Bulls

Boozer living up to New Year's resolutions in 2013

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Boozer living up to New Year's resolutions in 2013

Maybe 2013 is Carlos Boozers year.
In the Bulls last three games, all wins, the much-maligned power forward has had outings of 31 points and 11 rebounds, 27 points and 12 rebounds, and 24 points and 11 rebounds. In fact, Boozer has notched double-doubles in his last five contests.
As perhaps the most-criticized player on the Bulls, Boozer is often the target of fans scorn. After signing a five-year, approximately 80-million contract in the summer of 2010, observers expected him to be a dominant, 20-and-10 force on a nightly basis and while that hasnt happened, its easy to overlook the fact that although hes not putting up the same numbers as when he was a two-time Western Conference All-Star in Utah, hes still one of the best players at his position in the league.
Its not like he hasnt done this before. Hes done this throughout his career. Hes played very well for us and I dont think hes gotten the credit that he deserves, but you look at him and at the end of every season, how he measures up to other power forwards, hes always at the top, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau explained. Hes gotten more opportunities right now because people are searching him out and thats what the defense is telling us is open. I think guys have gotten comfortable, the core guys who have been together now for three years, so they know how to play off of each other better and I think Carlos has done a great job for us. Hes unselfish, too. When the second defender comes, hes going to make the right play.
When Boozers statistics are taken in contexthe plays roughly 30 minutes per game; he has a high-level backup in Taj Gibsonthe case can be made that hes delivered up to expectations. And with Bulls center Joakim Noah in the midst of a career season, it can no longer be said that the low-post duo doesnt function well together, an assertion their coach always found humorous.
Ive been laughing all along because Ive been looking at the winning percentage when the two of them have played together. To me, thats how you measure guys. Sometimes I think people get so hung up on individual statistics that they dont look at what the end result is and the end result has been very, very positive from Day 1 and so, that hasnt changed. My thinking on those two hasnt changed one bit, Thibodeau said. Boozer has been a lightning rod from Day 1. But he can handle it. When youre that type of player, usually thats what comes with it. But he handles that part great. No matter what happens the night before, he comes in that next day, hes ready to work and thats all you can ask. Come in, put everything you have into it, get ready for the next game, and keep learning and improving.
Noah added: Its always great to silence your critics, but obviously theres a bigger picture. Its not about just silencing critics who said we couldnt play together. Obviously he wants to win, I want to win. Being in this league, you usually answer those questions at the end of the year. Its not because we played well against Cleveland, because we won a game against Miami during the regular season that were going to silence those critics. Its more about whats going to happen at the end of the year.
I think hes playing his best basketball. He looks very comfortable out there. We kind of understand where he wants the ball, he continued. I think that were playing very unselfish basketball right now. Whoevers open getting the ball. I think thats signs of good things for this team. Ball movement, when somebodys open, get them the ball and Booz is just killing in the paint right now, so were just getting him as many touches as possible.
For the time being, it appears that Boozer is making good on his New Years resolutions to be more efficient and get more wins. If he continues to play the game the way he has as of late, the occasional boos he hears from the United Center crowd will permanently turn to Booz.

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

The Bulls ‘rebuild’ seems to be just a one-year experiment after the team signed Chicago native Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40-million dollar deal on Saturday. Although on first look Parker’s contract would seem to restrict what they can do in free agency next summer, the reality is that the 2nd year team option gives the Bulls plenty of flexibility with—or without- Parker next year.  

If the Bulls pick up the option on Parker, they will still be able to sign a max free agent next July if they make the right moves between now and July 1, 2019.

The NBA projects the 2019-20 cap will rise to $109 million, up from $101.9 million for the upcoming season. The league bases a ‘max’ salary on years of service. A 10-year vet like Kevin Durant is eligible for more ($38.2 million) than his teammate Klay Thompson ($32.7 million), an 8-year vet. If the Bulls keep Parker, they’ll enter free agency with approximately $15.4 million next summer—far short of the cap space needed for a player like Durant or Thompson, but that number is misleading. The $15.4 million also includes cap holds (salary slots assigned to a player based on several factors including previous year’s salary). The cap hold is designed to prevent teams from completely circumventing the soft cap model the league uses. The cap holds for Bobby Portis ($7.5 million) and Cameron Payne ($9.8 million) are just theoretical if the Bulls don’t sign either to a contract extension before the October 31, 2018 deadline. 

