Chicago Bulls: Why Carlos Boozer Will Live Up to His Contract in 2013-2014

James Davis@@JDouglasDavisAnalyst IJuly 31, 2013

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 04:  Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls reacts to a three point play during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on January 4, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Carlos Boozer is probably the one Chicago Bulls player many fans can live without.

Let some people have their way and Boozer would be at least benched in favor of Taj Gibson, but the best case involves using the current CBA’s amnesty provision to let Boozer go making cap space for a perceived-to-be-better player.

This is the sentiment reserved for an athlete who’s averaged at or near a double-double his last 10 seasons which includes, of course, each of his three seasons as the Bulls’ starting power forward.

So, what is the root of this lukewarm treatment of one of Chicago’s most consistent contributors?

To answer that question, we have to rewind the clock back to the summer of 2010.

The free agent class of that year was the deepest of any in recent memory, and there were quite a few teams with enough salary cap space hoping to land one of the elite talents instantly vaulting them from perennial playoff team to title contender.

Chicago was one of the many franchises coveting the top notch services of either LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

When all three of those players decided to join forces on the Miami Heat, that left the Bulls scrambling for a plan B, and left fans with a very bitter taste in their mouths.

Chicago’s big free agent snag was Carlos Boozer, welcomed with muted fanfare and hailed as a “best of the rest” consolation prize.

To further upset fans still scarred from the Big Three burn, Boozer’s contract was hefty $80 million over five years.

Fans ignored how his offensive game complemented that of the already established team leader and star Derrick Rose.

They took no notice of how his rebounding ability would make things easier on Joakim Noah.

His playoff experience, leadership qualities and former All-Star status were all made moot because of the price the Bulls were paying.

Chicago was paying Boozer money that should’ve been going to either James, Wade or Bosh. He has suffered for a decision that he had no part in making other than accepting the Bulls’ offer.

Boozer has two years left on his contract, and he stands to make $15.3 million during the 2013-14 NBA campaign.

Stand by for a bold declaration: Carlos Boozer will earn every penny of his salary this upcoming season.

Fans had a legitimate reason to doubt Boozer’s addition during his first season with the Bulls.

Coming in with a rep for being fragile, Boozer missed 23 regular season games due to a myriad of injuries.

What gets lost in that is the fact that he played every postseason game while dealing with an excruciating turf-toe injury.

Looking to silence doubters, Boozer slimmed down and played every contest of the frantic-paced 66 game lockout season, and proved that healthy run was no fluke by starting 79 of 82 games this past season.

So what does Boozer have planned for 2013-14?

KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported back in mid-July that Boozer is looking fitter than ever; Boozer attributes it to the return of the team's MVP:

"We got D-Rose back. Our fast break is going to be a little faster. I want to be up the floor with him on the break and get back in defensive transition as well. And just get ready for a year that could be special for us."

Boozer knows that, with a healthy team, the Bulls are legitimate contenders. To further quote from Johnson’s article:

"We believe in our group. We always have," Boozer said. "We've been hit by the injury bug heavily the last three years. If we have a season where we're healthy, we like our chances of winning."

Boozer recognizes that he is a part of something special here in Chicago, and he wants to do more than just be along for the ride. He wants to help steer the ship.

Look at all the changes Chicago has been through during the Thibodeau era and recognize the model of consistency that has been Boozer.

His numbers have held steady despite the emergence of the Taj Gibson.

He has averaged an overall 19.0 PER since joining the Bulls and has ranked no lower than 17 among the league’s forwards during his Chicago tenure (both small-forward and power-forward).

In addition to missing only three regular season games the last two seasons, he has also played in every one of Chicago’s postseason games since arriving.

Now, take Boozer’s contributions and put them in the context of a returning Derrick Rose, rising Jimmy Butler, recently added Mike Dunleavy and a fourth consecutive season of a core rounded out by Luol Deng and Noah and you have a team poised to finish what they set out to do since their deep playoff run of 2010.

Don’t get it twisted. The Bulls need Carlos Boozer.

He still stretches the floor with his outside shot, passes and rebounds well and brings a host of intangibles with his 10-plus years of experience.

If Chicago is able to hoist a banner after this season, Boozer will have been an integral part of that accomplishment.

And that would worth every penny Bulls fans everywhere.


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