Most fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were surprised and confused on Thursday night when it was revealed that Carlos Boozer would be heading to Hollywood. After being amnestied by the Chicago Bulls earlier in the week, the purple and gold put in a blind bid of $3.25 million to win the veteran’s services.
However, despite landing a former All-Star for just a few million dollars, many Laker fans were against the idea of acquiring Boozer and failed to see a positive side to the situation.
Here’s six reasons why Carlos Boozer to the Lakers makes sense.
He’s talented (and cheap)
While Boozer may have declined both defensively and offensively over the past few years, the 32-year-old can still play. Yes, his numbers dropped last season (13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game) but that was down to his reduction in minutes (28.2 per game) thanks to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau increasing Taj Gibson’s playing time by six minutes per contest.
The year before, however, Boozer played 32.2 minutes per game and had averages of 16.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest.
Also, thanks to the NBA’s amnesty provision, the Lakers were able to acquire Boozer by paying just $3.25 million. While it’s true that Boozer is no longer worthy of the $17 million he was set to make with the Bulls next season (Chicago now owes the big man $13.55 million next season thanks to the Lakers picking him up) he is most definitely still one of the better players in the Association.
Simply put, the Lakers need as much help as they can get this season, and Boozer is a steal for just $3.25 million.
Kobe will approve the move
If we have learned anything about Kobe Bryant over the years, it’s that he loves to have veteran players by his side. Whether it be Pau Gasol, Steve Blake or Metta World Peace, Kobe likes having vets on his team, and usually endorses them even more so if he’s had heated battles against them in the past. Bryant and the Lakers ran into Boozer and the Utah Jazz three straight years in the playoffs, and each time Boozer put up a fight. Bryant probably hasn’t forgotten that.
This won’t be the first time Bryant and Boozer have been teammates, either: The two All-Stars won a gold medal with Team USA back in 2008, so the pair probably have an existing relationship of some kind.
This move also shows Bryant that the Lakers are trying to patch together a competitive team for next season despite being limited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Instead of sitting back and doing nothing, the Lakers have acquired a quality point guard in Jeremy Lin while picking up a solid player in Boozer.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, Bryant and Boozer share the same agent in Rob Pelinka.
He’s a good teammate
Before the Lakers acquired Boozer, they had only two other guys on the roster who were aged 30 or over (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash) and it’s vital for younger teams to have numerous veteran voices in the locker room. As seen in the video below (H/T to @Spinelli37) Boozer is an upbeat guy who encourages his teammates frequently. With Nash’s injury woes, there was a chance the team could be without a “good cop” teammate at times next season, though it appears that Boozer will now be able to fill that role.
Also, don’t be surprised if the younger guys look to Boozer for guidance throughout the season, especially fellow big men Julius Randle and Ed Davis who could learn a thing or two from the two-time All-Star, which leads nicely to our next point…
Rookie Randle will need somebody to lean on
Even the great Kobe Bryant had a mentor back in the day – his name was Byron Scott.
Randle may be a 6’9″ 250 pound beast who bulldozed his way through college and the Summer League, though he is still just 19-years-old. Despite the maturity he shows both on-and-off the court, Randle is still only a kid at heart, and there will be times this season when the seventh overall pick needs a veteran teammate to lean on. Yes, his favorite player (Kobe) will be there for him, though it never hurts to have someone else to go and talk to, especially if he plays the same position as you and can maybe give you a few pointers during a late night workout.
Speaking of Boozer and Randle playing the same position: Mitch Kupchak said last month that it’s sometimes good for rookies to come off the bench at first (he cited James Worthy as an example) so it’s always possible that Boozer could be the starter on opening night.
However, Randle isn’t the kind of player to simply sit back and allow a guy to take his starting spot. As Kupchak also mentioned, Randle will earn minutes during his rookie season, and it would not be surprising to see him end up as the Lakers’ starter at some point during the year if he continues to develop at a rapid rate.
Boozer may even be better served coming off the bench as an anchor with the second unit. He showed he was able to put up decent numbers in limited minutes last season – and that was as a starter. If he’s going against a team’s second unit, Boozer could do some real damage on a nightly basis.
It’s only for one year
Once it was made clear to the Lakers that they wouldn’t be signing LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony this summer, they quickly made it their priority to preserve their cap space for next summer while also fielding the best team possible for next season. The Carlos Boozer acquisition ticks both of those boxes.
The Lakers will pay Boozer just $3.25 million for one season. After that, Boozer’s deal will come off the books.
This is a much better scenario compared to what could have happened if Pau Gasol accepted the team’s three-year, $29 million offer. Yes, there is a drop off in talent between Gasol and Boozer, but it’s better to pay Boozer $3.25 million for one season as opposed to having Gasol on the payroll until he’s 37-years-old.
Hill and Davis are big enough to play center
When the Lakers agreed to pay Jordan Hill $9 million next season, they were not doing so with a bench role in mind. It’s clear the Lakers consider Hill starting center material, and his numbers from last season prove that he is certainly worthy of the role.
Last year, when starting at the center position, Hill (6’10” and 235 pounds) averaged 16.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.6 assists in just 28.8 minutes per game. With Gasol gone, the Lakers can now dedicate their starting center position to Hill, and if he produces numbers like that every night, he will most definitely be worth $9 million.
Due to his size, Ed Davis (6’10” and 225 pounds) is also able to play the center position, and it’s very possible that he will be Hill’s backup next season.
Of course, Davis and Hill are interchangeable at the power forward and center position, and there is always a chance that Randle gets some playing time at the small forward and maybe even the center at times, so we could see any number of different lineup combinations next season.
However, the main point here is that there will still be an opportunity for Davis to show us what he’s got next season.
Overall, Carlos Boozer was just too good to pass up for the Lakers. Despite what people may think, Boozer can still play, and there will be a real chance for him to put up big numbers in Los Angeles.
Seeing as Boozer will be in a contract year, it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine a scenario where the former All-Star has a bounce back year and silences the critics. On the other hand, if Boozer has a lacklustre season and rides the pine all year long, it won’t hurt the Lakers as his deal is for just the one year.
Boozer is a low-risk, high-reward kind of signing, and that’s exactly what the Lakers are looking for.