Utah Jazz: Boozer happy to be in camp, Jazz happy to have him
Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Playing basketball isn't the only thing that makes Carlos Boozer smile.
It isn't the only thing that makes him sweat, either.
After a controversial offseason, the Jazz power forward faced the Utah media this afternoon for the first time since he caused a minor uproar after opening talking about being traded — preferably to Miami or Chicago — earlier this summer.
Though he still claims Jazz management told him he was not in the franchise's future plans and he thought he was headed elsewhere — something general manager Kevin O'Connor declined to comment on today — Boozer put a grin on his face while talking about returning for a sixth season in Utah.
"It's great to have everybody back. I'm happy to be here, happy to be back," Boozer said to a massive swarm of media types as the Jazz met for the first day of training camp. "Looking forward to getting started tomorrow, looking forward to talking to you guys right now."
Boozer smiled after saying that, too. But the smiles turned to stern looks on occasion as he was peppered with question after question about his offseason comments about wanting to play with Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade and moving on from the Jazz.
He even admitted that he probably stuck his foot in his mouth at times.
Boozer said he only talked about Miami and Chicago because he was asked if he would want to go there if he were indeed traded.
"If I get traded then I don't have a choice but to go so I said, 'If I get traded yeah I'll go,'" Boozer explained. "Nonetheless, I'm here. I'm back in Utah. We're excited to be here, ready to move forward, get on the court with my teammates and see how good we can be this year."
Boozer received nothing but support from his coach and teammates today.
"From my standpoint, I think he can help us win," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said about Boozer. "Just like I thought Karl Malone could help us win when he was here."
Having Boozer here will create some problems for Sloan, seeing as the Jazz invested in Paul Millsap for another four years this offseason. Millsap, of course, thrived while filling in for an injured Boozer last season and showed he can be a legitimate starting power forward.
"I'm not going to play either one of them," Sloan joked. "That way I won't have that headache."
Millsap seemed to welcome having Boozer back even though the two will compete for minutes.
"Boozer's here, I'm here. Now we're going to go out and play basketball together," Millsap said. "That just gives us a better chance of winning. That's how I see it."
Deron Williams said he wasn't offended that Boozer talked about wanting to play with Rose or Wade, saying that he'd want to play with them, too. Williams also joked that he and LeBron James are headed to New York in 2013.
Asked if things feel weird at all to have Boozer back, Williams said he didn't see it that way.
"It's not that awkward yet," he said.
And his message to Boozer?
"Let's play ball."
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