The Los Angeles Lakers on Friday morning introduced their newest player Carlos Boozer, and Kobe Bryant‘s message to his new teammate was a simple and direct one, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
” ‘Just come ready,’ ” Boozer said, sharing Bryant’s message to him. ” ‘Come ready to lead. Come ready to surprise some people.'”
Boozer was released by the Chicago Bulls last week via their one-time amnesty clause to rid the $16.8 million remaining on the final year of his contract, which Los Angeles acquired the 13-year veteran after placing the highest bid at $3.25 million for him in a blind auction. For Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, the fact that the team was able to land the him is still a pleasant surprise.
“Fortunately for us and unexpectedly for us, our bid was the highest bid and we were awarded Carlos,” Kupchak said Friday during Boozer’s introductory news conference. “Not for a second did we think that he’d be available to us.”
The 32-year-old is ready for the challenge and the opportunity to step into the role as one of the leaders of the team to help mentor the younger big men such as Ed Davis, and the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft in Julius Randle, who he both called “studs.”
“I think first you got to get in the league and see where you fit and find a niche for yourself,” Boozer said. “I watched Randle a lot in college. He had a great, great college run. Great rebounder. Great scorer inside and polished. But sometimes you just have to be thrown in the fire and play. Ed Davis is extremely athletic. I played against him a few times throughout my career. And he’s a good rim protector. So I’m excited to be playing with him too.”
Along with helping the younger players, Boozer is also looking forward to learning a few things from Bryant, who he played with on the 2008 Team USA that won the Gold Medal in the Olympics in Beijing, in particular his well-regarded work ethic. He also called his new teammate’s hunger to win “contagious,” which is something he hopes that he and the rest of the team can feed off of this upcoming season.
As for his role on the team, Boozer “absolutely” expects to be a starter for the Lakers and feels that he can still play for the next several seasons in the NBA. He also described himself as a “spring chicken” in terms of health despite having one of worst seasons in terms of production.
In the 2013-14 season, he had his lowest averages in points (13.7) and rebounds (8.3) since the 2003-04 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and posted his worst field goal percentage (45.6) in a single season in his career. However, Boozer stated that last year’s personal struggles with the Bulls have “humbled” him and that he is “very confident” he can return to being the productive player that helped earn him two All-Star selections.
Kupchak also echoed the same confident attitude about the team’s newest addition.
“Personally, I know he’s going to have a great year this year and, at his age, there’s no reason why he can’t play three, four, five more years and I think that’s his expectations as well,” Kupchak said.
Boozer appears to be ready for not only the opportunity to be one of the leaders on the team, but also show that he can be a reliable player for Los Angeles. Ultimately, he has his eyes set on helping the Lakers along with Bryant to turn some heads next season, and be a major part of that success.
Watch below Boozer being introduced by the Lakers:
Photo Credit: USATSI