If it comes to it, and there's a slight chance it may, the Jazz are prepared to start next season with their core lineup intact.
That's because starting power forward Carlos Boozer has an opt-out clause for the final season of his current contract, while starting center Mehmet Okur and backup shooting guard Kyle Korver have early termination options.
Decisions from all three are due by Tuesday, when at 10 p.m. the NBA's summer free-agency negotiating period officially opens.
"I think they're good players, and we'd want to keep them if they wanted to stay," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said late last week. "But it would be for the year, obviously — and that would be their option to stay."
After then, it could all be blown up.
"They're younger. They're not older. They're kind of in their prime," O'Connor said of his three top prospective unrestricted free agents, each part of an injury-plagued team that went 48-34 last season but bowed out of the playoffs with an early first-round loss to the eventual NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, Boozer, 27, played just 37 games last season. Okur, 30, missed Utah's first three playoff games with a bad hamstring, and he wasn't right for the last two. And Korver, 27, was bothered all season by a sore shooting wrist that had to be surgically repaired after the postseason.
"So, we'd like to see what we could have done healthy. And we'd like to still see what we could do healthy," O'Connor said. "But every team changes every year. And we expect that to happen every year."
Certainly, then, at least some minor alterations will be made.
Backup point guard and unrestricted free agent Brevin Knight evidently won't be back, replaced on the roster by Thursday's first-round draft pick, Eric Maynor of Virginia Commonwealth University.
End-of-the-bench shooting guard Morris Almond, also an unrestricted free agent, won't return either.
And it's possible that reserve big man Jarron Collins' eight-year Utah run is done, as he's unrestricted, too. His roster spot could be claimed by second-round pick Goran Suton, if the former Michigan State center makes the team.
But if Boozer reverses course and decides against opting out of the final year of his current contract, Okur signs the contract extension that the two sides have been negotiating for some time now and backup shooting guard Kyle Korver returns as well, the Jazz could look suspiciously like they did in 2009-10.
And that, O'Connor suggests, is not necessarily a bad thing.
But it's probably not a long-term thing, either — especially if the read was right when the Jazz GM seemed to tip his hand with this comment last Friday: "If he (Boozer) decides to opt in," O'Connor said, "it's only for one year."
Adding further insight to the Jazz's apparent organizational plans, O'Connor said this when asked what frame of mind a re-signed restricted free agent power forward Paul Millsap might be in should Boozer not exit: "Whatever state he is, it would only be for a year, so that would be something he'd have to look at, too."
O'Connor made a quick recovery, hastening to add, "I'm not saying we wouldn't re-sign Carlos (Boozer). It's just that that present contract, that present situation, is for one year."
Still, it seemed, the point indeed had been made.
Status quo for one more season? Perhaps, especially if Boozer doesn't opt out.
But beyond that?
"I think you'd like to see (everyone back), if that's what they chose," O'Connor said. "But my 'ideal situation' will depend on after Tuesday. Then it becomes a different idea, whatever it is."
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