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All this Boozer Talk can Drive You to Drink
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jul 10
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
This Carlos Boozer stuff just won’t go away. I tried my
hardest Thursday to dispel national reports the Bulls were in serious three-way
discussions to trade for Boozer.
They were not.
But what of now that the Portland Trailblazers, according to
the Portland Oregonian, are prepared to make a free agency offer to Jazz
restricted free agent Paul Millsap? The Jazz wants to keep Millsap and trade
Boozer. That also may tell you something, that the Jazz wants to keep a career
9.4 scorer over Boozer as the Trailblazers are recruiting Millsap to be a
backup to LaMarcus Aldridge.
The consensus is the Jazz cannot afford to keep Boozer and
his $12.7 million salary for next season. They need financial relief to match
the offer for Millsap. Though I cannot figure out how they can get that. The
only way would be to trade Boozer to a team below the salary cap, like Oklahoma
City, which doesn’t seem to have any interest. Or, at least, to a team with
some cap room that can absorb part of Boozer’s contract and throw in a player. The
Pistons are said to remain interested and offering Richard Hamilton, though
that makes little sense for the Jazz since Hamilton makes about the same as
Boozer and has a contract lasting into the 2012-13 season.
So what about the Bulls? I’m being asked all the time why
don’t the Bulls trade Jerome James and Tim Thomas for Boozer? Or why don’t they
trade Boozer for one expiring contract and Tyrus Thomas, who plays the same
The theory is Boozer is a career double/double player and
even if it’s a one year rental, why not take a chance given Boozer will be
motivated because he is going into his free agent season? I can understand that
Of course, that would also be assuming the Jazz figure
Boozer is so toxic that they just want to get rid him. They wouldn’t gain any
salary cap relief dealing with the Bulls. Assuming Utah would take just
expiring deals, Boozer’s deal also is expiring. So it’s a wash. And now the
Jazz would have two relatively non productive players compared with Boozer. Say
you wanted to give up Tyrus Thomas, which the Jazz might do to have something
for Boozer for the future.
I have never been a huge fan of Tyrus’. But he also is going
into a contract season and working hard this summer, I’m told, and you may get
a good season from him. I think it’s highly doubtful the Bulls would take on
Boozer beyond this season given his checkered history with the Jazz.
He missed almost 40 percent of the team’s games in his five
seasons there, often under questionable and mysterious circumstances. Yes, he’s
playing for a contract. But he supposedly was this past season after saying
during the season he would opt out, and still he missed 45 games, only playing
regularly late in the season and in the playoffs.
The initial reports, which I’m convinced were bogus, had
this three-way deal with Tyrus going to the Jazz and Kirk Hinrich to the
‘Blazers. After media reports questioned the validity, there were new reports
Friday that the Bulls wanted Jeryd Bayless included. There were some
preliminary talks during the season about Bayless, though Portland always
balked. Plus, he’s more shooting guard than point guard and basically a rookie
after having played little last season. It would be ludicrous to give up two
players for, essentially, a rental and a young project.
There was this other theory that if you have Boozer and he
has that good season because it’s his contract season, it might make it more
appealing to some free agent like Dwyane Wade to come to the Bulls. Perhaps,
assuming the Jazz is just desperate to be rid of Boozer without any substantial
Miami supposedly was the free agent destination for Boozer
after this season. But they decided to give up their potential cap room to
trade for Jermaine O’Neal. The other theory with the Hinrich/Tyrus scenario was
if you give up both and then let Boozer go, you have enough room for two free
agents next summer.
Of course, you then are risking an awful season if Boozer
pulls one of his half season stunts again and you don’t have Hinrich and Tyrus.
Free agents aren’t likely to be flocking in droves to 30-win teams. Which is
why the Knicks’ free agent strategy is so tenuous with the latest reports Grant
Hill snubbed them after Jason Kidd did.
If you were just giving away Hinrich for salary cap room,
you probably could have done that already. It hardly seems wise to give up your
third guard after losing Ben Gordon just to hope you can attract two players
I think it will be difficult to attract one player. I looked
at the finances in my column this past Monday and my computations had free
agents who stay able with an extra year and raises to make as much as $40
million more. I was a bit high. Esteemed NBA media VP Tim Frank informed me the
figure is closer to $29 million with the extra year and 10.5 percent raises
versus eight percent. Though players leaving a team can start at the same 105
percent of their previous salary figure as players staying.
I think one of the keys to attracting a top free agent will
be to have a solid core in place, and I believe the Bulls have that now.
Derrick Rose and John Salmons are a capable to above average backcourt. Joakim
Noah and Brad Miller form a decent center platoon. The key is if Luol Deng can
regain his form from previous seasons, which I believe he can, if healthy,
because he’ll be in less competition with Gordon in searching out shot
opportunities. And Hinrich would be as good a third guard as you can find.
So then comes Tyrus.
Would I take Boozer if the Jazz said they just wanted the
expiring contracts of Tim Thomas and Jerome James. Probably. That would make no
sense even if they hate Boozer. Would I give them Tyrus? I’m not sure. Especially
not if I saw Boozer as strictly a rental. And, after all, if you keep Hinrich
as Portland would not seem a part of a deal any more—as if they ever were–with
an offer to Millsap, you would only have enough money for one free agent after
next season. If it were Boozer, then you would be done and that would be your
team for the future.
Anyone who follows me knows I’d never want Boozer. He’s an
undersized four who doesn’t defend the paint, is injury prone and hasn’t
particularly elevated his teams. The one time the Jazz made the conference
finals was when they got the fluke opponent after Golden State upset Dallas.
But fans generally want a new toy.
There’s this notion around Chicago that the Bulls passed on
Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol and others and it’s time to make a move for a big man
who can score in the post. Boozer can do that. Before this season, he averaged
at least 20 points and 10 rebounds the previous two seasons. But he’s also
always been a distraction with his uncertain comings and goings.
The Jazz clearly has had enough with him. With the Jazz
having seven days to match on Millsap, the assumption is they have that period
to do something regarding Boozer. Is Tyrus in the Bulls’ future plans? I really
don’t know. He can be a restricted free agent next season if the Bulls don’t
give him an extension, which I assume they will not. The Bulls would have the
right to match an offer for Tyrus after this season if they make a qualifying
offer, which I assume they would. Tyrus says he wants to remain with the Bulls
and will show how much by his play this season.
Tyrus isn’t going to be a low post scoring forward. But he
was the blocks leader in the playoffs, though he played just seven games. There
has been fan ambivalence with him. But it would seem a lot to give him up for
Boozer if Boozer is merely a rental with little or no chance of being retained.
Which certainly would be the case with the team keeping Hinrich, which seems
likely. After all, Hinrich is one of the team’s best defenders and the only
true point guard backup.
Boozer certainly doesn’t seem worth breaking up your team
for. And he’s hardly the one free agent of the future if you have hopes of
being a serious contender. There’s this notion that if you can get him you’d be
in better position next February to trade for a free agent who may want to
leave, like Chris Bosh. The Raptors seem convinced with their remake they won’t
have to trade Bosh. Again, the question would be how little the Jazz would take
to get rid of Boozer. Do they really hate him so much they’d take nothing but
bad expiring deals? Would it put the Bulls in better position for a deal if
they had Boozer as the sweetener instead of Tyrus?
If you can get Boozer just for expiring contracts, why not?
Then who cares if he decides to take his usual two months off. But it seems to
me you’d have to think seriously and pause before giving up anything of
substance for Boozer.