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Doug Robinson: Interested in Boozer? Be careful

Published: Wednesday, June 3 2009 2:21 a.m. MDT

I wasn't surprised when I read that Carlos Boozer is reportedly seeking employment with a team other than the Utah Jazz, even though he recently said he prefers to stay with the Jazz, even though before that he said he was definitely going to opt out of his contract.

After all, he's a mercenary player. Just ask the Cavaliers.

But this surprised me: There are teams that are interested in Boozer.

According to published reports identified as rumors — we're talking high journalism here — Boozer is being wooed by the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons. They're not exactly dream teams, are they. Where's Oklahoma City?

Other well-paid veterans at this point in their careers are usually trying to find a winning team; not Boozer. Just show him the money, baby. He wants ca-ching, not a ring.

He might dump the Jazz — who regularly make the playoffs — for the Nets (34-48 last season), the Raptors (33-49) and the Pistons (39-43).

But never mind asking what Boozer is thinking. What are these teams thinking? What is the director of player personnel telling his boss?

I know how we can sign an unreliable, expensive, mercenary power forward who's as brittle as glass — Carlos Boozer. As you know, he's played the last five years for the Utah Jazz — well, actually, he's played only 3.3 years because he missed one-third of the team's games with injuries, ranging from hamstring pulls to hangnails. But that's all ancient history. He's a 20/10 guy — unless he's sitting on the bench in street clothes, and then he's a 0/0 guy.

Here's the exciting part — he's been healthy for weeks. He's managed to navigate the off-season without a single injury. There are some concerns. Sometimes he plays defense as if he's wearing concrete Nikes, but maybe asking him to play defense is like asking Pavarotti to clean up the arena and turn off the lights after a performance.

The Jazz owner, the late Larry Miller, once criticized Boozer for lack of effort, but what do you expect for $70 million?

Yes, he missed 134 games in 5 years, including 45 last season, or an average of 26.4 games per season. But who's counting? He got that out of his system. His hamstrings are due for their 100-mile checkup and should pass with flying colors. Oh, there's one other thing: He wants a raise from his current salary of $12.7 million, the current economic problems notwithstanding. AND, he wants a long-term deal.

What's not to like about this guy?

Only everything.

He should wear an expiration date on his jersey: Best if used by (fill in the date). He's about as reliable as Wall Street, and he's got more baggage than Paris Hilton on holiday.

And now he thinks he deserves a raise and a long-term deal. You can't say this guy doesn't have nerve.

Well, if you were expecting loyalty to the Jazz, you should call the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boozer has been here, done this. Five years ago, he was the property of the Cavaliers, with one year left on his contract. With the option of allowing Boozer to become a restricted free agent after the final season of his contract or keeping him under contract for one more year for just $695,000, they claim to have made a verbal agreement to waive the final year of his contract and sign him for six years and $39 million. But after the Cavs cut him, instead of re-signing with his old team, Boozer fled to the Jazz for a 6-year, $70 million deal. He denies any backroom deal was made, but as the Cavs said at the time, why would they cut him loose when they could have had him for another year and for a bargain price.

"In the final analysis, I decided to trust Carlos and show him the respect he asked for," said Cleveland's owner at the time, Gordon Gund. "He did not show that trust and respect in return."

Now Boozer finds himself in a similar situation with the Jazz, except this time he has the option either to play out the final year of his contract at $12.7 million or sign with another team now.

Buyer beware.

E-MAIL: drob@desnews.com

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