Detailed Decline in Carlos Boozer’s Game, Any Hope to Rebound?

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The Chicago Bulls and the L.A. Lakers have the same exact problem this NBA postseason. They have to rely too heavily on their star guard (Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant) because their “star” players at the four, Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol are just not getting it done.

It got so bad in Chicago that Bulls fans mercilessly booed Boozer during his game two disaster that included 4-12 shooting on offense and a train wreck on defense. This offseason, Boozer signed a 5-year contract estimated at $80 million, the richest in team history.

So when you look at how bad these playoffs have been for him, that deal looks a lot like the Cubs’ all-time most expensive player contract (Alfonso Soriano) and we all know what a disaster that is.

By Paul M. Banks

carlos boozer bulls

Boozer suffered a “turf toe” injury (it sounds cutesy-wutesy, but believe me it’s PAINFUL) in the Bulls’ elimination game over the Indiana Pacers. But before the injury, Boozer’s numbers for the series (10 ppg, 10 rpg) are remarkably similar to his averages for the whole seven games of the postseason thus far.

So can you really blame his poor play on the injury? Doesn’t seem like it. It also doesn’t seem like he’ll be benched in favor of Taj Gibson.

“We need him (Boozer) out there. His rebounding is critical for us, people collapse on him and his presence opens things up for us,” Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau told the media yesterday.

Horace Grant played Boozer’s position on the Bulls’ first three NBA title teams. And he was not shy about voicing his opinion on Boozer’s woeful under-production this offseason.

“It will be a long time before I could be a head coach, because I don’t care how much money you get paid,” Grant told ESPNChicago. “If you’re not producing more or if I feel you’re hurting the team, especially in the playoffs, I’d bench you.

“If Boozer is having an off-game scoring, he has to do other things. You have to rebound and you’ve got to play defense.”

But what about the injury?

“Well then sit down,” Grant said. “If you’re that bothered by it, sit down, seriously.

Boozer’s 17.5 ppg this season was just above his career number (17.3 ppg), but he was down in almost all the other categories. He’s way below his career postseason numbers: 20 ppg, 13 rpg. Carlos was brought here with crunch time in mind, and if his lucrative deal already looks bad in the postseason of his first year (and it certainly does) when it gets into year three, four, or five it could become as much an atrocity as the Ben Wallace signing.

Carlos was expected to be the Bulls second scoring option, but he’s currently fourth in points in the playoffs. Bench Mob member Kyle Korver is producing much more efficiently. And they’re similarly useless on the other end of the floor.

So how is Booze handling the boo-birds?

“Carlos has been in the league a long time, he’s been through every situation you could possibly be through, he’ll handle it fine. He’s been a big time player in this league for awhile, so he knows what he has to do,” Thibodeau said.

“The rebounding hasn’t dropped off. He’ll score, this guy has scored his whole career.”

Teammate Luol Deng also offered his support.

“Carlos will get his rhythm, he’s out there playing hurt. if it was the regular season then all this talk wouldn’t be happening,” Deng said.

“But he’s giving us a lot. It doesn’t sound like much when you say it’s a toe, but it’s an annoying injury. Last night he was diving on the floor, and for us he really played well. I know fans and you guys, want to see more from him, but as long as we win that was enough.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

He does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and Facebook

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