The Lakers are suddenly deep, at least in volume, at power forward.
After drafting Kentucky Wildcat Julius Randle with the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Lakers claimed Carlos Boozer off waivers from the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.
The Bulls used their one-time amnesty to remove Boozer from their salary cap and luxury tax calculations. Teams with cap room were allowed a single blind bid for his contract. The Lakers won with a $3.251-million offer.
The team will now be responsible for Boozer’s final year and a portion of his $16.8-million salary. The Bulls will pay the veteran forward $13.55 million not to play in Chicago (except when the Lakers make their lone visit this coming season).
Cutting Boozer enabled the Bulls to bring in two-time Lakers NBA champion Pau Gasol, a loss the Lakers’ additional depth may not be able to immediately replace.
Additionally, the Lakers have agreed sign free-agent forward Ed Davis and bring back Jordan Hill. The franchise also has a qualifying offer out to stretch forward Ryan Kelly, who could also return next season as part of a busy frontcourt.
If Hill is the team’s starting center, backed up by Robert Sacre, the Lakers still could have four power forwards with Randle, Boozer, Kelly and Davis.
Depending on what the team’s coach intends -- noting the franchise has no head coach -- both Randle and Kelly might be able to play some small forward; Boozer and Davis situationally might fit at center.
A primary goal for the Lakers will be the development of Randle. The addition of Boozer should help the Lakers put Randle in a position to succeed -- a potential rookie slump will be less likely to drag the Lakers down with it.
If Randle is ready to play at a high level and maintain that over the course of the season, the Lakers aren’t likely to let the glut of power forwards get in the way of his minutes.
The Lakers have used whatever cap room they had available to claim Boozer, in addition to what has been promised to scorer Nick Young and Hill, though that could grow if they were to find their way out of veteran Steve Nash’s contract.
The Lakers still have the $2.7-million “room exception” to spend in free agency, once over the NBA’s $63.1-million salary cap.
Under the rules of an amnesty claim, the Lakers will not be permitted to trade Boozer for the entirety of the 2014-15 season.