Best Potential Trade Packages, Scenarios and Landing Spots for Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer is available! Who wants a piece of the action?
Come on now, don't be shy.
No one? Yikes.
There's no sense in pretending we're surprised. We shouldn't be. Hot commodities aren't viewed as expendable by their own team.
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.
That makes sense. Boozer remains a 2010 consolation prize who has overstayed his welcome. They're so sure he's leaving, Taj Gibson has already been deemed next year's starting power forward, per Cowley.
"I mean, this will be exciting," Gibson said. "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."
This probably isn't going to feel so good for Boozer.
Gibson went on to deny Cowley's report, but it doesn't matter. Boozer still seems unlikely to return.
The smart money is on the Bulls amnestying him. Other teams know Chicago doesn't want him by this point, and they also know they could sign him for much cheaper after he's amnestied. Trading him at this point would be like finding an NBA team in the market for overpriced dull razors and expired salad dressing.
As with everything, though, the dollars and cents matter. The Bulls will absolutely explore trade scenarios first, hoping they can capitalize off his (marginal) value as an expiring contract rather than pay him millions to leave.
If they're lucky, he'll prove movable.
It wont be easy, and it will take some serious compromising on the Bulls' behalf, but under the right circumstances, trading him might be possible.
Amnestying Boozer is simple, easy and clean.
Paying him $16.8 million to go away isn't something notoriously stingy Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is going to love. But, in the interest of increasing the team's flexibility, it may be necessary.
Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal described in detail some of the benefits amnestying Boozer will have:
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.
Whatever cap room Boozer's departure creates will be essential this summer, when the Bulls plan to make aggressive runs at star free agents such as Carmelo Anthony. Any contract they offer Anthony or anyone else starts with dumping Boozer.
Beyond that, Boozer's departure boosts Chicago's ability to take back money in trades. If the Bulls decide to join the Kevin Love sweepstakes, or make a play for the next disgruntled superstar, they can do so without worrying about Boozer's contract clogging their financial pipelines.
Basically, everything they want to do, and everything they want to build, begins with moving on from Boozer. Amnestying him is the easiest way do that.
Unless the Bulls are prepared to take back long-term salary and forfeit their stable of first-round picks as trade greasers, it may be the only way.
Minnesota Timberwolves Get: PF Carlos Boozer, SF Mike Dunleavy, PF Nikola Mirotic, Chicago's 2014 first-round pick, Charlotte's 2014 first-round pick and Sacramento's 2015 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Chicago Bulls Get: SF Chase Budinger and PF Kevin Love
Why Chicago Does It: The Bulls break the draft bank here for one reason and one reason only: Kevin Love.
"Three draft picks?!?!?!?!?" you might exclaim. "Nikola Mirotic? Are you drunk?"
No, just realistic.
Joakim Noah has told Bulls management he's on board with getting a star such as Love or Anthony if Gibson isn't involved, per Cowley. If the Bulls were willing to give him up, they get away with offering one or two first-rounders. But we're talking about Boozer not Gibson. He has next to no trade value. He's only good to match lofty salaries.
What the Bulls are basically asking here is for the Timberwolves to take contractual dead weight (Boozer), an unproven prospect who must be signed to a multiyear deal—for financial reasons—before being dealt (Mirotic), an aging three-point shooter (Dunleavy) and a trio of first-rounders that may or may not turn into something special.
Put that way, there's no lamenting the price for Love—not when you get to keep Gibson and Jimmy Butler. He's Kevin Love. The Bulls could conserve their cap space and go after him in 2015 free agency, or they could try paying the piper now, landing Love before he has an opportunity to go somewhere else.
Why Minnesota Does It: Word on the street is first-rounders are good building blocks. This gives Minnesota three good building blocks.
Dunleavy and Boozer are valuable to this team as strictly expiring contracts. Perhaps they make offensive contributions for one year, but neither of them figure into Minny's future.
Mirotic makes sense as Love's replacement. He can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting and is generating serious buzz.
That in itself is part of the problem. There's no telling if he's NBA ready. He may take a few years to develop, and the Timberwolves cannot deal their lone superstar for some financial relief and raw overseas talent.
Those three draft picks are paramount. They won't get more from anyone else—something the Bulls know, but they must come to terms with if they don't plan on sending players who make an immediate impact the Timberwolves' way.
New York Knicks
Chicago Bulls Get: F Carmelo Anthony (sign-and-trade) and PG Raymond Felton
New York Knicks Get: PF Carlos Boozer, SF Mike Dunleavy, PF Nikola Mirotic, Chicago's 2015 first-round pick and Sacramento's 2015 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Why Chicago Does It: Coach Tom Thibodeau's crew needs a scorer on the frontline. Frontcourt scorers don't come more dominant than Anthony.
The Bulls want Anthony. We know this. We also know he'll have to accept a pay cut to sign in Chicago. And we know that in addition to him taking less, the Bulls must also part ways with Boozer, Dunleavy and possibly one or more of their first-round draft picks and Gibson.
Avoiding most of the residual damage is possible via a sign-and-trade. By relinquishing multiple first-rounders and Mirotic (once he's signed), Chicago has the ability to build a respectable offer around Boozer's expiring contract that matches the incoming salaries of Raymond Felton and Anthony.
Why New Does It: Most likely, the Knicks don't do this. If Anthony makes it clear he wants out, then maybe. Yet even that's a stretch.
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.
Nothing has changed...except for the inclusion of those draft picks. Note that they're for 2015, since 2014 first-rounders will be unavailable. Anthony cannot be traded until July, when he agrees to sign a new deal or opts into the last year of his contract.
