Mike Terry, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Despite all of the talk and rumors since last summer, Carlos Boozer did not get shipped out of Utah by the NBA trade deadline after all.
Miami's last-ditch effort to obtain the power forward didn't materialize, so Boozer will remain with the Jazz for the rest of the season.
The same can't be said, however, for Ronnie Brewer, who had his career re-routed to Memphis after being swapped shortly before the NBA's 1 p.m. trade deadline Thursday. Along with salary relief, the Jazz will receive the Grizzlies' 2011 protected first-round pick in exchange for their starting shooting guard of the past 2-1/2 years.
Utah now has two weeks to pick up a 13th player to fill the NBA's roster requirement.
After leaving the Jazz's charter plane in New Orleans to take a commercial flight to Memphis, Brewer said he "enjoyed the time in Utah . . . but I've got to move on."
The athletic Arkansas product has been a regular contributor with the Jazz since he was drafted 14th overall by Utah in the first round in 2006.
Though the organization remains over the luxury-tax threshold and face huge fees, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor insists this move was not a salary-dumping transaction. Rather, he said it will give Utah's myriad wing players more playing opportunities while helping Utah acquire a "future asset."
"It didn't play it at all. It really didn't," O'Connor said of the payroll relief. "I mean, did we save money? Yes. Are we cognizant of that? Absolutely."
Asked if he believed dumping salary was the Jazz's primary motivation, Brewer's Chicago-based agent, Henry Thomas, said: "That's a question I can't answer."
It's one that can't be ignored, either.
The move didn't get the Jazz below the luxury-tax penalty threshold. Depending on how much the franchise pays its free-agent pick-up or D-League call-up, Utah will still be at least $2-plus million above the $69.7 million luxury-tax line.
The Jazz's pre-Brewer-trade salary was about $75 million — significantly lower than it was before the salary-ditching deal that sent Matt Harpring and Eric Maynor to Oklahoma City in December.
But the Jazz will save about $3.6 million on the remainder of Brewer's contract and impending luxury-tax fees. That will be offset a bit by the 13th player, both by the actual pro-rated salary and by the per-dollar luxury-tax hit. The Jazz didn't have to take any salary back in the deal because Memphis is under the NBA's team payroll salary cap.
Brewer, whose 2009-10 salary is about $2.7 million, became more expendable this year because of the Jazz's depth at wing. Now, O'Connor added, the remaining wings — such as Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles, Kyle Korver and rookie Wesley Matthews — will get more playing time.
"The biggest thing we felt was that we had a lot of players very similar," O'Connor said. "Each of them did a lot of things well."
Korver might benefit the most. He has only averaged 12 minutes this season as he's nursed his surgically repaired knee back to full strength. Brewer was averaging 31.4 minutes, while Miles played 19.5 minutes a game. Kirilenko's role has increased since he rejoined the starting lineup last month, and he's now logging 29.9 minutes an outing.
Rumors regarding a possible Brewer trade surfaced a month ago out of Memphis.
"It finally happened," said Brewer.
"As a basketball player," he added, "you know it's a part of the business."
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