Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer gets up after getting knocked to the floor during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rockets AT BULLS
The facts: 6, CSN, TNT, 1000-AM.
Updated: March 19, 2014 5:55PM
No decision has been made on Carlos Boozer’s future.
Bulls vice president John Paxson said so in January, and general manager Gar Forman reiterated that position Wednesday.
“People can say or think what they want, but that decision absolutely hasn’t been made,’’ Forman said in a phone interview from a scouting trip.
“We make decisions when we have to make decisions.’’
Well, Boozer doesn’t seem to be buying it.
According to several sources, Boozer’s recent moodiness, at least with the media, is a result of feeling underappreciated by the organization. He feels like he’s “being pushed out’’ after this season.
Boozer’s exit this summer might or might not happen, but either way, the organization hasn’t come to a conclusion and won’t until several key situations are resolved.
First, there’s a free-agent class that could include Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Bosh if they opt out of their deals. Then there’s the drama with Nikola Mirotic and whether the team can pry him away from Real Madrid this summer.
The Bulls aren’t going to invoke the amnesty clause with Boozer — he’s owed $16.8 million for the 2014-15 season — just to do it. Not when he’s still a productive player. And besides that, carrying an expiring contract into a season with trade possibilities is never a bad idea.
But there’s still an unhappy Boozer to deal with.
In the wake of the January trade of Luol Deng, Boozer told the media that he would have a talk with management at some point this season concerning all the rumors about him being an amnesty casualty this summer.
As of three weeks ago, Boozer admitted he hadn’t had that discussion, and he still hasn’t.
What he did sound off about last month was his lack of playing time in the fourth quarter, and, according to a teammate, that’s still a sore subject.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Taj Gibson, whom coach Tom Thibodeau uses instead of Boozer in the fourth quarter, leads the team in fourth-quarter minutes with a 10.1 average, followed by D.J. Augustin (9.7 minutes), Joakim Noah (9.4), Jimmy Butler (8.1), Kirk Hinrich (7.0), Mike Dunleavy (6.5) and Tony Snell (5.1).
Boozer averages 2.2 minutes in the fourth.
Asked if he thought Boozer wasn’t acting like a team-first player, Thibodeau said, “You’re always faced with stuff like that through the course of a season. You have to deal with it if you feel like it’s impacting the team in a negative way. But Carlos is an old pro. He’s been around a long time, so he’s doing a good job with everything.’’
Is Boozer’s attitude affecting the team?
“Well, it’s not just him, but, no, he’s fine,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘To say it’s just Carlos — it’s a challenge for our whole team. You get to this point of the season, you have to block out everything and think about your team, be prepared for what you have to do down the stretch. Overall, I think he’s done well with that.’’
That could be tested because the fourth-quarter minutes aren’t going to change.
“You put the best groups out there that are playing well at that particular time of the game, the group that you feel gives you the best chance to win,’’ Thibodeau said.
“But we need him to play well in order to achieve what we want to achieve the rest of this season.’’
And the rest of this season is all the Bulls care about right now.
Boozer might want to get on that same page.