By Mike McGraw
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Second in a series
Here's one thing to remember about Carlos Boozer: Back in 2010, before the Bulls took the jump from a .500 team to 62 wins, there were two significant additions -- Boozer and coach Tom Thibodeau.
Boozer has plenty of flaws as a player and the Bulls would love to shred his large contract. But the guy has been on the winning side more often than not as an NBA player.
Thibodeau pointed all this out Thursday after the season-ending team meeting. Before heading off to spend the summer at his Miami residence, Boozer left a memorable performance on the floor in Miami, producing 26 points and 14 rebounds in the Game 5 loss.
This was a refreshing change from the previous two years, when Boozer performed poorly in playoff elimination games against Miami and Philadelphia.
Boozer, 31, has been steady since joining the Bulls. Often pegged as injury-prone, he played in 79 of 82 games this season, third-best in an 11-year career. He averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds this season, while shooting 47.7 percent, which was a career low and just the second time he shot below 50 percent.
Perhaps the best comparison for Boozer is Miami's Chris Bosh. Both are power forwards who changed teams in 2010. Since then, Boozer has averaged 16.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and shot 50.3 percent.
Bosh is at 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 50.6 percent since 2010. Boozer also stacks up well against Indiana's David West (16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 49.9 percent) and Memphis' Zach Randolph (16.7 pts, 11.1 rebs., 48.0 percent) in that time frame.
He's a little behind Golden State's David Lee (18.2 pts., 10.2 rebs., 51.0 percent), a 2010 free agent the Bulls could have pursued harder.
So not much has changed when it comes to Boozer's place in the league. He's not in the top echelon, but makes a good case to rank among the NBA's 10 best power forwards. The big negative is his salary. The stats are good, until factoring in that he's owed $15.3 and $16.8 million for the next two seasons.
That's why so many Bulls fans suggest using the amnesty clause for Boozer. That's a one-time transaction a team can exercise to remove a player's salary from counting against the cap or luxury tax. The player still gets paid, but is released and free to join a new team.
The amnesty clause might be realistic in 2014, but for now, expect Boozer to spend another season with the Bulls.
It's possible, but unlikely, they can find a trade partner for Boozer. Those Toronto rumors that popped up during the season included talk the Bulls thought Andrea Bargnani would be a good fit. Don't buy it -- that idea was strictly a salary dump and the Raptors didn't bite.
One problem with post players at any level of basketball is they need help getting the ball in scoring position. So sometimes Boozer has it going, sometimes not. It's no secret he doesn't move his feet well on defense, often commits lazy fouls and rarely slides over to help against an opponent driving to the basket.
Still, he's played well enough defensively for the Bulls to produce a 157-73 record since he signed on in 2010. He's clearly doing some things right.
Next: Joakim Noah