What to do with Carlos Boozer and his turf toe (torn ligaments)

Per KC Johnson:

Carlos Boozer is tired of talking about his turf toe, but the pain isn't going to subside any time soon.

Boozer revealed that ligaments on both sides of his right big toe were
torn as a result of the injury suffered in Game 5 of the first-round
series against the Pacers.

"It's not broken," Boozer told the Tribune. "Thank God all the bones are good."

There are three levels of turf toe: Grade I, which involves stretched
ligaments; Grade II, which is a partially torn ligament; and Grade III, a
complete tear of the ligaments and joint capsule, with a possible
dislocation. Boozer wouldn't say exactly which grade his was, but he did
his best to explain the pain.

"The doctors said on the scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being the worst; it was a 3," Boozer said.

As for suggestions he should sit for the rest of the Hawks series to prepare for the conference finals, Boozer laughed.

"I'm going to play," Boozer said. ``I'm doing what I can to help my
team win. And my teammates and my coaches want me out there."

Well for those thinking Boozer suddenly got old, lost all skill, explosiveness, and everything else, this should come as somewhat of a relief.

Boozer's clearly hurt pretty badly when playing with torn ligaments in his toe.   This doesn't explain all of the issue with Boozer, as his poor play extends back longer than his turf toe, but it does explain the exceptionally poor play since.

Should Boozer sit out?

Yes.  I think he should.  He's not helping the team right now, and the Bulls are playing considerably worse when he's on the floor than Taj Gibson.   He might still be an option to provide some depth for the team playing at this level, but the lion's share of the minutes should go to Gibson.

Boozer himself has said he would play if he'd help the team, but this strikes me as one of those situations where no one wants to admit he's not helping the team.  Thibodeau is too stubborn and Boozer is too proud.

What are the Bulls odds without Boozer?

The Bulls should still take care of the Hawks fairly easily, but going up against Miami or whom ever comes out of the West while a man down won't be easy.   I wouldn't count the Bulls out, as Taj Gibson is a capable replacement while Kurt Thomas has played well in the emergency depth role.

The Bulls defense plays better without Boozer as it is, so not all will be lost.   That said, whenever you lose a starting caliber player, and you have readjust your lineup as well as lose one of your better scoring options things will be rough. 

The hate centered around Boozer's poor play somewhat confirms how valuable he was when healthy.   The offense has really struggled since Boozer's drop off in offensive play.   It's a reason fans are aggravated with Boozer, but it also shows how much the team does need his offense.

Final thoughts

I'm not sure there's a right thing to do here with Boozer.   Even if the Bulls rested him for the entire Atlanta series, it's unlikely that he'd be healed up by the ECF anyway.  However, the Bulls do need to scale back his minutes while his effectiveness is limited.

I'd throw Gibson into the starting lineup and let him know he's going to get 30 minutes a night.  Gibson has played at a high level when receiving starters minutes, and I trust him to do so again.


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  • I agree he's not helping much. He's not giving us that presence in the post he did earlier this season when he was healthy...without that presence there isn't much rational to using him more than Gibson.

    I will say this for Boozer, any old talk about him not being tough enough to play through injury is proving to be false this season. He has played hurt much of the year and now he's playing with torn ligaments. We lauded Noah for doing the same thing.

  • This might be the same argument that we have about scaling Bogans' minutes. I believe that Taj is fitting well with the Bench Mob and I agree that his minutes should increase with the starters also. Boozer and Taj brings different pros/cons to the team. If defense is needed, Taj should be in the lineup especially during crunch time. I believe Coach Thibs has done a good job making adjustments even though he is stubborn. Boozer still commands a double team down the post and Boozer is still a "threat". It's nice to give the opposing team different looks and our depth has been a strength all season because teams have to adjust their game plan to our personnel. I personally am happy that the bench mob is getting their minutes again because shortening the rotation was not helping our team a whole lot. The way Chicago hustles and gives multiple effort is very tiring so utilizing our bench has been very instrumental in winning games.

  • In reply to truniac307:

    That's the thing, right now, Boozer is not a threat, nor does he command a double team, nor is he better on offense than Gibson.


