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Carlos Boozer's 'what could've been' season with the Lakers

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Carlos Boozer had a pleasant season with the Lakers, but he's far from the double-double machine that once lurked the Western Conference.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Boozer has enjoyed a long and successful career in the NBA. Drafted out of Duke by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the 2002 draft, Boozer played there for two seasons before signing a fat contract with the Utah Jazz in 2004. Over his six years in Utah, Boozer and Deron Williams became Karl Malone and John Stockton 2.0 under the tutelage of Jerry Sloan. Williams to Boozer: Pick and roll, pick and pop, pick and anything was almost unstoppable.

Boozer was traded to Chicago in 2010 and began to regress statistically and athletically. In 2011, Derrick Rose was named MVP, but Boozer never had the same chemistry with Rose that he had with Williams in Utah. Those Bulls teams also had Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Omer Asik in the front court. As the years went by Boozer became a marginal point of the Bulls' offense and his role continued to decline as the younger guys in Chicago progressed. His contract wasn't consistent with his play and it led to the Bulls using the amnesty clause on Boozer...

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed Boozer off waivers and inserted him into the starting lineup alongside Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson. I promise that was the real starting lineup to begin the season.

The idea behind bringing in Boozer was primarily in a mentoring role developing Julius Randle. After Randle was injured in the season-opener, the game plan for Booze changed. We all know how the season went, hearts broken and memories crushed, but thank you dear lord baby Jesus for allowing us to retain that second overall pick!

His stat line, 12-7-1, was the second lowest points per game average of his career after his rookie season, and his seven rebounds per game were a career worst. I doubt anyone expected Boozer to have a second wind of success at this point in his career. It's wrong to assume that Boozer could've been better, but at the same time this guy is a two time All-Star. While Jordan Hill was raining down mid-range jumpers all season, Carlos Boozer could've been notching double-doubles every night. Jeremy Lin could've brought Linsanity to Los Angeles. Kobe could've stayed healthy. And the Lakers could've made the playoffs. Okay, sorry that's a lot of "could'ves."

One aspect of Boozer's that seems undeniable is his presence as a leader and voice in the locker room. He's the chemistry guy on the team who's seen it all in the NBA and knows how to keep spirits up and make light of a down season. If you listen closely during any game you can hear Boozer calling just about every shot. It's like the guy at the rec who bricks everything but still has the confidence that every shot is going in. As if something is wrong with the rim.

Obviously Boozer is much, much better than that guy, but it's great when you catch his voice through the arena noise. I don't have proof if this happened last season but he has a history of physically and verbally assaulting rebounds. (Do yourself a favor and watch that video). For a young team that had a tough time winning games, that attribute can be very valuable.

This clip from Jimmy Kimmel is essentially a spark notes version of the '14-15 Lakers season. Boozer and Nick Young celebrating way too much after earning a rare win, with Kobe being Kobe in response. I feel like Kobe was the overly strict dad in the locker room, and once Kobe's season ended crazy Uncle Carlos was left in charge and "holdat" came out in full-force:

The direction that the Lakers are heading, with two young very raw big men (Randle and possibly Okafor/Towns), plus whichever free agents the team swoops down on in the off-season, shouldn't include Boozer for the amount of money he cost the team last season. If the Lakers are able to retain Davis' contract, hoping he makes the wrong decision and doesn't use his player option, they would have strong depth in the front court with Davis, Tarik Black, Jordan Hill and whoever else the team signs in the off-season.

If Boozer is limited to a "Juwan Howard on the '10-'11 Miami Heat" type of role, then I think he could be worth keeping around for his veteran presence. But if the team is relying on Boozer to score in the double figures on a nightly basis, then we are in for another long, tough season. He's got some juice left that could attract a team, but he hasn't been the player he once was for a long time now.