Much of the focus in the 2014 NBA offseason has been on LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and the top tier of free agents. Their fate will determine what a lot teams do this summer, including decisions to keep or trade former All-Stars.
Carlos Boozer’s future with the Chicago Bulls might largely depend on the status of the league's top free agents. The forward is set to make $16.8 million in 2014-2015, which is the final year of his contract. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the team has told Boozer that he could be moved, via a sign-and-trade or the amnesty provision.
Chicago is looking to clear enough space under the salary cap so they can sign a major free agent, namely Anthony, to a long-term contract. If Anthony agrees to play for the Bulls, releasing Boozer will allow the team to pay their No.1 target.
Even if the Bulls amnesty Boozer, they won’t be able to offer Anthony a max contract. If the free agent isn’t willing to leave money on the table to play for Chicago, the Bulls will likely look to send him to the New York Knicks in a sign-and-trade. That might be difficult for Chicago to pull off, considering ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports that the Knicks have no interest in acquiring Boozer.
Much like the Houston Rockets’ decision to keep or trade Jeremy Lin rests on the decision to sign James and Anthony, the same can be said for Boozer and the Bulls. Chicago will cut ties with Boozer if it helps them acquire a top-level player, but they aren’t likely to discard the veteran if it doesn’t facilitate another signing. Boozer was a productive player for the Bulls last season, averaging 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. His expiring contract could be very valuable by the trade deadline, as well.
As Chicago tries to figure out what to do with their ageing forward, another playoff team has a decision to make about an ex-All Star. The Brooklyn Nets are in discussions to sign Paul Pierce, but his time with the team could be short-lived.
According to ESPN Los Angeles, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers have talked about a deal that would send Pierce out West. The veteran is a free agent, but L.A. is over the salary cap, and can only offer him the $5.3 million mid-level exception. While Pierce is past his prime, accepting such an offer from the Clippers would be a $10 million pay cut from last season.
A potential deal could have Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes and Reggie Bullock involved in a package going to Brooklyn. The Clippers would get Pierce, who averaged a career-low 13.5 points per game, in his one year with the Nets.
A trade isn’t imminent, and the Nets could still look to sign and keep Pierce. Los Angeles might be weary of making a deal before James and Anthony make a decision. The Clippers aren’t considered to be real contenders to sign either player, but they’ve reportedly had internal discussion about trying to land James. In order to do so, they’d have to deal DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin in a sign-and-trade.
Most teams that have hopes of signing James or Anthony won’t make a major deal, until both players have signed contracts or the team feels it is out of the running.