Carlos Boozer’s Benching Paying Big Dividends for Los Angeles Lakers

Carlos Boozer wasn’t thrilled when he lost his starting job with the Los Angeles Lakers. But he has flourished in his new role off the bench.

The 33-year-old power forward isn’t playing noticeably less in his new incarnation—25.2 minutes per game compared to 26.4. But there has been an uptick in production, with 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds over nine appearances as a reserve, versus 11.9 points and 6.6 boards as a starter.

And while L.A.’s record of four wins and five losses during Boozer’s tenure as a sub isn’t great, it’s certainly better than the 5-14 record the team registered while he was a member of the starting five.

As Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, Boozer offered a dissenting view when Byron Scott replaced him with Ed Davis: “I’m sure Byron’s trying to find a way for us to win games. That’s just his opinion. I have a different opinion. I’ll keep it to myself.”

Voicing those thoughts may have seemed an odd way of keeping them to himself, but since then, Boozer has been the consummate pro, letting his game carry the conversation. He has also shown nothing but support for his teammates.

An NCAA champion at Duke, Boozer was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2002. A perennial starter with the Cavs, Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls, he has been to the playoffs the past eight years running, is a two-time All-Star and has won Olympic bronze and gold with Team USA.

But after four seasons in Chicago, Boozer was waived through the amnesty provision. The Lakers tendered the winning bid of $3.25 million, which left Chicago still footing $13.6 million for the season, although that money no longer counts against its salary cap and luxury tax.

At the same time, Pau Gasol left the Lakers as a free agent and signed with the Bulls.

Los Angeles has not gen...

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