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Boozer agrees to five-year deal with Bulls

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst
Posted Jul 7 2010 5:05PM - Updated Jul 8 2010 6:22AM

A league source confirms that Utah Jazz free agent forward Carlos Boozer has agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, giving the team some solace on the day that both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade spurned its offers to come to the Windy City, and a 28-year-old power forward to team with point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah.

The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, does not include any options for either side in the deal, the source said, meaning Boozer will be signed through the 2014-15 season once he officially signs the deal. Players can begin signing verbally agreed to contracts on Thursday.

When the free agent negotiating period began last week Chicago looked in a strong position to acquire both Bosh and LeBron James, or Bosh and Wade, the Chicago native. But once Bosh decided Tuesday that he would not go to Chicago, and Wade opted to stay in Miami to play with him, the Bulls knew it would be next to impossible to woo James without having someone else already in tow, so they turned their attention to Boozer, the next-best power forward on the board. The source said Wednesday that the Bulls have no idea how the signing of Boozer will impact the decision of James, who is scheduled to announce where he is going Thursday night.

The Bulls, like Miami, had tried mightily to get Boozer from Utah last summer in a trade, igniting weeks of speculation before Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor made it clear he would not give the veteran forward away and hoped to keep him. Utah turned down all offers for Boozer and kept him, and he responded with a great season, averaging 20.5 points and 11.2 rebounds, shooting a career-best 56.2 percent from the floor and finishing third in the league in defensive boards. The Jazz made the playoffs, but once again, Utah came up short against the Lakers, losing in four straight in the second round.

If Utah does not eventually do a sign and trade deal with the Bulls for some combination of draft picks, cash and a trade exception, the Jazz will have nothing to show for its strong stance, which is likely to further irritate All-Star point guard Deron Williams. Williams was angry when the Jazz sent Ronnie Brewer to Memphis at the trade deadline for a protected first-round pick in 2011, despite his team's management's claim that the Jazz had a lot of players at the guard position and that the move could open up playing time for players like rookie guard Wes Matthews.

On the court, Utah will plug Paul Millsap into Boozer's position.

Chicago had to come up with something after going all in to try and get two max-level free agents. The Bulls traded guard John Salmons to division rival Milwaukee at the trade deadline to get Salmons's contract off their books, then made a Draft-day deal with Washington that will officially be announced tomorrow, with guard Kirk Hinrich and first-round pick Kevin Seraphin going to the Wizards for, essentially, nothing. Those moves cleared more than $32 million in cap room for Chicago, second only to New York leaguewide. Chicago still would have enough room after signing Boozer to target another high-profile free agent, almost certainly a shooting guard or wing player.

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