So the Jazz's top scorer and rebounder is opting out of his contract in order to become a free agent next summer.

This has to rank with "chocolate is popular" on the surprise-o-meter.

After all, this is Carlos Boozer, the Pick-and-Chooser.

Nothing personal, just business.

The Jazz's All-Star forward dropped the news Wednesday, the way he usually does: without prior warning and contrary to what he previously said. He shared his plan with an ESPN.com reporter following the Jazz's comeback win over New Jersey.

The Jazz had just executed the second-biggest comeback in team history when, for some reason, Boozer decided this would be good timing. He said he plans to forgo the final year of his contract and shop himself on the market.

Predictably, Jazz management was caught off guard. Boozer never tips his hand. The team had been going by what he said before the season began — that he wouldn't be discussing free agency until next summer. He would deal with things in the appropriate time and place.

Who knew that would be at the IZOD Center in the dead of winter, while he was sidelined with an injury?

The plan, he said, is to see what's out there. One thing seems highly probable: It's outside Utah.

The Jazz signed him as a free agent in the summer of 2004 to a six-year deal, the final year being Boozer's option. He previously played in Cleveland, where he spoke of building a contender along with LeBron James.

When the Cavaliers failed to exercise the option year on Boozer's contract, expecting he would re-sign with them, he instead signed with the Jazz.

That's where things got murky. Boozer said there had been no understanding with the Cavs, implied or otherwise. In that case, why would Cleveland risk letting him escape as a free agent, for no compensation? Conversely, if the parties had agreed to anything before the July 1 free agent date, rules were violated.

The Cavs ended up looking foolish and Boozer ended up in Utah.

Which brings us to this week's drama.

Boozer has always been enigmatic. He can be polite yet aloof, never really warming to media or fans. He is a master of the nine-mile stare. He couldn't appear more disinterested if he were assembling cheeseburgers at Wendy's.

At the same time, he has never been called a divisive influence in the locker room. Jerry Sloan has never sent him to the showers for arguing.

And boy, is the man consistent.

You can always count on two things from Boozer: a double-double and dreadful defense.

Then there are the injuries. He missed 80 games in his first two years in Utah. This year he has missed 15 already.

He's automatic once he gets on the floor. The problem is getting and keeping him there.

As for his feelings on Salt Lake, Boozer has always been vague. He speaks in generalities about playing for a good, young team, hoping to get a championship, etc. Same as he did in Cleveland. Yet rumors persist neither he nor his wife likes Utah. Fair enough. It's not Miami, where he owns a home. Or L.A., where he rented one.

Maybe he just can't tolerate cold-weather climates — except that he's from Alaska.

He said Wednesday he'd like to re-sign with the Jazz. But history has shown what he says and what he does aren't always the same.

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This week's news should come as no surprise. There's an old saying about second marriages borne of infidelity: If you cheat on your spouse, you cheat on your spouse. Boozer hasn't cheated the Jazz, but he's likely to leave abruptly and unemotionally, same way he left Cleveland. Jazz fans shouldn't be upset or hurt. He got here by being unsentimental and looking for his best offer. He'll leave the same way.

You can't blame a guy for being himself.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com