After the Washington Wizards dispatched them from the playoffs in five games, major changes are expected to be in store for the Bulls, one of which will most definitely include amnestying the 32-year-old Boozer.
Or maybe not.
From ESPN.com's Marc Stein:
But here's the thing: You continue to hear rumbles that Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is adamantly against the idea of setting Boozer free via amnesty, even though the 32-year-old is finally poised to enter the final year of his contract, valued in 2014-15 at $16.8 million.
Sources briefed on Chicago's thinking say the Bulls are going to do everything they can to try to find a trading partner for Boozer before seriously considering the amnesty option.
Bear in mind that Chicago essentially has until July 15 to craft a deal that finds a new home for Boozer after a season in which he lost much of his fourth-quarter run to Taj Gibson. The NBA's amnesty window this summer runs through July 10-16.
The Bulls would prefer to part with Boozer via trade rather than pay him almost $17 million to leave and play somewhere else without receiving anything or anyone in return?
Seriously, though, it's not.
Of course the Bulls want to trade Boozer. Reinsdorf is notoriously stingy, and let's face it, few teams want to invest $16-plus million in empty departures. Trading him would be ideal, which is not to be confused with realistic.
Teams know what the Bulls are looking to do. They want to create cap space to make a run at New York Knicks superstar and free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony. The chances of any franchise aiding in their search for increased financial flexibility by trading for an overpaid player that might become available at a steep discount later on are bleak.
Given the extent of Boozer's salary, the Bulls could, as Stein notes, try to construct a sign-and-trade with the Knicks for Anthony, using Boozer as primary bait. I could also try to make friends with a pack of hyenas that haven't eaten in weeks. That doesn't mean my attempts will be successful.
Boozer only becomes movable if the Bulls accept unsavory contracts in return. If they're prepared to flip him for J.R. Smith and Andrea Bargnani, then you bet the Knicks will show interest. Team president Phil Jackson will even throw in Mike Woodson's unused surplus of goatee-grooming supplies and one month's worth of complementary meditation lessons just for kicks.
Basically, that means Boozer will prove immovable.
Once the Bulls' attempts to trade him fail—and they will fail—they're going to have a decision on their hands: Do they take the financial hit and send the creepily bearded Boozer on his merry way, or do they retain him out of sheer thriftiness?
Keeping Boozer is counterproductive at this point. He lost minutes to Taj Gibson during the regular season and playoffs and was unable to produce at a high level on the offensive end.
"It's a weird adjustment," Boozer said of his diminished role, per the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein. "I've played 35 (minutes) most of my career. We're all making sacrifices for the betterment of the group."
This adjustment won't get any easier moving forward, because as Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey explains, Gibson and Boozer are like prime rib and fruit bat soup—one is better than the other:
One difference is defense. When Boozer's in the game, opponents score 3.2 more points per 100 possessions than when he's on the bench. When Gibson plays, opponents score 1.4 fewer points per 100 possessions.
But that's not all. The offense was better with Gibson this season too—plus-3.4 points when Gibson plays and minus-4.9 with Boozer.
A few reasons Chicago is better offensively with Gibson include his shooting, offensive rebounding and ability to draw fouls.
At this point, Boozer is merely clogging up Chicago's rotational and financial pipelines. Cutting him loose by any means necessary—yes, even the amnesty provision—makes the most sense.
And should the Bulls refuse to amnesty him, well, there's always operation Air Bargs.
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