Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Updated: July 8, 8:03 PM ET
Boozer has Bulls deal
ESPN.com news services
Carlos Boozer is the latest domino to fall in NBA free agency, agreeing to a five-year deal with the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
The two-time All-Star forward is going to Chicago in a sign-and-trade with the Utah Jazz, giving the Bulls the dominant big man they've craved for years.
Shortly after Chicago announced the signing on Thursday, Jazz spokesman Jonathan Rinehart said Utah sent him along with a future protected second-round pick to the Bulls for a trade exception.
The deal gives the Jazz salary-cap flexibility while the Bulls get a major presence inside.
The Bulls did not disclose terms, but various sources told ESPN.com that the contract will be for between $75 million and $80 million.
"I feel we have the talent here to begin competing for a title and I cannot wait to get started," Boozer said.
The Bulls also confirmed the draft-day trade that sent Kirk Hinrich and his $9 million salary along with the rights to No. 17 pick Kevin Seraphin to Washington. They received the rights to 2006 second-rounder Vladimir Veremeenko in return. But more important, that deal put them in position to sign two major stars.
With about $30 million in salary-cap room, the Bulls were looking to make a big splash in free agency after back-to-back first-round playoff exits. The NBA set the salary cap at $58.04 million for next season on Wednesday.
Boozer's deal follows agreements by premier free agents Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, Amare Stoudemire with the Knicks and Joe Johnson in Atlanta.
The Bulls are still in the running for LeBron James, who is going to make an announcement Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Chicago still has enough cap space to take on a max contract, and Boozer said that shortly after signing his contract he texted James to recruit him to come to Chicago.
"I think there is a chance until it's done," Boozer said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Until [James] decides where he is going to go, I think we have a chance to get him in a Bulls uniform. I'm going to text him again [Thursday] morning and see what his reply might be.
"I tell you one thing, if we get him we can rival one of the best teams of all time and have championship after championship. If we don't get him, then we'll bring it to him."
Adding a two-time All-Star in Boozer could make the Bulls more attractive to James.
Boozer averaged 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game for the Utah Jazz last season, his sixth with the team. In his eight-year career, he has averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest.
"We are confident that his skill set, toughness and leadership are all qualities that make him a great fit for the Bulls, and he will add a low-post element to our team that we have been searching for," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement. "Post players, with the skills that Carlos possesses, are at a premium in the NBA and we believe that we have landed one of the best big men in the NBA."
Boozer's name has come up in trade discussions involving the Bulls numerous times over the past few years. They nearly traded for him last summer in a deal that would have sent Ty Thomas to Utah.
Boozer's arrival gives the Bulls a formidable pair in the frontcourt with Joakim Noah, not to mention a good pick-and-roll partner for All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.
There is some irony to the deal. Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson's brother, Jim, was Cleveland's general manager when Boozer left the Cavaliers following the 2003-04 season.
The Cavs, who could have exercised a one-year option after Boozer's second season, thought they had a six-year, $41 million agreement in place and let him hit the market. Boozer wound up accepting a six-year, $68 million contract as a restricted free agent, but Cleveland chose not to match the Jazz's offer.
Jim Paxson is now a Bulls consultant and scout.
If the Bulls don't get James, they could go after someone like Kyle Korver or Mike Miller. Ray Allen might have been an option, but he agreed to return to Boston on Wednesday night.
Boozer, meanwhile, has been limited by injuries in three of his six seasons with Utah and has clashed at times with management. But he played in 78 games the past season.
The U.S. Olympian would be one of the top prizes in free agency most summers, but this one has been anything but typical with the likes of James, Bosh and Wade available.
The Bulls put themselves in position to be major players by allowing Ben Gordon to sign with Detroit a year ago and trading John Salmons during the season. That gave them enough room to offer a maximum contract, but they didn't stop there -- dealing Hinrich to create more space.
Information from The Associated Press and ESPNChicago.com was used in this report.