Many people, including ESPN’s Bill Simmons, think the Chicago Bulls should use the amnesty clause to release Carlos Boozer.
I am hear to tell you they are all wrong.
If the Bulls released Boozer, it would be a huge mistake.
For starters, let’s look at the amnesty clause. From all reports, teams will have a seven-day window from when camp opens on December 9 to use it. Unlike the last CBA, this amnesty clause can be used during any offseason during the current deal. So the Bulls can use it next year or even the year after.
If Boozer struggles again, he could be released down the road. However, what if Joakim Noah continues to have injury issues and they decide to use it on him?
It would be much smarter to keep all options open.
Secondly, what would releasing Boozer give you? Enough cap space to overpay for one of the restricted free agents. Would adding, say, Nick Young and replacing Boozer with Taj Gibson be enough to get the Bulls past the Heat?
During the regular season, Boozer is good for 17 points and 10 rebounds a night. In the playoffs, except for last season, he is even better scoring over 20 points a game and grabbing 12 boards.
While his playoff numbers were way down last season (12 points and nine rebounds), I would feel safe betting that he can return to form. Just look at what he was able to do in Games 4 and 5 against the Heat.
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Keeping Boozer and allowing Taj to stay on the bench makes this team more dangerous. There is also a good possibility they will be able to solve their shooting guard problem by signing Jason Richardson for the full mid-level exemption.
If not then they could always release Boozer during the summer and make a run at free agency again. Next summer, centers like Dwight Howard and Chris Kaman will be unrestricted free agents while forward Kevin Love and Courtney Lee will be restricted free agents. There might also be many more guys available.
Having Boozer on this team makes the Bulls one player away from possibly winning a championship. However, without him they are at least two players away.
So see the smart move for Gar Foreman and John Paxson is to allow this team to give it another shot and if they fail then there is always next year.