In what is likely the least surprising thing to happen this NBA offseason, word has leaked that the Chicago Bulls have decided to amnesty Carlos Boozer and have already told Boozer’s camp. Considering Boozer was set to make $16.8 million next season but rarely saw the court in the fourth quarter, it’s little surprise that the team wanted him off the books, but the fact this news comes right after the Bulls’ meeting with Carmelo Anthony will likely get the rumors swirling even faster than they have been.
But first, the report comes from the Chicago Sun Times where Joe Cowley writes that this is basically a done deal.
A source said Wednesday that Boozer’s departure is a “done deal,” adding that Boozer’s camp already has been informed.
Again, this is the farthest thing from a surprise. The Bulls have a top defensive power forward in Taj Gibson, just drafted a four who can spread the floor in Doug McDermott and can also bring over European sensation Nikola Mirotić if his presence is needed. The Bulls are very actively pursuing multiple big name free agents, so they’re going to need every bit of cap space they can get.
In terms of the amnesty, that means Boozer is still going to get paid, but his salary won’t count against the Bulls’ cap. There was some speculation that the amnesty might not happen since Jerry Reinsdorf hasn’t been one to pay a player for nothing, and almost $17 million is a heck of a lot to pay a player not to play. But fortunately for Bulls fans, Reinsdorf has decided that the Bulls can contend now, but they can’t do it with Boozer eating up cap space.
The fact this comes the day after the team’s meeting with Anthony could be an indicator that the meeting went well and the Bulls feel they’ve locked ‘Melo up. While that’s a nice thing to speculate on, it seems much more likely that this has been the Bulls plan regardless of how the meeting went. They’re going to need cap space for whomever they pursue, whether it be Anthony, Parsons, or the newly-rumored Gasol.
In terms of Boozer’s fate, he’ll definitely find a place to play next season. The fact he’s set to make $16.8 million from the Bulls makes it a strong possibility that he takes a lot less to play for a contender. I don’t know that he’d be willing to become a full-time role player yet on a team like the Clippers, but he could prove to be an integral piece for a developing team like the Hornets, or even (gasp) the Miami Heat.
Why not go to the Heat? If the big three do return, a lineup of Wade, James, Boozer, Bosh and some point guard could be much better than what the Heat ran this year. Boozer and Bosh do have very similar styles of play, so I’m not sure that he would be the absolute best fit, but that hasn’t stopped the Heat before.
But where he ends up isn’t the Bulls’ problem. They’ve got their cap space, they’ve got a starting spot for Taj Gibson, and they’ve finally decided to amnesty Carlos Boozer, a move many in Chicago would tell you is coming far too late.