Key 2009-10 Stats: 19.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 56.2% fg%, 21.3 PER
What to Like About Carlos Boozer: Firstly, Boozer is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro. He was the second-best player (the best on some nights) on a team that won 53 games and finished first in a Western Conference division this year. He’s a solid, versatile scorer who can hurt you from everywhere inside the three-point line. He shot 49.2% on shots under ten feet, 43.6% on 10-15 footers, and 44% on shots from 16-23 – all well above league averages. Absolutely tenacious rebounder – inhaled nearly 30 percent of defensive rebounds this past year, which put him 4th in the league. He is 6th all-time in defensive rebounding percentage and 12th all-time in total rebounding percentage. The Nets, who were the 3rd-worst defensive rebounding team in the league, could certainly use someone with his skillset. Outside of basketball, Boozer has said that he is fond of New Jersey and believed he was going to the Nets last year.
What Not to Like About Carlos Boozer: The first big deal is injuries. Boozer is great when he can stay on the floor, but he’s had trouble with that his entire career. He missed 31 games with an injured right foot in 2005, 49 games with an injured hamstring in 2006, missed 8 games with a left leg injury and 1 game with an ankle injury in 2007, and missed 44 games with a quadriceps injury in 2009. Out of a possible 492 regular season games he could have played in his six seasons with Utah, Boozer has missed 138 of them – over 28% of Utah’s games. His other issue is defense. Boozer has long been considered a defensive liability – despite his strength, he is likely an inch shorter than his 6’9” measurement and Sebastian did an excellent breakdown of Boozer’s problematic defensive decisions on NBAPlaybook.
Around the web on Boozer: Currently, the possible deals being discussed for Boozer include a sign-and-trade with the Magic, but it appears to have no legs currently. Boozer has met with the Jazz and the Heat and will meet the Bulls today. He is expected to meet with the Nets this upcoming weekend.
The Bottom Line from this Blogger: If Carlos Boozer is the biggest acquisition for the Nets this offseason, the time spent clearing cap will have been a failure. The issues I have with Boozer are threefold. Firstly, I don’t think you can build a team around Carlos Boozer and expect to win a championship within five years. As a top-2 player on the Jazz these past few years, they have done well but never really competed with the top teams in the NBA. If the Nets do get Boozer, I would hope that it’s as a compliment to another non-PF max player. Secondly, his injury history should make the Nets very wary of offering a long-term deal. He may end up being a great pickup through 2013 or so, but he’s already on weak legs and a 33-year-old Boozer with a backloaded contract could be a huge liability if he’s sitting on the bench nursing an injury. Thirdly, I think his defensive reputation speaks for itself, and I can’t assume it’ll get better over time. If 28-year-old Boozer was having trouble chasing down the Lakers, a 33-year-old Boozer would get absolutely destroyed.
However, I do like the potential of getting Carlos Boozer at a good price. I think he is a solid, hardworking big man who can be an important cog in a championship team. Also (and very importantly), I think he’s the most likely of the big PF’s in this free agent class who would be willing to take a step back in a few years if Derrick Favors develops into the player we all think he can become. Chris Bosh isn’t going to move aside (and he shouldn’t), neither is Amare Stoudemire (even if he should). But I think if Favors is really blossoming into something great in two or three years, Boozer would be more than willing to step aside and take on a different, veteran role. His leadership could prove invaluable to the young Favors (and even Brook Lopez), and if he can be had for a price that won’t break the bank I’d be all for a value signing.