Let the chorus of “I told you so’s” begin: Carlos Boozer is on the shelf for approximately eight weeks due to a fracture of the fifth metacarpal on his right hand. It will require surgery to repair and rebab to make right.
Booz hasn’t even played a preseason game yet.
The injury didn’t happen during some grueling practice session either. He wasn’t viciously dunking over a vision of Chris Bosh or anything. No, Boozer earned himself an entry in the Basketbawful Dumb Injury Hall of Shame with this one. As reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
“I was at my house, came around a corner, fell over a bag, put my arm down to try to brace myself and fractured my fifth metacarpal into three pieces. I’ll get surgery on Tuesday, do my rehab and conditioning, be around the guys.”
He tripped over…a bag?
“It was just dark. My doorbell had rang and I tripped over a bag, tried to brace myself and it popped. I jumped back up, opened the door and my hand was still a little bit numb.”
No, really. A bag?
“It was a big bag I had first thing over here at the hotel for training camp. I went back to my place, hadn’t unpacked the bag yet, came around the corner, running to get the door and fell over it. I’m 265, 5 percent body fat. I’m heavy, man. I guess I had to brace myself and my weight just collapsed the bone right there.”
“At least it happened right now and not later in the season.”
As Johnson pointed out, an eight-week absence means Boozer won’t return until after the Bulls’ annual Circus Trip in November…which concludes with a brutal seven-game Western Conference road trip that features two sets of back-to-backs and consecutive games against the Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks, Lakers, Suns and Nuggets.
The point: Boozer may miss “only” 15 games, but they will likely be the hardest 15 games of the season. Nine playoff teams and an extended road trip against strong competition. This feels like an entry out of the Worst Case Scenario Handbook for Injuries to Carlos Boozer.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this. About the only worse time for Boozer to get injured would be right before or during the playoffs. Boozer represented an answer to Chicago’s biggest problems. The Bulls needed an inside presence and another consistent scorer to relieve the burden on Derrick Rose. Management dropped a lot of money to make that problem go away.
And here it is again.
There’s another possible (and rather dark) downside to this injury. As Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie noted: “The long term diagnosis could be much nastier. Boozer is right handed, and while he’s also known for being one of the best left-handed finishers in basketball, his remarkable mid-range shooting prowess is done exclusively right-handed.”
Oy. The thought makes my head hurt.
However, “Doctor” Boozer seems more optimistic: “I’ll be back stronger than ever and my hand will be just fine. Right when it heals up, they’ll slide pins out and move forward.”
All we can do is wait and see.
In the interim, the Bulls are going to require some major production from Taj Gibson at the power forward position. During his rookie season, Gibson nearly averaged a double-double (9.0 PPG and 7.5 RPG) in limited minutes (26.9 MPG). He’s a smart kid who gives consistent effort, finishes reasonably well around the basket, and can stick the midrange jumper (although he knocked down only 37 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet). He’s also a very good defender.
Unfortunately, as good as Gibson is, and as good as I think he can be someday, he’s no Boozer. He simpy doesn’t have the same presence in the post. But at the moment, Gibson seems undaunted: “I don’t have to try to play like Carlos. I’ll play my game and help the team any way I can.”
In addition to liberal helpings of Gibson, coach Tom Thibodeau may play Joakim Noah at power forward while using either Omer Asik or Kurt Thomas at center in big lineups. He might also Luol Deng at power forward in smaller lineups. So there are options.
Of course, these aren’t options that many Bulls fans are likely to be thrilled about. I would say most people have fully absorbed the disappointment of no landing one of this summer’s “White Whales” and instead watching LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh form a team of Super Friends in Miami. Boozer was the spoonful of sugar that helped that medicine go down.
Without him, the 2010-11 Bulls have a distinct 2009-10 feel. That may not seem quite fair. After all, management acquired other complimentary players too (Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson). But Boozer was the centerpiece of the New Bulls, no less than second (to Rose) or third (to Rose and Noah) in importance.
I don’t know if we’re in store for 15-ish games of contested, long-distance, two-point jump shots…but it sure feels that way. And that could cost the Bulls homecourt advantage in the 2011 playoffs. I don’t mean to forecast so far ahead, but it’s a possibility that Bulls fans should probably accept now.
In the meantime, this does nothing to dispel the many “Boozer is injury prone” theories. I mean, anybody can have an accident at home. However, as Dwyer pointed out, “if the 15-games estimate is correct, this will mean a whopping 153 games missed to injury over the last seven seasons, and counting.” So if an accident was going to happen, you’d naturally assume it would happen to Boozer, right?
What’s the deal, Carlos? Are you cursed?
“I don’t feel like I’m cursed, just bad luck. I’ll get a new bag though. And I’ll have someone else answer the door.”