Utah Jazz: Boozer says contract status is up to Jazz

Published: Tuesday, June 9 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Carlos Boozer

Keith Johnson, Deseret News

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Carlos Boozer suggested on a national cable television show Monday that he still hasn't decided if he'll opt out of the final season of his contract with the Jazz – a statement quite contrary to what he told an ESPN.com reporter back in December.

The two-time NBA All-Star power forward and two-time U.S. Olympian also suggested to interviewer Jim Rome of ESPN's "Jim Rome is Burning" sports talk show that his decision largely will hinge on the Jazz's plans for him.

Boozer has until the end of this month to decide if he'll play out the last year of his current deal in Utah at $12,657,233. or if he'll enter the NBA summer shopping market as an unrestricted free agent.

"I want to make the best decision we can, obviously," Boozer, on set in Los Angeles, said to Rome. "Do my homework, do my due diligence and on June 30th I'll decide either to opt in or opt out."

Boozer previously indicated he was unequivocally planning to opt out.

Asked Monday on TV if he likes it in Salt Lake City and if that's where he wants to be, Boozer reiterated much of what he said at the Jazz's locker cleanout session the day after a first-round playoff series loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Yeah," he said. "I mean, obviously, I put the ball in their court. You know, I told them I wanted to be there – and we'll see how they respond, and how they approach me."

Other responses by Boozer, who's already been paid more than $55 million over five seasons by the Jazz, to questions from Rome:

On if it's possible he'll opt out, then re-sign and extend with the Jazz anyway: "Definitely possible. But again, like I said, that's up to them. You know, I think I let everybody know that I wanted to be there – and, at the same time, for me, let's see how they approach me, and then do what's best for me and my family."

On if he thinks the Jazz will offer what he thinks he's worth: "Well, we'll see. I mean, obviously, you know, my agent (Rob Pelinka) has been talking to their GM (general manager Kevin O'Connor), and we'll see what happens. But obviously there's teams out there that are very interested as well, and hopefully they can come to a decision and we'll go from there."

On what his decision will come down to: "Being happy. Just want to be happy. I want to win a championship, and at the same time I want to enjoy it. And this is a good opportunity, in such an insecure economy, to secure myself financially doing something I love to do. I'm very appreciate of that, and to have a chance to do it is very advantageous (for) me. But, at the same time, I want to be happy and enjoy what I do."

On if he could ever see they Jazz winning an NBA title without future basketball hall-of-famers John Stockton and Karl Malone, as they couldn't do it with them: "I think we have a chance to, if they keep everybody around. I think I'm a huge piece of that puzzle. I think (point guard) Deron Williams is a stud basketball player. I think we have great pieces around us that give us an opportunity to win every game we play in. And if that was to so happen, I think we'd have a chance, yeah."

The interview was Boozer's first, nationally or locally, since locker cleanout on April 28.

O'Connor was returning Monday from a scouting trip to Italy and could not be reached for comment.

New Jersey point guard Devin Harris, meanwhile, recently made a case that Boozer should join the Nets. Responding during a interview late last week with New York radio station WFAN 66-AM to a recent New York Post report that Boozer has told confidants he'll play for either Detroit or New Jersey next season, Harris said this: "I definitely hope he picks New Jersey. I think he fits in well with in us. He's, you know, a 4 man, obviously, that can complement (big man) Brook (Lopez) real well. He can run the screen-and-roll. He's a rebounder that we need, and he can also space the floor as well."

There's a catch, however.

Unless Boozer plans to sign for nothing more than mid-level salary-exception money – a multi-year deal starting with an annual salary in the mid-to-high $5 million range – he'd have to get Utah to agree to a sign-and-trade in order to land with the Nets.

And agreeing to mid-level money seems decidedly unlikely, as Boozer already has said publicly – first during his December interview with ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan – that he fully expects a pay raise starting next season.

Detroit, on the other hand, has enough team payroll salary cap space to sign Boozer without having to go the sign-and-trade route.

Still, Harris is hopeful.

"I've kind of played with Boozer a couple of times over the summer, so I know what he's capable of doing," the Nets point told WFAN.

"Obviously, going, playing, against him, he's a talented player – but I think he fits right to what we do."

On a related note, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported over the weekend that Boozer now lives at least part-time in New Jersey.

One Web site, Nets.com, also reported Boozer was seen in New Jersey with his agent back in early May.

According to the Star-Ledger: "He's obviously comfortable in Jersey – he has a home here, if only to be close to the health care specialists that his son requires."

Boozer's young son, Carmani, has endured a well-chronicled battle with sickle cell anemia that included bone marrow transplant surgery.

E-MAIL: tbuckley@desnews.com

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