The Chicago Bulls may be surging up the Eastern Conference standings, but one member of the team's unified core is displeased with how he's been treated by the team's front office.
According to several sources, Boozer’s recent moodiness, at least with the media, is a result of feeling underappreciated by the organization. He feels like he’s “being pushed out’’ after this season.
Boozer’s exit this summer might or might not happen, but either way, the organization hasn’t come to a conclusion and won’t until several key situations are resolved.
However, Cowley also notes that Bulls general manager Gar Forman has made it quite clear that the team has not made any final decision regarding Boozer's long-term status with the club.
“People can say or think what they want, but that decision absolutely hasn’t been made,’’ Forman said in a phone interview from a scouting trip, according to Cowley.
But given the sizable financial commitment the Bulls are slated to make to Boozer if they do retain him next season, talk of exercising the team's amnesty clause on the aging power forward makes loads of sense.
According to ShamSports, Boozer is due $16.8 million in the final year of the five-year, $76 million that he inked with the Bulls in the summer of 2010.
In fact, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher recently disclosed that the Bulls have been making moves all season long in an attempt to free up cap space for this summer, and that amnestying Boozer in a few months would be the next logical step for the team to take.
According to Bucher, slapping the amnesty clause on Boozer would allow the Bulls to pursue a "big-time player," presumably one who would slot in at small forward. I'll let you connect the dots.
Letting Boozer walk would also free up more playing time for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Taj Gibson, who's averaging career highs of 13.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting 48.2 percent from the floor in 28.8 minutes per game off the bench.
As things stand, Gibson's playing time is almost equal to Boozer's. However, Gibson has been Tom Thibodeau's power forward of choice in the fourth quarter, logging 10.1 minutes on average in the game's final frame, 5.5 more than Boozer.
Factor in that Gibson's posting a superior player efficiency rating and is generating seven points more per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com, and cutting ties with Boozer doesn't seem so criminal.
Although he's been an integral member of Bulls teams that have won a combined 157 games over the last three seasons, Chicago can't afford to be patient and wait out the remainder of Boozer's contract while the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers engage in an Eastern Conference arms race.
All statistics courtesy of NBA.com unless noted otherwise.
Alec Nathan is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @Alec_Nathan19.