Life has been busy for Carlos Boozer Jr. since he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA Draft on June 26. This weekend, Boozer will make his first appearances in a Cavaliers uniform.
The Carlos Boozer Archive
Last week, Boozer was in Teaneck, N.J., for the Adidas ABCD Camp for high school basketball players, where he spoke to several of the athletes and coaches about how the camp helped him get recruited by major college teams. Boozer was the second Alaskan ever invited to the camp, attending the summer between his junior and senior years at Juneau-Douglas High School.
After a brief stop to his Raleigh, N.C., apartment over the weekend, Boozer practiced in Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday - his first trip to the offices of his future NBA team. Boozer will play for Cleveland's summer-league team, which heads today to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Rocky Mountain Revue from Friday through July 26 at Salt Lake Community College.
"I was disappointed briefly during the draft, but I became excited once Cleveland picked me up," Boozer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I'm motivated because there were guys selected in the first round that I'm better than. And I want to prove to other scouts, coaches and GMs that they passed on a good thing."
Cleveland will play the Phoenix Suns at 5 p.m. ADT on Friday, the Toronto Raptors at 2 p.m. on Saturday, the Denver Nuggets at 4 p.m. on Monday, the Memphis Grizzlies at 10 a.m. on Tuesday (game broadcast live on ESPN), the Dallas Mavericks at 4 p.m. on July 25 and the Utah Jazz at 6 p.m. on July 26.
Boozer is hoping for a strong performance during the summer-league games, which might help get him a guaranteed contract for this year. Guard Jeff Trepagnier was a second-round pick, like Boozer, last year and used a strong summer-league performance to get the first year of his two-year contract guaranteed (second-round draft picks usually don't receive guaranteed contracts). According to a Cavs spokesman, second-round picks usually aren't signed to contracts until after the short summer-league season ends.
Boozer had been projected as a first-round pick, but slid to the second round. One of the chief criticisms was his height, which is listed as 6-foot-9 but the NBA officially measured at 6-7 3/4 without shoes and 6-9 1/4 with shoes. Boozer was a center for an undersized Duke team, but expects to play power forward in the NBA. Boozer's dropped his weight from last year's listed 280 to about 257 on draft day so he can add more quickness and explosive power to his game.
"Those that criticize me, come out and watch me play," Boozer told the Plain Dealer. "Don't go by paper statistics. When I'm out there, I play hard and I'm very physical. I'll rebound and bang and play defense. I don't know the situation in Cleveland, but I'll definitely be a contributor right away."
Cleveland's summer-league team will feature three veterans (Jumaine Jones, Chris Mihm and DeSagana Diop, although Jones and Mihm figure to only practice with the team and not play) and its three 2002 draft choices (first-round pick Dajuan Wagner of Memphis, Boozer and second-round pick Matt Barnes of UCLA, whose rights went to Cleveland in a draft-day trade with the Los Angeles Lakers).
There will also be seven free agents on the team, players who weren't drafted but hope to use their summer-league performances as a way to get invited to an NBA team's training camp in October. They are considered long shots to make the team. The seven free agents are Theo Dixon of Cleveland State, Lubos Barton of Valparaiso, Adam Harrington of Auburn, Lonnie Jones of Ball State, Sean Kennedy of Marist, Andre Laws of San Diego and Paul Shirley of Iowa State.
Laws' name might sound familiar to Alaska basketball fans because he graduated from East Anchorage High School in 1998, one year before Boozer graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School. Boozer and Laws, a 6-foot-1 guard, battled for the state championship twice, with Boozer's Crimson Bears winning both games. When Boozer was a sophomore and Laws was a junior, Boozer blocked a last-second 3-pointer by Laws to clinch Juneau's first state title in nearly two decades.
NBA training camps don't open until early October, but in the meantime Boozer will be busy training in North Carolina.
August will be an especially busy time for him, since he gets married to longtime fiancee Cindy "CeCe" Blackwell, goes to Hawaii for his honeymoon with a possible side trip to the Pete Newell's Big Man Camp, then returns to North Carolina to join former teammates Shane Battier and Mike Dunleavy Jr. for the Second Annual Duke Basketball All-Star Charity Game on Aug. 23.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.