This was mainly due to the improved play of their young core and key free-agent signings such as Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and pretty much half the Utah Jazz's roster.
Despite the little credit he gets, Carlos Boozer was instrumental in making the Bulls a contender this past season. Boozer averaged a modest 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds, and did what the Bulls expected him to do. His numbers dropped only slightly, but we must also take in consideration the fact that he's playing on a team with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and one of the most talented benches in the league.
Still, Bulls fans are human (I double checked), and it's totally human to look for a scapegoat to throw the blame on rather than accepting defeat. I'm not saying Boozer was perfect, his flaws on defense were exposed by Bosh, but to pin all the blame on Boozer is unfair as key players Derrick Rose (35.7 percent from the field) and Joakim Noah (6 PPG, 20 fouls) also had their struggles in the series.
Moving on, the Bulls probably have no intention of moving Boozer because it's likely they will not get equal value since Boozer's contract will be considered even more bloated after changes to the CBA. If they do plan on shipping Boozer out there are a few good trades out there which could work for both teams.
Here are eight intriguing trades that Chicago should consider.
Carlos Boozer for David Lee
Chicago: David Lee averaged a solid 16.5 PPG and 9.8 rebounds for the Warriors last season. Lee is a hustle player who is efficient and is also a very underrated passer (3.2 APG). Lee isn't a huge upgrade over Boozer, but he is durable and has only missed 12 games in the last three seasons. David Lee averaged 20 points and 12 boards for the Knicks two seasons ago, and it's possible he wasn't utilized as much on the offensively-stacked Warriors.
Lee isn't any better on defense than Boozer, but under coach Tom Thibodeau his weakness will be masked. Lee is a year younger than Boozer and the Bulls save $1-2 million a year with Lee, which could go a long way.
Golden State: The Warriors need real leadership and Boozer is a veteran who will be an upgrade over Lee. The Warriors need frontcourt help, and while while Lee is very good, he's a tad undersized on a team with no center.
Overall: This is a trade which could go either way, but there's no real risk of either team getting ripped off in such a deal. Both players are very solid.
Carlos Boozer for Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown
Chicago: The Bulls receive the sixth man of the year in Odom, and could possibly fill their void at the 2-guard spot with Brown. Odom was good for 14 points and nine boards nightly. While that's a downgrade from Boozer, the Bulls will save a lot of money down the line with such a trade. Odom is a savvy defender and hustle player who still has one or two seasons left before we see his stats drop off.
Los Angeles: Many feel the Lakers are no longer capable of bulldozing through opponents in the playoffs and that another championship with their current squad will require a lot of luck. The Lakers should try and do whatever they can this offseason to maximize their chances for winning another ring.
This trade will instantly give the Lakers a huge boost, as Boozer is an All-Star. While Odom is very skilled, he's just not as good as Boozer. Aside from that the Lakers are also getting fairly old, and swapping the 31-year-old Odom for the 29-year-old Boozer will help them in that regard. The Lakers aren't expected to retain Shannon Brown who is due a pay increase and this trade will make use of him rather then letting him walk.
Overall: Personally if I'm the Bulls, I would pass on a deal like this. The Bulls are expected to be around much longer than the Lakers, but any time you're serious about winning a ring, you should never sacrifice talent for some future cash.
Carlos Boozer for Andray Blatche and Nick Young
Chicago: The Bulls receive a solid young PF in Andray Blatche, and also receive a major offensive boost at the 2-guard slot by trading for Nick Young.
Blatche is a player who has increased production every year in the league, and his value has been hurt greatly by his off-court issues and on-court shenanigans. The Bulls are a contending team with a strict coach, and I don't see Blatche causing problems on Derrick Rose's team. Blatche could possibly improve even more next year, making him just as productive as Boozer, and he's also only 24. Blatche has the tools to be a good defender, but has been uninterested on defense in the past. I personally think this will change if he plays for Chicago, and even if it doesn't, he's not a lot worse than Boozer.
Nick Young is a deadly scorer who averaged 17.4 points last season and shot 39 percent from deep to boot. Young could spread the floor for Chicago while still contributing on defense (something most scorers fail to do).
