Carlos Boozer: So very close…

Memo to Bulls fans: I suggest holding onto your socks so they don’t blow right off your feet. According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Carlos Boozer went through his first full-contact practice with the Bulls yesterday…

…and he might actually play against the Magic on Wednesday.

Don’t bother pinching yourself. You’re not dreaming. This is for real.

Said Boozer: “I felt I had a pretty good day of practice. My hand felt pretty good. There were a couple of times it got hit, which was good to see how that felt. It was a little sore. But my wrist is getting a lot stronger, which is important to me. When I first started shooting, it would get really fatigued really fast because it wasn’t used to following through.”

Boozer will make the final call about when he’ll finally suit up. But he wants to play. And according to Johnson, he really wants to play against the Magic, in particular because they gave the Bulls a 105-67 beatdown during the preseason. Apparently, that didn’t sit well with Boozer and the rest of the team.

Said Boozer: “We haven’t forgot.”

More of that pure defiance I’ve been talking about. I love it. But that brings us to the million dollar question: Is he ready to dive in head — and surgically repaired right hand — first?

Said Boozer: “I’ve been going through the plays since I got my cast off about four weeks ago. I come here early, go through the plays with coaches and some players. Now that I’ve had the handcuffs off, I’ve been going through a lot more. So I’m very comfortable with the offense.

“(Chemistry with Derrick Rose) will be there the moment we step out there together. I’ve been telling him that people are going to double-team ‘D’ because he’s dominating right now. As soon as they double-team him, you try to move to the open area and let him make a play. And then when you get the ball, you have to make the right play. I think it will be really easy. I’ve been playing pick-and-roll for a long time.”

If you’ve watched any of the Bulls’ games this season, you’ve probably noticed Boozer. He’s always been there, animated on the bench, cheering on his teammates and huddling with the team during timeouts. Not only has it kept him up-to-date with the daily goings on of the team…it’s also been helping build his chemistry with his ‘mates.

Said Joakim Noah: “It means a lot. It just shows what kind of guy he is. He didn’t have to. He was on the road trip with us, just jelling with the guys. He’s a very high character guy. I know he’s real excited about coming back. Just in his first practice back, he definitely lifted the energy.”

As to how he’ll affect Chicago’s oncourt chemistry, Noah said: “Well, you’ll just have to wait and see. Isn’t that the question that everybody’s dying to know.”

Well, we know Boozer’s return will mean fewer minutes for Deng, who’s logging nearly 40 MPG. We also know it’ll mean a return to the bench and maybe even some time off for Taj Gibson, who missed Monday’s practice with ongoing soreness in his right foot.

Beyond that, Boozer will add a variety of tangible skills to a team that’s already been playing pretty well.

Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “He’s a very established player. He gives us a quality low-post player, another pick-and-roll player. He’s a terrific rebounder. The thing I really like is he can really pass. That quality makes everybody better.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the defense, particularly with pick-and-roll. When you put (Rose and Boozer) in a pick-and-roll, you’re going to have to commit more than one player. Any time you get two on the ball, it makes easy offense for others. Carlos has great versatility.”

Of course, I’ve never been all that concerned about Boozer’s ability to pick up the offense. It’s the defense I’m, well, not worried about exactly. But I am arching my eyebrow in curiosity. The Bulls have been at their best this season whenever they’ve upped their defensive intensity. Boozer doesn’t have great length and can be a bit slow afoot. But then again, he’s never had a big man like Noah watching his back before.

And, frankly, I’m counting on Thibodeau sprinkling his magic defense dust on Boozer. Actually, forget the dusting. Just dump a bag full of that stuff on him, Thibs.

The bottom line is this: The Bulls have already been better than expected this season. They’ve busted the circus trip jinx. And now they’re adding a guy with a career Player Efficiency Rating of 20.8 to their lineup.

This is exciting.

20 Responses to Carlos Boozer: So very close…

    Chuck November 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    The biggest impact Boozer will have is releasing the pressure that is on Rose and Deng. By the end of every game Rose and Deng appear to be spent to the point of needing to be carried off in a stretcher. Those guys are pooped. Hopefully the addition of Boozer will mean bigger leads earlier in games that equate to more rest for Rose and Deng so they don’t get hurt and can be more efficient.
    One thing that disturbs me about this team is that they are almost never in the lead at halftime. Ever. I would like to see some beatdowns where they are up by 10+ at the half. It is probably a result of playing so many quality teams lately. We shall see…

  2. Brian November 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    this article made me giddy

    thirdsaint November 30, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Yeah, I’m really getting excited now. We’ve not only weathered the storm (circus) but we plowed through it. Now Boozer is almost back and we can really take off. I really hope he can play at near 100% against the Magic.

    Also, is it just me or does it seem like Boozer is just frothing at the mouth to get in there? I love every bit of him being on the bench and on the road with us and I think this is as hungry as he’s ever been to play. That means nothing but good things for us and maybe this 8 week layoff for him is the best thing that’s happened in his career, who knows? So excited about this team and if he fits in as well as we hope we could be the #2 team in the East hands down.

    BoppinBob November 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    It would be nice to think that Carlos can step right in and be in the groove with the rest of the team. I think it may take some time, I am hoping that Gibson will be able to continue to give solid minutes until Boozer is in game shape. But the anticipated presence of Boozer on the court with the Bulls is exciting.

    Gorditadog November 30, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    It will be interesting to see when Boozer comes back whose minutes will go down. Taj obviously, and maybe a couple less for Lu and Omer. But what is Tibs going to do with Korver?

