Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer has long seemed like an amnesty candidate, but there appears to be only a 50-50 chance that Chicago will use the amnesty clause to remove Boozer’s cap hit from its books this summer, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Sulia link). The Bulls aren’t certain that a top-tier free agent will become available to them this summer, and if that doesn’t happen, they’d be content to keep Boozer and let him play out the final season of his contract next year.
There’s been increasing chatter that the 2015 free agent class will turn out to be more star-laden than this summer’s crop, and it sounds like Chicago is thinking about focusing on 2015 rather than amnestying Boozer and signing second-tier free agents this summer, Kyler writes. Boozer is set to make $16.8MM in 2014/15. He’ll receive that money even if the Bulls use the amnesty clause, since the amnesty only erases a contract from a team’s ledger, rather than its actual payroll. It would make sense if cost-conscious Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf decides against setting himself up to pay a player who’ll no longer be on his roster.
The Bulls slipped beneath the luxury tax line with their trade of Luol Deng earlier this month, and that could make it less likely the team will amnesty Boozer, according to Kyler. Had Chicago not escaped the tax for this season, there would have been pressure to avoid what might have been a third straight taxpaying season next year. That would have triggered repeat-offender penalties for subsequent seasons. Now that it doesn’t appear the Bulls will pay the tax this year, there’s not as much motivation to avoid it in 2014/15. Including Boozer’s salary, their commitments already bring them within $13MM of the projected tax line for next season, so it will be hard for them to avoid becoming 2014/15 taxpayers without amnestying Boozer.