Best Potential Landing Spots for Carlos Boozer After Being Amnestied

Jim CavanContributor IJuly 15, 2014

Best Potential Landing Spots for Carlos Boozer After Being Amnestied

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    What for weeks had been written on the wall finally came to pass Tuesday, when the Chicago Bulls officially amnestied veteran forward Carlos Boozer, per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

    In so doing, Chicago opened up $16.8 million in cap space, enough to officially complete the signing of Pau Gasol, with whom the Bulls came to terms on a three-year, $22 million deal, according to Wojnarowski.

    Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman had high praise for the 12-year veteran, via the Bulls’ website:

    Carlos epitomized professionalism in everything he did for the Bulls both on the court and in the community during his time here in Chicago. Over the last four seasons, Carlos' productivity helped elevate our team to another level. I have nothing but respect for Carlos and certainly wish him the best as he moves forward.

    Per the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, Boozer will now be subject to a 48-hour waiver process whereby teams currently under the salary cap can bid for his services (at a minimum of $1.5 million). Whoever bids the highest must pay Boozer that amount, with Chicago paying the difference.

    Boozer is certain to fetch his fair share of suitors in the coming days. What follows, then, are the five teams we see as being the best fits for the former All-Star power forward.

    The teams listed all have an obvious area of need to address power forward, and each would also be better off by bringing Boozer into the fold.

    Being amnestied probably isn’t how the 32-year-old envisioned himself leaving his longtime franchise. Still, in the right situation, Boozer has more than enough left in the tank to give whoever nabs him quite the frontcourt boost—especially at a more reasonable price.

    Onward, Bleacheristas!

     

    All salary information courtesy of ShamSports.com.

Charlotte Hornets

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    With only $47 million in committed salaries (after signing Marvin Williams), the Charlotte Hornets offer an ideal mix of financial flexibility and near-future upside.

    Fresh off a surprising 43-win season and bolstered by a youth-laden core led by Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets are a team looking to win and win now.

    And while they might’ve swung and missed on Gordon Hayward—to whom the Hornets offered a four-year, $63 million max offer sheet that was ultimately matched by the Utah Jazz, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer—the Hornets are by no means done with their summer shopping.

    Boozer would help fill the gap left by Josh McRoberts, who recently came to terms on a four-year deal of his own with the Miami Heat, per ESPN's Marc Stein. Together with newly signed Williams, Boozer helps round out a frontcourt rotation in desperate need of veteran presence.

    Barring some unforeseen backslide, Charlotte should once again find itself in the playoff thick come next spring. After getting swept, 4-0, by the Heat in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, having a guy like Boozer in the fold—tough, vocal, capable of getting buckets anywhere 15 feet and in—is bound to pay some crucial late-season dividends.

    Concern over Boozer’s defense is certainly warranted. But as Bleacher Report’s Kelly Scaletta wrote back in April, the Hornets likely stand a better chance than anyone of at least masking the forward’s weaknesses:

    Furthermore, [Hornets] coach Steve Clifford is a Tom Thibodeau protege, having learned the basic tenets of his defense from the Bulls head coach. While Boozer might be a defensive liability, he does understand the [Hornets'] schemes and how to be hidden in them.

Phoenix Suns

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    For as good a core and as flush a bank account as the Phoenix Suns have, it’s surprising we haven’t heard them seriously linked to more big-name free agents. Obviously, there are still plenty of decisions to make: whether to match Eric Bledsoe if and when his qualifying offers start rolling in, whether to try to package him or backcourt mate Goran Dragic in a trade for Kevin Love, etc.

    Still, with close to $30 million in cap space at their disposal and something of a need for frontcourt depth, the Suns could be an intriguing landing spot for the veteran Boozer.

    Losing Channing Frye (who signed a four-year deal with the Orlando Magic, per the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins) means the Suns must sort out who their starting power forward will be come November.

    On the one hand, Markieff Morris has certainly earned a shot after making a significant leap in his third season. On the other, having someone like Boozer around to help develop Morris’ burgeoning offensive repertoire might well be worth the risk.

    Boozer’s defense will likely make a bad defense even worse. But it’s his offensive talent—direct as well as through what he can teach the Phoenix younglings—that head coach Jeff Hornacek should be looking at.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    Like the Suns, the Milwaukee Bucks are a young team with extra cash to spare. Unlike the Suns, however, Milwaukee is nowhere close to being a legitimate playoff threat.

    With $52 million currently committed, the Bucks likely wouldn’t go too crazy with any prospective bid. At the same time, these things are hard to predict, and it’s certainly not impossible to imagine a $4 or $5 million per-year gambit actually working.

    For Boozer, playing in Milwaukee wouldn’t exactly give him an immediate shot at a twilight title. Still, being just 90 minutes from Chicago might make for an easier adjustment off the bat.

    Currently, the Bucks boast something of a logjam at power forward, with Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo all ripe for some minutes at the 4, depending on how Jason Kidd decides to wield his lineups.

    But with Ilyasova coming off a career-worst year and the other three still green and growing into their roles, Boozer’s presence would be an immediate boon, both in terms of production and locker-room bona fides.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Just in the past two days, the Los Angeles Lakers inked Nick Young to a fresh, four-year tender worth $21.5 million, per CBS’ Ken Berger, signed Jordan Hill for two years at $18 million, per Wojnarowski, and absorbed the $15 million contract of former Houston Rocket Jeremy Lin for…well, practically nothing, according to Wojnarowski.

    Translation: The Lakers are spending money. Lots of money. Whether the two above-mentioned deals will prevent them from going full-bore after Boozer, though, remains an open question.

    L.A. is entering something of a transition period—preparing for the inevitable end of the Kobe Bryant era by…how do we put this…not quite putting their best foot forward?

    After these new deals become official, the Lakers should have a nice chunk of change left at their disposal. And with Pau Gasol having flown the coop for Chi-Town, the team’s need for a starting power forward—assuming recent pick Julius Randle isn’t tossed immediately into the fray—has never been starker.

    Can the Lakers make the playoffs with a 35-year-old Bryant being their best player? It seems unlikely, particularly in what promises to be a stacked Western Conference.

    But assuming they can find a starting center and small forward (neither Young nor Bryant are natural 3s), having Boozer as the team’s starting 4 might be enough to at least make L.A. competitive on a nightly basis.

    Which is better than what Lakers fans witnessed last season.

Miami Heat

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    For a team that just had the best player on the planet up and walk out on it, the Miami Heat have done an admirable job of rebuilding on the fly, bringing back both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

    While Miami’s roster is still very much in flux, it should remain far enough under the cap to at least take a flier on Boozer.

    Pairing Bosh with Boozer and Luol Deng in the frontcourt would give Miami some much-needed depth alongside Wade and Mario Chalmers. After lackluster years from Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley—neither of whom made much of an impact at the power-forward position—Boozer would arrive as a known and trusted commodity. Bad defense notwithstanding.

    In a weak East, that should be more than enough to crack the postseason.

    It’ll be fascinating to see whether the Heat—who, let’s not forget, tout one of the league’s best coaches in Erik Spoelstra—can summon the magic of the 1993-94 Chicago Bulls, who won 55 games the season after Michael Jordan’s first retirement.

    Or whether they fade into standings obscurity.

    Bringing Boozer aboard won’t help Miami regain its status as a contender—far from it. But as a frontcourt stopgap on a team desperately trying to right the ship and maintain its foundational principles for the future, Boozer could be a major coup indeed.