O'Connor denies Jazz are talking trade with Lakers

Published: Monday, Feb. 21 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

DENVER — The Jazz on Sunday denied there is substance to a suggestion they may be involved in trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers regarding power forward Carlos Boozer.

According to a Saturday-night Internet posting on InsideHoops.com, "there are rumors coming from Fox Sports radio in Los Angeles that the Lakers may be moving Lamar Odom soon, possibly to Utah for Carlos Boozer. Other players would be involved."

"Absolutely ludicrous," said Jazz basketball operations senior vice president Kevin O'Connor, who was in Denver for Sunday night's NBA All-Star Game.

The Jazz do not deny that they'd listen to overtures regarding anyone on their roster, but O'Connor said he has not spoken to the Lakers regarding Boozer.

"We haven't been shopping Carlos around at all," Jazz owner Larry H. Miller told KSL-TV, Ch. 5's Rod Zundel. "In fact, I have to tell you right now, as honestly as I can, that I have a hard time imagining circumstances that would have us trading Carlos."

The Lakers on Sunday denied they have offered Odom to Utah.

Speculation abounded Sunday in Denver, however, about the possibility of a multi-player deal involving Boozer, Odom, Jazz forward Matt Harpring, Lakers forward Caron Butler and one other Laker player.

The Internet web site followed its Saturday posting with another Sunday afternoon: "InsideHoops.com hears that the Utah Jazz are definitely listening to trade offers for Carlos Boozer. We don't know to what extent he is or isn't being shopped, though. ... The (Laker) talks appear to involve Lamar Odom and Caron Butler. Also, word is going around that Sacramento is listening to offers for Peja Stojakovic."

With the NBA's Thursday deadline for dealing looming, multiple similar trade-talk rumors regarding the Jazz's scoring leader made the rounds in Denver — nothing, though, with certain substance.

On Sunday, the Houston Chronicle reported a variation of the supposed trade talk: "The best rumors of (All-Star) weekend involved the Lakers. One scenario had Lamar Odom going from the Lakers to Sacramento for possibly Peja Stojakovic, and the other had Caron Butler and a package of others going to Utah for Carlos Boozer."

Boozer — who left the Cleveland Cavaliers for a six-year, $68-million contract from Utah last summer — also merited mention Sunday in a Cleveland Plain Dealer report.

"There are rumors coming out of Utah," the Plain Dealer reported, "that the Jazz organization is listening to inquiries about trading Carlos Boozer."

Dallas is one team that apparently has spoken with the Jazz about Boozer, the subject of criticism earlier this month from Jazz owner Larry H. Miller.

On Sunday, however, O'Connor repeated his stance that the Jazz have no plans to move Boozer — and suggested Miller is more confident in the 23-year-old Duke University product after a recent face-to-face meeting with him.

"Larry did sit down with Carlos, and they had a pretty good conversation," O'Connor said. "A very good conversation.

"Like he (Miller) said, if he had to do it all over again, he would (sign Boozer)," O'Connor added. "I think that's probably what his feelings are."

O'Connor added that the Jazz, as an organization, have by no means given up on Boozer, who Miller recently said "has been terrific some nights, (but) some nights (has) acted like he didn't care that much."

Said O'Connor: "We're 50 games into his (Jazz) career, and I don't think it's fair to judge and evaluate anything on that. We expect him to get better."

Stojakovic's availability, if true, is an intriguing possibility for Utah, as several in the Jazz organization are thought to have high regard for the Kings' sharpshooter. There is no reason, though, to think the Jazz have spoken with Kings front-office boss Geoff Petrie about Stojakovic.

Harpring is said to have multiple teams interested in acquiring him, although Philadelphia — rumored to be among them — apparently is out of the mix.

In fact, O'Connor said Sunday the Jazz are not close to making any sort of deal.

Asked if he thought talks with teams would heat up as the deadline approaches, however, he responded in the affirmative.

"They always do," O'Connor said. "There will be conversations. But I don't know where that (Boozer-Lakers rumor) is coming from."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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