The Bulls game was on TNT last night, which meant Craig Sager was on hand to give a report. This is actually usually pretty interesting stuff: we've seen instances in the past where Sager broke some Rose news, and before that the infamous VDN-Paxson tie-grabbing incident. I'm guessing that players especially see Sager as a way to get word out to as many people as possible.
And during this game Carlos Boozer had a message he wanted us to know. Ironically because it was on TV, though I heard it (and saw it referenced in the comments here) I couldn't find it anywhere. Luckily faithful BaB reader K_yle33 transcribed it for me:
Although Carlos Boozer started all 46 games he has played this year, he is down to a career low 2.8 minutes in the 4th quarter. And after Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland earlier this year, Boozer began to wonder about his own future with the team. He told me tonight that he has been assured that he will not be traded by next week's deadline, nor will the team buyout the final year of his contract this summer UNLESS they can land a superstar which is too good to pass up.
Emphasis mine, because: wow.
Not so much the trade part, as though I do find it strange that any executive would make such 'assurances' to a player, it's just sensible to think a Boozer trade won't happen. While no player/contract in the NBA is untradeable, Boozer can be called such under the Bulls parameters: they don't want to take on money this year (luxury tax), and don't want any players signed through next year (in case they need cap space...more on that soon). No team is going to take on Boozer's $16.8m salary next year in that scenario, even if they traded the Bulls effectively nothing (like Phoenix giving an injured -and expiring contract- Okafor), without the Bulls adding sweeteners in the form of pick or other assets. You'd hope they wouldn't do that when amnesty is just as effective in getting Boozer off the books.
The part about this summer is extremely interesting, and if true damning to the Bulls. We've always suspected (and Kelly Dwyer has said this several times this year) that the Bulls will look for an excuse to not use the Amnesty Provision (let's assume Sager just got the terminology wrong when using 'buyout') on Boozer. It's just not that 'smart' for the best run team in the league to pay a still-capable, if overpaid, player not to play for them. Even if doing so would do wonders for the flexibility they always laud. There are reasons to still think the Bulls will ultimately choose amnesty, they've had similar dealings before in players they paid to go away (Eddie Robinson, Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas again), and part of the sell-job that the Org. gave us on the Luol Deng trade was that it would free up money to be put back into the team. But it's a lot of money to eat, especially adding the expenditure of using the newfound cap space to find new players.
And that's where Sager's report really makes you think. The 'superstar' line would have one believe they'd only desire cap space if they could land Carmelo Anthony, or perhaps any of the 3 Heat stars also opting-out of their contracts this summer. But that's not the same thing as going after Lance Stephenson, other lower-tier free agents, or using the cap space to bringing over Nikola Mirotic this offseason buy helping him pay his buyout.
The takeaway there is even though that route is the more 'flexible' option (though we could be sold that a now-expiring Boozer contract in 2014-15 is better than using cap space this summer) , and it would potentially help the team on the court, actually writing that check to Boozer complicates things. Though from what Boozer's been told, it's not that complicated after all.