It didn’t net them Carmelo Anthony, but Pau Gasol is certainly a nice consolation prize. After reports surfaced early this month that the Chicago Bulls would use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, they finally exercised that option on Tuesday.
The Bulls informed Boozer of their decision on Tuesday and had until midnight Wednesday to put him on waivers. The Bulls will still owe Boozer the $16.8 million left on his salary this season but it will not count on their salary cap.
Combined with their trade of Anthony Randolph to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, the Bulls will clear about $12 million in cap space. Gasol is expected to sign a three-year deal worth more than $22 million and Mirotic is expected to sign for $18 million over three years with the Bulls permitted to give him $600,000 to help pay off his buyout from Real Madrid, sources said.
After the Bulls agreed to terms with Gasol and Mirotic, the need for cap space made it clear they would eventually have to amnesty Boozer.
Boozer was gracious in his departure from Chicago, thanking the organization for the four years he spent as a Bull.
Wanna Say Thank You To The Bulls Organization!!! Thank You For The Last Four Years!!! pic.twitter.com/7YuxGugeT0
— Carlos Boozer (@MisterCBooz) July 15, 2014
A lightning rod for criticism over the past couple of years, Boozer’s worth to the Bulls decreased as the two-way viability of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson – individually and in tandem – spiked. Indeed, Boozer’s 13.7 points per game last season was his lowest mark since his rookie year, and he shot a career-worst 45.6 percent from the field, too. Worse? Those dips combined with his well-known, all-encompassing defensive deficiencies made it increasingly difficult for Tom Thibodeau to justify playing him in fourth quarters.
Make no mistake, though – Boozer was instrumental to Chicago’s rise as an Eastern power and stands to garner interest from contenders in amnesty bidding. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that two 2013-2014 playoff teams are potential landing spots for Boozer.
Plenty of teams with salary cap space, but two early favorites to make bids on Carlos Boozer: Charlotte and Atlanta.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 15, 2014
Boozer has been one of the most maligned players in the NBA of late, but that had more to do with the bloated contract the Bulls awarded him than a vertical decline in his performance. He still offers great value as a shot-creator and secondary scorer, two traits the Hornets sorely lack. Boozer doesn’t make as much sense for the Hawks; Mike Budenholzer’s system emphasizes shooting or at least the threat of it from his bigs, and Boozer’s defensive issues would only compound those from which Atlanta already suffers.
This is a boon for Chicago. The Bulls couldn’t officially acquire Gasol and Mirotic and keep Boozer in tow unless they completed major roster gymnastics, and that Jerry Reinsdorf signed off on parting ways with him via amnesty is more indication that Chicago is willing to spend to win.
But Boozer should be commended for his influence on the Bulls’ rise the past few years. Noah wasn’t a juggernaut when he came aboard, and Derrick Rose was still a healthy, young star as opposed to a perpetually injured former MVP. And despite the fact that Boozer became decreasingly useful to Chicago the past two seasons, he still made a positive impact on a flawed, depleted roster.
If Boozer’s new team has realistic expectations for the role he’ll play, our estimation of his merit could significantly change in the future. And it will certainly help that he’s not being paid like a superstar, either.
Was amnestying Boozer the right call by Chicago?
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