Lakers’ Gamble on Humbled Carlos Boozer Could Help End or Rebuild His Career

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — It’d be pretty funny if the Los Angeles Lakers made a token salary bid in the Carlos Boozer amnesty auction, assuming their offer at about half the average salary couldn’t possibly be the best one for a guy who averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in just 28 minutes for one of the league’s better teams last season.

Imagine the surprise in the Lakers’ second-floor offices upon being told Boozer was theirs after the blind bidding, with Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss perhaps staring blankly at each other and realizing they totally didn’t want someone reputed to be a low-motor, defensively disinterested, slow-to-heal, unathletic kind of selfish dude.

It’d be even funnier if Kupchak’s actual quotes at Boozer’s introductory press conference Friday were meant to convey that scenario wherein they regretted getting him.

“Unexpectedly for us, our bid was the highest,” the Lakers’ general manager said.

“Not for a second did we think that he’d be available to us,” he added.

Thing is, Kupchak also said about Boozer: “I know he’s going to have a great year.”

So there you have it: The Lakers really did want Boozer at a discounted price—even though he has been viewed in a pretty negative light for years by most who follow the NBA.

The basis for all the criticism is Boozer—not unlike guys such as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin—didn’t come close to earning his outsized contract. There is little that we find more galling than a rich person who shouldn’t be rich.

Boozer has made at least $10 million per season for 10 consecutive years, though he does have two All-Star berths in that stretch. After the Chicago Bulls—with two standout big men in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, to be fair—found use for Booze...

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