Why is Carlos Boozer still available? One exec says think defense.

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Last season, Carlos Boozer averaged 11.8 points a game and shot 49.9 percent from the floor for the Lakers. He added 6.8 rebounds a night. He had a PER of 16.8, above the league average. His numbers are not gaudy, but you can see him as a scoring big off the bench who can run the pick-and-pop well.

So why is he still available as a free agent late in August? Defense, one exec told Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.

“What Boozer scores on the offensive end, he quickly gives back on defense,” one NBA general manager told SheridanHoops.

No doubt. Boozer’s defensive lapses are obvious and frustrated Tom Thibodeau to no end, then had Byron Scott shaking his head at points last season in LA (of course, a lot of things with those Lakers should have had Scott shaking his head).

However, if a team can get Boozer for the bi-annual exception ($2.8 million) and use him as a scoring big man off the bench, isn’t he better than a lot of guys who have already inked deals? The guy can put up points.

Which is to say, if he stays in shape someone is going to come calling, likely early in training camp if not before. Of course, if he’s waiting for a contender, or even a playoff team, to call, he needs to be patient. Maybe very patient.

If not, there’s always China.