Thursday, November 27, 2014
Blog Page 3

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Former number two overall NBA draft pick Michael Beasley worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers for a second time Wednesday, according to Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy.

The Lakers have been intrigued by Beasley for some time now–and once had a deal in place to acquire the enigmatic forward during the 2012 NBA trade deadline; although that deal fell apart at the last minute.

With Beasley, talent has never been the question. Instead, his consistency and focus, paired with other off the court issues, have plagued the forward since he entered the league.

It will be interesting to see if the Lakers do indeed decide to sign Beasley.

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Photo Credit | Getty Images

On his recent Nike tour in China, Kobe Bryant sat down with a group of young basketball players and answered questions posed to him on a wide range of topics including his focus and motivation, as well as how he will perform upon returning from injury this upcoming season.

Kobe is coming off a season in which he played just six games after returning from an Achilles injury in the 2012-2013 season.  He returned in December but suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee causing the veteran to eventually shut down for the rest of the season.

As a result of those two injuries and age (turned 36 on August 23), much has been made as to how effective Kobe will be once he takes the floor this fall.  It is no secret to Kobe that his athleticism has been in decline over the last few years, but feels that will not hinder him on the court.

“I can say I want to be able to jump as high as I used to. I want to be as fast as I used to. But no; I don’t jump as high as I used to,” Kobe said. “That’s okay. I’m not as fast as I used to be. That’s okay, too. I’ll figure out another way to do it.”

While the athleticism of the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest champion is not what it once was, the skill and intelligence of the shooting guard remains.  A master of his craft, Kobe has continued to evolve his game with age, something he has done since entering the league.

“I do the moves over and over,” Kobe said. “Especially in my younger days, I didn’t really focus on trying to get my feet faster. I focused on the moves. Whether it was a fadeaway, or whether it was a crossover, I did the move over and over and over. Then, I got faster at doing moves. My feet got faster at doing the moves. When you have repetition with what it is you’re trying to do, you inevitably get better and faster at that. The most important thing in basketball isn’t speed anyway. It’s not speed. It’s skill.”

In a recent interview with Sports On Earth, general manager Mitch Kupchak gave some positive returns on how the guard has looked in workouts, which should provide Lakers fans with a sense of hope and excitement.

“My window overlooks the court, and he comes in to work out from time to time,” Kupchak said. “You would not know he’s in his mid-30s. You wouldn’t know he hurt his knee and had a torn Achilles. There’s no limp. He’s got a hop in his step. He’s working hard.”

Below is the video of the question and answer session with Kobe:

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(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Byron Scott’s hiring as Lakers head coach is not only a homecoming for the franchise he once played for, but also for the city he grew up in and is already doing his part to give back to the community.

On Tuesday, Scott announced his role as a mentor at Centennial High School’s Male Academy, an intervention program for the school’s ninth and tenth grade students. During the school year, Scott will be part of the program to mentor the young men while also taking part in motivational discussions.

Scott attended Morningside High School in Inglewood, which is six miles away from Centennial in Compton.

In his introduction at the high school, Scott’s main focus was to tell the students to focus on their education more so than athletic aspirations.

Lakers reporter Mike Trudell said Scott asked how many students believed they would become professional athletes, with many hands going up.

“You have a better opportunity to be the next (President) Obama than the next LeBron,” said Scott.

The response was not in any way to discourage the students from chasing their dreams, but to drive home the point that getting their degree and education is essential.

The press conference did not come without basketball as students were able to ask questions of their own and Scott was asked by a student as to who would be starting for him once the season came around, which resulted in an interesting response from the new head coach.

“Other than Kobe, it’s up for grabs.”

It is no surprise that Kobe is penciled in as a starter, but with acquisitions such as Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin, to say every position other than shooting guard is open was not the answer some would expect. Although it could very well mean Scott is promoting competition as training camp opens in the coming weeks, giving legitimate shots for players like lottery pick Julius Randle to prove their worth.

As Scott begins his new tenure as head coach for the purple and gold, it is great to see him going back to his roots and giving back to the city he loves by putting effort into making a difference in the lives of the younger generation.

