(CBS) The Carlos Boozer era is over in Chicago.
As expected, the Bulls have used the amnesty provision on the 6-foot-9 forward Boozer, they announced Tuesday afternoon. That will wipe the $16.8 million he’s owed on the final year of his contract from the Bulls’ salary cap and luxury tax figures, freeing up space to sign big men Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, who have each reached three-year agreements with Chicago.
The 32-year-old Boozer will now be a part of a blind bidding process, with NBA teams that still have cap space eligible to submit a bid for his services. Chicago is still on the hook to pay Boozer his $16.8 million — though a portion of that will be paid by the winning bidder, if there is one. For example, if a team bids $2 million for Boozer, the Bulls would pay $14.8 million.
Early speculation is that there will be some interest, according to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
Plenty of teams with salary cap space, but two early favorites to make bids on Carlos Boozer: Charlotte and Atlanta.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 15, 2014
The Bulls signed Boozer to a five-year, $75-million contract in summer 2010, when many viewed him as a consolation prize after Chicago swung and missed in its sweepstakes for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. He was key cog in the Bulls’ run to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds that season.
But in the years since, he gradually became a lightning rod for criticism from the fan base. Some of it was warranted, like his penchant for subpar play on defense. Some of it wasn’t warranted, like the vitriol for Boozer having such a large contract when it was the front office that offered such a deal.
After the news broke Tuesday, Boozer shared his appreciation for the Bulls on Twitter.
Wanna Say Thank You To The Bulls Organization!!! Thank You For The Last Four Years!!! pic.twitter.com/7YuxGugeT0— Carlos Boozer (@MisterCBooz) July 15, 2014
Boozer averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last season for Chicago, essentially becoming a two-quarter player. He started the first and third quarters but rarely saw the court in the second or fourth quarters, as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau preferred to close with Taj Gibson down the stretch.
“Carlos epitomized professionalism in everything he did for the Bulls both on the court and in the community during his time here in Chicago,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement. “Over the last four seasons, Carlos’ productivity helped elevate our team to another level. I have nothing but respect for Carlos and certainly wish him the best as he moves forward.”
Also on Tuesday, the Bulls waived the non-guaranteed contracts of Mike James, Ronnie Brewer and Lou Amundson. Those moves were also expected, as they were hanging on to those players in case they needed to include them in a sign-and-trade in free agency.
With the moves, the Bulls now have nearly $47 million committed to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell. Rookie Doug McDermott will soon sign for around $1.89 million, the rookie scale number for a No. 11 pick. Gasol’s deal will pay an average of $7.3 million over three years, while Mirotic’s will pay him an average of $5.7 million over three years.
The Bulls have also re-signed Kirk Hinrich to a two-year deal worth an average of $2.8 million per year, so they’ll fill out the final few roster spots with veterans on minimum contracts unless they swing a trade of some sort.
The 2014-’15 salary cap has been set at $63.06 million. Because Chicago is going under the salary cap with the amnesty of Boozer, it won’t be able to use the mid-level exception.