Bulls’ Carlos Boozer on Andrea Bargnani trade rumors: ‘Interesting’
BY NEIL HAYES email@example.com February 7, 2013 6:52PM
Bulls forward Carlos Boozer gets free under the basket for a slam dunk in the first half of the Chicago Bulls-Charlotte Bobcats games Monday December 31, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: February 8, 2013 12:06AM
DENVER - While one NBA source confirmed that the Bulls and Raptors have had initial discussions about a trade involving Carlos Boozer and Andrea Bargnani, another said it’s unlikely the deal will be consummated for a number of reasons.
The Bulls unexpected emergence as a team capable of making a playoff run once Derrick Rose returns from a knee injury ranks among them. With Boozer playing his best basketball since joining the Bulls, management may not want to upset chemistry that has one of the winningest coaches in NBA history believing the Bulls can compete with Miami for Eastern Conference supremacy.
“Interesting,” Boozer said when told of the discussions before Thursday night’s game against the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
“That’s part of the business this time of year,” he added. “I can’t worry about things that may or may not happen.”
While the trade might give the Bulls more financial flexibility moving forward, they could amnesty Boozer after the season but they could not amnesty Bargnani, who has two years left on his contract that is reportedly worth $22 million.
The new collective bargaining agreement states teams can only use the one-time amnesty exception on their own player.
Boozer is in the midst of his best season with the Bulls and is averaging 15.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. His 24 double-doubles this season is the second most in the East.
The Bulls are already exceeded virtually everybody’s expectations but their own during a season defined by Rose’s rehabilitation.
It’s enough to convince Nuggets coach George Karl that the Bulls have a shot at unseating the Heat when Rose returns.
“If Derrick Rose comes back healthy there’s a chance,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “They were playing last year at a very high level before he got hurt. I’m always going to give the champs the benefit of the doubt but if they can get back healthy I think they would be second most dangerous team to Miami in the East.”
The proposed deal may not make sense for Toronto, either, since Boozer makes $5 million more than Bargnani and the deal would make Toronto eligible for the league’s luxury tax.
Raptors president Bryan Colangelo has said he would exceed the luxury-tax threshold for the right player, but the player he most covets most is reportedly not Boozer.
Memphis was trying to acquire Pau Gasol from the Lakers before he injured his foot this week.
The Bulls have a long-standing policy of not responding to “rumors” and therefore would not comment.
Bargnani has missed 26 games this season with an elbow injury, is in the midst of his NBA worst season and is being shopped by Toronto leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
Bargnani would give the Bulls an effective 3-point shooter. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s team currently ranks 18th in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (.349) and is tied for last in attempts with 13.6 per game.
Bargnani is averaging 15.9 points and 4.3 rebounds this season and would not be an upgrade defensively for a Bulls team that would be the fourth seed if the playoffs started before Thursday night’s games.
“Chicago is maybe the most efficient team in basketball,” Karl said. “They play both ends of the court with dedication and they execute very well. They are going to try to keep the pace of the game down. When they get [Derrick] Rose back, they’re going to be very much in the top two or three teams in the eastern conference.”