Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chicago Bulls: Understanding Carlos Boozer's Contract and Potential Trade Value

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Now that the 2011 NBA draft has concluded, most teams will be looking at an uncertain collective bargaining agreement and potentially delayed offseason of trades and free-agent signings. Teams will be playing a game of "wait and see" in terms of salary cap, franchise tags and trade allowance by the league.

The Chicago Bulls essentially took a "pass" on the 2011 NBA draft by selecting an international star and potential NBA starter (Nikola Mirotic) who will not see United States soil for at least three more years, and a guard (Jimmy Butler) who will at best be a "rotation" guy for the Bulls.

Why did the Bulls forfeit the use of their three picks in this manner? In short, they are trying to clear as much cap space as possible, while also having pieces to trade for some additional talent to put around Derrick Rose.

Whether the Bulls sign or trade for a pure shooter (Michael Redd?) or top-tier free agent (Dwight Howard?), much of their destiny is tied to Carlos Boozer and his remaining contract. Could the Bulls possibly trade Boozer to another team? Can they retain Boozer and have enough cap room to sign more quality talent, knowing that team owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, still has his First Communion money under his mattress and is not interested in paying a luxury tax?

To answer these questions, we need to first take a look at the contract of Carlos Boozer. It breaks down like this:

2011/12: $13-15 million

2012/13: $13-15 million

2013/14: $15-17 million

2014/15: $15-17 million

Total contract remaining? Four years at approximately $60 million.

Now, let's take a look at who makes comparable money (within $3 million per year) in the league:

Joe Johnson: Atlanta ($16.2 million per year)

Richard Hamilton: Detroit ($13 million per year)

Andre Iguodala: Philadelphia ($16 million per year)

Vince Carter: Phoenix ($17 million per year)

Brandon Roy: Portland ($14 million per year)

Tony Parker: San Antonio ($14 million per year)

Now, the number of years in the above contracts are important, but not completely absolute in terms of teams' willingness to do a trade.

If you remove Boozer from the Bulls' roster, you get these probable starters:

PG: Rose

SF: Deng

PF: Gibson

C: Noah

As you can see, there is a SG missing from this list. Looking at the players above, is there one that you would like to slot into that space? If you are Gar Forman, you need to sell those teams on Boozer's potential as a player and as a name (some teams just need to sell seats, not win games) for the next four years. At 29, he could still be a very serviceable player.

How do you sweeten the deal? You have the promise of Mirotic and a future top-10 pick from Charlotte (lottery protected through 2015 from the Tyrus Thomas trade) to put along with Boozer.

Of course, if the Orlando Magic are interested in taking Boozer's contract along with Noah for Dwight Howard, you have a whole new ballgame on the West Side of Chicago.

As always, I welcome your insights and feedback.

By Brian Rosta (Member)


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