People want to like Carlos Boozer, he just does his damnedest to make sure no one does.
But that could all change come the start of next season. After two disappointing (and that’s vastly understating it) seasons in Chicago, it is pretty clear that 2013 is a make or break for Carlos Boozer — career wise.
Here’s the thing you need to know right away: the Bulls are not going to amnesty Boozer. He has $47 million left on his deal and the Bulls will not pay that much for a product they won’t be getting a return on. He will be back in 2013 but whether or not he comes back in 2014 all depends on if Boozer can rebuild his image in what is a perfect storm for either flying success or career crippling failure.
Boozer hasn’t fully become the player he could be, he’s essentially Randy Moss in the post. There is no other player in the NBA that can naturally create plays for themselves down low, but due to either a lack of effort or whatever, Boozer has been fizzling in Chicago. The Bulls did not give Boozer $75 million for their health — they clearly could have used a shooting guard.
There is something under that shiny and often wrinkly head and there is spirit behind that perfect etched beard.
The thing is Boozer needs to find it and find it fast. He’s clocked, there is no more slack and although he didn’t Tonya Harding the ACL of Chicago’s chosen one, he didn’t do his part in moving on from that.
That’s where Boozer gets a mulligan of sorts. The Bulls will be starting the season the way it ended — broken without Derrick Rose. But where Boozer failed to fully live up to the potential in the playoffs, he will be the center of attention come the opening tip.
Luol Deng still needs surgery to repair ligaments in his wrist and both he and the hobbled Joaki
m Noah have committed to their home countries for the Olympics. There is a very high probability that Deng for sure, and likely Noah as well, won’t be ready come November 2012.
Here is a chance for Boozer to carry the team. This is a situation that as forced and unwilling as it is, provides Boozer with an opportunity to finally earn a large amount of his massive contract.
But with Boozer this is clearly a double edged sword. As much as this is an opportunity for the NBA to Fear the Beard, it can completely blow up in everyone’s face. Fans have rode Boozer hard even though for the most part he put together a respectable postseason.
It’s the $75 million and the stage that sinks any progress Boozer made. He’s entering his third year, the time to grow was over the last two seasons and the last half decade of his career.
If Boozer doesn’t perform absolutely perfect, every single minute detail and pitfall the Bulls have will fall squarely and most likely solely on his shoulders. There is an immense amount of pressure on Boozer to finally perform the way he was advertised instead of these tease performances that are sprinkled in-between atrocious outings.
It’s do or die time for the BoozeCruze in Chicago. Fans have shown a willingness to get behind Boozer, but it’s like falling in love with your best friend. Boozer will be amazing one night — or in a rare instance a string of games– and he’ll fill you with hope that this will actually work out. But that will be followed up by a confusing and bone crushingly nasty performance that makes you scream and boils your blood.
Then the calls to break up (or amnesty) begin. But then Boozer takes control and makes you hang onto the shred of hope you still have. He weaves a quilt of aspiration and then burns it until there is a string left for you to hold and rebuild with.
Thus is the vicious cycle with Carlos Boozer and fans are saying enough is enough. No Rose, Deng or Noah could be a massive blessing in disguise for Boozer who can rebuild his image entirely in the first months of the season and can solidify the hope and love that fans want to have surrounding him.
But nothing is simple with Boozer. It’s not that easy and maybe it’s Pavlovian and we’ve been conditioned this way but there is a gargantuan cloud of doubt cast over the faith Chicago has in Boozer and that he can lead this team while everyone else heals.