Utah Jazz: Boozer still keeping options open for next year

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 23 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

MIAMI — Even with Miami a chilly 75 or so on Tuesday — sorry, socked-in Salt Lake City — the place has its appeal.

Beautiful people. Beautiful water. And, yes, beautiful weather.

Palm trees. Sand. And, don't forget, no state income tax.

No wonder Carlos Boozer has long been lobbying to play here, including a radio campaign when he was trying to get traded to the Miami Heat — a team with which he's frequently been linked — over the summer.

It hasn't happened yet, but the possibility of Boozer playing in one of his preferred locales — and the city that the one-time Alaska resident now calls home — will increase exponentially in the offseason.

If, that is, Miami doesn't target and land instead another high-profile big man, with Toronto's Chris Bosh one possibility.

And if, that is as well, Boozer hasn't been traded and signed to a contract extension by another team before then.

As it stands now, though, the Jazz power forward has no reason — "unless y'all know something I don't," he told a couple of reporters Tuesday — to think he'll be moved when the NBA's deadline for dealing rolls around on Feb. 18.

Nor does teammate Deron Williams, whose response when asked if he figured Boozer will be with the Jazz for the rest of the season was short and to the point.

"Yeah," Williams said. "Why would we not? We have no reason to think otherwise."

They had even less later Tuesday, when the Jazz dumped several million dollars in payroll by trading backup point guard Eric Maynor and injury-hampered forward Matt Harpring to Oklahoma City.

For now, then, Boozer plays on as if he will stay in Utah for the duration of his sixth season with the Jazz.

He maintains that he's trying not to ponder the future, but suggests the subject simply can't be avoided when constantly peppered by questions about what awaits.

Including, that is, the possibility of playing for the Heat — the Jazz's opponent tonight at the end of a five-game road trip, and a team that could have upward of $18-plus million in team payroll salary-cap space next offseason.

And, oh yeah, a star guard whom Boozer considers a good friend, Dwyane Wade.

"We'll see when the time comes," Boozer said when asked about the likelihood of having the Heat high on his list when searching for a new team in the summer. "You know, I think that'll take care of itself at that point in the season. They're a good team trying to get better, we're good trying to get better. That's where I think both teams are right now.

"We're getting healthier, we're getting better," added Boozer, who is averaging 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds for the 16-12 Jazz. "If we keep playing the way we're capable of playing, we're able to reach our potential, and hopefully for us that's a championship."

Hard as it may be for some to fathom, Boozer suggested Tuesday he hasn't ruled out the possibility of remaining with the Jazz.

His words of good will, however, came with a caveat.

"They'll talk to me, we'll talk to them and go from there," Boozer said. "You know, I think it'll be one of those situations that should hopefully take care of itself.

"It's hard to know what's going to happen," the two-time NBA All-Star and two-time Team USA medal-winning Olympian added. "I mean, you never know what's going to happen. But, obviously, whatever will happen is going to come forth soon. I mean, we're already 30 games in almost. It's coming up fast, faster than people think."

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