EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Amid news he will have a second MRI today on his injured left knee, which has caused him to miss 15 straight games, All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer told a national Internet site reporter he absolutely plans to opt out of his contract next offseason.
"Carlos has never told us he definitely plans on opting out," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said in reacting to the declaration late Wednesday night. "Is it something that you would think he would do? From a professional standpoint, you could look at it and say why at his age (27), his position, where he's going to and what he's done it makes sense to say 'I'd like a longer-term contract' rather than just waiting another year.
"What's the difference in becoming an unrestricted free agent a year from now, or an unrestricted free agent now?"
Boozer, slated for now to make $12.66 million next season, has the right to opt out of the sixth and final year of his $68 million deal this offseason.
O'Connor said Boozer's representatives have never informed him of opt-out plans, and he called the timing of Boozer's proclamation "a little peculiar."
Said Boozer to an ESPN.com reporter following the Jazz's comeback win at New Jersey: "I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless. I am going to opt out, I don't see why I wouldn't. I think it's a very good business decision for me and my family, but I'd also like to see what happens with the Jazz and stay here."
O'Connor also said the decision will not impact how the Jazz proceed from here forward.
"We told Carlos he's an important piece of the organization, and he's one of the guys we would like to continue to build the foundation around," the Jazz GM said. "And he's told us that he wants to stay."
Also Wednesday, O'Connor told ESPN.com that the Jazz regardless of Boozer's situation plan to re-sign backup power forward Paul Millsap.
"We intend to keep Paul Millsap," he said. "I don't know how much more succinct I can be."
As for Boozer's knee, which he injured Nov. 19, Boozer said, "It was great (Tuesday). I went through a full practice, felt really good. Not really good to the point where I felt strong enough to play, but it was a good step in the right direction."
Boozer has both a strained quadriceps tendon, and a bruised kneecap.
(The Jazz, incidentally, said Boozer went through "the majority of practice" Tuesday, but not all).
"It's a little sore (Wednesday), which is to be expected, and we'll go from there," Boozer added. "I'm going to get an MRI (today) to see how much healing has happened and we'll go from there."
Asked if the MRI plans are because something is wrong, Boozer responded, "Not necessarily wrong. I want to see what's going on, because it's a little sore and I was hoping it would be done being sore by now. But I just want to see what's going on with it."
And as for how much longer Boozer plans to be out, he said, "We'll see what the MRI says, but if it's not healing like I'd like it to, I will be out for a little longer than I expected."140 comments on this story
Wednesday, he added, "was a tough day because I didn't expect it to be sore like it was ... When I started to run and cut and what have you, I was hoping it would be healed by now. Any time I'm out, I hate it because my teammates need me out there. I want to get back for them. But sometimes it's in God's hands."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan on Wednesday indicated he had no idea when Boozer would return.
Asked if he looked close to being ready to return when he practiced Tuesday in Boston, Sloan indicated otherwise.
"Nah," he said before Wednesday's game. "You know, he's not going to play until he's ready. They'll come and tell me, I guess. I try not to get involved in that."I've told you that a couple times," Sloan added, "so I don't know what else to tell you other than, 'When he's ready he's ready, and we'll go whenever he's ready.'"