Thibodeau: Boozer will start when healthy

CHICAGO -- Carlos Boozer says he wants to play on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets as he continues to recover from a left calf strain that has bothered him off and on for the last month.

Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to make it clear that Boozer will remain in the starting lineup whenever he's ready to play again.

"For us to achieve what we want to achieve," Thibodeau said Wednesday night, “we need Carlos.

When asked specifically if Boozer would return to the starting lineup when he was healthy -- even with Taj Gibson playing so well in his place -- Thibodeau said he would.

"Yeah," he said. "Carlos has been a big part of our team. We need him to play well, and we're hopeful that he'll be back soon.

"I have to know what the minutes restrictions are, but Carlos is an important part of our team."

The Bulls have been more balanced with Gibson in the starting lineup over the last week, something Thibodeau discussed after Tuesday's win over the Atlanta Hawks. But the Bulls remain publicly confident Boozer can help them down the stretch, even though Boozer said last week he was upset he wasn’t playing more fourth-quarter minutes.

Bulls GM Gar Forman reiterated that the decision on whether or not to amnesty the final year of Boozer's contract has not been made yet.

"Those are decisions that are made down the road," Forman said. "I think Carlos has had a good year also. I know the calf has been bothering him recently. But it's really an advantage to have two guys at that position that can give you that production both in points and rebounding on a nightly basis, and that's a plus for our team moving forward."

Boozer is averaging 14.8 points and 8.6 rebounds a game this year -- the worst statistical season during his four years with the Bulls. For his part, Boozer believes he will be in better shape once the All-Star break hits and he has a little more time for his calf to heal.

"I had like a tear in it a while back," Boozer said. "Kind of had another one a couple weeks ago and so this one happened. I had to let it heal a little bit. The break will be good for it."