Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf opposes the idea of using the amnesty provision to remove Carlos Boozer from the team’s books, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears, adding that sources tell him that Chicago will make a strong push to trade Boozer instead. Boozer is set to enter the final year of his contract next season, but his $16.8MM salary and his growing anger at coach Tom Thibodeau seem to make him a poor fit for the Bulls, who have their eyes set on a free agent prize this summer.
The Knicks are “undeniably nervous” about the chances that Carmelo Anthony will sign with the team this summer, Stein writes. The ESPN.com scribe echoes last week’s report from Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that put the Bulls at the front of the list of Anthony’s preferred suitors. Chicago would have to move a significant amount of salary off its payroll to make a competitive offer to Anthony, since the Bulls’ commitments for 2014/15 already exceed even the new, higher salary cap projection for next season. Amnestying Boozer would be the simplest way to wipe a hefty chunk of money off Chicago’s cap figure, but unless a team claims him off waivers, Reinsdorf would still have to pay Boozer his salary, even though it wouldn’t count toward the cap. That’s why Deveney says there’s never been a question that the Bulls would prefer to trade Boozer (Twitter link).
The amnesty period runs through July 16th, giving the Bulls ample time to find a trade partner before the option of circling back and amnestying Boozer anyway disappears. Still, it will probably be difficult to find a team willing to make a trade that would give Chicago cap flexibility in return for a 32-year-old Boozer who rarely played in the fourth quarter this season, particularly given his inflated salary. He may have some value as an expiring contract, but any team that acquires him via trade would be unable to amnesty him. A sign-and-trade with the Knicks involving ‘Melo is one possibility, but Knicks president Phil Jackson might be reluctant to play along and accommodate Chicago’s poaching of New York’s star.
If the Bulls do amnesty Boozer, Stein suggests there’s a chance that agent Rob Pelinka, the rep for Boozer as well as Kobe Bryant, will encourage the Lakers to submit an amnesty waiver claim. That would almost certainly be a partial waiver claim if it were to happen, meaning the Lakers would pay a portion of Boozer’s salary while Reinsdorf would be on the hook for the rest. Stein points to Chicago’s likely pursuit of Pau Gasol this summer, and perhaps there’s a sign-and-trade possibility to be had involving Gasol and Boozer, though that’s just my speculation.