Washington: The Wizards have been shopping Blatche around for nearly two seasons, and they're tired of the headaches that come with him. The problem for the Wizards is that Blatche is clearly a skilled player, and dumping him would be a waste of talent. In a trade like this, the Wizards add an All-Star to their team, and will be stacked with good players in every position:
Overall: Good trade for both sides. Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton are two NBA-ready prospects who could be productive from the get-go, if they are, the Wizards could be a playoff team next year.
Carlos Boozer and Omer Asik for Richard Hamilton and Greg Monroe
Chicago: take on Richard Hamilton's contract, but in the process receive a future All-Star in Greg Monroe. Monroe is very efficient and was the second-best big-man rookie last season. Monroe will produce similar stats to Boozer by his third season, but could be just as good next year. Monroe is capable of playing for the power forward and center positions which will make him very useful if Noah gets hurt. Though Asik is loved in Chicago, the Bulls just won't be able to give him a significant pay raise at year's end and run the risk of losing him for nothing, whereas Monroe is locked up for three more years with his team-friendly rookie contract.
The Bulls also bring on an underrated shooting guard in Richard Hamilton. Hamilton is 33, but is still a very productive player. He averaged 14.1 points last season but he only played for 27.2 minutes nightly. If we adjust his numbers to 36 minutes, we see he could have averaged around 19 points.
Richard Hamilton was one of the NBA's "good-guys," but his situation in Detroit has really hurt his image. The Bulls will be more talented after this trade, and will have a franchise cornerstone for years to come in Monroe.
Detroit: The Pistons will clear the logjam at shooting guard, and will dump Hamilton's large contract for an All-Star caliber player in Boozer. The Pistons will have to lose their most valuable player in Monroe, but will also receive a very good center in Omer Asik.
Asik, as just a rookie, was huge for the contending Bulls last season and he could flourish being the starting center for the Pistons in his second year. Asik is only 24, and could break out to be one of the rare legitimate centers in the NBA with a starting role for Detroit. The pistons will have a pretty decent lineup and will still have plenty of young players to build around:
Ben Gordon or Rodney Stuckey
Tayshaun Prince or Charlie Villanueva
Overall: The Pistons won't do it. Monroe has too much potential and there's a good chance the Pistons will be able to waive Richard Hamilton if the league gives teams an amnesty clause. Great trade for Chicago though.
Carlos Boozer and First-Round Pick for Monta Ellis
Chicago: The Bulls receive a underrated superstar in Monta Ellis and will instantly have the most dangerous backcourt in the NBA. The Bulls save a little bit of money and will have a much easier time finding a talented PF than continuing to search for a SG. The Bulls will be able to sign someone like Kenyon Martin using their mid-level exception, and they'll finally get to see what Gibson is capable of with starting minutes.
Golden State: The Warriors are looking to ship out Ellis, and while Boozer isn't the most attractive name in the world, the Warriors will still benefit from such a trade just because moving Ellis allows Klay Thompson and Reggie Williams more room to grow. The Warriors will be well balanced, and while a David Lee and Carlos Boozer frontcourt might be terrible on defense, the team could make a push for the playoffs.
Overall: The Warriors shouldn't make this trade, they'll be clearing one logjam to create another. This trade could be one of the last-resort options for the Warriors, and it would be exciting if this were to go down.
Carlos Boozer and C.J Watson for Kevin Garnett
Chicago: The Bulls receive a savvy veteran in KG. Garnett is a champion who has a lot of heart, and could even be an upgrade over Boozer despite his age.
Garnett had lower stats than Boozer, averaging 15 points and nine boards last season, but Garnett was much more efficient, shooting 53 percent from the field and 86 percent from the line. Garnett is known to step up his game in the playoffs, and he did just that last season when we saw his rebound average increase to 11 boards per game. Garnett will have extra time conditioning himself because of the lockout, which could mean he'll be able to maintain his production.
Trading for Garnett might not make a big difference next season, but next summer Garnett's huge $21 million contract comes off the books giving Chicago a ton of flexibility in the summer when Kevin Love and Dwight Howard could be available.