  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I have faith in the coaching staff and I'm sure everything will work out in the end. This Bulls team has been full of surprises and I can't wait to see how this story book season ends. I still believe that the Bulls can win the Championship this year because of our coaching staff and because of D Rose.

    I actually want them to play the Heat and I'll be very happy for the Bulls to beat the Heat so the team can finally get the credit and respect they deserve. As long as our team can stay as healthy as possible, I have all the confidence in the world that June will be a very good month for us Bulls fans.

  • In reply to truniac307:


  • In reply to truniac307:

    Wasn't Turftoe McGymbag questionable for the last game. I was hoping for KT at PF.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Turftoe McGymbag = hilarious!

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    Isn't that how he originally acquired his turf toe, by kicking his Gymbag instead of his wife.

  • In reply to truniac307:

    I agree beating the Heat would be awesome and I would love to see it but losing to the Heat to go to the Finals would be devasting. My deep dislike for the Heat makes this a real dilemma for me.
    I also assume we will have to beat the Heat, the refs and maybe even the NBA front office to get to the Finals.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    who am I kidding...I hate those douche bags

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I get the same feeling. I'm not sure Miami can beat Boston without getting double the free throw attempts as they did in the first two games. Miami makes the NBA money because people always tune in to either watch them win or lose...either way the NBA wins.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Die-hard Fans care deeply about their team(the Bulls) and its play. Duh? However to me there's a certain vulnerability in the playoffs. If your team is playing reasonably well for their capablities then I think complaints during a playoff run for the most part if overdone are just a bummer for the ride and anti-fan. I say if overdone. There shouldn't be any muzzle on people who are real Bulls fans(and not closet haters/invaders) stating their views.

    As for complaints toward Carlos, I wouldn't have much negativity for Boozer but for two things: 1)committing silly fouls that hurt momentum and intimidation of the other team, and 2) there was a concrete reason why his play gradually deteriorated after the first two months basically falling off the map by seasons end. It sucks not knowing if it's an injury or injuries or just his mental state that caused such a Boozer like/career production start to just totally implode. And nobody can say they know the answer because they don't. It's frustrating particularly since he does have a rep for letting people down.

    My only other complaints would be some better offensive answers at time for the Rose Rules, Derrick regressing playing poor, at times - other times he's been good, pick and roll defense(getting picked off by the screener) and losing his man, and the fact that I think guys like Taj and C.J. have enough talent that they should have more consistent roles then what they are being given. You could argue about C.J. because of his size I understand. But he's simply more talented then Bogans and capable of producing a lot more on the offensive end IMO. I guess that would mean either he or Derrick would have to play some SG. I know Thibs likes vets and sometimes does shift things based on who's playing well. But I think you have to identify who your top guys are, and then allow them to develop/stick with them/not pull the rug out from underneath them. But I still think that doesn't mean Thibs can't learn these things. How can you come in as a head coach with no experience, and do all these things right the first time? It's pretty rare(Riley/Lakes? - though he did have Magic and Kareem). I just hope Taj gets plenty of burn, and they start off early establishing him in the post. And that includes telling him that is his job/the goal, and him getting his butt down there and getting something done. You do that, his offensive game becomes tangible and more consistent. Then his energy and activity paired with Noah's becomes game changing. Those two at their zenith are lane closers and transition opportunity starters. This is how I see the Bulls competing with Miami. And if Booz is inspired by Taj and Jo to come in, and bring something himself to the game at the PF in certain bursts then so much the better. Bottom line I expect to see more of Game 3/MVP Derrick(not 44 points) but Miami/Milwaukee, jaw dropper D-Rose. The guy who plain gets to the bucket with crazy Jordan hang time and amazing shots that are money.

