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News » Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-07-25

Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-07-25

Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-07-25
The Jazz's decision to match Portland's four-year, $32 million offer sheet to Paul Millsap undoubtedly leaves the former second-round draft pick as their power forward of the future.

What the decision means for Carlos Boozer -- a two-time All-Star during five turbulent seasons in Utah -- as the Jazz's power forward of the present remains to be seen. Having chosen to match the offer to Millsap, the Jazz are expected to explore trade possibilities involving Boozer, who only increased the intensity of the process in a series of interviews over the last two weeks.

Boozer would welcome a trade to either Chicago or Miami, a position he stated in a July 14 interview with the Bulls' flagship radio station in which he talked up the possibility of playing with Dwyane Wade and a July 20 interview with the Miami Herald in which he identified Miami as his top destination.

In both interviews, Boozer also has asserted that he and the Jazz have "mutually agreed" to a trade and insisted that he was told the organization was going in a different direction. The Jazz dispute that account, but the message to Boozer has been consistent all summer.

Back in May, CEO Greg Miller criticized Boozer's defense and leadership in an interview with a local television station, while saying the franchise was committed to doing everything to keep Millsap. The Jazz made few public indications that they welcomed Boozer's decision June 30 to play out the final year of his contract at $12.7 million rather than opting for free agency, a decision that left them as serious luxury-tax payers.

Not even two weeks after the season, the Jazz agreed to a two-year, $20.8 million contract extension with Mehmet Okur, while declining to make a similar commitment to Boozer, who has suffered through three injury-plagued seasons with the Jazz.

And the Jazz made no small investment in Millsap by matching Portland's offer, with Millsap himself saying that he looked forward to taking the next step in his career by becoming a starter. That job has belonged to Boozer since his arrival in Utah.

"I would love to start," Millsap said. "My role for the past couple years has been coming off the bench. I've been playing behind a great player and watching the things he (does) when he gets out there and starts, things he did to prepare himself to start.

"It helped me out a lot. Starting would be a great thing for me. Hopefully, it'll work out to that situation."

The Jazz have questioned why Boozer would opt in only to turn around two weeks later and campaign for a trade. They have maintained that they expect Boozer to honor his contract and that they are prepared to open the season with Boozer on their roster. Such a decision would not come without risk. Boozer's presence could amount to a serious distraction, with the Jazz forced to engage in a he-said, he-said battle about whether Boozer was promised a trade this summer. Boozer also would be reduced to a mercenary, set to become a free agent after this season and concerned primarily with his numbers. In effect, playing for the Jazz would be no different for Boozer than playing for the Clippers.

The Jazz also would be forced to answer an endless stream of questions related to Boozer, while Boozer would be a subject of interest in every city whose team has free-agent money to spend in 2010.

Finally, the Jazz have all the motivation they need to trade Boozer to reduce their luxury-tax bill. The Jazz' payroll after matching Millsap stands at more than $82 million, with another $12 million in luxury-tax penalties.

After carrying a $66 million payroll last season, the Jazz are poised to spend $94 million to bring back 12 players from a team that collapsed down the stretch, finished eighth in the Western Conference and suffered a first-round playoff loss.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: July 25, 2009


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