Greatest free agency signings in NBA history: 15. Carlos Boozer- Utah Jazz, 2004
Gather round and listen to a tale of front office idiocy courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers. This particular case will focus on power forward Carlos Boozer and what led to his departure from the organization.
Following the 2003-04 season, the Cavs had a $695,000 team option for Boozer, who was coming off a 15.5 point, 11.4 rebound season and at 22 years old, seemed like the ideal star to partner up with that LeBron James fellow for the next decade.
However, the Cavs elected not to pick up that option due to some sort of handshake agreement with Boozer that he would sign a team-friendly, six-year, $39 million deal. Of course, it would’ve made more sense to simply pick up the option and work on an extension if Boozer wanted to stay anyway, but this is the Cavs we’re talking about.
Not long after this, the Jazz swooped in with a six-year, $70 million offer and since he was a second round pick, the Cavs couldn’t go over the cap to match. Naturally, Boozer took the money in Utah and Cleveland was left without a secondary star to pair with James.
They became a perennial playoff team anyway thanks to James’ greatness, but the Boozer slip up could have drastically affected the Cavs championship aspirations and James’ future decision making.
As for Boozer, he blossomed into a solid second-tier star alongside star point guard Deron Williams, which led to regular trips to the postseason in a rugged Western Conference. They weren’t exactly the second coming of John Stockton and Karl Malone, but Boozer’s .160 WS/48 mixed well with Williams’ .143.