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    1. I think Thibs doesn't trust CJ enough. It maybe due to his GS legacy, his knowledge of Thibs's system and his height/strength to guard somebody like Ray Allen, Wade or that type of SG and off-course the vaunted "chemistry". That said, it feels painful to see how open Bogans is left all the time because of the respect he gets offensively. CJ if allowed to get into a rhythm would probably be a much better producer on the starting offense and would play decent defense. Plus, I think Rose is still not that effective without the ball. That is one aspect of his game he needs to work on this summer/next training camp. I don't think there are too many plays for Rose as a off-guard.
    2. Taj is also suspect on offense. Personally, I always feel Boozer will break-out anytime on offense and will make that jump-shot. I don't somehow get that feeling with Taj on offense. And, plus you have the dynamic of the bench mob and foul trouble if Taj plays too many minutes. Also, Taj + Asik is like a brick wall on defense. Do you want to break up their energy at this point of the season? And there are not many backup PFs playing in the playoffs for Boozer to take advantage like in the reg season.
    3. In a way, the great record of the Bulls has made Thibs more stubborn or scared to make a change. If the Bulls were like Atlanta/Orlando, I am sure he would have tinkered more. He is not messing with success now. What he has done in the first year of his coaching is really amazing though.

    We need to see how the Bulls respond today? If they keep up the energy on defense and Rose drives to the paint, I will be happy. The shots might not fall like the last game. That's all I want as a fan.

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    So done talking about Boozer, it is what it is.

    Must win game tonight... Can't wait.


  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    I mentioned Rose's reserve tank the other night, and well, its safe to say he tapped into it. I mentioned he can take over WHENEVER he wants. He's not going to do it all 20 or so games. He's going to pick his spots, especially in the 1st 2 rounds. We might see a little of it today, maybe again after with the slight chance that Atlanta can forse another crucial game, but not likely. That means more close ugly games, more scrutiny & doubt. Don't fall for it again though. I keep going back to it, but the Bulls, lead by Rose, step up when it matters most, going 11-0 ,since their transformation, against the other top 4 seeds from each conference.

    Have faith Bulls fans, we're going all the way, & Rose is leading us there.

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    There's always a scapegoat on the Bulls...early this season it was Bogans and now it's Boozer. In the past we've seen Gordon, Hinrich, Deng, Tyrus Thomas, and Noah early in his career incur the wrath of frustrated Bulls fans. Of course, Deng and Noah are major contributors and the Bulls could actually use any or all of the players they've since traded from this list.

    Everyone is suddenly hyper-observant to all Boozer's flaws while giving other players who make similar mistakes a free pass. I don't see a lack of effort on Boozer's part at all. A lot of that has been unfairly imposed on him but I think it's a false assumption. Until I hear it from his teammates and/or his coach (including ex-coaches/teammates like Sloan who has said repeatedly that he never had a problem with Boozer's effort), then I'm just chalking up to people looking for an easy explanation (not playing well? He must not be trying hard enough!).

    To me he just hasn't been that mobile. Some of it has to do with his injury and some of it has to do with the fact that he isn't the athlete that Gibson or Noah is. And he certainly isn't Rose, for example, who is still faster than 99% of the league with a bad ankle.

    I understand saying he shouldn't play as much if he's hurt. I also understand he isn't playing as well as we expected him to right now. What I don't get is the vitriol toward him. It's straight out of sports talk radio. Unfortunately, that type of knee jerk reaction has become all too pervasive in the the current sports culture. It's just my opinion, but it's a part of sports that I just don't care for.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Woah woah woah, where's the panic & doubt? What's with this sound reasoning?

    I agree completely John

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    agree esp. about his supposed lack of effort, and not seeing it

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    and about not caring for the vitriol associated with todays culture, which I believe extends further than just sports

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    If his play is affected that much by his injuries he probably shouldnt be playing. I thought this toe thing happened in game 5 so what was up until then, an undisclosed injury? The effort critism comes, from me at least, when he didnt close out on Tyler H.or others, and gets lit up, almost never rotates over on D. Then there is my critism of his actual play, throwing his off arm out all of the sudden, two handed shoves when rebounding, fumble fingers on entry passes, numerous defensive 3 second calls to go along with just plain sucking on offense. I can handle a player struggling on offense when it looks like he is working hard in other parts of his game, ie. Rose a couple games and Deng often, but when added together Boozer has not shown much to deserve our praise this off season.

