SALT LAKE CITY — Carlos Boozer and the power forward's injury were hot topics Monday at Utah Jazz practice.
It's not the first time that's happened, of course.
But while some took potshots and made one-liners about Boozer's latest injury, his former team took a more compassionate approach in responding to the news that the new Chicago Bulls' player broke his hand over the weekend and will miss eight weeks.
"It was unfortunate, you know," Boozer's former Jazz and U.S. Olympic teammate Deron Williams said. "Wish him the best and hopefully he can get back soon."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was also sympathetic.
"I was very disappointed. I felt very bad for him," Sloan said. "He's had some unfortunate things happen."
Boozer said the mishap happened while tripping over a bag at home on the Bulls' day off Saturday. Paul Millsap referred to it as a "tough situation."
Millsap doesn't believe his old position partner is jinxed, per se.
Even so, Boozer has endured his share of physical setbacks and struggles, having missed 138 of 492 games (28 percent) during his six Jazz seasons. Boozer's injuries have included strains to an oblique muscle, foot and hamstrings.
"Some things happen to certain people because they can handle it," Millsap said. "You know, he's been a guy who can handle situations like that and come back from it strong."
Raja Bell described the injury as "unfortunate" — for Boozer and the Bulls — because he knew how pumped up his 2004-05 Jazz teammate was for the season, having worked out occasionally with Boozer in Miami this summer.
"I know he was kind of chomping at the bit to get there and show what he could do and see what the Bulls could do," Bell said. "I wish him a speedy recovery."
Sloan, an ardent Boozer defender in seasons' past, took critics to task for ongoing snide remarks.
"I've always had a difficult time trying to figure out why people think it's bad on his part," Sloan said. "We look for something wrong with him because he was here or he missed games. ...
"I never appreciated that," the coach added. "But that's the way that it is — if you get banged up, you get hurt when you make a lot of money people expect you to play when you're not able to. So I think that (attitude) happened here a little bit, made it tough."
GETTING DEFENSIVE: With camp over and the preseason opener Thursday, Sloan said the Jazz will concentrate on transition and help defense while also introducing counters from the offensive playbook.
"Effort" is key to defending in transition, Sloan said. And players must work to "gain confidence in each other enough to not be afraid" on help defense.
Sloan also gave insight into his defensive philosophy: "Effort — that's about the biggest thing. That's what defense is all about. Anybody can defend. Technique-wise, I think anybody can defend. If you've got the heart and the desire to do it, they'll do it. If you don't, it's tough to get any better."
WRONG WORD: Sloan hasn't named a starting five, and he's in no rush to do so. Asked if he'll "toy" with lineups this preseason, the coach also made it clear that word is not in his vernacular.
"Toy? This is a job. I don't toy. I don't believe in the word toy," Sloan said. "You've got to work to try to make yourself better at whatever we do, try to see where some of these young guys are going to be able to play and where they're going to be in what we try to do."14 comments on this story
Wisely, the reporter did not use the word "tinker" or "toy" in a follow-up question.
AUTO-GRAPH SESSIONS: Jazz players and coaches will be placed at 13 different Larry H. Miller automotive dealerships along the Wasatch Front to meet-and-greet fans Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. Attendees will receive a Jazz photo and are allowed to take pictures and get one autograph. For a list of participating dealerships, visit the Jazz blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog/18/Utah-Jazz-NBA.html.
Contributing: Tim Buckley