Utah Jazz: Boozer responds

Jazzman clarifies remarks about his opting out

Published: Friday, Dec. 19 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — He didn't practice and instead underwent — as expected — a second MRI exam on the damaged left knee that has kept him out 15 consecutive games.

And on a different damage-control front Thursday, Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer said he wanted to "clarify" comments regarding contract opt-out plans in the coming offseason that were made to a national reporter one night earlier in New Jersey.

Said Boozer on Wednesday, according to ESPN.com: "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."

After undergoing his medical test, results of which were not immediately made known by the Jazz, the two-time All-Star elaborated for two local reporters.

"What I was trying to say to him was, 'Obviously in my business, like in most people's businesses, you get a chance every now and then to sign a long-term contract and have stability,"' Boozer said. "So the smart thing for me as an individual, obviously, would be to opt out."

But, he added, "All I really said — and it's the same thing I'm telling you guys now — is that this summer I'll look at the situation. I'll make a decision then. Honestly, I have my opportunity to opt out and have a long-term deal as opposed to a one-year deal,

and it's something I think will be advantageous for any athlete."

Boozer is in the fifth year of a six-year, $68 million contract that pays $12.66 million this season. He has the right to opt out of the final year and, on July 1, become an unrestricted free agent.

But Thursday — shortly after teammates practiced for tonight's visit with Detroit, their third stop in a five-game trip that included Wednesday's 22-point rally in New Jersey — he went to great lengths to suggest he wants to remain with the Jazz.

In doing so, however, Boozer also left wiggle room for leaving.

"Obviously I want to stay here with the team. I wasn't trying to say I was gonna leave or anything like that. Obviously I'll look at my options," said Boozer, who for quite some time has had a supposed likely suitor in the very city he spends his summers, Miami.

"But the smart thing for me is to opt out, and instead of having a one-year deal possibly having a six-year deal," he added. "That makes sense from a business standpoint."

Boozer addressed several other specific questions Thursday, including:

• If he feared detractors will question his commitment to the Jazz this season:

"They shouldn't. They shouldn't. I'm a Jazzman," he said. "Obviously I'm an integral part in getting this team to the level where we are, and hopefully getting us to a championship level.

"Obviously ... I can opt out this summer and sign a six-year deal and stay with my team, which would be a beautiful thing, especially if we're able to keep the pieces around us to have a chance to win a championship. So, it has nothing to do with me wanting to leave Utah. It has to do with stability."

• If he already has told Jazz management and ownership he wants to remain in Utah:

"Absolutely," he said. "We've had great conversations, and that's exactly what we think.

"We haven't talked a great deal — but the conversation that we have had has been about me staying and them wanting me to stay here."

• If he has become a distraction to the team:

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