Carlos Boozer: Does Injury Hurt Chicago Bulls in Push for Division Crown?

Jeff HicksCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 10:  Carlos Boozer #5 of the Utah Jazz reacts to a call against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2010 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

As most of the Chicago and NBA community knows, Carlos Boozer fractured his hand tripping over a bag in his dark house, according to him. The Chicago Bulls are even going so far as to investigating his claim.

Carlos is winning over fans early and often in the Windy City.

As much as the off-court issues plague this situation, it is the on-court issues the Bulls now face for at least the first 15 regular season games that stand out.

Who fills in for Boozer, and how much does his absence take away wins from the left column and move them to the 'L' column?

Fifteen games is the equivalent of 20 percent of a season, roughly. That means guys like Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Kurt Thomas, Luol Deng, and potentially Brian Scalabrine have to pick up some major slack to cover for the loss of the Bulls' newest, and costly acquisition.

Fortunately for Chicago, Gibson showed last season that he can be depended on for solid production and smart play. If he gobbles up 25-30 minutes a night without playing too horribly, others like Thomas and Scalabrine can pick up the small chunks left over.

Deng is an option if the Bulls play a smaller lineup.

In recent days, Chicago has been in talks with free agent center Erick Dampier about donning the red and black. Dampier is not the same shutdown big he was briefly in Golden State, but to have his seven-foot frame around with and without Boozer could only benefit a depleted Bulls front court.

He gets his minutes while Carlos recovers, and then resumes a smaller, but needed role off the bench. Dampier gets a one-year deal to show he still has some talent, and the Bulls get his best effort to help ease the loss of their starting power forward.

That being said, the division is a two-horse race. Chicago and Milwaukee are the only teams that have a legitimate shot at winning the Central crown and locking down a top-three seed. Milwaukee now has a slight edge while Chicago scrambles to fix its issue, but it should not be a huge deal.

If 15 games missed is the be-all-end-all, Chicago can get by with 7-10 wins without Milwaukee building a quick lead in the division. If the Bulls cannot get six wins out of a 15-game stretch, then the team needs to climb out of a small hole.

It is as simple as this: Get Dampier his one-year deal, fill the gap left by Boozer, and have a solid big man for the rest of the season just in case something like this happens during the season.

And turn the lights on whenever Boozer walks into a room.