In the past four years, the Male Academy at Centennial High School has helped students improve attendance rates, disciplinary issues and academic performance. It is also credited for increasing graduation rates by 10 percent. The previous mentor was former NFL quarterback Vince Evans, who graduated from USC, and played for the Chicago Bears as well as the Los Angeles Raiders.

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Lakers vs. Jazz

As the NBA offseason drags on, we thought now would be a great time to give away some Lakers tickets!

I mean, is there ever a bad time to give away FREE stuff? We say no…

LakerNation.com has partnered with OC Youth Sports to give away two (2) tickets to Lakers vs. Utah Jazz on Thursday, October 16th at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

To be eligible to win, all you have to do is:

(1) LIKE OC Youth Sports on Facebook.

(2) LIKE Laker Nation on Facebook (which you probably already do).

And that’s it!

We’ll compile the eligible contestants on Friday, August 15th and announce a random winner on the Laker Nation Facebook page at 6:00pm PST.

Good luck, Laker Nation!

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After a miserable 2013-14 season that led to an unusually long off-season, we finally have something to look forward to. Yesterday, the NBA released the 2014-2015 regular season schedule. After saying goodbye to Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, and Chris Kaman (among others) the Lakers will begin the season with many fresh faces. Over the Summer, the Lakers added veterans Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, and Ed Davis along with rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. They will join returning Lakers Xavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, and Nick Young. Oh, and I forgot, after only playing 6 games last season, Kobe Bryant will be hungry and healthy to start the season. A sight that Laker fans sorely missed.

With training camp just around the corner… Here is a preview of the 2014-2015 Lakers Regular Season Schedule:

OPENING NIGHT:

Photo Credit: NBA
Photo Credit: NBA

In 1 of only 3 games on opening night, the Lakers will begin their season at home against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. After sitting out all but 6 games last season, this will mark the first time Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard face each other since Howard’s departure 2 summers ago. It will also mark the first time Jeremy Lin will face his former team after being traded this past summer to the Lakers. In 4 games last season, the Rockets took the season series from the Lakers 3-1. However, after losing key role players in Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik it remains to be seen how the Rockets will fare this season. After opening night, the Lakers and Rockets will meet again on Nov 19 (@HOU) and Jan 25 (@LAL).

CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO:

(Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

December 25th wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Lakers basketball. However, we’ll have a change of scenery this Christmas when the Lakers play their first holiday game away from Staples since 2006, when they played against Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat. This year, Kris Kringle reunites us with a familiar face when the Lakers go up against Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls. This will be the first time Gasol and Carlos Boozer face their former teams after swapping places this Summer. It will also be the first time the Lakers will meet Derrick Rose after sitting out almost 2 full seasons due to injury. The two teams will meet again on Jan 29 when Gasol makes his Staples Center return.

GRAMMY ROAD TRIP:

This season’s Grammy trip seems fairly tame compared to those in years past. In previous seasons, the Grammy trip has lasted as long as 7 games in 12 days. This season the Lakers will only visit 4 cities in a 9 day span. The trip will begin in New York when the Lakers face the Knicks for the first time on Feb 1. Then we head to Milwaukee (Feb 4), where Julius Randle and the #2 overall pick, Jabari Paker, will meet for the first time in the NBA. The trip continues in Orlando (Feb 6), where Randle will go up against another lottery pick, Aaron Gordon (#4 overall). The trip will conclude when the Lakers visit Coach Scott’s former team to take on LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, (Kevin Love? Andrew Wiggins?), and the Cavs in Cleveland on Feb 8.

Last season, the Grammy trip was a 7 game trip where the Lakers went 2-5. This season, being an unusually short trip with no back-to-backs, the Lakers should end the road trip with a winning record. I don’t see Milwaukee or Orlando being much of a threat and we all know how much Kobe loves playing in Madison Square Garden. I expect the Lakers to come away from the Grammy trip going 3-1.

