Bar for Gasol: Better than Boozer?


VIDEO: Two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol joins the Bulls

LAS VEGAS – We come not to praise Carlos Boozer but not to bury him, either.

The Chicago Bulls’ signing of Lakers free-agent Pau Gasol means that one veteran NBA power forward will be replacing another, with the benefit of the move to be measured, ultimately, in how much more success Chicago has as a team.

Here’s the bar Gasol has to scale: A .657 winning percentage (205-107) in four seasons, four postseason berths, one conference finals, no rings.

Some weight will be given, too, to the newness of it all and public relations aspect, with the 34-year-old Gasol coming in as a fresh face and personality for a team that tried and failed to land its primary target in free agency, Carmelo Anthony. He’ll be filling not just the position, then, but the role that Boozer had in salvaging something from Chicago’s free-agent plunge in 2010, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson all declined the Bulls’ overtures.

Finally, the marginal superiority of Gasol’s game over Boozer’s will matter to a certain degree. Let’s presume superiority, anyway, since Gasol’s signing is coming directly at Boozer’s expense: The Bulls will be using the amnesty clause on the final year of Boozer’s contract, worth $16.8 million, to open the salary-cap space needed to sign the 7-foot Spaniard.

So is Gasol better than Boozer? And if so, by how much?

Over Boozer’s four-season run with the Bulls, he averaged 15.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 49.1 percent. He had a 17.4 PER, to go with a 102 offensive rating and 98 defensive rating.

Gasol’s numbers since 2010-11 with the Lakers: 17.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg and 49.9 percent shooting. He had a 20.5 PER, a 112 offensive rating and a 104 defensive rating.

They’re different types of power forwards, clearly. Gasol is three inches taller and has pterodactyl arms, which explains his blowout victory in blocked shots over Boozer (1,484 to 334). Part of that might be due to his instincts and a few defensive IQ points, though Gasol’s limited mobility could find him planted next to coach Tom Thibodeau late in the games just like Boozer was. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson figure to remain the Bulls’ defensive closers among their bigs.

None of this is intended to sell Gasol short. He is a heady player, widely respected within the NBA and a solid citizen who drew heavy interest from Oklahoma City, San Antonio and New York, as well as the Lakers. He is considered to be a far better passer than Boozer, likely to thrive with Noah in the Bulls’ ball movement. He possesses great offensive skills overall, playing a finesse game that might hold up better to the ravages of time and mileage than someone who relies on explosiveness or vertical leap.

Gasol definitely is a quieter type than Boozer, which might or might not serve him well with United Center fans, depending on his early Bulls’ performances. (Boozer’s vocal exuberance has become the butt of jokes in Chicagoland.) But Boozer has been more durable of late, missing 32 games the past four seasons compared to Gasol’s 56.

Gasol’s decision to sign with Chicago was greeted with excitement on multiple fronts, including Noah and Gasol’s old coach in Los Angeles, Phil Jackson.

Gasol’s signing, however, could limit Chicago in what it can do financially on a couple other fronts. Money will be tighter now to spring stashed Euro star Nikola Mirotic and to upgrade their wing scoring.

Speaking of money, some might give the Bulls’ generally tight-fisted management some credit for being willing to swallow Boozer’s salary – amnesty only gets him off the cap, not the books for 2014-15 – for whatever marginal improvement Gasol brings. That’s a bold but not necessarily prudent move.

Even in his least productive Chicago season in 2013-14, Boozer was good for nearly 14 points, eight rebounds and 28 minutes. He’ll no doubt find work, and he’ll be double-dipping from both the Bulls and his new team’s payroll.

It would have been a tough sell to bring Boozer back, without some splashy signing or trade to provide cover and flip the organization’s script. It remains to be seen whether Gasol can help enough to flip it.

28 Comments

  1. MR. LAKER says:

    WOW MITCH KUPCHAK AND JIM BUSS WAY TO LEAVE KOBE AND ALL OF LAKER NATION HANGIN AGAIN THIS YEAR. THANKS FOR A CHANCE AT THE NO.1 PICK!!!!! F ###$% I@&^%*(%$%###

