In a shrewd business move, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired two-time NBA All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer, the team announced on Thursday. The Chicago Bulls released Boozer via the amnesty provision, and the Lakers made a $3.25 million bid, which proved to be the best offer in the blind bidding process.
Boozer’s contract guaranteed the 32-year-old $16.8 million for the 2014-15 season, so the Bulls will still be on the hook for $13.55 million of Boozer’s salary per reports by ESPN and the Los Angeles Times. Putting the technicalities and the salary cap talk on hold for the moment, Boozer solidifies a Lakers’ front line that was chronically lacking at the start of the week.
On Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Lakers had agreed terms with 6-foot 10-inch power forward Ed Davis, who played 63 games for the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2013-14 season. Davis’ deal was reported to be for two years and $2 million, with the player holding an option on the second year.
Along with Boozer and Davis, the projected Lakers’ front line includes rookie Julius Randle, third-year Robert Sacre and 26-year-old Jordan Hill. Hill has not yet signed his contract, but the power forward, who also doubles as an undersized center, reportedly agreed terms for a two-year contract worth $18 million, with the team holding an option on the second year.
As Basketball Insiders salary cap expert and LA Times Lakers’ blogger Eric Pincus pointed out, Boozer’s addition creates a bit of a conundrum for the Lakers. Pincus wrote on his Twitter account, “The Lakers can only pay Nick Young a 4-year $18.2 million deal with Boozer amnesty [without] cutting (Kendall) Marshall or losing Ryan Kelly.”
The Lakers reportedly agreed to pay Young $25 million over four years, but due to the nature of the NBA salary cap, the team has not officially signed Hill or Young in order to fully maximize its free agency spending power. Kelly showed promise in his rookie season, and the team expected to bring the lanky forward back for another season.
With Marshall, the picture becomes murkier.
The recent trade with Houston brought Jeremy Lin to Los Angeles, and Lin would expect to be the starter. Also, the team paid a pretty penny to draft Jordan Clarkson, and the rookie point guard has already displayed promise during the Lakers’ Summer League campaign. Along with Marshall, the Lakers also still have Steve Nash on the roster, so the point guard position is rather stacked. Of course, the Lakers have the option to waive Nash and spread his salary over three seasons using the stretch provision.
Needless to say, the Lakers still have decisions to make.
Brushing aside the numbers and attempting to regain some semblance of reality, the Lakers have added Boozer and bolstered the front line at a serious discount without taking on a long-term contract. Ultimately, Boozer was expected to be the primary piece coming to the Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal for Pau Gasol, but that deal never came to fruition.
So, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak can view Boozer’s capture as a massive victory considering the Lakers will only pay a fraction of Boozer’s salary, gain a front-court player that can contribute and maintain the long-term goal of financial flexibility.