BACK-TO-BACKS:

This season, the Lakers will play a total of 16 pairs of B2B games. They’ll start the season right off the bat playing their first 4 games in 2 sets of home/away B2Bs against the Rockets/Suns and the Clippers/Warriors. The Lakers will be the visiting team for a majority of the games in these B2Bs. They will only play 8 of the 32 games at Staples (one will be an away game against the Clippers), all 8 occur on the first night of the B2B. And of course, as it seems to happen every season, the Lakers will play against the Denver Nuggets in the Mile High City on the second night of a B2B following a Clipper home game on April 8th. The Lakers seem to always struggle in this category, in 38 B2B games (19 pairs) last season, the Lakers ended with a record of 11-27, never winning a set of games. They’re going to need to turn that around this season if they expect to improve.

The 16 B2B match-ups will be against:

10/28-29: HOU/@PHX                    10/31-11/1: LAC/@GSW                11/11-12: @MEM/@NOP

11/18-19: @ATL/@HOU                 12/2-3: @DET/@WAS                    12/14-15: @MIN/@IND

12/25-26: @CHI/@DAL                 1/4-5: IND/@POR                            1/15-16: CLE/@UTA

2/10-11: DEN/@POR                      3/3-4: @CHA/@MIA                       3/15-16: ATL/@GSW

3/24-25: @OKC/@MIN                  3/29-30: @BKN/@PH                     4/7-8: @LAC/@DEN

4/12-13: DAL/@SAC

BATTLE FOR LA:

Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown, Getty images.

Fresh off the Donald Sterling fiasco, new Clipper owner, Steve Ballmer, and the rest of the Clipper team will almost certainly have some extra spark this season. Especially after newly appointed Lakers head coach (and former head coach of Clippers superstar Chris Paul), Byron Scott, declared that LA was still a Laker town. The Lakers will face the Clippers the usual 4 times (2 home, 2 away) this season, with the first match coming early in the season on Halloween night as a Laker home game. The remaining match-ups will take place on Jan. 7 (@LAC), Apr. 5 (@LAL), and Apr. 7 (@LAC).

After losing the season opener to the Lakers last season, the Clippers dismantled the Lakers by an average of 36 points in the remaining 3 contests and ended up taking the season series 3-1. The hallway series doesn’t get any easier for the Lakers this season after the Clippers added former Laker Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes to their depth chart.

A NEW STORY FOR AN OLD RIVALRY:

Photo: Jason DeCrow AP
Photo: Jason DeCrow AP

The Lakers/Celtics rivalry is a part of NBA history, even though it may not be as enticing these days as they were in the past, regardless if it’s for championships, regular season records, or lottery picks, there will always be a certain buzz surrounding a Lakers/Celtics match-up. This season’s match-ups could be the start of a new story when rookies Julius Randle and Marcus Smart take their places in this historic rivalry. Smart was taken by the Celtics with the 6th pick in the draft, one ahead of Randle. After being drafted, Randle said that he felt he should have been drafted higher. “The teams that passed on me will regret it” he said. Let’s hope he starts when the Lakers face the Celtics on Dec. 5 (@BOS) and Feb. 22 (@LAL).

NEW YORK, NEW YORK:

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

I wouldn’t normally consider a Lakers/Knicks game to be a “notable” game at the beginning of the season, but this year there are too many stories to ignore. Most of LA is still coping with the fact that Phil Jackson agreed to become the President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks last season, but this season we get the added bonus of seeing the team coached by Kobe’s longtime sidekick, Derek Fisher. Not to mention, there’s that Carmelo Anthony guy who turned down a max contract from the Lakers to re-sign with the Knicks this summer. We can watch all this drama unfold when the Lakers and Knicks faceoff on Feb 1 (@NYK) and Mar 12 (@LAL).

Also, the Brooklyn Nets will be in town to play the Lakers at Staples on Feb 20. Why do I consider this game “notable” you ask? It will be the Lakers first game after the Feb 19 NBA Trade Deadline. It’s never too early to speculate last minute trade deadline deals is it?

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:

– The defending champion San Antonio Spurs will face the Lakers 3 times this season on Nov 14 (@LAL), Dec 12 (@SAS), and Jan 23 (@SAS).

– LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cleveland Cavaliers will make their first trip to LA on Jan 15 and the Lakers will head to Cleveland as the last stop in the Grammy road trip on Feb 8 for their only 2 meetings of the season.

– Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will also face Kobe and the Lakers 3 times this season beginning on Dec 19 (@LAL), Mar 1(@LAL), and Mar 24 (@OKC).