    Note that I was complimentary of him last game for what appeared to be a better effort but some crap offensive foul calls.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    As I wrote in an earlier post, I think Boozer's bad defense is more because of his bad habits probably learnt during his starting years in the NBA than his physical liabilities. My theory is because he was a second round pick and had to do more on offense and rebounding to get that big contract(unlike a 1st round pick), he got into bad habits on defense. That is tough to break now even if he wants to do it. I honestly believe he wants to play defense now but that instinct of rotating on defense will not come easily at this point of his career.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Ha! I've been reading so many negative comments about Boozer that I finally felt I had to give my opinion on it. Glad someone agrees with it!

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    It's gotten to the point where everyone should just let this Boozer toe thing go, it is what it is. If the guy can still get in the game and help a little and not in critical situations, I say let him play. He's obviously able to deal with the pain cause even tho he had only six points in game 3, he did help a little throughout the game. Boozer had a big in your face dunk on Josh Smith that was called a offensive foul and he looked fine on that play but I guess he had to deal with the pain then to. And who knows maybe he's not as injured as everyone thinks but I know that's wishful thinking.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Actually, I think that he is far less injured than he would like people to think that he is.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Well he did have his best game last night...so now what...

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    I think this is a fair and rational criticism of Boozer, RW. My opinion is that his mental state is fine but, of course, I have no way of knowing this for certain. I imagine there's some frustration at not playing as well as he can (as frustrated as fans are, I have to think Boozer is equally frustrated -- if not more). I do think the problem is more physical than mental, though. We will see the 20-10 threat we saw earlier this season again -- unfortunately, I don't believe it will happen this postseason. It's too bad.

  • 1. Thibs is going with the Bogans route for Boozer(for both performance and injury). Start him not to disturb the chemistry and keep him engaged.
    2. Even with the injury, Boozer should be able to contribute. If he can make layups/jumpshots with correct positioning, he should be ok. Also, we have to understand that sometimes even to play through with an injury...it takes a little time to adjust. Hopefully, he has had a couple of weeks and some games to kind of understand what he can do or not.
    3. The Bulls secrecy is amazing. All these beat reporters almost hanging out 24 hours with the Bulls with twitter still cannot sniff what is going on correctly for a week. What is it now? Grade 2 or Grade 3 turf toe. From the pain, it looks like it is a Grade 2.
    I guess we will not see the real Boozer until next year. It is a shame because I was hoping him and Joakim can work out some stuff on their offense together during the off-season/training camp.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I agree Schaumburg. Bogans him. Keep him in the linueup, but cut his minutes. He can contribute if we get him the ball early in the game and help get the offense rolling.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I don't know the answer to the big Boozer questions.

    I do know that the earlier I see Taj in the game the happier I am (and since Joakim doesn't hide his emotions very well, I can safely say Jo feels the same way).

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    People, just trust Thibs...He knows what his doing...

  • If we don't know the true severity of the injury then it is hard to say what to do with him but I would be inclined to sit him. We can beat the Hawks without him since we have basically won with out him already in this series. His lack of movement could allow Josh smith to actually get into a groove and make some shots, gain confidence. I also like the Bulls starters playing up tempo and Taj helps make that occur.

    In his injured state I think Booz does more harm than good and doesn't really provide much that Taj cannot give us. Sure he might draw a double once in awhile and possibly is a better passer but on one foot his negatives really hurt the team.

  • I think the first question is will a complete rest help Carlos get any better before the ECF? I assume that we will get past Atlanta with/without playing Carlos.

    If the answer's yes then thats a simple call. He sits.

    If the answer's no (too short a timescale to allow recovery so as with a ankle ligament strain tape it up and play injured) then I advocate less minutes to protect the situation. I would still want him to start the game and the 3rd period to maintain (his and the team's) continuity there throughout this series and effective use Carlos as we use Keith.
    Taj playing the other 30mins or so will not alter the result of the series, Carlos will keep active and in sync for the ECF (where I think we all agree we WILL need him to some degree) and coach Thibs will maintain/improve the harmony within the players.

  • In reply to Jersey66:

    If they insist on playing him I like this plan

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