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News » Jazz brass are ready to play ball

Jazz brass are ready to play ball

Jazz brass are ready to play ball
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor compares the week that awaits to getting ready for a baseball outing. Glove is in hand, just in case. Wad of cash is bundled, so there is no missing out on brat and beverage. And the mind is in the mood, prepped for nine glorious innings of sunshine, summer fun and super conversation with fellow fans.

Yet there's a caveat. "You don't know if you're going to be rained out or not," O'Connor said. "If it's rained out, you don't get to play it." For the Jazz , a rainout might amount to this: Starting power forward Carlos Boozer surprisingly opts against opting out of the final season of his current contract, starting center Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver do the same, backup power forward and restricted free agent Paul Millsap agrees to the first offer Utah makes and all that's left are formalities like re-signing Ronnie Price and saying thanks for the memories to Morris Almond, Brevin Knight and perhaps even Jarron Collins. On the other hand, the Jazz could face a few weeks' worth of double-steals, inside-the-park home runs and perhaps even a suicide squeeze or two. "If they (the Jazz's three prospective free agents) play the game, then we're involved, and we'll be prepared," O'Connor said as the Jazz brace themselves for an NBA summer free-agency shopping market that opens at 10 p.m. Tuesday (midnight in the East). "You prepare that everybody leaves," he added, "and then you work backward. Depending on what happens, it will certainly be a challenge." No matter what unfolds, however, it should be nothing nearly as wacky for O'Connor as the offseason of 2003. That would be the one in which, oh, John Stockton retired, Karl Malone left for the Los Angeles Lakers, Sasha Pavlovic and Mo Williams were drafted, Corey Maggette signed an offer sheet that was matched by the Los Angeles Clippers, Keon Clark was acquired from Sacramento for what amounted to a two-game career with the Jazz , Michael Ruffin was signed, Jason Terry signed an offer sheet that was matched by Atlanta, Raja Bell was signed, John Amaechi was traded to Houston for soon-to-be bought out Glen Rice (who never did play a game for Utah) and Andrei Kirilenko's fourth-year contract option was exercised. "When John and Karl left, there was misery involved that summer," O'Connor said. "Because for the four years I had been up here up until that point, you walked out on the court and you went, 'Oh, okay. There's John. There's Karl. I feel okay.' And, all of a sudden, 12 and 32 aren't out there. "(Late owner) Larry (H. Miller) had purposefully said he wouldn't trade either one of them, and wanted them to leave as Jazz ," the Jazz GM added. "So that really became an issue, because we were in a situation where we had no replacements." With a Tuesday deadline looming for decisions by Boozer, Okur and Korver, O'Connor has no idea if he'll have to seek replacements for one, two or perhaps even all three. Boozer, many suspect, might opt out and test his value in the open market ? where perhaps Detroit will make an offer better than the $12.66 million he is due next season. Okur and the Jazz have been negotiating a contract extension, but his agent threatened that if an agreement can't be reached, he'd likely opt out rather than return at $9 million next season. And it remains to be seen whether Korver will test the market or play out his deal at $5.16 million. "There's so many options," O'Connor said. "There's signing your own players. There's signing other people's players. There are sign-and-trades. There's trade exceptions. There's everything. So ... it will be complicated." The real work will begin only after Boozer, Okur and Korver make their plans known. "Are we prepared to work from there?" O'Connor asked. "Absolutely. "The graphs, the charts, the statistical analysis, the everything you can go through ? we've done that, and done it more than once. And it's been a good exercise for us, because we sat down with (family ownership rep) Greg (Miller) and went over everything." O'Connor called each case an "individual situation," and suggested there is no particular pecking order ? though Millsap is expected to get a quick offer, and Okur could be off the market before he even gets a chance to go in it. "It's gonna be on-the-go," he said. "I'm prepared," the Jazz GM added. "But the clock hasn't hit midnight." And, at least for now, there is no rain. E-MAIL:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 30, 2009


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