As we are nearing the end of June, we are ready to witness the biggest wave of free agents in the history of sports. Many, such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and others, will go out and test the market. Teams, such as the Knicks, Bulls, Nets, and Clippers, have put all their chips in 2010 free agency, and could risk the future of their franchises if they don’t add significant free agents. The big problem, however, is that there are more buyers with max money than players who deserve max money.
Which is where Carlos Boozer comes in; Boozer is an All-Star power forward capable of giving nightly double-doubles and averaging around 20 points and 10 rebounds. Boozer is a great low post scorer, who could help a team lacking front-court scoring.
Boozer played alongside Deron Williams with Utah, where they ran a deadly pick and roll. Boozer is versatile because he can score in the low post, while also being able to step out and make a jump shot from about 18 feet. Boozer averaged 19 points and 11 boards playing for the Jazz last season; however, Boozer was outplayed by the Lakers' Pau Gasol in the second round of the playoffs this season.
Defensively, Boozer doesn’t thrive; he’s not a shot blocker or a great post defender, plus he’s a bit undersized. In fact, the Jazz were a better defensive team without Boozer on the floor. His defensive deficiencies, however, were masked due to playing with a strong shot blocker, like Andrei Kirilenko.
Boozer is what he is: a solid player who gets about 20 points and 10 rebounds. He has the rare ability of being able to play in the post and is a great offensive rebounder. Boozer, however, struggles against a long frontline as he did against the Lakers.
The big problem with Boozer will always be his durability. While Boozer missed just four games last season, Boozer missed 44 games in the previous season. In the 05-06 season Boozer missed 48 games, and in 04-05, he missed 30 games.
Carlos Boozer is represented by agent Rob Pelinka, who is going to demand near max money. A few years ago, there was a similar situation when Elton Brand was on the market. Brand, like Boozer, is an injury-prone, undersized power forward. Brand got near max money, and may be owner to the most untradeable contract in the NBA. Financially, Brand has killed the Sixers and will continue to consume their cap for the next three years until he’s 35, when he’ll make $18 million.
I could see Boozer wind up with a team who misses out on the bigger free agents and wants to add Boozer. That team will be forced to overpay for Boozer, give him near max money, and potentially hurt their franchise for the future.
As for the fits, Boozer can be a solid free agent addition if he is paired with a superstar. If the Heat were to resign Dwayne Wade, a combo of Boozer and Wade would be great. They could run pick and rolls and both are penetrators who can get to the line. Or if Boozer were to pair with LeBron James, James would be playing alongside a real post scorer for the first time in his career.
The best fit in my opinion would be if he were to return to the Jazz. Boozer thrived in Jerry Sloan’s system and plays very well off Deron Williams. The Jazz own the ninth pick in this year’s draft and could add a solid big man to play with Boozer, like Ed Davis, Greg Monroe, Ekpe Udoh, or Cole Aldrich. The Jazz would have a squad capable of making a deep run in the playoffs.
The bottom line is that some GMs will miss out on the bigger 2010 free agents, and offer Boozer 13-15 million, and market him as their big free agent addition. Boozer is a notch below Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh, and will likely have to wait until the other free agents sign. Investing near max money on an injury-prone power forward that struggles defensively, and may be past his prime for the bulk of the contract, can cripple a franchise for the long-term future.