In the aftermath of the Bulls being eliminated from the NBA playoffs, speculation has begun as what's next for the franchise. From a roster standpoint, power forward Carlos Boozer is the most interesting (and reportedly available) piece, and whispers of a potential use of the amnesty provision have been circulating for months.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com weighs in on Boozer's situation with a report that the Bulls will aim to trade the veteran big man in an attempt to avoid paying the remainder of his deal.
You continue to hear rumbles that Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is adamantly against the idea of setting Boozer free via amnesty, even though the 32-year-old is finally poised to enter the final year of his contract, valued in 2014-15 at $16.8 million.
Sources briefed on Chicago's thinking say the Bulls are going to do everything they can to try to find a trading partner for Boozer before seriously considering the amnesty option.
Bear in mind that Chicago essentially has until July 15 to craft a deal that finds a new home for Boozer after a season in which he lost much of his fourth-quarter run to Taj Gibson. The NBA's amnesty window this summer runs through July 10-16.
The Bulls and, more specifically, Jerry Reinsdorf have been notoriously stingy in regards to the luxury tax, and paying Boozer to essentially "go away" doesn't seem to be in line with their operating history. Still, there is no guarantee that Chicago will find a taker for Boozer, who has been a much-maligned player in the recent past, and Chicago desperately needs the cap space if they want to pursue a high-profile free agent like Carmelo Anthony.
Boozer, 32, is coming off the worst statistical season of his professional career, as he totaled a career-low 14.5 Player Efficiency Rating with just 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He does possess a defined skillset offensively, but he was clearly passed by Taj Gibson on the crunch-time depth chart this season, as evidenced by his 28.2 minutes per game in the regular season and repeated absences in the fourth quarter against the Wizards.
Chicago will have every opportunity to peddle Boozer on the open market as soon as the Finals conclude in mid-June. But with the amnesty clause lurking as the emergency option, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team struggle to find equal value in return.