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News » Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-05-29


Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-05-29


Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-05-29
The only thing safe to assume this offseason is that the Jazz won't be bringing back the 13 on their roster, as they did last season. Not with as many as nine players who could become free agents after a first-round loss to the Lakers in the playoffs.

As much as the Jazz can strategize now, their offseason will largely be dictated by whether Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver opt out of their contracts by the June 30 deadline and become free agents.

Even if all three do and sign elsewhere, the Jazz likely would have no more than $6 million to $7 million in cap space, far too little to sign an impact free agent. So they will have to try to bring back as many of the three as possible or explore sign-and-trade possibilities.

Boozer is the most likely to opt out, all but certain to do so even if he still has five weeks left to make his decision official. Boozer wants the security of a long-term contract and could be arguably the headliner of the 2009 free agent class.

He voiced his desire to stay in Utah after the Jazz were eliminated from the playoffs and is believed to have received assurances from Jazz CEO Greg Miller that the team wants to keep him.

Boozer has endured three injury-plagued seasons out of his five with the Jazz but also was a two-time All-Star. If Boozer leaves, the Jazz would miss the one-two punch he brings on the pick-and-roll with Deron Williams.

Okur is more complicated, and his decision likely will be based on how he views the 2010 free agent summer. With the NBA's salary-cap and luxury-tax numbers expected to drop, Okur's prospects might be better on the market this summer than next.

Even if he does opt out, Okur is likely to re-sign with the Jazz and said in an interview on his Web site he would be willing to take less money ($3 million to $5 million over the total deal) to do so. Okur also is a possibility to sign an extension.

Korver suggested in an interview with an Iowa radio station that a number of teams might make attractive destinations as a free agent, but he has enjoyed his last two seasons with the Jazz so much that he was planning to spend much of the offseason in Utah. Korver is due to make $5.2 million next season. Money might be less important to Korver than almost any other player. He donated $1 million to his father's church in Pella, Iowa, and is launching a T-shirt line in the hopes of broadening the work his foundation does.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Jazz were still in search of a season-defining victory when they hosted the Lakers in their final game before the All-Star break. They rode Deron Williams' 31 points and 11 assists and a late three-pointer by Mehmet Okur to a 113-109 victory, doing what Boston and Cleveland had failed to do in the previous week and defend their home court against the Lakers. The Jazz did so with Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko both out injured and went on to beat the Celtics in their second game back from the All-Star break. It was the starting point for the Jazz's 12-game winning streak that solidified their playoff position.

TURNING POINT: The Jazz vaulted back into the Northwest Division lead with a 12-game winning streak in the wake of owner Larry Miller's death. They were poised to complete a successful Eastern Conference trip even after a March 11 loss to Atlanta. But the Jazz blew a seven-point lead in the final minute of regulation -- Andrei Kirilenko started the spiral with a costly charge -- and the Jazz went on to lose 140-129 in triple overtime March 14. They went on to lose the next night in Orlando to complete a 2-3 trip and won only twice more on the road the rest of the season.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 29, 2009

 

 
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