Chicago Bulls: Cutting Carlos Boozer Would Be Wrong
Since the NBA and its players tentatively agreed on a deal to end the lockout, the rumor mill has gone beyond overdrive.
Thanks to the inclusion of the intriguing amnesty clause in the new collective bargaining agreement, there are several more players potentially on the move during an offseason that will last just 16 short, hectic days.
The Chicago Bulls have an interesting conundrum on their hands.
Their inadequacies at shooting guard were highlighted in the Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Miami Heat. They must address this fast.
Many have suggested using the new amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer's mammoth contract. The clause allows a team to cut one player from its roster and not have that contract count towards the salary cap, thus freeing up room to sign a better player.
Boozer's 2010-11 season was impacted heavily by injuries and saw him play well below his potential. Chicago fans were feeling let down by his soft offense and indifferent approach on defense as he was run over by Chris Bosh in the playoffs.
There is an argument to be made that cutting Boozer now is the right move, given the five-year, $76 million contract he currently commands.
Going down this road certainly has it's financial gains, but it's all wrong for the Bulls, given the current crop of talent available.
First, the Bulls and their fans need to give Boozer a second season to really show his stuff, especially after a season packed with setbacks that included a broken hand, several ankle injuries and turf toe in the playoffs.
Boozer's lift was affected by those lower-leg injuries and I would bet the hand injury affected his shooting somewhat too, as he was unable to shoot well for a number of months.
Should the Bulls cut Carlos Boozer?
Secondly, Boozer has a much higher potential than any other player the Bulls could reasonably sign if he were cut.
He has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in more than one season, and there is nothing to suggest he cannot hit those numbers again.
Looking at the list of free agents and probable amnesty cuts, there is no player the Bulls could reasonably attain that can match this.
The likes of Marcus Thornton, Arron Afflalo, Nick Young and Jason Richardson could match his offensive output, but only Thornton presents a real rebounding threat, not to mention that trading big for small is usually a no-no in the NBA today.
Third, Boozer's defensive frailties could be fixed.
If Tom Thibodeau can't coach Boozer to defend, then nobody can. Cutting him now denies the chance for his defense to improve.
One season under a new coach who is also new to the entire organisation is too short a period to make any firm decisions.
To go along with this, we are likely to see a much more determined Boozer this season. His attack on his "haters" suggests that he may be ready to make the steps necessary to win over the Bulls' fans and help the team reach the title.
Will we see the Carlos Boozer the Bulls thought they had signed? Or will this season prove to be the end of the road for Boozer as a top-tier player?
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