– And finally, after all of that, the Lakers will conclude the 2014-2015 regular season with a home and home against the Sacramento Kings on Apr 13 (@SAC) and Apr 15 (@LAL).

It’s obviously too early to tell what kind of success, if any, the Lakers will have this season, but there are encouraging signs. Less back-to-backs than last season along with a shorter Grammy trip will benefit the health of our team. Also, an extended All-Star break will allow the team to rest up to make a push in the second half of the season. If Laker fans have learned anything from the past 2 seasons it’s that health will play a tremendous role in the success of this team. And with a healthy Kobe Bryant ready to start the season, we’re already a leg up over last year.

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Image: Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

For the first time in three seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers will take their Christmas act on the road.

According to multiple media outlets, the Lakers will face the Chicago Bulls in a showdown with no shortages of story lines.

Kobe Bryant, 36, is coming off of a season-ending knee injury and will look to prove to the basketball world that he is still a force to be reckoned with.

Bulls star Derrick Rose will look to return to MVP form after missing the entire 2013 campaign with a torn ACL.

The game will also mark the first meeting between Bryant and his former teammate and good friend, Pau Gasol, since the Spaniard signed with the Bulls as a free agent this summer.

Then, there is Carlos Boozer. The ex-Bull fell victim to the NBA’s amnesty clause on July 17th of this summer.

The last time the two ball clubs met on Christmas was during the lockout shortened 2011-12 season in which the Bulls were able to overcome a late six point deficit in the final minute to steal a 88-87 victory in front of a stunned STAPLES Center crowd.

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Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images

Newly acquired Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin is set to receive a wax figure in his honor, courtesy of Madam Tussauds Wax Museum in San Francisco on Thursday, August 21st.

Lin, 25, will be in the elite company of iconic figures such as Bruce Lee and ‘The King Of Pop’, Michael Jackson, to name a few.

The only question that remains is: which jersey will he be immortalized in?

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Image Credit: Juan Ocampo

It may have been months in the making but the Lakers officially introduced Byron Scott as its new head coach at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo on Tuesday.

“The one thing I will say is that this has been a dream of mine for so long,” said Scott, who enjoyed 11 seasons with the purple and gold. “It’s a dream come true to be here sitting and talking to you guys today and be introduced as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.”

Since Mike D’Antoni’s resignation in April, the discussion as to who would be the next coach always circled back to Scott, who served as an analyst on Time Warner Cable SportsNet this past year.

After uncertainty the past three years with D’Antoni and Mike Brown, the hiring of Scott looks to bring stability to a franchise that desperately needs it. While stability is needed, the expectations remain the same, something that Scott made sure to acknowledge in his opening statements.

“This organization is all about championships. Period. We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships,” said Scott. “We look at championships.”

The press conference got off to a memorable start as Scott’s former teammates, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jamaal Wilkes came to support their friend.

“This is a great day for all former Lakers as well as Laker fans all over the world,” said Magic. “We’re just excited for what Byron will bring to the table and get back to playing Laker basketball… Again, congratulations to the Laker organization. You chose the right guy.”

One of the other selling points other than Scott’s history with the franchise is that of his relationship with Kobe Bryant, who had issues with his two previous head coaches.

“Great relationship. I mean we get a long extremely well. We talk a lot. We text each other a lot during the season and obviously during the off-season,” said Scott, who was Kobe’s mentor during his rookie season in 1996. “I’m looking forward to coaching Kobe. I know his drive, and I know his will and determination. I think we’re on the same page as far as how we think about this game and how it should be played.”

While this is Scott’s ‘dream job’, many do not consider the roster as currently constructed a playoff team, but the new head coach is happy with his upcoming collection of players.

“I just was looking at all the moves that Jim [Buss] and Mitch [Kupchak] were making. When we talked, they would ask me my opinion, and I would give it to them. And like I said, I think they did a great job of putting this roster together,” said Scott.

“I’m excited to work with these guys on the floor too, and I think you’re going to have a few of these guys on this roster that have a chip on their shoulder, which to me is a very good thing, and you have a lot of people real down on us right now, and I think that’s something that can drive us going through the season.”

