The Los Angeles Lakers held a press conference to announce the addition of Carlos Boozer to the team Friday, July 25, 2014, El Segundo, CA. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze
The demotion to the bench earlier this season once seemed so beneath Lakers forward Carlos Boozer. The two-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist openly questioned Lakers coach Byron Scott publicly, while refusing to address him about it privately.
But when Boozer sat because of a coach’s decision in the Lakers’ 114-105 loss on Friday to the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center, the 12-year NBA veteran handled the matter completely differently. Boozer talked to reporters, but declined to question Scott’s rotation. Scott then reported that Boozer approached him about it afterwards.
Scott reported Boozer expressed concern that his absence during Wednesday’s practice after the All-Star break because of transportation problems returning from his hometown in Miami influence his eventual DNP.
“It’s never personal with me. “I never play guys because I’m mad,” Scott said on Saturday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I don’t hold no grudges because of that. If you can help me win games, I’ll put you on the court. I don’t have to like you at all. But that’s not the case with Carlos.”
Instead, Scott explained that Boozer’s absence stemmed from something else. Scott wanted to play Jordan Hill off the bench after missing the previous five games because of a right hip flexor. Scott also became curious with how Hill would fare with forward Ed Davis. The pair combined for 28 points and 24 rebounds, and represented a fourth-quarter unit that nearly chipped away at the Nets’ 22-point lead. Yet, Scott suggested Boozer’s absence likely will not become prolonged.
“I just told him it was something I was trying to experiment with and it didn’t go the way I expected it to go,” Scott said. “I wasn’t happy with it. It probably won’t happen again.”
The same applies to Wesley Johnson, who also sat because of a coach’s decision while Ryan Kelly (12 points on 4 of 8 shooting) and Nick Young (five points on 2 of 9 shooting) played at small forward.
“Wes was good, too,” Scott said. “I told him the same thing. It was something I was trying.”
Scott normally does not explain his thought process directly to players about his rotations. He only does so when reporters ask him. Or if players approach him. Young talked with Scott after the Lakers’ forward sat last month in New York despite receiving medical clearance from a sprained right ankle. Jeremy Lin also spoke with Scott both after losing his starting point guard spot 20 games into the 2014-15 season and when he sat during Jordan Clarkson’s starting debut because of a coach’s decision.
But Scott has occasionally differed from his approach. He alerted veteran guard Ronnie Price two weeks ago he would sit up until the All-Star break partly to heal from a sprained right elbow. Scott also decided to circle back with Boozer and Johnson, both of whom had declined to complain about their absence.
“Because of those two guys, and the respect I have for them is the only reason I told them that,” Boozer said. “This is what I did last night and this is the reason why. I don’t have to explain to why I’m doing it. Carlos has been great a true professional. So I thought, Let me tell you what I’m doing and why I did it and we’ll just go from there.”
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