  2. Big G says:

    No offense but you guys who comment on Pau Gasol being a lousy player, not worthy of his contract and not making the Bulls better, are either disrespectful bums prejudiced against a European player, or simply fail to take Gasol’s actual achievements into account. The man not only won 2 rings (that is no less than LeBron has right now), he has continually been a standout player in the NBA and internationally over a decade. It is correct, if you go by his record with the Grizz and last year with the Lakers, that he cannot carry a team alone. So what. Not too many players can, and that is generally NOT the way young players are taught in Europe anyway – it’s about team play first and foremost. And what with the Bulls having a star player already in Rose, and with Noah developping into a beast, Gasol is EXACTLY the complementary “Co-star” they need. His skillset fits the team nicely (as does Mirotic’s), and he will easily provide more D. than Boozer, if not based on physical ability then on veteran sawy. To negatively compare Pau Gasol to Boozer is beyond comprehension, those are real numbers in the article, and Pau tops Carlos across the board! Boozer is an above average player in the NBA but has never been more; and he has given no reason whatever to imply that he is any “tougher” as a player than Pau is. Pau’s “character” has been scrutinized too much, as too much has been routinely asked from him (see, carry a team). The Bulls are much better off wtih this offseason’s additions, and – save another injury – you fans should be looking ahead to an ispiring season! The thinking types, at least.

  3. MR. LAKER says:

    PAU GASOL WILL BE SORELY MISSED BY THE LAKERS. I REALLY FELT THAT IF THEY KEPT HIM AND ADDED DENG,E.BLEDSOE,AND A AMNESTIED BOOZER TO THE TEAM AFTER AMNESTYING NASH TO CLEAR SPACE AND ADDED TO HILL,YOUNG, HENRY, SACRE,KELLY,RANDLE,MARSHALL,JOHNSON, THE GAURD WE DRAFTED AND KOBE WE COULD COMPETE IN THE WEST,REALLY COMPETE. UNLESS SOME MIRACLE TRADE AND OVERHAUL HAPPENS BEFORE THE SEASON THEY ARE DONE. HATE TO SEE MY SECOND FAVORITE PLAYER OF ALLTIME(MAGIC IS NO.1 ON MY LIST) END HIS GREAT GREAT CAREER ON NON PLAYOFF LOTTERY TEAMS.WHAT ASHAME. THEY TRIED TO GET A BIG NAME STAR TO GO WITH KOBE BUT SHOULD HAVE JUST BUILT A SOLID TEAM THT MAY HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO SUPRISE RATHER THAN ONE THAT HAS NO CHANCE AS IT CURRENTLY STANDS. LAKERS WILL COMPETE FOR NO.1 PICK IN DRAFT THIS YEAR!!!! SAD BUT TRUE. WHO EVEN WANTS TO COACH THERE NOW???

  4. pokie says:

    Boozer is in a similar situation to where David West was a few years ago. He could knock the right good team over the top. Too bad for him the best team for him to do that on is the team he’s about to be amnestied from. I’d have to say Miami, Brooklyn, Cleveland, or Atlanta would be good landing spots now.

    • lovit says:

      what about the knicks if they could get him cheap ( Chigargo amnesties him) the knicks could use a guy like him?

  5. Charlie says:

    I’m a Lakers fan. I wish Gasol well. He has been treated like dirt in LA. I think my Lakers will regret him leaving

  6. Max says:

    Joe Johnson to Cleveland. I. Thomas to Cleveland, early out Kevin Love, Cleveland:. Pau Gasol, bench for Grizzles. Peirce Bench for Clippers. Garnett to Chicago for Bench. Cleveland steal Mike Miller for the Cavs. Kyle Cover to Cleveland. And take Ray Allen to Cleveland!!~~

  7. Deuce says:

    the writer displays a fundamental lack of knowledge about the CBA. when/if boozer is amnestied, and when another team submits a waiver claim (such as say, the jazz or hornets or pelicans), his new salary reduces the salary obligation of the old team. he is NOT double-dipping. say another team offers him 1 year/5million, the bulls will then be responsible for 11.8$ million.

    • degeneral says:

      Unless no one actually submits a claim for Boozer, at which point he becomes a FA. I’d only be mildly surprised if Boozer goes unclaimed.

  8. andy says:

    You’ve got Boozer’s Bulls stats totally wrong. Looks like you used his averages over the course of his Jazz years.

  9. Tayko says:

    Someone should have stat checked this – Boozer definitely didn’t average 18.4 points or 10.7 rebounds the last four years (or any single year for that matter). Maybe those are his per 36 (not sure), but then, you should make Gasol’s numbers per 36 numbers (those are his actual numbers).

    Also, Boozer definitely missed more than 32 games the last four years….so I am not sure where that stat came from either…

  10. harrythehawk says:

    Boozer is a bum. Chicago made the right decision to amnesty. He could breathe life into another team, let him go I also agree they do need Deng back. But he thinks he’s worth more that what is on the table. I like the Gasol move to Chicago a lot. He’s good AND low maintenance and I find that attractive for any team. This is definitely not a championship team still if Derrick Rose still is afraid to leave the bench, but I think they will have a much better season this coming fall.