Ridding their books of Felton's pact ensures maximum plasticity for summer 2015, when tons of superstars are expected to reach free agency. Boozer and Dunleavy's expiring deals fit into those plans as well. They won't adversely impact New York's spending power.
Mirotic, once again, is intriguing for his floor-spacing abilities, making him an ideal replacement for a team bidding farewell to one of the league's best stretch forwards.
For Chicago, the price is high. For New York, the loss is still a big one. That's just how it goes.
Chicago Bulls Get: SG Wayne Ellington and F Ersan Ilyasova
Dallas Mavericks Get: C Larry Sanders
Milwaukee Bucks Get: PF Carlos Boozer and Chicago's 2014 first-round pick
Why Chicago Does It: Smaller-scale trades are more realistic as it pertains to Boozer. The Bulls must seek out teams who need the financial relief—clubs such as the Bucks.
Ersan Ilyasova regressed tremendously last season, shooting just over 40 percent from the floor overall and 28.9 percent from deep. He's on the books for another three years—the last of which is non-guaranteed—so he shouldn't be off limits.
Although he struggled in 2013-14, his 2012-13 excursion is still fresh in many of our minds. It was then that he held value as an offensively inclined floor-spacing 4, who would frequently get hot from behind the rainbow.
Turning Boozer and a first-rounder into him and Wayne Ellington's expiring deal is a route worth exploring if the Bulls find themselves outside the Anthony and Love bubbles.
Why Dallas Does It: Help down low has been hard to come by in Dallas.
Since Tyson Chandler left in 2011, the Mavs have used filler after filler after filler. They've tried to find their interior linchpin of the future but to no avail. The tumultuous Larry Sanders could be that centerpiece down low.
There are certainly reasons the Mavericks shouldn't do this. Sanders' four-year, $44 million extension kicks in next year, he appeared in just 23 games this past season and his stance on marijuana use makes for unnecessary drug-test suspense.
But he's also an athletic center who can lock it down defensively and averaged 11 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes in 2013-14. Lining his pockets with an annual average of $11 million over the next four years isn't ideal, but then again, it has the potential to pay off.
It's purely a financial risk for Mark Cuban's Mavericks, anyway. Brandan Wright was a sporadic contributor for them, and Ellington rarely cracked the rotation. If they're not confident in striking free-agency gold, Sanders adds something to a team that came within one victory of upsetting the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs.
Why Milwaukee Does It: Blame CBSSports.com's Matt Moore for sending me down this rabbit hole.
Moore took to the trade machine operating under the assumption that the Milwaukee would snag Joel Embiid in the draft, which isn't unrealistic. Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico says the Cleveland Cavaliers are too concerned with his back to take him first overall. That leaves him for the Bucks at No. 2.
Though Moore's brainchild was a complicated four-team fiesta, we're rolling with a simpler three-team extravaganza.
Embiid isn't someone you draft if you plan on keeping Sanders. Considering how much of a headache he has been since signing his extension, pawning him off on Dallas is something they could welcome—especially if they believe Embiid is on the way.
Trading Ilyasova and Sanders frees the Bucks from two lengthy contracts while opening up minutes for John Henson and potentially Embiid. It also gives them a veteran forward in Boozer who can still notch the occasional double-double and carry a team offensively.
Truthfully, after the season Sanders and Ilyasova just had, the Bucks should consider themselves lucky if they net this return on both players.
Chicago Bulls Get: SG Jason Richardson and F Thaddeus Young
Boston Celtics Get: PF Carlos Boozer, SG Tony Snell and Charlotte's 2014 first-round pick
Why Chicago Does It: Place Thaddeus Young within Tom Thibodeau's defense-centric system and you have something.
Young gives the Bulls an instant No. 2 scorer behind Derrick Rose, a hole they still need to fill after shipping Luol Deng off to Cleveland. Jimmy Butler hasn't shown he can score consistently, Noah is a more talented playmaker than bucket-getter—which is weird—and Gibson is still evolving as a self-sufficient scorer.
T-Dog gives the Bulls someone who can create his own shot, add some three-point range and defend the length of the floor.
He's owed more than $9 million in each of the next two seasons—assuming he doesn't terminate his contract in summer 2015—but that doesn't ruin Chicago's financial maneuverability completely. The team can still make modest additions, rendering Young a sound option if Anthony, Love and other superstars fall out of reach.
Best part is, this deal doesn't cost the Bulls Mirotic or too many draft picks. Jason Richardson is on an expiring deal and is included solely for the purpose of salary alignment.
Forking over Charlotte's 2014 first-round pick stings, yet we're talking about flipping the nearly worthless Boozer for a No. 2 scoring option. You absolutely do this if you're the Bulls.
Why Philadelphia Does It: Because the only thing better than tanking once is tanking twice.
No matter who the Sixers draft this year, and no matter how phenomenal Nerlens Noel ends up being, they're not going anywhere next season. Dealing away Young's 17.9 points per game hurts, but it's worth the extra first-rounder and a chance to develop Tony Snell.
Philly is still thin at the 2-guard position. Tony Wroten isn't the unquestioned answer there. Snell was touted as a sharpshooting guard when he was drafted by Chicago. The Sixers, unlike the Bulls, can make him a rotational fixture.
Boozer means nothing to this team long-term. Or maybe he does. It's never a terrible thing having the inside track on a veteran who could re-sign at a discount in 2015 if he likes Philly.
More likely than not, he's a one-year rental. Which is fine. He brings experience, and—declining mid-range game in mind—he has the offensive chops to play alongside Noel.
Then there's his often, misshapen, oddly awesome facial hair. Every team needs a beard guy.
This gives the Sixers theirs.