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Utah Jazz notebook: Battle for starting forward spot news to Boozer

Published: Monday, Sept. 28 2009 12:09 a.m. MDT

When training camp opened Saturday, coach Jerry Sloan made it known he had not yet decided if incumbent Carlos Boozer or backup Paul Millsap

will start the 2009-10 NBA season at power forward for the Jazz.

It was news to Boozer.

"I feel like I'm the starter," the two-time NBA All-Star said Sunday, before the Jazz open their second day of two-a-days. "I think I've earned that. That's the only role I've been in my whole career."

Boozer has started each game he's played in four of his five seasons with the Jazz, and started 129 of 156 in during his two years in Cleveland.

"I think it's great to have competition," said Boozer, who during the offseason expressed eagerness to be traded to either Chicago or Miami. "You know, I think Paul is very good. I guess if we are competing, then we're competing for it. But I feel like I am the starter."

Boozer indicated he did not feel the fact he missed 45 games due to injury last season should be held against him in the season to come.

"Obviously me being hurt, that hurt us a little bit. I think if I was healthy we'd have a higher seed (than eighth in the Western Conference) in the playoffs," he said. "But, at the same time, maybe it does (have an impact on his status).

"You know, I can't control having knee surgery. I had to have it. I tried to avoid it, but I had to have it," added Boozer, who first sustained a quadriceps injury and later underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. "So if it affects me from that respect then that's (Sloan's) decision."

But Boozer did suggest he'd be open to yielding some of his minutes to Millsap, who in July signed a four-year, $32 million offer sheet with Portland that was matched by Utah.

"If we're winning, and everybody gets out there and has a chance to help us win, I'm happy with that," said Boozer, who averaged 32.3 minutes last season and 34.5 in 2007-08.

"I mean, if we win that's all that matters. Not to try to make people happy. But to win basketball games. So if we focus on that, and I have to take two less minutes a game, or whatever the case may be, I think I can make that sacrifice for the betterment of the group."

HOME SWEET HOME: Because the Jazz are playing two exhibition games in Europe next week, with one in London and the other in Madrid, they opted to forego their usual trip to Boise for training camp and instead are holding two-a-days at their Salt Lake City practice facility.

"It's a lot easier on our trainers," Sloan said Sunday. "They don't have to carry busloads of stuff."

MISC.: According to the Oregonian, forward Ime Udoka and former Jazz big man Jarron Collins "appear to be the frontrunners in the battle for" Portland's final roster spot. Neither has a guaranteed contract . . . Jazz free-agent hopeful Paul Harris (sprained ankle) sat out training camp sessions for a second straight day Sunday ... According to Yahoo.com, Raja Bell of the Charlotte Bobcats "continues to be shopped around the league" and there is "no doubt he'd love to get back to a contender."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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