Thanks to his massive contract and lackluster production, Carlos Boozer has quickly turned into one of the easiest targets for jokes in the NBA.
With news, via ESPN's Marc Stein, that he is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, the franchise that the entire planet most loves to loathe, there is little chance those jokes will subside:
ESPN has learned that the Los Angeles Lakers have won the amnesty auction with the highest bid for Boozer— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2014
Yes, Boozer was terrible last season. So were the Lakers. This is just another comical train wreck that the media will lap up like a thirsty camel on a hot day. Hardy-har-har. Go ahead, get it out of your system.
In all reality, though, this move is much more simple than it will be made out to be. The Lakers aren't signing Boozer in hopes that he returns to being a double-double machine and resurrects the franchise.
And according to Stein, they aren't paying him like that, either:
ESPN sources say that Lakers won Carlos Boozer auction with a high bid of $3.25 million— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2014
Last year, at his absolute worst, Boozer averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest. He shot 45.6 percent from the field and finished with a career-low player efficiency rating (PER) of 14.4, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
But for a player with a career PER of 19.7, $3.25 million is a very minimal risk to take in order to see if he can play better than last season. Even if he just slightly improves—say, same per-game numbers, just better efficiency—he will represent a discount.
All in all, the Lakers are getting a veteran role player who costs little and will come off the books next summer. The Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus put it simply:
Lakers aren't interested in tanking - they're trying to do their best to compete while preserving future spending power - former may suffer— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) July 17, 2014
The one criticism here concerns the potential logjam it creates in the Lakers frontcourt.
Should Mitch Kupchak re-sign Ryan Kelly, L.A. will have six players at the power forward and center positions on the roster: Boozer, Kelly, rookie Julius Randle, newly signed Ed Davis, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre.
Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding wondered what this acquisition might say about the Lakers' plan for their younger players:
Lakers taking Carlos Boozer instead of giving time to a more developmental player reflects a desire to compete better now.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) July 17, 2014
Randle is obviously the one who comes to mind in that particular conversation, but even with the additions of Boozer and Davis, worrying about the rookie's minutes probably isn't necessary.
First, the Lakers were never going to give their teenager, who spent the last year dealing with a serious foot injury, 36 minutes per game. Second, they would be out of their damn minds to hinder his development at the expense of Boozer of Davis.
[Insert Head Coach here] will have to play around with lineups a little bit, but make no mistake about it: As long as he's playing well, Randle will be on the floor.
As Pincus argued, the Kentucky product could potentially log some minutes at small forward:
If you've watched Julius Randle at summer league - he's played a power, small forward type game— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) July 17, 2014
How would you grade the Lakers for this signing?
It would probably have to come against smaller lineups. Randle doesn't have the lateral quickness on defense to stay in front of many NBA small forwards. However, considering Randle's brutish strength and physicality in the post, he quietly has a solid face-up game to go with a nice handle. In certain situations, he would fit at the 3.
This is all just a way of saying the addition of Boozer, who can also play the role of mentor for Randle, isn't a bad one.
It's not going to drastically change the landscape of the Western Conference, but for the price, it makes sense for the Lakers.