Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer reacts after scoring a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Chicago on Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Updated: August 4, 2014 12:13PM
Officially, the Bulls still have several weeks to decide if they want to invoke the amnesty provision for Carlos Boozer.
But they don’t need it.
A source said Wednesday that Boozer’s departure is a “done deal,” adding that Boozer’s camp already has been informed.
There haven’t been any takers on a sign-and-trade for Boozer, and the Bulls also want the money to go in a different direction, whether Carmelo Anthony is in the mix or not.
Under the amnesty provision, Boozer still will be paid the $16.8 million he’s due next season, but it won’t count against the salary cap.
There was a minority opinion that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf wouldn’t want to pay a player and get nothing in return, but that’s not the case. The Bulls think the time to make a run in the Eastern Conference is now, and that can’t be accomplished with Boozer on the roster.
In recruiting Anthony, the Bulls hoped the Knicks would be interested in a sign-and-trade for Boozer’s expiring contract, but they have been rebuffed several times. The Bulls are assuming they’ll have to acquire Anthony as a free agent, and they felt good about their position after meeting with him Tuesday in Chicago.
That doesn’t mean the Bulls aren’t being proactive.
They’re headed to Los Angeles for a meeting with Lakers free-agent big man Pau Gasol, not only as an alternate plan if Anthony re-signs with the Knicks — the only team Bulls officials think is a threat in the sweepstakes — but also to sell Gasol on the idea that they can fit him under the salary cap with Anthony, but they’d have to get creative.
There was a report that the Bulls also inquired about Pacers free agent Lance Stephenson. That call was more of a just-in-case, according to the source. The Bulls think Stephenson’s initial asking price is beyond their means.
The Bulls are quietly checking out small forward Trevor Ariza, whom coach Tom Thibodeau would push for if they lost out in the Anthony derby.
The good news for the Bulls is they likely won’t have to wait long for Anthony’s answer.
A specific monetary amount was not discussed with Anthony, but all indications are that he’ll make a quick decision. He visited the Mavericks and Rockets on Wednesday and was headed back home to Los Angeles to meet with the Lakers on Thursday. He’ll have one more talk with the Knicks before making his decision.