Boozer can salvage Bulls optimism

The Bulls' nightmare is coming true.

The worst-case scenario that Gar Forman and company never wanted to think about is happening.

After Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh explained why they are heading to Miami, the Bulls are facing the very real possibility that after clearing out enough cap space to sign two big-time free agents, they could be left standing at the altar empty-handed.

The only thing that could save the Bulls right now is to get LeBron James. And while the Bulls remain hopeful, that doesn't appear as if it is going to happen.

James, who will make his announcement on ESPN on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT, in all likelihood will end up staying in Cleveland or heading down to Miami to form an Eastern Conference superpower with Wade and Bosh.

So where do the Bulls go from here?

The first step is easy. Pick up the phone and call Carlos Boozer. The Utah power forward is the next best option on the market, and he would provide the back-to-the-basket scorer to play alongside Joakim Noah in the post. Forman is almost certainly going to have to offer Boozer a max deal at this point. He can't come up empty after this free agent bonanza, and Boozer is a solid first step toward building a better team. It may not be worth much at this point, but a commitment from Boozer may help in a last-minute recruiting pitch to James.

After locking up Boozer, the Bulls must add a solid perimeter shooter to play with Derrick Rose on the wing. Deep breath Bulls fans, the best options are as follows: Ray Allen (who probably ends up back in Boston and will command a big contract); Kyle Korver (who has missed at least 30 games in two of the last three season); and J.J. Redick (who is a restricted free agent, meaning any deal offered can be matched by the Orlando Magic).

Not exactly a murderer's row of choices.

The silver lining for Chicago is that if the Bulls were to add Boozer and a solid perimeter shooter they would have one of the most talented starting fives in the Eastern Conference with a great sixth man in Taj Gibson. They would vault into the top four in the East and could still add another quality piece if they ever found a taker for Luol Deng's inflated contract. Of course, the problem for Forman and his staff is that nothing they do from here on out will be viewed as a success, unless -- by some miracle -- James decides to sign with the Bulls.

If we use the excitement level in the city as a barometer, the odds of that happening flew out the window the second Wade and Bosh decided that Chicago wasn't the best option.

Unless Forman can lock up Boozer very soon, his basketball nightmare is only going to get worse.