I'm shocked that no one has mentioned the real reasons behind the signing of Trevor Booker. David Locke touched on it ever so briefly, but that's the only mention that I've seen. Granted, I haven't scoured the internet for every single article that I can find about the signing, but it seemed obvious to me.
Who was the physical presence on the Jazz last year? If you're gonna say Favors and Kanter, I'm gonna tell you that you are sorely mistaken. That isn't to say that they aren't physically strong players that are learning to use their physical gifts more efficiently... but if someone attempts to bully them is there going to be much retaliation from them? No there isn't. That isn't to say they are mentally weak... it simply isn't their personality and to force a square peg into a round hole is never a good idea.
The Jazz were missing a physical presence willing to get up in the oppositions face. A little bit of crazy so to speak as Reggie Miller would put it. Successful teams always seem to have at least one. For example, Miami had Chris "Birdman" Andersen. I admit I'm cheating a little bit with San Antonio, but Greg Popovich fills the crazy in-your-face role and the stoic nature of Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard doesn't allow for bullying.
Think that example doesn't work? Think of the Jazz's glory years. Jerry Sloan was the crazy off of the bench and you weren't going to intimidate John Stockton and Karl Malone. Malone's elbow's may have had something to do with it (ask Isiah Thomas or David Robinson), but we aren't gonna go there.
I know that the rules have changed since the days of Detroit's Bad Boys or the physical Knicks teams of the 90's, but look at what they did simply by being a physical team that didn't take crap from anyone... and more often than not were the instigators of physical antics.
The Jazz are a young team with players still trying to establish identities and it is easy to intimidate a youngster in that role. A veteran presence willing to take the role of someone willing to do the garbage work and take a bump or bruise for the team is essential in helping these young guys grow comfortably. That is where Booker will come in. I admit that he isn't exactly an old veteran (an issue that seems to have been bantered about on this site), but it isn't exactly an issue for the role he is supposed to fill. Booker is aware of his ceiling. He isn't gonna complain about his playing time. He isn't gonna ask for more minutes. He isn't gonna ask for more touches. He knows his role. He knows Favors and Kanter are the future for the team... not him. He's gonna go out and do the dirty work and offer a physical presence to respond to any opponent's attempts to bully his teammates. But what attracted Jazz brass to him is that he goes about his business in a professional manner, someone who isn't going to embarrass the organization.
The Jazz missed that sorely last year. Think about what they lost the previous off-season. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and DeMarre Carroll. Carroll was a garbage player (realize that isn't an insult... he did the dirty work that doesn't show up in stats such as diving for loose balls and deflecting passes) and Millsap started his career in a similar (not the same) way. They had a reputation as guys you didn't mess with. Jefferson was just a big dude who knew how to use his body whom it was stupid to get physical with. Who filled that role last year? Gorbet was a deer in the headlights too often despite the abundant potential he exhibited. Favors and Kanter have solid builds, but they don't play with the same physicality that Jefferson had. Gordon? Nope. Richard Jefferson? RJ was a professional who tried to lead by example... but he was concentrating more on auditioning for teams that might be interested in him this off-season than mentoring or protecting teammates. Not ripping on him... it worked for him as he signed with Dallas. Not like he was ever a physical presence anyway. Trey Burke is probably the player who best exhibited that... not good when a rookie is filling that role. The Jazz were easy to bully!
For the record, being the enforcer so to speak on a team has little to do with size. Raja Bell in his first stint with the Jazz was a great example of what a little bit of crazy and hard driving style can do. The Spurs had the "Little General" Avery Johnson (he earned that nickname for a reason) or their first title filling that role for them.
Did we overpay for Booker? Oh, hell yeah we did. But we wanted someone who could fill the role in a way that the Jazz brass and community wouldn't be embarrassed by. Dennis Rodman was an awesome player and was the best example in NBA history of an efficient garbage player who knew their role. (I could probably mention KC Jones or Satch Sanders from the great Boston dynasty, but they are beyond the time of most) But would he have been embraced by Jazz Nation? I don't think so. How easy is it to lure a veteran to Salt Lake City knowing that the Jazz are going to lose for another season or two? Not very easy and money seems to be the only thing we could offer... more than what would be fair market value for a player of Booker's skills. Luckily, Booker's deal is only for two years. Hopefully by the time the deal is expired we can acquire a veteran to fill the role on the cheaper end as we hope to be an up-and-coming team and be a much more attractive destination. Or perhaps we even keep Booker... just at a cheaper price.
One other note worth making. The last time the Jazz made a notable similar signing to this was bringing back Raja Bell for his second stint. Bell was largely ineffective and griped about his role having played a significant role on some successful Phoenix teams before and felt he should still be playing a large role... even when he proved he didn't have it in him anymore. Booker is young enough that he can still improve and shouldn't fall prey to his body breaking down or claiming that he should have a role similar to what he once had before on his former team. (He got most of his starts this past year due to injuries) Plus, he isn't outspoken like Bell. He shuts up and does his job.
Bottom line: I don't like everything about the deal to bring in Booker (overpaying for him), but on the whole I see what the Jazz brass are doing and I support their efforts here. Booker isn't a random signing. He was singled out for a reason. He has a specific job. And the Jazz are paying him well to do it.