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Going into the 2013 NBA season, Chicago is facing a few pressing personnel decisions.
With Derrick Rose likely to miss most of, if not the entire season, Bulls management will have to decide whether it’s worth tanking and getting a high draft pick (something we are in favor of or making their best efforts to remain competitive.
The latter makes sense if Chicago believes Rose will be back by the time the Playoffs roll around. A fully-fit Rose would certainly make the Bulls a dangerous matchup regardless of their seeding.
The problem is year after year we see guys take two years to fully bounce back from ACL surgery. Plus, there will be an adjustment period if Rose does wind up losing some of his blinding quickness.
All that being said, one thing remains true regardless of what route the Bulls wind up taking — Carlos Boozer has to go.
By now it’s abundantly clear that the albatross of a contract Chicago gave Boozer in 2010 was the worst personnel decision since they allowed Phil Jackson to walk almost 15 years ago.
While Boozer put up solid numbers in Utah, his play has dropped off significantly since moving to the Midwest. He hasn’t been able to consistently create his own offense and being a matador defender, his scoring is the only justification for playing him ahead of Taj Gibson.
Whether it means trading Boozer for immediate help, an expiring contract, or future picks, something has to be done. Let’s look at a few options.
Houston trades Kevin Martin and Patrick Patterson for Carlos Boozer and the Bulls’ 2013 1st round pick
Daryl Morey has been biding his time looking for a talented (and preferably marketable) big man since Yao Ming’s retirement. Boozer is no Dwight Howard…but he shouldn’t exactly cost “the house.” Kevin Martin is certainly still a potent offensive player, but he clashed with coach Kevin McHale, plus he’s in the last year of his contract and he hasn’t exactly expressed interest in taking a discount to stay in Houston. Is Boozer a big enough prize for Morey to justify parting with K-Mart and the still developing Patrick Patterson?
Boozer seemed to fit in reasonably well alongside Asik in Chicago, and would certainly fit in real well alongside Lin on the new Billboards around Houston. He’s still a top-10 power forward in the league, and paired with Asik, the Rockets could be assured of holding their own on the boards every night. More importantly, he can score from down low. Beyond Boozer, don’t sleep on the value of the Bulls’ upcoming draft pick. That team could well end up high in the lottery even if they don’t choose to openly tank, and we all know how much Daryl Morey loves his draft picks…
Chicago upgrades the shooting guard position significantly (something it seems they’ve been trying to do since they let Ben Gordon leave in free agency), while ridding itself of the under-achieving Boozer contract. Many Chicago fans genuinely believe that their team looked most dangerous when Taj was starting while Boozer was out with an injury; the hope is that Gibson will blossom with increased minutes and freedom. Ideally Patterson, who people smarter than myself seem to believe has a much higher ceiling than Gibson ever did,will push Taj for minutes, and one of the two will stick.
Martin can hit open shots in rhythm, and create with some efficiency at the end of the shot clock when necessary. Once Rose returns, the team would instantly return to the title conversation. In the mean time, Martin could well push Chicago damn close to the playoffs, and would certainly help the team continue to put an entertaining team on the floor during Rose’s absence.
Brooklyn trades Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks for Carlos Boozer (Can not occur until January 15, 2013)
With New Jersey heading further and further over the cap over the next few years with the contracts of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and of course Brook Lopez, they’ll be limited to mid-level exceptions and veteran minimum contract players.
All jokes about defense aside, swapping Humphries for Boozer would signify a monumental upgrade offensively, albeit one that comes with some downgrade on the glass (a cost that could be magnified by Brook Lopez rebounding like an undersized small forward; by that I mean he is a very, very poor at rebounding for a man his size). Boozer’s best years came playing with Deron in Utah; if there was any place he could ever come close to playing up to his contract, it would have to be with Williams…reunion in Brooklyn? It’s worth noting that Brooklyn has reportedly been unwilling to part with Brooks in the past, but I’m willing to bet that with Joe Johnson putting up his share of reckless jump shots, Brooks will become dispensable.
Chicago gets the scoring and upside they’ve been desperately looking for at shooting guard in Brooks; particularly useful because he’s on a rookie contract through 2015.
But why would they want to downgrade from Carlos Boozer to Kris Humphries? Dollars and Cents. Boozer still has 2-years, $32.1 million remaining after the 2012-2013 season. With Humphries on a 2-year $24 million deal, we’ll be referring to him as a $12-million dollar expiring contract before we see Derrick Rose on an NBA floor again. In other words, he could become a trade piece for a team looking to shed contracts, and if it happened, it would likely be right around the time Rose makes his return
Sacramento trades Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes for Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton
The Bulls might never let Salmons into the locker room; simply keep him away from the team until he either agrees to a buyout or the opportunity to amnesty his last year rolls around. If he team is rid of Boozer there’s little reason to keep the Amnesty in the back pocket any longer. Were this scenario to play out, the Bulls could actually get under the salary cap for the 2013-2014 season.
Thornton provides outside shooting and general competence from the shooting guard position, a lot more than you can see for Rose’s backcourt mates the last couple years. Chuck Hayes provides…well, Chuck Hayes minutes. Gritty defense, rebounding, hustle and effort night and night out. It never hurts to add a player like Hayes to your roster; he leads by example, and the example is always the same, “try harder.”
For Sacramento, though Marcus Thornton is a nice piece moving forward, the train starts and stops with Demarcus Cousins. If the man known as Boogie gets off track, the train derails. Thus, bringing in a consummate professional like Boozer would make a great deal of sense. A Duke graduate, Boozer is, at least on paper, a good influence on Boogie. Even if we can’t expect all-star level play from Carlos, it’s easy see the upside of putting a level-headed veteran next to cousins in the front court.
From a basketball perspective the two would compliment each other nicely. Though Boozer would more than likely cut into Thomas Robinson’s minutes, it would allow the Kings to make a more serious push for a playoff spot. If the Maloof brothers are truly committed to keeping the team in Sacramento (editors note: does anyone still believe that? Like, at all?), they have to put a team on the court that is going to put butts in seats.
With Isiah Thomas playing the point (which he proved he can do quite effectively, especially when running pick and rolls a high percentage of the time), ‘Reke at the Slash Guard (I refuse to call him a shooting guard. I respect him as a player, I think he’s got a nasty first step and a great ability to finish at the rim…but he’s not a shooting guard. Thus, still a SG, but in my mind I’m calling him a Slash or slashing guard every time), Travis Outlaw, Boozer and Cousins: Aaron Brooks as a sixth man, Robinson relieving Outlaw and Boozer off the bench, Jason Thompson getting his fouls minutes at both the 4 and 5, Jimmer as the irrational confidence / heat check guard. Am I alone in buying this team as a fringe-playoff contender?
One way or another, Boozer’s going to find himself out of Chicago in the near future. The only question that remains is where he’ll end up, and whether or not the Bulls get anyone in return.
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You know those mind-numbing water cooler discussions about weather, pets and weekend activities? That soul-crushing small talk would be far less demoralizing if it included something you actually cared about.
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