Keith Johnson, Deseret News
While navigating the local television circuit after last season ended, Greg Miller expressed disappointment in Carlos Boozer's leadership and defense.
On Friday, at media day in advance of today's opening of training camp and the Jazz's upcoming 2009-10 season, the two-time NBA All-Star power forward took the lead in addressing questions about a disruptive summer in which he openly embraced a trade to either Chicago or Miami.
In a 10-minute question-and-answer session with reporters, he tried to optimistically look forward — but was mostly unapologetic looking back.
Sometimes he sounded oblivious, other times decidedly disingenuous.
And on occasion — perhaps heeding Jazz ownership head Miller's advice — Boozer even got downright defensive.
"I am surprised," he said. "I didn't know I was gonna be here throughout the course of the summer, but I'm excited to be here. I'm looking forward with my team. I'm looking forward to playing in front of our fans, and I'm looking forward to playing for coach (Jerry) Sloan.
"I don't think it's awkward," added Boozer, whose trade desires came only after he opted in for the final season and $12.66 million on his current contract with the Jazz. "You know, we have our coaching staff that takes care of all the awkwardness. I just go out there and play basketball, and try to get as many wins as we can."
The Jazz did spend much of the offseason trying to trade Boozer, including widely reported talks of a three-team deal that might have delivered Chicago power forward Tyrus Thomas to Utah.
Other clubs rejected some proposals, including multiple ones that would have brought forward David Lee from New York. And some were nixed by the Jazz, who refused multiple scenarios not to their liking.
"They were trying to figure out what was best for the organization," Boozer said. "And they (did) what they had to do. And I understand the business. And they brought me back. So I'm here. I'm happy to be back."
Boozer, though, did concede some regrettable things were said over the summer, specifically about wanting to play elsewhere: "Sometimes you put your foot in your mouth. And I definitely had a fair share of putting my foot in my mouth a few times."
More of what he had to say:
On expressing — with much more exuberance and specificity than he was willing to acknowledge Friday — a desire to play for the Bulls while on the radio in Chicago and for the Heat while on the radio in Miami: "Let me address that right now. I was doing an interview for my basketball camp in Alaska. I got asked a question: If I got traded here, if I got traded there, would you want to go? If I get traded, I don't have a choice but to go. So I said, 'If I get traded, yeah I'll go.' Nonetheless, I'm here. I'm back in Utah. I'm excited to be here. I'm ready to move forward, get back on the floor with my teammates and see how good we can be this year."
On if he wishes he had clarified his comments before Friday (Boozer went all summer without talking to Utah media, despite numerous requests): "No. I mean, I didn't feel like I had to.
You know, for me, like, I knew was I gonna talk to you guys soon enough. I had a lot of stuff going on this summer. I traveled a little bit. Me and my (previously separated) wife and family are back together, happy as ever, and now I get a chance to play basketball."
On how he'll handle questions throughout this coming season about where he wants to play starting in 2010-11: "We'll deal with it if comes up."
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