Prepare yourself for this bit of news. Make sure you're sitting down if you've somehow arrived at the text without reading the title of the article.
"Despite general manager Gar Forman insisting that a decision to seek amnesty on the last season of Boozer's contract 'doesn't have to be made until July,' sources indicated at the end of the Bulls' season that a decision already had been made and that Boozer wouldn't be returning," reports Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Well, I'm sure no one saw that coming.
To amnesty Boozer, or not to amnesty Boozer. That has been the question bouncing about the Chicago front office for what seems like months now in the team's own version of Hamlet. And this one is bound to have a similarly tragic ending for the story's central figure.
Sorry about the spoilers, but if you haven't read Hamlet by now, that's your own fault.
The power forward has declined rapidly during his time in the Windy City, averaging just 13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game throughout the 2013-14 season. Even more problematic is the simple fact—yes, fact, not opinion—that the Bulls are worse with him on the court.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Chicago scored an additional 4.9 points per 100 possessions when he was glued to the bench and allowed opponents to score an extra 3.2 when he was on the floor during the regular season.
Obviously, that's not good. And it got worse during the playoffs.
Boozer dropped the Bulls' net rating by 8.1 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, and that number jumped to 20.9 when past the 82nd game of the campaign. Yes, Chicago outscored the opposition by 5.0 points per 100 possessions when he wasn't playing and was overmatched by 15.9 when he was on the court for the postseason festivities.
It's worth noting that this report stands in stark contrast to what Craig Sager reported on a TNT broadcast right before the All-Star break (h/t Blog a Bull):
Although Carlos Boozer started all 46 games he has played this year, he is down to a career low 2.8 minutes in the 4th quarter. And after Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland earlier this year, Boozer began to wonder about his own future with the team. He told me tonight that he has been assured that he will not be traded by next week's deadline, nor will the team buy out the final year of his contract this summer unless they can land a superstar which is too good to pass up.
Maybe the Bulls know something about the future of Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James that they haven't yet made public. Or, in a more likely scenario, maybe they're just thrilled with the development of Taj Gibson, as Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster hinted at in a mid-March article:
Gibson is more athletic, more efficient, he's a better individual and team defender, he draws more fouls, he blocks more shots and he scores at a better rate. He's four years younger, half the cost and has the better PER this season.
Plain and simple, he's a better player.
Gibson is obviously a huge factor in this decision since he'll be filling Boozer's shoes.
"I mean, this will be exciting," he explained while on the phone with Cowley. "This is what I've always thought about. When I started [six games] for Boozer when he was hurt during the [regular] season, I just know how excited I was, how good it felt to come to the arena."
Gibson would certainly be an entertaining and beneficial addition to the starting five on a more permanent basis, but let's not forget about a certain foreign player.
Amnestying Boozer creates the space—both on the roster and in the financial books—to bring aboard Real Madrid's Nikola Mirotic, who could be bought out and brought across the pond this very offseason.
Chicago, should it get rid of its current dead weight at the 4, will still end up paying Boozer a great deal, since no team will match the current salary he's set to make, but that money won't count against the cap.
That's the brilliance of the amnesty system.
And it might turn out to be brilliant for Boozer too. He's talented enough to find a new home if and when the amnesty paperwork is officially filed, and he'll presumably end up going to a team that can actually use his talents in a more advantageous way.
Oh, and he'll still make just as much money, even if it's coming from multiple sources.
Chances are, the paperwork will become nothing more than a formality by the time July rolls around.