By Argie Grigorakos
The first 2 weeks of July is a crucial period for NBA teams to not only add players via free agency, but to exercise the Amnesty Provision. This allows teams to cut a player from their roster and ultimately remove their income from the team’s salary. Even though a team would still be responsible to pay the amnestied player the entire amount (unless he is bid on), it wouldn’t count against the salary cap. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement allows all 30 teams to be able to use the Amnesty clause on contracts that were signed before the labour deal was agreed upon (December 2011). The window for the process to occur this off season is July 10th to July 16th.
The Chicago Bulls have an opportunity to use the Amnesty Provision on their starting Power Forward Carlos Boozer, and it is a fore gone conclusion that they will. Unless a last minute sign and trade can occur with another respected ball club, Carlos Boozer’s $16.8 million dollar salary for the 2014-2015 season will be eliminated from the Bulls salary. It has been reported that if the roster stays as it is, the amnesty of Mr. Boozer will open up a little over $10 million dollars of cap space. That would be critical for the Bulls as they would have the flexibility to add pieces to their roster, such as highly regarded European prospect Nikola Mirotic.
Carlos Boozer’s tenure with the Chicago Bulls was seen as a major disappointment, as fans and various media members were highly critical of the gold winning Olympian. In four seasons with the Bulls, Carlos Boozer averaged 15.5 points and 9 rebounds per game, down from his stats in Utah, where he averaged 20 points and 10.5 rebounds a game (2004-10). Most of the criticism came when observers assessed Boozer’s defensive lapses. Playing in a system that demanded high defensive concentration, Carlos struggled to fully commit, and grasp the game plan Coach Tom Thibodeau designed. For example, there were many times Carlos would miss defensive rotations when playing in the half court set. He would also make low basketball I.Q plays that would compromise the defence (e.g. causing a basket and a foul after pushing an opponent in the back immediately after getting beaten off the dribble).
As the season went along in 2013-2014 Carlos saw his minutes drop drastically, especially in crucial moments like the fourth quarter. Taj Gibson, the backup Power Forward, would essentially go on to play the whole fourth quarter in every game. Boozer voiced his frustration on February 3, 2014 at shoot around just before the team faced the Sacramento Kings. The Chicago Tribune’s KC Johnson quoted Carlos speaking about his fourth quarter benching, “I think I should be out there, but it’s (Thibodeau’s) choice. I play, I don’t coach. But honestly, he’s been doing that a lot since I’ve been here, not putting me in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we win, more times than not we don’t”. Those comments set the tone for the rest of the season, but Tom Thibodeau didn’t waver from his stance. The rotation stayed as it was, and consequently it has became clear, that Carlos Boozer and the Chicago Bulls relationship has come to pass. In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Bulls failed to land one of the “Big Fish” in free agency, and many will say they settled for Carlos Boozer. He will be remembered as a Bulls player who didn’t play up to the level of expectations that his $75 million contract should garner. Many in the organization may regret the signing of Carlos Boozer, but few should be surprised of the outcome, as he showed the same defensive limitations that Utah Jazz fans complained about for years.