Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is a defensive coach by trade, so maybe forgive him for sitting forward Carlos Boozer during crunch time. The issue for the Bulls is that Boozer isn't forgiving his head coach, reports ESPN's Nick Friedell.
"I think I should be out there," Boozer said "But it's [Thibodeau's] choice. He makes the decisions out there, so I play, I don't coach. He coaches. So he decides that.
"But honestly, he's been doing that a lot since I've been here, not putting me in in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we win; more times than not, we don't. But that's his choice.''
Boozer is still earning over 29 minutes per game, three minutes fewer than his 32.2 minutes averaged last season, but in fourth quarters Thibodeau has instead turned to the younger, more capable defender in Taj Gibson. Considering Gibson has taken a major step forward as a productive offensive player -- he's averaging a career-high 12.3 points per game -- it seems Thibodeau has little choice but to play the two-way threat in the final minutes of games.
Blog a Bull writer Jason Patt did a quick dig for the statistics to back up Thibodeau's decision-making.
In 116 fourth-quarter minutes, Boozer is shooting just 40.0 percent from the field, by far his worst mark of any quarter (not counting overtimes). Meanwhile, Gibson is at 49.0 percent in 451 fourth-quarter minutes.
Gibson has a net rating of 0.9 in the fourth quarter, while Boozer's is -7.0. Want more? Boozer is generally terrible when the game is close, shooting under 40 percent when the score is within five points. Gibson is at 47.0 percent in those situations this year.
Boozer, who has started all 43 of his games played, is averaging 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, but the 32-year-old appears to be on the downturn of his career. Boozer, whose name has repeatedly come up in trade rumor talks over the last few years, is making $15.3 million this season and will make another $16.8 million next season before his contract expires.