Let’s say the Bulls are in line to sign a star free agent like Thompson; all they would need to do is rescind any qualifying offer to Payne or Portis, and then renounce them as free agents. This would effectively take the cap holds off the Bulls’ cap sheet and give them approximately $32.7 million in cap space. Coincidently (or perhaps it’s no coincidence), that’s the exact salary a 7-9 year free agent like Thompson would command.

In order to create enough space for Durant and his increased ‘max’ slot, they would need to waive and stretch a player like Cristiano Felicio or incentivize a trade involving a player by attaching another asset in the deal, like a future 1st round pick.

If the Bulls decline the team option on Parker, then they will enter free agency with anywhere between $35 million and $53 million. 

Gar Forman finally comes through on promise

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USA TODAY

Gar Forman finally comes through on promise

"We felt we needed to start getting younger and more athletic..."

It was 2016 when Bulls general manager Gar Forman made this statement, drawing ire from many Bulls fans for what felt like—at the time—a disingenuous statement. A swap of Derrick Rose for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant making you younger and athletic? No one was buying it.

But fast forward to July, 2018, and it is clear that at the very least, Forman has finally made good on his promise. The signing of Jabari Parker has been met with mostly positivity, as a short-term commitment to a former No. 2 overall pick is something that is difficult to hate. But when you factor in the rest of the pieces currently on the roster, it is OK for Bulls fans to be downright giddy over the future.

Lauri Markkanen is 21 years old, Wendell Carter Jr. is 19, Zach LaVine is 23, Jabari Parker is 23 and Kris Dunn is the elder statesmen of the group at 24 years old. If these five become the starting group moving forward, as expected, it would represent one of the youngest starting groups in the league with an average age of 22. 

And athleticism can be checked off the list as well. We know Markkanen has hopsLaVine showed off the explosiveness he was known for last season and Dunn had some dunks last year that legitimately gave fans a Rose flashback

Markkanen and Carter Jr. have both flashed the ability to switch onto guards for a limited amount of time and guard in space, a huge component of any defense that wants to switch a lot. And it also is the type of athleticism that is much more important at their position.

At this stage, Parker represents the biggest question mark athletically speaking. Despite his young age, the two ACL injuries make you wonder if there is any room for him to improve his agility. But at the least, Parker can drive to the basket and finish over the top with authority, even if his defense doesn't catch up.

So, Bulls fans are starting to become intrigued with this roster.

Fred Hoiberg wants his teams to play an up-tempo game, and last season was the first year during Hoiberg's Bulls tenure where the team actually ranked in the top 10 in pace. So if you have followed the Bulls carefully since Thibodeau's departure, you see a front-office that supports their new head coach, yet wasted a couple years to commit fully to his vision, and to a direction for the franchise.

But the point is Forman finally chose a direction.

The Bulls have a young core, and financial flexibility moving forward. And for all the jokes the "GarPax" regime have endured over the years, they have put the team in a position to have sustained success if they hit on all the young players they have acquired. 

And if they are wrong in their assessment of their young talent? 

The Bulls would be able to let Parker go, now that we know the second year of his contract is a team option. LaVine's offensive skill set will allow him to still have trade value years from now, as his contract won't look nearly as bad over time. 

And if the Bulls flurry of moves make the team significantly worse in a year where many expect them to take a step forward, all it would mean is being equipped with a high lottery pick in what is shaping up to be a top-heavy 2019 NBA Draft.

So Gar Forman wanted the team to get younger and more athletic, and though it took longer than it should've, the front-office made good on their promise. That is something that Bulls fans can believe in.