As the Lakers now move forward, trying to establish an identity for the years to come, it will be a challenge for Scott but for someone that understands expectations of the franchise and its fans; he is definitely the right choice at the moment for this team.  But what can the fans expect out the Lakers led by Scott?

“Play hard every single night, and we’ll come ready to defend.”

And after last season’s 27-55 performance, even that small promise from Scott is the step in the right direction.

AP/Kevork Djansezian

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold in July, over their 66-year history, in this off-season version of “A Blast from the Past.”

July 8, 2009

The Lakers signed free agent Ron Artest following their 2009 championship-winning season. The 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year was an integral part of Los Angeles’ second consecutive NBA championship the following campaign.

July 9, 1968

The great Wilt Chamberlain was traded to the Lakers from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Darrell Imhoff, Archie Clark, and Jerry Chambers. Chamberlain spent the remaining five seasons of his NBA career with the purple and gold, helping them win the 1972 NBA championship.

Getty Images
Getty Images

July 14, 2004

The Shaq-Kobe era came to a close in Los Angeles, as Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Cook, and a first-round draft pick. In Shaq’s eight seasons with the Lakers, the team won three-straight NBA titles and O’Neal picked up the Finals MVP award in each of those championship series. With the Lakers, O’Neal averaged 27.0 points and 11.8 rebounds.

July 16, 2003

Los Angeles signed highly-touted free agents Karl Malone and Gary Payton. At the time, both veteran players were in search of an elusive NBA title. After failing to accomplish their shared goal in the 2003-04 season, the duo’s short-lived experiment with the Lakers was over. Malone retired in 2004 without ever winning a championship, while Payton signed on with the Heat for the final go-around of his career and helped them to the title in 2006.

July 18, 1996

In one of the greatest free-agency signings in NBA history, Jerry West and the Lakers signed Shaquille O’Neal away from the Orlando Magic. The summer of 1996 marked the formation of the greatest dynamic duo in Lakers’ history, as O’Neal and Kobe Bryant joined forces in Los Angeles.

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Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images

The general manager of the Canadian Men’s National Basketball team spoke with Sport TV during a Canada/Slovenia exhibition game last week and confirmed what many fans have assumed for the past 3 years, this season will be his last.

After a 19-year career in the NBA, that included 8 All-Star appearances and 2 MVP awards, Steve Nash may be ready to retire after this season.

“I think this is my last season… I’m going to hopefully spend many many years living this life without basketball so it would be nice to play one more year.”

Nash joined the Lakers in the summer of 2012 on a 3-year deal after spending the previous 8 seasons as a member of the Phoenix Suns. His arrival, along with Dwight Howard’s, was supposed to help catapult the next era of Laker greatness, but as we all know, things did not go as planned.

In only his second regular season game as a Laker, Nash suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left leg after bumping into Portland’s Damian Lillard. The fracture would later cause nerve root damage and sideline him for most of the next 2 seasons; he would only play 15 games in the 2013-2014 campaign.

With his health in question, the Lakers were faced with the decision to keep Nash for the last year of his contract or waive him under the stretch provision. Waiving Nash would allow the Lakers to stretch the remaining $9.7 million owed to him over the next 3 seasons. Doing that would give them a little more spending power now, but would limit potential cap space in the upcoming years. However, after newly acquired point guard Jeremy Lin gushed at the opportunity to play with and learn from Nash, the Lakers decided to honor the remainder of Nash’s contract.

Nash will likely serve as a mentor to Lin and rookie Jordan Clarkson this season and, if health permits, play back-up point guard minutes for the rebuilding Lakers. On the current state of the Lakers, Nash said,

“Sometimes you have to go down to come back up. Right now the Lakers are down and it takes time.  I don’t know if we’re going to have a chance this year or not. But obviously in the future, they’ll be back where they have been many times.”

If this is indeed Steve’s last season in the NBA, he has definitely had a storied career. Nash has career averages of 14.3 points, 8.5 assists and holds the record for the 3rd most assists in NBA history trailing only Jason Kidd and John Stockton.

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Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images

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.

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VIDEO: Carlos Boozer scores 19 points and grabs 12 rebounds in 101-92 victory over the Phoenix Suns

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.