Updates from Friday, July 25
The Lakers made Boozer's signing official on Friday:
From Chi-Town to Los Angeles.
Carlos Boozer is moving from the United States' third-biggest media market to its second, as the Los Angeles Lakers submitted the winning bid in the former All-Star forward's amnesty waiver process.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN first reported the news:
Carlos Boozer has been claimed off amnesty waivers by the Lakers, sources tell ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 17, 2014
The move was later made official on NBA.com:
The Los Angeles Lakers have been awarded the contract of Carlos Boozer on a partial waiver claim, it was announced today by Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Boozer had been waived by the Chicago Bulls pursuant to the amnesty provision of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (Article VII, Section 12 (f)(5)).
“Carlos is an established veteran and a proven all-star, who will be a welcome addition to our team,” said Kupchak. “We’re very pleased to have won the bidding process and to have gained his rights, and look forward to his contributions next season.”
ESPN's Marc Stein added further perspective:
Sources say CBoozer had strong interest in signing with Houston had he gone unclaimed and cleared waivers, but Lakers made winning bid— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2014
Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Milwaukee, Orlando, Philly, Phoenix, Utah and Lakers all had enough room to make minimum $1.44M bid for Boozer— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2014
ESPN sources say that Lakers won Carlos Boozer auction with a high bid of $3.25 million— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2014
That means Lakers acquire Boozer's expiring contract and Chicago is on the hook for the rest of Boozer's salary in 2014-15: $13.6 million— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2014
Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has more contract details:
Lakers cannot trade Carlos Boozer this season - not legal in first year of amnesty claim - his contract is 1 year - so no trade— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) July 17, 2014
The Bulls officially used their amnesty provision on Boozer on Tuesday, wiping his $16.8 million salary off their books for 2014-15. The move allowed Chicago to make the signings of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, who will take Boozer's place in the rotation, official.
Under the league's amnesty process, Boozer was placed on waivers for 48 hours. Teams with the requisite cap space—those who could offer him his minimum salary of $1.4 million—were eligible to make a bid. Had Boozer cleared the two-day period without a bid being submitted, he would have become an unrestricted free agent.
It is not clear at this time how many teams submitted a waiver request, and the Lakers' bid has not been made public. The Lakers will pay their claim price to the Bulls, thereby lessening Chicago's financial responsibilities to Boozer. Going into unrestricted free agency would have allowed Boozer to double-dip in salary.
Monday's move is the latest in a series of short-term commitments made by the Lakers, as they look to compete for a Western Conference playoff berth while not mucking up their long-term books. They've already come to agreements with Jordan Hill and Ed Davis, who, along with Boozer and rookie Julius Randle, should comprise their front-line rotation. Center Robert Sacre is the only other notable big man on the roster.
The Lakers also acquired point guard Jeremy Lin and re-signed shooting guard Nick Young to a four-year deal. Having lost out on the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes and watched their chances of acquiring LeBron James go out the window, general manager Mitch Kupchak has seemingly decided to hit the repeat button on last season.
Following Dwight Howard's departure, the Lakers filled their margins with players on short-term deals, many of whom had something to prove. While Boozer isn't a young former lottery pick like Davis or 2013-14 acquisitions Kendall Marshall and Wesley Johnson, he'll certainly be eager to prove the Bulls made the wrong decision in choosing the aging Gasol over him.
A two-time All-Star, Boozer averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last season, his fourth in Chicago. Expected to be a prized acquisition who helped put the Bulls over the top, his five-year, $75 million contract instead became a cap-killing albatross. When coach Tom Thibodeau began benching Boozer in favor of the younger and springier Taj Gibson last season, the writing was on the wall.
The Bulls kept him on the roster, but likely only as a just-in-case piece for a potential sign-and-trade. Once Anthony reaffirmed his commitment to the Knicks, Chicago swiftly signed Gasol and released Boozer to move under the cap.
“Carlos epitomized professionalism in everything he did for the Bulls both on the court, and in the community, during his time here in Chicago,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement. “Over the last four seasons, Carlos’ productivity helped elevate our team to another level. I have nothing but respect for Carlos, and certainly wish him the best as he moves forward.”
Whether Boozer can still ultimately help the Lakers is another question altogether. Last season, Boozer—never much of a defender—began showing major signs of decline offensively. He shot a career-low 45.6 percent from the field, his second straight season with a marked decline. The Bulls scored nearly five points per 100 possessions more with Boozer on the bench, per NBA.com.
If the Lakers were playing for something this year, I'd feel differently. Boozer could help. But they're not, so it's counterproductive. BK— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) July 17, 2014
Then again, maybe that's kind of the point.
The Lakers owe a top-five protected pick to the Phoenix Suns next season as part of the Steve Nash trade. As Howard Beck of Bleacher Report noted, the Lakers have internally been pushing for ways to keep the pick:
Source strongly suggested a few days ago that LAL planned to tank, to avoid sending pick to Phx. Not sure if Boozer claim proves/disproves— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) July 17, 2014
With Kobe Bryant publicly demanding the front office make moves to return the franchise to playoff contention, Boozer superficially fits the mold. He's a veteran who played with Bryant on the 2008 Olympic team and is still only 32. Signing Boozer makes it seem like the Lakers are doing the best they can amid a bad situation.
Regardless of their motivations, it's a low-cost move that should give the Lakers another recognizable name on the marquee. Given where the franchise is at the moment, that's probably a good thing.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.