I find that frequently, people can talk themselves into anything, and I see many people talking themselves into the idea that Carlos Boozer was the big man we wanted all along or that we were blessed to miss out on Bosh and get Boozer instead.
Let me asure you, that is most certainly not the case. If we wanted Boozer all along, then we wouldn’t have waited for Bosh to say no before signing him.
I’m not arguing that Boozer was a bad signing. When so much was sacrificed for this season, you make that signing 10 times out of 10. There was no one better left on the board and relative to other contracts handed out, Boozer’s deal wasn’t nearly so eye poppingly bad as say Joe Johnson’s or Amare Stoudemire’s.
Also, at that moment, we still believed we were in the LeBron James sweepstakes and bringing Boozer on board soldified our team as an immediate title favorite if LeBron were to join.
All that said, Boozer brings a truckload of baggage with him, and I’m not even talking about the handshake deal he reneged on with Cleveland. I might reneg on an illegal handshake deal for 30 million as well, and Cleveland deserves what they got for trying to circumvent the CBA with illegal negotiations.
Let’s just look at his history with Utah though. Boozer made roughly 11.5 million a season in Utah, and the Jazz were looking to trade him virtually every season he was there. Despite playing at a high level, he’d worn out his welcome almost immediately. They never ended up pulling the trigger, but Boozer was 23-28 years old over those seasons, putting up 20/10 seasons, and constantly on the trade block at 11.5 million.
We’re now paying him 15 million a seasons for years 29-33. How likely do you think it is that Boozer plays better over the next five seasons than the previous six?
It starts with the injuries. Boozer’s missed most of two seasons and almost half of another in his six years in Utah. He’s not likely to get healthier as he ages, and management has let it known that they felt he milked injuries. You have to figure it’s likely the Bulls lose out on almost two full seasons out of the five Boozer is under contract due to injury related problems.
I think it may be telling that the Utah fans, by and large, don’t seem upset to see Boozer leave and were ready to push him out the door for much of his time there. There was quite the argument over this fact on my top 10 rankings, but the Utah fans I’ve spoken to over the years have never been enamoured with Boozer. Perhaps the injury issue killed their trust, perhaps Boozer is to Karl Malone as Gordon is to Jordan, and they had unrealistic expectations of what a PF should do.
We can debate the reasons, but not the outcome. Jazz fans weren’t begging him to stay, and I believe they’re being honest when they think Al Jefferson will come in and help them more than Boozer (I think they’ll be sorely disappointed, but I don’t think they’re lying).
If you look at Boozer’s +/- profile, you’ll find he was a net negative on the court. This would seem to back up the Jazz fan belief that Boozer wasn’t a real difference maker, and he certainly wasn’t the engine of their team by any stretch. That said, +/- stats aren’t very reliable year to year, and teams with great depth at a position (like Millsap backup up Boozer) often have skewed +/-s due to the backups having easier matchups particularly in a case like Boozer where his raw +/- is still positive.
Still, it adds some context to what Jazz fans have been saying for years. Boozer simply isn’t making that big an impact on the game in their opinion.
Let’s not get too down though. Boozer, when healthy fits perfectly with our needs. We need the big, strong, physical body setting screens for Derrick Rose. This should free Rose up, giving him far more space to work with.
We need the big man who can create down low and hit a mid range jumper to play in pick and pop situations. In the past, in a pick and roll, it was an automatic double team on Rose with the opponent daring the Bulls to make Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, or Brad Miller beat them which they sometimes did, but it took the ball out of our best players hands and put it into the hands of fairly pedestrian offensive players. With Carlos Boozer, that doesn’t happen.
While the Bulls rebound well, they needed a physical defensive rebounder, and Boozer supplies that. Noah does a great job on the offensive glass, and Taj Gibson improved as the year went on, but if tehre was one issue the Bulls had on the glass it was that they could get shoved around at times, and Boozer’s the type of player who won’t get shoved around on the defensive glass.
Whatever flaws Boozer has, it was a good signing under the circumstances. They didn’t break the bank, and David Lee, who also could be accused of empty numbers, was the only othe reasonable alternative to fill our needs, and while I trust Lee to give a strong effort for 5-6 years and stay healthy much more so than Boozer he doesn’t provide physical rebounding and pick setting and isn’t as dangerous an offensive creator.
Could this completely backfire and turn into an Elton Brand like situation? It probably can’t be that bad simply because Boozer’s contract isn’t that bad, and he’s a couple years younger than Brand when signing it so the physical decline won’t be as great. Still, there’s reason to be wary of this thing going south if Boozer gets banged up, and history says he will.
This isn’t a pre-emptive strike at management if this blows up though. You have to take chances like this, and I’m glad the Bulls did. I’ll be glad the Bulls took the shot even if failed, because I don’t see a better reasonable alternative at this point, and I won’t kill them with hindsight thinking in a couple years.
So while I think signing Boozer was the right thing to do, I’m also walking into the situation with eyes wide open to the possibility of it not working out. There’s as good a chance of Boozer being an all-star in two years as there is that we’re desperately trying to dump his contract.