- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the next few weeks, we'll take a closer look at each player on the Bulls roster and see where they fit in for the future. To start us off, let's begin with the only athlete in the city that may overtake Jay Cutler at some point as, "Most Disliked."
2010-11 salary: $14.4 million
Season in review: Boozer's season started badly, got better in the middle, and then ended, somewhat fittingly, on the bench. Boozer got hurt before he even played a game for the Bulls after tripping over a bag in his home and breaking his hand, missing the first month of the season. Once he returned, he was fine on his own in the post without Bulls center Joakim Noah, racking up about 20 points and 11 rebounds a game during December and January. Once Noah returned, Boozer wasn't nearly effective. He sprained his ankle in March, lost any lift he had during the season, and looked like a shell of his former self. Even after he got healthy, Boozer didn't play particularly well. Aside from a handful of games in the postseason, Boozer was non-existent. He suffered a turf toe injury in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and ended up finishing the year on the bench, sitting for the entire fourth quarter, during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.
Season highlight: In consecutive games in mid-December, Boozer went off for 22 points and 18 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers and 34 points and 12 rebounds against the Raptors. At this moment, most fans believed that Boozer was going to be the low-post scoring presence that the Bulls have been missing for years. The problem was, after December and January, the consistency just wasn't there on a nightly basis.
Season lowlight: The postseason. Boozer just did not play well during the playoffs. He scored just five points in Game 1 against the Pacers and got burned defensively. He became such a liability that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau ended up sitting him through large portions of games. His defenders, and there aren't many left, will point to the fact that he had 46 points and 18 rebounds during Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, proving he can still come through at times. Problem is, he followed that up with five points and six rebounds in 26 minutes in Game 5.
Final grades: Regular season -- B- | Postseason -- F
Notes: When Boozer signed in the summer, he was billed as the type of difference maker who could be the second offensive option on a championship team. After seeing Boozer perform this season, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which that happens. Boozer developed a track record over the years as being injury prone and a defensive liability, both of which came through with flying colors over the past year. He played in just 59 games during the regular season and was the Bulls' weakest link defensively during the year. At this point in Boozer's tenure, it doesn't even matter what he does during the regular season anymore. People want to see him perform when the Bulls need him most, to take some pressure off Derrick Rose. He didn't do that over the past month and a half.
What's next?: It seems like every Bulls fan wants to trade Boozer right now -- but what team wants that contract? Orlando GM Otis Smith can only make so many bad deals, right? The Bulls have to hope that all the criticism fuels Boozer to come back in even better shape after the lockout ends. The question is, even if he comes back in better shape, will he be able to hold up throughout the year and play well in the postseason? Given what he's shown up to this point, the answer is probably no.
10dMatt Walks, ESPN.com