Boston: The Celtics need to add talent in any way possible if they want to contend again next season. Garnett is a very important player to the Celtics, but the C's need to get younger, and they'll accomplish that in this trade.
Boozer was more productive than Garnett last season, and I suspect Boozer will assume an even larger role on the Celtics a team which needs more offensive options. The Celtics got worse in rebounding after losing Kendrick Perkins, and Boozer is good at crashing the boards.
Overall: Trade could work for both sides, but I think the Celtics will hesitate to take on Boozers' long-term contract for an extra three points and one rebound from their power forward next season.
Carlos Boozer and Omer Asik for Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia
Chicago: The Bulls get Josh Smith, an athletic freak and a poor man's Lebron James. Smith does everything and does it well. While he may not be as good offensively as Boozer, the addition of Smith will make Chicago's suffocating defense unbreakable. Josh Smith is only 25 years old, he also has the better contract. Smith is versatile and could play both SF and PF positions, so this move will also help give more opportunity to Taj Gibson.
Atlanta: Josh Smith trade rumors have been going on for a while now, and if they're really looking to move Smith, Chicago could be a good trading partner.
Carlos Boozer will give Atlanta an offensive boost, and weak offense was one of their biggest problems last season. Omer Asik will also be included in the trade, and he is a major upgrade over Pachulia. If Asik continues to improve over the summer, the Hawks could slide Horford over to the PF slot when Boozer needs rest.
Overall: I'm not sure if Atlanta is shopping Smith. Maybe they threw his name at teams like Orlando or Golden State who are shopping their star players, but I doubt Atlanta would want to deal Smith for an average All-Star like Boozer simply because he's so important to that team.
Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Omer Asik, and C.J Watson for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu
Chicago: The Bulls have to give up half of their rotation players in a deal which will bring back the most dominant center in the league. Dwight Howard is a player who can make any franchise into a 50-win team, and putting him next to Derrick Rose will be exhilarating to watch.
Many felt that Dwight Howard deserved MVP honors last season, and having the top-two MVP candidates on the same team is not an opportunity that presents itself every day. The Bulls will be unbeatable in the two most important positions in the NBA, and they will still have a fair amount of talent left on the roster. With Taj Gibson starting and a big three of Rose, Deng, and Howard, the Bulls will still be pretty deep in multiple positions.
The Bulls will have to absorb Hedo Turkoglu, but Turk is still good for double-digit scoring and three-point shooting.
Orlando: The Magic will walk out pretty healthily after this trade. The Magic will replace Howard with Noah, a top-10 center, and Boozer, an All-Star caliber PF. The Magic will be able to move around Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson to help fill the void at SF after the trade, and that shouldn't be very hard. Orlando also receives Omer Asik, a very underrated center who could also make a big impact in his second year.
If the Magic are given an amnesty clause which will allow them to waive Gilbert Arenas without his salary effecting their cap, the Magic will be in a very good shape after losing their franchise player, and could possibly do better without Howard.
Overall: The Bulls would be giving up too much in this trade, but the amnesty clause scenario could work to their favor as well. They could wait until they have Turkoglu on their roster and then use it on Turk giving the Bulls a lot of flexibility. Assuming there is no amnesty clause, I think the Bulls should choose not to go through with this trade unless they get to keep Omer Asik.
The Bulls really can't improve a whole lot by trading Boozer, and maybe it's best that they keep him. Rose is only 22, and with players like Gibson, Noah and Asik looking better and better each day, the Bulls could be a complete team by just signing a free agent shooting guard.
Boozer is still a very good player, and moving him would only be worth the risk if the Bulls are getting an overall better player in some package or if they're looking for a more durable player with equal talent; this is no time for them to throw away production for a little spare change.
I personally think the Bulls could make a trade splash without even using Boozer, and trading someone like Taj Gibson could be smarter as he finished the season hot and some other team might overpay to obtain him.
Well, that's about it, please leave a comment and tell us what you think. Do you know of another trade idea which would be good for the Bulls? Should Chicago even be thinking about moving an important player like Boozer?
Thanks for reading!