While some believe Carlos Boozer is better suited to come off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers, the 12-year veteran fully intends to start when next season begins.
“Absolutely,” said Boozer, in response to being asked if he thinks he will be a starter in Los Angeles at his introductory press conference Friday.
The Lakers acquired Boozer late last week, submitting the winning bid, $3.251 million, for the power forward after the Chicago Bulls used the amnesty clause. Chicago will be responsible for paying Boozer the remaining $13.55 million on his contract that expires at the end of next season.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak said he was surprised the team was able to pick up Boozer in the bidding process.
“Unexpectedly for us, our bid was the highest bid and we were awarded Carlos,” said Kupchak. “Not for a second did we think he would be available to us.
With a front court consisting of Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly, Ed Davis, and Julius Randle, Boozer joins a rotation as the player with the most NBA experience, which surely will be crucial when it comes to playing time.
Boozer mentioned that he has spoken multiple times to his new teammate Kobe Bryant, who played together on All-Star teams and in the 2008 Summer Olympics on the “Redeem Team”.
“Come ready. Come ready to lead. Come ready to surprise some people,” said Boozer of Kobe’s message to him.
There are concerns whether Boozer will be able to produce at a high-level. Defensively, there is not much to expect from him, but offensively he will surely help fill a void left by the departing Pau Gasol, who joined the Bulls this offseason.
The 32-year old said he continues to work hard everyday, noting he was in the gym when he found out the news of the Lakers acquiring him and while he was excited, he continued to work out for two more hours.
He will turn 33-years old in November but feels he still has a lot to offer to the Lakers and the NBA.
“My body feels great,” said Boozer. “I don’t know how long I’m going to play, maybe four or five, six more years, maybe seven.”
Boozer has been a solid contributor over his 12-year NBA career, averaging 16.6 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. His best years came in Utah where he averaged 19.3 points and 10.5 rebounds over six seasons.
In 2010, Boozer agreed to a five-year deal with the Chicago Bulls as a free agent but did not perform as well as in previous years, averaging 15.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in the last four seasons. His contract was always in question and the Bulls attempted to move him in recent seasons but with no success.
Boozer was drafted out of Duke in 2002 as a second round pick, 35th overall, by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
VIDEO: Carlos Boozer scores 19 points and grabs 12 rebounds in 101-92 victory over the Phoenix Suns