The recently-released former Chicago Bulls forward was picked up by the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday afternoon, when it was revealed that the Lakers’ winning bid of $3.25 million (as first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN) was enough to secure the services for the former All-Star. Boozer’s final year and $16.8 million were waived by the Bulls earlier in July under the amnesty provision, clearing his salary figures off the cap. Chicago will still be on the hook for $13.55 million in actual payroll doled out to Boozer.
Carlos’ game has been in steep decline since leaving the Utah Jazz in 2010. Though he remained a starter through his four seasons with Chicago, Boozer’s defensive lapses and inability to score near the rim frustrated teammates, coaching staff, and fans alike. At first it was presumed that the penetration-heavy presence of Derrick Rose, who is not a natural screen and roll passer, was getting in Boozer’s way; but Rose’s absence over the last two seasons just about quelled that notion.
The forward shot just 45 percent in 2013-14. That mark, along with his points (13.7) and rebounds (8.3) averages per game were the lowest marks since his rookie year. Boozer’s ability to clear the defensive glass, sometimes loudly, was a needed fixture in Chicago’s active defensive schemes, but Carlos is an absolute sieve in all other areas, routinely side-stepping penetrators as they made their way to the rim. This, and the presence of Sixth Man of the Year candidate Taj Gibson, were the reason Boozer did not make a fourth quarter appearance in a Bulls contest until injuries forced one in Chicago’s final game of the playoffs.
The veteran, likely knowing that he’d just played his final game in Chicago, avoided media following that loss and ducked reporters days later when the Bulls returned to their practice facility for player/coach meetings. In all, though, Boozer is to be commended for acting like a professional through what could not have been an easy Chicago career under Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Yes, his time in Chicago was well-funded, but routine benchings to close out games (sometimes to a ridiculous degree) had to embarrass him.
The Lakers have cap room for Boozer, as Mark Deeks outlined in a must-read piece earlier on Thursday, but the team’s depth at power forward has some wondering just why in the hell they needed to bid for Boozer, and if they just tried it out on a lark, not expecting to actually win. Like they just goofed in guessing how many jellybeans were in the jar, won the damn thing, and now they have to carry this damn giant jar of jellybeans all over the damned state fairgrounds.
Bad comparisons aside, the Boozer signing truly isn’t a terrible, franchise-killing move. No, that would be Kobe’s contract.
The Lakers weren’t ever doing anything this season, Carlos’ offensive gifts alone in a vacuum are probably worth $3.2 million next season, and his contract won’t carry over past this year, when the Lakers will make one last attempt to surround an understandably fading Kobe Bryant (who shares an agent with Boozer) with teammates worthy of his presence.
Still, one has to wonder about this Laker front office, which in the years since Jerry West’s resignation in 2000, has alternately been very, very good, and ferociously bad.
The last few years haven’t been pretty. The team made mistakes in hiring Mike Brown (who was never going to mix with Kobe Bryant) and Mike D’Antoni (who was never going to mix with anyone) as head coaches. It needlessly traded draft picks Phoenix’s way in order to be able to sign Steve Nash to even more money, and if the Lakers’ 2015 draft pick falls outside of the top five, it’s owed to the Suns.
The franchise threw more and more silly money at Kobe Bryant, in a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension that looked ridiculous and wrong even before Bryant broke his leg partway into 2013-14. The team couldn’t retain Dwight Howard despite being able to offer more years and cash than any other suitor, it just signed Jordan Hill to an outrageous two-year, $18 million deal (though the second year isn’t guaranteed), and it just threw four years and $21.5 million at Nick Young’s shot selection.
Now, it appears they’re set to hire Byron Scott as head coach – a head coach Kobe Bryant reportedly wants, but a head coach Kobe Bryant really, really shouldn’t want.
In comparison to some of these moves and this lone potential coaching hire, landing Carlos Boozer for half the average salary to score a bit while teaching youngster Ed Davis and rookie Julius Randle about footwork and playing absolutely no defense isn’t all that awful.
The Lakers weren’t ever doing anything of substance in 2014-15. Might as well have some laughs along the way.