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Even though the Bulls are avoiding saying it publicly, the writing is on the wall for Boozer. There’s a strong chance that he’s amnestied this summer as the Bulls look to take the team in a different direction at the power forward position. There’s rumors that they want to make a play for Carmelo Anthony, but there’s also promising overseas prospect Nikola Mirotic who has Bulls’ fan salivating.
Boozer has been a workhorse for the Bulls and is once again having a productive season, averaging 14.2 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. However, he’s slated to make $16.8 million next season and that’s a high price to pay when you already have Taj Gibson and potentially Mirotic as well. It’s also a figure that would keep them from being able to make a play for Anthony, if that’s truly what they hope to do.
All Boozer can do is use this as motivation. It’s nothing personal; the organization cut ties in an even less ceremonious way with Luol Deng this season, trading him away to the Cleveland Cavaliers seemingly out of nowhere in a cost-cutting deal. These are the kind of moves that have to be made, but as long as Boozer continues to put up numbers, he’ll find a team that genuinely wants him around this offseason.
Duncan has a player option for $10.3 million next season and at 37 years of age is at the stage of his career where he’s constantly going to be asked about retirement. However, he’s still one of the league’s best big men, putting up 15.2 points, 10 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game this season.
With the extensions Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili signed last offseason and the near certainty that Parker’s partially guaranteed deal will be paid in full, there’s little incentive for the Spurs to try to convince Duncan to opt out and take a lower deal. He’s still worth every bit of $10.3 million. He’s also said that he wants to play until the wheels come off, which they appear far from doing so right now. Expect him back next season with the same current deal.
Gay’s player option for next year is worth $19.3 million. Even as well as he’s played for the Kings and as much as they want to keep him around, odds are he’s not going to get that kind of starting salary in the first year of a new deal.
That’s what makes his situation so intriguing. By becoming a free agent he has the ability to get up to a five year deal either this offseason, but is the long-term security worth passing up on the highest-paying year of his deal? It may not be, especially if the Kings are willing to give him an extension before the start of next season anyway, which judging by D’Alessandro’s comments they clearly seem open to.
Gay seems to have found his comfort zone in Sacramento, which could be more important than anything for him at this point. He’s been traded twice now in the last two years because he didn’t live up to expectations or his salary, but the Kings are strapped for talent and ecstatic just to have him a part of their core. If he can help them return to prominence he’ll finally be appreciated for what he can do, not what he can’t like at his previous two stops.
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