Kragthorpe: Boozer adds twist to Jazz-Lakers rivalry
NBA • Ex-Jazz power forward a bargain for L.A.; he’ll help the offense, if nothing else
Published: July 18, 2014 07:29PM
Updated: July 19, 2014 11:30PM
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Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah Jazz power forward Derrick Favors (15), puts some defensive pressure on Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer (5) in NBA action, as the Jazz faced the Chicago Bulls, at the EnergySolutions Arena, Monday, November 25, 2013.

The Jazz’s rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers already was intriguing enough, even before Carlos Boozer joined the Lakers.

Now, we’ll have the dynamic of all those Lakers fans who infiltrate EnergySolutions Arena cheering for Boozer while Jazz fans boo him. Then again, it might be tough tell whether those cries are “boos” or “Booz-es.”

I know this: The atmosphere at ESA could not be any weirder than it was in April, when some percentage of Jazz fans were hoping their team would lose to the Lakers, for the sake of draft position (the Jazz cooperated).

Depending on how the 2014-15 season plays out and when the Lakers visit Utah, the same situation could be in play. The Jazz remain a long way from the top eight in the Western Conference and the Lakers also are unlikely to make the playoffs, even with Kobe Bryant back. So who will be cheering for whom, if the teams meet in April? Who knows?

Boozer certainly will help the Lakers, I’ll say that much. He’s a bargain for at an estimated $3 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Lakers submitted the highest bid for him after Chicago waived him in an amnesty provision, while the Bulls still have to pay the bulk of his $16.8 salary.

The Lakers lost forward Pau Gasol to Chicago via free agency. Even though they drafted Kentucky forward Julius Randle at No. 7, they can use the offense Boozer will provide.

In Chicago, his role evolved to playing the first and third quarters for coach Tom Thibodeau, but he averaged 13.7 points in 2013-14. The Lakers’ new coach should be able to work Boozer into the offense, with his variety of skills.

Boozer’s frequent injuries and his perceived selfish attitude kept him from being embraced during his six years with the Jazz. Yet the derision about the demise of Boozer should be tempered by the fact the Jazz haven’t won a playoff game since he departed in July 2010. Never mind that his Jazz teams lost to the Lakers in three straight playoff series.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt