To be fair, it’s not that the Lakers getting an established veteran like Boozer in the $2-$3 million range is a bad thing. Far from it. Boozer never maxed out his potential with the Chicago Bulls, or in the NBA for that matter, and his defense and lack of all-around effort have given his critics plenty of ammo over the years. But he’s still a talented offensive player who averaged 13.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last year.
In other words, he’s perfect for the 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers.
There doesn’t seem to be much strategy to what the Lakers have done in the last few weeks. After drafting Julius Randle seventh overall, the Lakers should be building around Kobe Bryant and their newest addition at the power forward spot. Instead, L.A. has responded by signing Boozer, Ed Davis and re-signing Jordan Hill. So much for giving the rookie the minutes he needs to develop in the paint.
Can Boozer recycle the “GET DAT JO!” rebound command for Jordan Hill?
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 17, 2014
Boozer, entering his 13th year in the league, has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls. His best season came in Utah, when he averaged 21.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field during the 2007-08 season.
At the price the Lakers are getting Boozer for, it feels wrong to criticize. But does adding Carlos Boozer make Los Angeles contenders? No. Does it gum up an already crowded frontcourt that should be dedicated playing time to its promising beast of a rookie? Yes. And will the Lakers have a completely random rotation next season with Jeremy Line, Steve Nash, Kobe, Nick Young, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly, Ed Davis, Jordan Hill and Kendall Marshall all on the roster? Yes. Yes the will.
To make matters worse, Boozer actually makes the Lakers a little bit better. Why is this a bad thing? Because Los Angeles either needs to get back to the playoffs to appease their fans after striking out in free agency for the second year in a row…or they need to be a bottom-five team. If the Lakers are in the top five of the lottery, they get to keep their 2015 first rounder.
As I understand it, if the Lakers are bad enough to get a top 5 pick next season they get to keep it. Decide for yourself where Boozer fits. — Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) July 17, 2014
But if they’re sixth? It goes to the Phoenix Suns thanks to that ill-fated Steve Nash trade. Adding Boozer does nothing to help the Lakers make the postseason but he is good enough to make sure L.A.’s competitive enough to fall just outside the top five of the lottery and lose that pick. Committing to the rebuild and giving Randle the opportunity to develop would have excited far more Lakers fans than watching Boozer log 30 minutes a night.
Pray for Kobe Bryant, everybody. Even $23.5 million might not be enough to pay someone to tolerate such a potentially frustrating roster.