, played limited minutes for much of the first part of the season, and that played a part in Joakim Noah being put to work so much in the beginning. Noah averaged 38.3 minutes before the All-Star break and just 32.6 minutes afterward.
It’s close to a guarantee that if Chicago amnesties Boozer, the player who will pay the stiffest penalty for it would be Noah. Boozer might not be worth $15 million, but he fills up minutes and that is worth something.