Utah Jazz players react to loss of Carlos Boozer

Published: Wednesday, July 7 2010 11:00 p.m. MDT

MAITLAND, Fla. — When the news broke, Othyus Jeffers was sound asleep, deep into an afternoon nap.

He didn't hear until getting to the gym.

Sundiata Gaines read the report on ESPN's crawl across the bottom of the television screen, while getting treatment in the training room at the Jazz's team hotel here.

"I saw that he got five years, $80 million from Chicago," Gaines said. "I wished him the best of luck."

He, of course, would be two-time NBA power forward Carlos Boozer, who after six seasons in Utah decided on Wednesday to sign as a free agent with the Chicago Bulls.

At the Orlando Pro Summer League here, where the Jazz were playing Indiana on Wednesday night, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan didn't want to comment on the matter. Sloan, who lobbied hard for Boozer to return, instead politely deferred all questions to Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor.

But Gaines and Jeffers, both rookies with the Jazz last season, did share their thoughts.

"It's business," Jeffers said. "I wish him great luck. ... He did a lot for the organization."

"Since I've been here he took me under his wing, and he had to make the best decision for him and his family," Gaines added. "I texted him congratulations, and let him know I look forward to seeing him during the season."

Gaines, for one, expects backup Paul Millsap to ably fill Boozer's sneakers.

"It's the NBA," Jeffers said. "A lot of people step up."

"I think Paul is a tremendous player. Now is the time he can present himself, and now he can get a starting role," Gaines added. "And we've got a lot of young guys, and with Deron Williams at the point, I think we've still got a great shot. We just need a few more bigs, and we'll be fine."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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