Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer

The road to using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer just got shorter as the Chicago Bulls have pretty much announced that Taj Gibson will be their starting power forward next season after five seasons of waiting on the bench.

So now there’s a summer of getting excited about it for Gibson and other Bulls fans, while the speculation around Boozer, which has been strong since the amnesty clause was first presented to the world, will just become stronger. He has one more year worth $16.8 million on his contract and although that means the Bulls may have acted too late, it’s better late than never when it comes to a player who clogs up the cap space and no longer delivers, even on offense.

Gibson averaged 20.6 points and 9.7 rebounds as a starter, but more importantly the Bulls are simply better with him on the floor. Their most used lineup was obviously the starting one: Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler in the backcourt, Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah in the frontcourt. However, it wasn’t their best lineup.

The Bulls were at their best with Gibson on the floor, as the lineups with the top 5 net rating for the Bulls included him playing next to Joakim Noah, either with a three-guard setup behind them or with Augustin playing instead of Kirk Hinrich.

It’s worth mentioning that the Bulls are giving Derrick Rose another go next season, only with much smaller and humbler expectations than this year, when quite a few pegged them to be the favorites in the Eastern conference before Rose fizzled in a so-so start and then tore his meniscus, resulting in another shut down of the team’s franchise player.

The Bulls will try and trade Carlos Boozer although it’s hard to see too many buyers for him without adding another piece to the mix on the Bulls’ behalf, making things even more complicated. As this season ended in disappointment with a first round exit, the questions about why wasn’t this done sooner will come up.

There’s also the cheap owner angle to consider. Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t one to spend money needlessly despite owning one of the most profitable teams in the NBA. The idea of paying Boozer his salary without him even playing for the team and probably facing up against them wearing a different uniform might not be something he’d be too happy to do.

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