SALT LAKE CITY — If everybody on the Utah Jazz's roster not named Deron Williams is potential trade bait, as a new "Yahoo! Sports" report suggests, that is certainly news to the team's coach.
Jerry Sloan isn't surprised to hear that trade rumors are swirling, especially considering the salary-bloated and struggling Jazz face stiff luxury-tax fees and have lost three rough games in a row.
But Sloan hasn't heard about any impending player-swapping deals from Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor, who was not immediately available for a comment this morning.
"Kevin hasn't come to me and told me we're going to make any trades with anybody," the veteran Jazz coach said at Tuesday morning's practice.
That, however, is not to suggest a trade couldn't or won't happen, even soon.
Some type of transaction has to happen today, in fact, because the 12-deep Jazz must bring their roster up to a league minimum of 13 players today. The club has been undermanned since trading away rookie point guard Eric Maynor and injured Matt Harpring to Oklahoma City for salary relief two weeks ago.
"His job," Sloan said of O'Connor, "is to do what all general managers do — is call and find out if anybody has somebody that will make our team better. Will this player make our team better? That's just part of the business."
According to Yahoo's NBA writer Marc J. Spears and his "multiple league sources," that business could include dealing away anybody and everybody with the exception of Williams.
The Yahoo report specifically mentioned the Jazz's attempts to trade forwards Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko in an effort to get the franchise's payroll below the luxury-tax threshold.
Boozer, in the final year of his contract, has a salary of $12.6 million and thought he was going to be traded in the offseason but has acted content to be in Utah while playing well so far this season.
Kirilenko has the 11th-highest salary in the NBA at $16.4 million, and is set to make nearly $18 million next season.
Sloan, Yahoo reported, wants to keep Boozer for the season, creating a quandary because management wants to steer clear of doling out extra cash in luxury-tax fees, if possible.
The report also claimed that the Jazz might be "asking for too much for Boozer, and that most teams who trade for him would want assurances they have a good chance to re-sign him over the summer."
As for Kirilenko, Spears wrote that, "It's also little secret the Jazz have been trying with no luck to trade forward Andrei Kirilenko and his hefty contract for some time."
This certainly isn't the first time Sloan, who's in his 22nd year as the Jazz's head coach, has heard trade rumors.
"That's what happens when you lose a game or two — rumors come out of the woodwork," said Sloan, whose 18-16 team would not be in the playoffs if the season ended today. "That's the thing that you try to tell players — that's one of the things that happens. I told them that a couple of days ago.
"You lose a couple of games," Sloan added, "and then the next thing you've got to worry about is people start to talk about trades and that's part of this business."
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