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."
On the Jazz's hopes that Boozer — injury-plagued for much of his first five seasons with the team — will feel obliged to produce this season so he can secure a new lucrative contract elsewhere next season: "I don't even worry about that. You know, I'm a great ballplayer when I'm able to be on the court. And, for me, I've got to prove everything on the court. You know, confidence is one thing. And doing it is something else. So, I'm looking forward to doing it a lot and I'm looking forward to our team doing it a lot."
On the start of a sixth training camp in Utah: "I'm happy to be here, happy to be back. Looking forward to getting started (today), looking forward to talking to you guys (media members) right now."
On not getting dealt: "I thought I was gonna be traded. But I'm here. You know, I'm happy to be here. You know, coach (Sloan) wants me to be here. My teammates want me to be here. Management brought me back, and I'm happy to be here in a Jazz uniform and not going somewhere else. I'm looking forward to getting started and talking to you guys all year."
On if he wishes now he had been traded: "No. I'm happy to be here. I've said that to you guys from Day 1. I want to be in Utah. ... I'm looking forward to the future, and we'll see what happens. I mean, not every relationship works out. But, at the same time, not everybody gets what they want either. I want to be here, and if they want me here I will be."
On why he thought he'd be moved: "Just ... knowing that I wasn't part of the future plans. You know, I got that message from management."
(Boozer was not offered a contract extension after last season ended, but teammate Mehmet Okur got an extension and Ronnie Price got a new deal.)
On if — in the last of a six-year, $68 million deal — he considers this a lame-duck season: "Oh no. I'm looking forward to playing. I'm excited. Hopefully we can build something and move on to the future. But that's yet to be seen. You know, we have to play out the course of the season. I think it's going to be interesting on the court, period. All this talk? Talk is cheap. ... Everything is on the basketball court, as you guys well know, and I'm looking forward to doing it on the court."
On a Friday-morning meeting with Sloan, and the issue of defense: "I told him I'm gonna lay it out there for him ... like I always do, bust my tail in practice, work hard with my teammates, make a commitment to being a better defensive player, which will help our team win. From one through 15. You know, I've got to be better defensively. Our teammates have to do, we all have to do, a better job of playing team defense and helping each other out. If we make a commitment on the defensive end — myself included, and everybody else as well — we'll be a lot better team than we were in the previous years. I'm committed. I told coach I'm committed to being here. I told my teammates the same thing. ... He just said, 'I'm happy to have you back.' I told him, 'I'm happy to be back.' I told him I can't wait to play for him again."
On if he feels fences must be mended with teammates, some of whom privately were livid with how Boozer handled the offseason: "Not at all. They know it's a business. They know what happens. We're not wet behind the ears. I talked to everybody, said, 'What's up? Happy to see everybody.' "13 comments on this story
On if he feels he has something to prove to Jazz fans: "Of course. I mean, I feel like I have a lot to prove — not only to the fans, but to everybody, to myself, to teammates, to the coaches, to the fans, to whoever."
On if reports that Miller promised Boozer he'd be traded were true: "What happened between me and Greg Miller will be staying between me and Greg Miller. That's over and done with. We're moving forward."
On finally ending the mass interview: "Cool? See you guys tomorrow. I love you."