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A few thoughts on the Bulls' demise as the guys head back to the Berto Center in the next few days to collect their things and head out into an odious off-season.
Hey Jerry Reinsdorf, you and your partners have been raking in the profits on the Bulls for what, a quarter century now? I know the team wasn't a money-maker when you all took over and you are of course entitled to any and all profits that result from what was obviously a very astute investment way back when.
And I know you took on significant additional financial liability when you partnered with the Wirtzes to build the United Center with all private money (wait, why do the Ricketts' need a public subsidy to spend less money to update Wrigley than Reinsdorf and the Wirtz's spent on the UC?).
Anyway, I just wanted to point out that Bulls fans would very much appreciate it if you would go ahead and use some of those profits to take the big financial hit that would accompany releasing Carlos Boozer with the amnesty clause negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement hashed out at the end of last year. Amnestying Boozer would mean the Bulls would still be on the hook for his compensation for the rest of his contract but that said monies would not count against the salary cap.
The Bulls still wouldn't have a ton of financial flexibility and there aren't any terribly exciting free agents who will be out there in the coming off-season. But dumping Boozer would free up the starting power forward spot for Taj Gibson, whose toughness and defensive intensity were just about the only bright spots in the abysmal playoff failure against the Sixers. And there will be plenty of veteran free-agent forwards available on the cheap before next season starts.
Boozer's game stands in such stark contrast to Gibson's and Joakim Noah's. It is just infuriating to watch time and time again as four Bull defenders work their asses off to stymie foes for 20 seconds of a given shot clock and then a lax Boozer blows it, allowing his man to find space to score or failing to make the basic rotations that make the best NBA team defense work.
His offense would be missed a bit, especially with Derrick Rose out for a while at the start of next season, but dumping Boozer would send such a glorious message that these Bulls are first and foremost and forever about team basketball with an emphasis on defensive determination.
Moving right along . . . In 2008, the Bulls signed Luol Deng to a $71 million contract that will still be in effect next season. On Sunday it was estimated that Deng will be paid over $160,000 per game next year. Stories breaking down pro athletes' financial compensation are a bit cliche at this point but in this case it is important to have a real good idea of exactly how much money we are talking about.
Because those numbers make it crystal clear why it will be unacceptable if Deng decides to forego needed wrist surgery to play for the British Olympic team this summer and then misses games next year because the wrist is not healed.
Come on Luol. It doesn't matter how much you've dreamed of representing the country that took your family in after the Dengs became refugees of war-torn Sudan about 20 years ago. It couldn't be more obvious that your first loyalty absolutely must be to the Bulls.
And finally, how much will it cost to bring Nikola Mirotic over from Spain in the off-season? The power forward whose rights were acquired by the Bulls in a slick draft-day trade last year is still very young (21) but he is clearly very talented. The slick-shooting 6-10 force who also has plenty of moves down low could probably use another season or two of seasoning.
But he earned a second straight Euroleague Rising Star award in April and, especially if they dump Boozer, he is needed in Chicago sooner rather than later. Get on that Jerry!
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