    Virtually all of Korver’s minutes have been at the small forward spot. Gibson goes out, Deng moves to the 4 and Korver comes in at the 3. I wonder how much the Bulls will play small once Boozer is back?

    Matt McHale November 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    “Also, is it just me or does it seem like Boozer is just frothing at the mouth to get in there?”

    Every indication I’ve gotten is that Carlos really is frothing at the mouth to play. There have been a lot of questions directed towards his character and injury history over the years, but he seems really driven to prove himself — or re-prove himself — with the Bulls.

    I’m all for a hungry Boozer. But not too hungry. Lay off those Twinkies, big guy.

    Matt McHale November 30, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    “It will be interesting to see when Boozer comes back whose minutes will go down. Taj obviously, and maybe a couple less for Lu and Omer. But what is Tibs going to do with Korver? Virtually all of Korver’s minutes have been at the small forward spot. Gibson goes out, Deng moves to the 4 and Korver comes in at the 3. I wonder how much the Bulls will play small once Boozer is back?”

    Those are good questions for which I have no good answer. Thibs is going to have to feel out the chemistry of different lineups before he settles on a rotation.

    But realistically, I think the various guys who see frontcourt minutes (Boozer, Noah, Deng, Asik, Korver) will be used interchangably (well, okay, not Asik) depending on game situations and need. Right now, Noah and Deng are averaging nearly 40 MPG. I’m betting Thibs would like to cut them down to 32-35 MPG to keep them fresh and healthy as the season goes on.

    At any rate, Korver is going to get his minutes. His shooting is too important.

  8. Inception November 30, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    i’m feeling the butterflies.

    Don’t F it up Booz.

    Tyler November 30, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    If Boozer can manage to step in and force defenses to defend both options in the pick and roll I expect Rose’s assist totals to increase along with his shooting percentage. Gibson is a good player but all too often I see defenses virtually give him wide open 15-20 foot looks that he has trouble with at times. Boozer has proven he can hit that shot consistently in Utah with Deron feeding him the ball. I have been impressed with Rose’s passing this season thus far even though it seems like players are missing many of the good looks he creates for them. With a healthy Boozer back I feel like Rose will be even more dangerous with many of his contested shots in the lane becoming open shots in the lane. I think Derrick ends the season at 24 ppg 9 apg as his minutes and shot attempts go down. We will likely be the 3-4 seed in the East, people are getting a bit ahead of themselves with proclamations of the #2 team in the East.

    Chuck November 30, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    I am hoping that with the return/debut of Boozer we have seen the last of Scalabrine in all game situations except for garbage time. Deng’s minutes should go down a bit, but I think most of the main rotation guys (Noah, Taj, Rose, Deng, Watson, Asik, Korver, Brewer) should see similiar minutes as before. The guys who this effects the most will be the fringe rotation guys who will not see the light of day except for injuries. I am mainly looking at JJ and Scalabrine. I feel for JJ because he has made some serious progress this year.
    The big improvement does not come from replacing Taj with Boozer in the starting lineup. It come from replacing Scalabrine/JJ minutes with Boozer minutes in the rotation.

    Chuck November 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    I am looking forward to seeing the Bulls become one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA. Rebounding = extra shots for you while fewer shots for them = winning. I always thought that Dennis Rodamn was an underappreciated part of the dominant Bulls teams. Noah will have a chance to play a similiar role. He can impact/dominate a game without scoring a bucket.

    icicle November 30, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    Matt, you’re pulling at my heart-strings.

  13. chad November 30, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    Coming from a Jazz fan….don’t get too excited yet Bulls fans. Boozer is a great player, don’t get me wrong. Be he is not dependable. He is injury prone and has yet to play defense.

    Bulls are a fun team to watch. I hope Boozer doesn’t mess things up for you.

    Luke December 1, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    Get out of here chad

  15. Anonymous December 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    as a Jazz fan, all I can say is “good riddance”. Enjoy!

    Chi4life da Bulls December 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    lol get out of here chad well that does not sum it up gonna get right to it boozer will be great for our team no worries there only gray area here is can he stay healthy which I think he can he needs to take command of the paint on the offensive side therefore if he does this it will truly make it alot easier for the rest of the team to get great looks to score also even if his defense is not great as long as his effort is there the rest will follow even Korver has shown improvement on his defense as has rose as have they all this is gonna be a great season to be a bulls fan Get yr popcorn ready best make it a big bag gonna be fun don’t want to miss any of this up coming action. Go Bulls.

    inkybreath December 2, 2010 at 1:19 am #

    Always in context, Chad.

    Let’s compare the center that Boozer played alongside for the last few years to Noah… Okur was an outside presence, who had half the blocks, rebounds, assists and overall intensity (all due respect to Okur, a cool player)…

    Noah can cover many different kinds of players on defense and will easily take some pressure off Boozer’s defensive role.

    Chi4life da Bulls December 2, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    who was that team playing in the bulls uniforms tonight not gonna say much accept dammm they looked horrible only way to sum that up i know carlos has to get into the game n all but not tat the expense of having the team look soooo bad come on coach
    tibs makes the right changes Coach that is why you are there.

    Chi4life da Bulls December 2, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    have not seen Rose look this average in a long time defintly had something to do with boozer being back but still hope they realize he is just a part of the team not the whole team.

    Chi4life da Bulls December 2, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    also glad to see i am not the only one that has seen the way howard has fouled Rose sometimes you gotta send a msge to players letting them know like J howard did other night for his team when a guy hits one of yrs hit him back harder.

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