    • lovit says:

      IM A KNICK FAN AND I’LL BE HONEST, I WOULD TAKE BOOZER OVER STOUDEMIRE ANY DAY. I WOULD LOVE IT IF THE KNICKS COULD SOME HOW DUMP STOUDEMIRE AND GRAB BOOZER!

  11. Connor says:

    As a Celtics’ fan, the Bulls signing Pau Gasol was a good move. That guy is underrated and a money player with loads of experience. He has two rings under his belt and knows how to win. Kobe is still crying over losing his pal Pau.

    • TheTruth says:

      Spoken like a true Celtics fan. Poor Kobe. I almost feel bad for the guy but then I remember how much I really don’t care for the guy.

  12. lbj says:

    Carlos Boozer should Join the King in Cleveland…

    we wil win da finals cuz lebron is king. Durant come here too!

    trade future Hofer delladova and a second round pick to the thunder. Than Durant can win da ring

  13. supercool says:

    I give up on Bulls . I have no expectations at all . We cannot sign a really good free agent for years . Cheap owner , he didn t pay Asik or Corver or even Deng , besides that they didn t support his medical problem . They sign Hamilton as a starter which is ridiculous , Danleavy and Boozer are awful choices also . Thibodeaux ? is playing his starters 46 minutes per game thus there are some googd results but the team has no talent at all . Rose s injuries are not their fault , but they ablolutely failed to surround him with good players and with Gasol they extend mediocrity .

    • warren says:

      I would point you at the Spurs team and that model. just having a superstar on the team is not the only way to win. Bulls roster is developing into a mini Spurs where you see multiple players can come in and give you quality points and hustle so the opponents can not just lock in on 2 star players. With our roster we now are match-up nightmare : List- Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose, Noah, Taj, Butler, Mirotic, Snell, Dermotte, DJ, Augustine and Dunleavy.

  14. Damien says:

    I just don’t get this move for the Bulls. Yes, we really wanted Melo, but Gasol doesn’t really add anything we need, like the scoring we’re so desperately after. I can’t imagine Gasol playing backup to Noah or to Gibson who so deserves a spot on the starting 5 at this point…

    I did have this great idea that Bulls were signing Pau so he could then sweeten the sign and trade deal for Melo, but I’m not convinced the Bulls are that devious.

  15. YungMussuBlack says:

    I hope to God Brooklyn gets Boozer!

  16. YungMussuBlack says:

    Everyone sane with common sense knows Gasol isn’t better than Boozer, even in another life. Gasol is an over-glorified center that really should be a “pine rider”. GTFOH!

  17. Fefe (Nets) says:

    Very good pick by the Bulls.

    But I’ve always felt that the Bulls’ fanbase disrespected Boozer far too much. Yes, he was a liability defensively and all but he has always been professional and he was far from a bad player. He was kind of treated by Chicago’s fans like Pau was treated by some Lakers fans & his own team.

    Wish good luck to Pau in Chicago & Boozer wherever he lands. Great immediate future for the Bulls if D-Rose stays healthy.

  18. ZacharyRay says:

    Da Bulls need to get Loul Deng back before Miami, Atlanta or Phoenix gets him.. He knows Tom’s system and is more ready to make a run for the Championship….Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  19. ZacharyRay says:

    The Bulls need more younger athletic players at both point guard and both forward positions. Pau is ok but that’s not going to suffice against younger, faster and athletic teams.

  20. TheKush says:

    Clearly both Boozer and Deron Williams were products of Jerry Sloans coaching. They both haven’t been the same since leaving Utah! I think Jerry Sloan coached in Utah for 23 years for the Jazz! With that type of NBA COACHING experience I’m certain he probably knew both Deron and Carlos better than they knew themselves.

    It’s evident in my opinion that those two guys didn’t know how lucky they had it in Utah until they left! I like Tom Thibodeau but I think he’s coaching style shortens NBA players careers. To me Tom Thibodeau would be a much better college coach and I say that out of respect for what he’s accomplished NBA!

    • vinsanefan says:

      He deserves nothing after all the fat pay checks he’s collected while being dubiously “injured.” He also left a bad taste in the mouths of all Jazz fans with the way he left Utah. He’s a pretty good scorer (but his skills are declining on that end), but a defensive reliability. He gave the Bulls nothing in last year’s playoffs, and at this point he was only inhibiting the growth of Taj Gibson…now Pau gets to do that while the Bulls pay Boozer 15 million a year to play for another team.

      • vinsanefan says:

        Sorry Kush, for some reason I couldn’t post the comment where I wanted to. Your’re totally spot on with your comment though. Both Boozer and Williams have gone down hill since they left Boozer. As for all the people out there lauding Boozer for his professionalism, you probably aren’t aware that Boozer tended to miss a ridiculous amount of games in Utah all while recovering from seemingly minor injuries.