Utah Jazz: Okur's happy in Utah but wants to get paid

Published: Wednesday, May 13 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

He very well could opt out of his Jazz contract, but Mehmet Okur still wants to play in Utah.

Turns out, the Turkish standout might even sacrifice some cash to remain in a place he considers his "second home."

Even if he does, though, it's looking more likely that it will require the Jazz to pay some more — to borrow broadcaster Craig Bolerjack's signature Memo long-ball call — "money!" to keep Okur in a Utah uniform.

That's because, according to a recent post on a Web site dedicated to all things Okur (memo13.com), the 6-foot-11 post player deems himself to be "one of the best 8-10 centers in the league."

However, in an association of inflated salaries, Okur isn't going to be paid like a top-10 NBA center in the final year of his Jazz contract.

If he doesn't take the early-termination option he owns to nullify the last season of his five-year deal — a decision he has to make by June 30 — Okur would make $9 million in Utah for 2009-10.

That might be a big "if."

On the Okur Web site, the center talked about how much he loves the organization and Salt Lake City, even agreeing with those who claim it's "a perfect place to raise a family."

But he also added the significant note that he's learned the "NBA is a business."

Coming off of one of his best seasons in his seven-year career — the playoffs and his strained hamstring notwithstanding — you needn't connect too many dots to realize now might be the best time to strike a new deal while the soon-to-be 30-year-old's iron is hot.

"In the end, some of the decisions made will be business decisions first," Okur said on memo13.com.

On a positive note for the Jazz, though, it apparently won't cost them as much as it will cost other suitors for the future services of the sharp-shooting big man.

"As Mehmet Okur, I am ready to make some sacrifices to stay here," he said on his Web site. "I will not be changing teams if there is a difference of $3-5 million in the total worth of the new contract. I believe my managers and I have let our feelings be known (to) the Jazz management."

Okur added that he hopes whatever happens contract-wise will be "in the best interest of the Jazz and my family."

Though his season ended on a down note with his injury, Okur was the Jazz's second-leading scorer in 2008-09. He averaged 17.0 points, while hitting 44.6 percent of his 3-point shots, and also pulled down 7.7 rebounds an outing.

Okur is one of three current Jazz players who can make themselves unrestricted free agents this offseason, if they don't sign a contract extension with Utah. Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver can also opt out of their respective deals before the free-agency period begins on July 1.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

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