Can Carlos Boozer Redeem Himself with Los Angeles Lakers?

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Can Carlos Boozer Redeem Himself with Los Angeles Lakers?
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Carlos Boozer has lost some of his luster.

Once an established star for the Utah Jazz, the 32-year-old may now be better known for a C-list rap album replete with an appearance by auto-tune pioneer T-Pain.

USA Today's Micah Peters reports, "Boozer, Shawn Marion, and sundry other NBA players that want to make their own locker room pump-up music are dropping a 10-track album on iTunes," adding, "It’s called Full Court Press Vol. 1, which means that THERE COULD BE MORE TO COME."

We can only hope.

If Boozer's looking to supplement his NBA legacy with a life in entertainment, he's come to the right place.

The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Boozer in July off waivers after the Chicago Bulls used their amnesty clause on him.

According to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, "Nine teams with cap space were able to make a blind bid to pick up the remaining portion of Boozer's $16.8 million deal with the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers won with a bid of $3.25 million, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein."

"Carlos is an established veteran and a proven All-Star, who will be a welcome addition to our team," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement, via The Associated Press. "We’re very pleased to have won the bidding process and to have gained his rights, and look forward to his contributions next season."

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

"Fortunately for us and unexpectedly for us, our bid was the highest," Kupchak later told reporters at Boozer's introduction. "Not for a second did we think he'd be available to us. Personally, I know he's going to have a great year this year, and at his age, there's no reason he can't play three, four or five more years. I think that's his expectation as well."

It's the optimistic tone Kupchak has to sound, but the successful reinvention of Carlos Boozer is hardly a foregone conclusion.

Boozer's production has declined markedly since 2009-10, his last season with the Jazz. A season ago, he averaged just 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per contest for the Bulls. The playing time and scoring output were the lowest marks since his 2002-03 rookie year with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The decreased action took its toll on Boozer.

"I think I should be out there," Boozer said in February, per ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell. "But it's [Thibodeau's] choice. He makes the decisions out there, so I play. I don't coach. He coaches. So he decides that."

Boozer added, "But honestly, he's been doing that a lot since I've been here, not putting me in in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we win; more times than not, we don't. But that's his choice."

Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

Per Friedell, Thibodeau responded, "Both guys are critical for our team. I'm asking Taj [Gibson] to sacrifice not starting. In some cases, Carlos has to sacrifice not finishing. For us to achieve what we want to achieve both guys have to play very well for us."

Gibson gave Chicago a stronger defensive presence, blocking 1.4 shots per game in the 28.7 minutes he averaged last season.

In turn, Boozer looked for his offense early and often, attempting to make his impact right out of the gate—perhaps pressing in the process at times. He's no doubt hoping the next chapter in his career affords him greater opportunity to contribute.

He's already doing his part to earn that opportunity.

"Just getting in the best shape I can be in," Boozer told media of his initial plans at his introductory press conference. "Coming here and establishing my leadership with the rest of the guys, getting acclimated to the team, with whatever system we're going to be put in and doing it every day. Putting the work in day in and day out to get where we want to be."

But doubts persist.

He was recently predicted as ESPN.com's worst 2014-15 newcomer, and it certainly doesn't help that he'll be filling Pau Gasol's very accomplished shoes. Gasol inked a deal with the Bulls this summer for a reported three years worth over $22 million. With the two big men trading places, most would presume Chicago got the better deal.

Of course, Boozer will tell you that his declining production had more to do with minutes than it did diminishing skills. He'd have you believe he's still very much in his prime.

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

"My body feels great," Boozer told reporters. "I don't know how long I'm going to play, maybe four or five, six more years, maybe seven."

Maybe.

In the meantime, Boozer's principal concern is carving out the kind of role he gradually lost in Chicago.

When asked by media if he believes he'll start in Los Angeles, Boozer said, "Absolutely," according to the Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus.

But just as he faced in-house competition in Chicago, he'll now have to contend with the presence of two other power forwards: 25-year-old Ed Davis and rookie Julius Randle. While Davis' limited resume could make him the odd man out early on, the battle between Boozer and Randle could be an intriguing one.

The 19-year-old Randle was selected with the No. 7 overall pick, and he was taken with hopes that he could contribute right away, helping extricate Los Angeles from its 2013-14 depths. The franchise finished with a 27-55 record last season, and some new blood could be every bit as important as renewed health.

The Kentucky product has a big, NBA-ready body. He's even drawn comparisons to Zach Randolph from new head coach Byron Scott.

Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Others have noted his versatility.

After watching Randle play at Las Vegas Summer League, Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding argued, "People who peg him as strictly a traditional, back-to-the-basket power forward are in for a surprise. More than Zach Randolph, the guys he resembled were Chris Bosh and Lamar Odom with an eagerness to face up and drive to his left."

So could Randle pose a serious threat to Boozer's resurgence? Could he even jeopardize his starting job?

Bleacher Report's Josh Martin took up that very question, concluding, "With Boozer around as a potential starter, Randle won't have to worry quite so much about doing all of that at once. He can ease his way into the NBA, rather than feeling the need to deliver on his considerable promise from the get-go."

Martin argues that, "Rather than block Randle's path to stardom, Boozer can show him the way," adding, "Randle could use some tutelage in the value of patience and persistence, with Boozer as the teacher."

For his part, Boozer views L.A.'s power-forward platoon as an advantage.

"I watched Randle a lot in college. He had a great, great college run," Boozer said, per ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin. "Great rebounder. Great scorer inside and polished...Ed Davis is extremely athletic. I played against him a few times throughout my career. And he's a good rim protector. So I'm excited to be playing with him too."

While Boozer's impact as a leader shouldn't be discounted, it will be his on-court play that defines his tenure with these Lakers.

A fresh start and renewed confidence could make a world of difference. On the other hand, inconsistent playing time could compound the frustrations Boozer experienced in Chicago.

Coach Scott would be wise to ride Boozer often this season—both to afford Randle time to grow and to keep Boozer's spirits up.

That doesn't guarantee a return to the career-high 21.1 points Boozer averaged in 2007-08. It's been a while. But a steady dose of the Duke product is as good as it's going to get for Los Angeles' front line.

It might even be good enough for the franchise's return to the postseason, at which point anything can happen.

Load More Stories

Follow Los Angeles Lakers from B/R on Facebook

Follow Los Angeles Lakers from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Out of Bounds

Los Angeles Lakers

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.