As an amnesty provision waiver wire pick-up, the Lakers were in a unique position with their newest big man in Carlos Boozer. For a fraction of the over $15 million he was owed by the Chicago Bulls, LA got a productive forward who had just averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds lining up next to Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler. Though he wouldn't have that same caliber teammates in the Southland and was sure to face a decline in his own skills during his age 34 season, there was no doubt that Booze could still contribute on the court. Strangely, all this put the Lakers in a bind.
Because Carlos was an amnesty provision acquisition, he could not be traded during the season. Complicating matters even further was the fact that these particular Lakers didn't really need his veteran savvy and playoff experience--they were one of the very worst squads in the NBA. And to top it all off? There were young bigs Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre and Tarik Black pushing for court time. So there the Lakers were, with a declining but still NBA-caliber big man, who couldn't be traded for assets and was blocking the playing time for youngsters on a rebuilding squad. What a mess.
Looking to next season, the Lakers are on the upswing. Does that mean it makes sense to re-sign Carlos Boozer?
What do you feel is a fair free market contract for Carlos Boozer?
Harrison Faigen: If I were running an NBA team (sadly, none have even called me in for an interview yet), I would not pay much more than the veteran's minimum to buy a ticket for the Booz-cruise.
The Great Mambino: Despite putting up some solid numbers last year, Carlos Boozer should only be good for a one year contract worth between the veteran's minimum and $2 million. It's quite clear that Booze hasn't got more than a handful of years left in the NBA and a guarantee past one season seems like an unnecessary gamble for any team that's pursuing him.
The CDP: Free market contract? Probably a bit more than the veteran's minimum but not more than $2-3M. I feel like Boozer has made plenty of money in his career and will be looking for a role as a bench leader for a contender versus chasing money on a bad team. I don't think anyone views him as a starter in this league anymore.
Trevor Lane: Carlos Boozer may be a little long in the tooth, but last season he proved that he can still make an impact off the bench. He won't be putting up 20 and 10 like he did back during his All-Star seasons ('06-'07 and '07-'08), but he still does a good job of rebounding and scoring when he is matched up against the opposing team's bench. I could see a team in need of a rotation big giving him $3 million for one season, maybe $6 million for 2 if there is a bidding war (I don't think there will be).
Ben Rosales: $2-3 million a year on a one or two year deal. Boozer's safely in the stage of his career in which he'll float between playoff teams getting small deals to play a role off the bench. Between his professionalism, decent scoring ability, and veteran status, there will probably be plenty of suitors.
What do you think are the mitigating factors in the Lakers pursuing him in free agency?
Harrison Faigen: Boozer's polished mix of post-ups, mid-range prowess, rebounding savvy, and unintelligible screaming still have utility in the NBA, and there were a few nights this season when everything clicked and his offensive competence helped the Lakers steal a game or come close to winning when they had no business doing so, but his defense is a train-wreck. Without the benefit of Tom Thibodeau's schemes and prime Joakim Noah to back him up, Boozer's lack of ability on that side of the ball was exposed nearly every time he took the court this season.
The Great Mambino: It's got to be the front court traffic jam that the Lakers will have next season, especially in the way of young big men. Between the number two pick--who will most likely be either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns--Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black, there just doesn't seem to be the need for Carlos Boozer. Barring an extreme makeover in the offseason, 2015-2016 will be another rebuilding year for the Lakers, with the focus being on getting the young fellas some experience. The playoffs it seems, aren't the biggest priority. None of that makes for a great fit with the veteran Boozer.
The CDP: First and foremost, it's opportunity cost. The Lakers will have more frontcourt players than minutes, especially if they draft another 4/5 in the draft,. They should be giving any minutes Boozer would normally play to the youth movement - Randle, Okafor/Towns, Ryan Kelly, etc. Anything that Carlos Boozer contributes comes at the cost of player development. The other mitigating factor is mentorship. Do the Lakers think they need more veteran voices to teach the youngsters? By all accounts, Boozer is a great guy, good locker room presence, and a true professional.
Trevor Lane: The draft will have a big impact on whether or not the Lakers have any minutes available in their front court, which is already somewhat crowded with Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, and Tarik Black on board and decisions pending on Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, and Ed Davis. Should the Lakers select one of Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns in the draft, that alone could spell the end of Boozer's run in Los Angeles, but so could selecting a guard and then retaining Hill, Sacre or Davis. There are also a number of bigs available in free agency this year, and signing any of them would make Boozer coming back unlikely at best. Bottom line, we have probably seen the last of Carlos Boozer in a Lakers jersey.
Ben Rosales: Julius Randle and Ryan Kelly. There's absolutely no reason for Boozer to take minutes from them this upcoming year, especially the former. Boozer was an odd fit this past season in LA for many of the same reasons, and only Randle's injury kept this from becoming a bigger issue. With Randle (hopefully) healthy and the team transitioning to a younger core, Boozer serves no purpose on the team moving forward.
Do you feel that the Lakers should bring Carlos Boozer back next year?
Harrison Faigen: If the Lakers are truly looking to improve on the defensive end in 2015, bringing back a player whose defensive rating of 109.9 was not only worse than the team's own atrocious 108 rating on that end, but represents a mark worse than the league worst Timberwolves (who came in at 109.6) is probably a bad start. At the same time, Boozer was a good presence in the locker room who, after making an initial stink about coming off the bench, ended up readily accepting the role. If the front office feels the need to keep a veteran big man around to help Julius Randle and Jahlil Okafor/Karl-Anthony Towns' development paths, there are worse options than Boozer at the minimum. Anything more than that, and the team would be better off saying HOLDAT.
The Great Mambino: Even if the Lakers end up selecting Emmanuel Mudiay or D'Angelo Russell with the number two pick, they probably aren't bringing back Boozer. Between his age, his lack of defense and the existing personnel, I can't see a reason for LA to re-sign him.
The CDP: No, I don't think so. There's no real reason to bring the Booze back. The Lakers need to spend the dollars, minutes, and roster spot elsewhere. The Boozer experience should end after one season.
Trevor Lane: I wasn't thrilled when the Lakers "won" the waiver auction for Boozer last summer. He was something of a malcontent in Chicago, complaining about minutes and not finishing games. While I saw the appeal of bringing in another vet to be a non-Kobe leader for the young players to lean on, I didn't think Boozer was the right guy for the job and that he would just end up robbing Randle of valuable minutes. I'll happily admit I was very, very wrong in my assessment. Carlos Boozer not only was a fantastic mentor for the young players but he was also incredibly professional in the way he handled his minutes and role constantly changing, including a number of DNP-CD nights when the Lakers wanted to get a look at their younger players. At this point I honestly would love to see Boozer back with the Lakers, especially if they draft Okafor or Towns, because I think he would do a great job initiating them into the NBA. Logistically though it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen because there simply aren't enough minutes to go around, and Boozer himself would probably like to see if he can jump in on a contending team for one last run. it's been real Booz, thanks for proving me wrong.
Ben Rosales: No. The frontcourt rotation is full and as noted above, he would only be taking minutes away from the players who should be getting that playing time. Any notion of needing a "veteran" to balance out the rotation falls pretty short in face of the reality that at some juncture, the young guys have to play.