Utah Jazz: Millsap, not Boozer, may be Detroit's free-agent target

Published: Sunday, June 7 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Starting power forward Carlos Boozer has until the end of the month to let the Jazz know whether or not he'll opt of the final year of his current contract.

His backup, Paul Millsap, becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the month as well — though the Jazz have vowed to do whatever it takes to retain him, including matching whatever offer sheet he may sign from another team.

That being the case, rumors abound regarding both — including a recent New York Post report that Boozer has told others he'll play next in either Detroit, which has salary space to absorb him, or New Jersey, which would have to pull off a sign-and-trade to acquire him, and other reports suggesting the Pistons may now be more interested in Millsap than Boozer.

What follows are excerpts from some of the reports and opinions that, in light of the situation surrounding the two, have popped up on the Web so far this month:

ESPN.com's Chad Ford, in an on-line chat: "If Boozer opts out, you can take it to the bank that he thinks he has a deal somewhere. The Pistons are the only team with the room to sign him who are interested."

DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony: "Detroit is currently slated to be around $20 million underneath the cap, but could shed another $5 million or so by unloading the contracts of Amir Johnson and their first-round draft pick (No. 15 overall). ... With the money Detroit frees up, they could go after their top two free agent targets, rumored to be Millsap and (Chicago's) Ben Gordon."

The (Newark) Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro: "A number of you are still talking about Boozer, a development that inspires this response from the rest of us, along with some people in the (Nets) organization: Huh? "We assume (Boozer's agent, Rob) Pelinka floated this (the Jersey talk) in case he needs a Plan B if the Detroit connection doesn't happen for them. And he undoubtedly has heard what we're hearing: The Pistons are now giving as much (if not more) consideration to Millsap, to the tune of $8-9 (million) per year, which is an ample jump from the ($797,000) he was paid last season …

"And if Detroit has cooled on Boozer, he's going to have to scramble to find anything like the ($60 million over five years) he's looking for — or thinks he deserves.

"Can't see it. Not in Jersey, perhaps not anywhere.

"We asked (Nets basketball boss Rod) Thorn point-blank whether he's spoken to his good friend Kevin O'Connor (the Jazz's general manager) in Utah lately (yes, he understood we were hinting about sign-and-trade scenarios), and his reply was a terse, 'nope, not a single conversation.'

"That doesn't mean a move for Boozer wouldn't benefit the Nets. You accelerate the rebuild by a year, and solidify the weakest position. ... But you also have to wonder how this guy will play with a new contract, since he's never been dependable in the past — he's missed 33 percent of the games (134 of 410) in the last five years, fercryinoutloud — and he plays the kind of defense that gets coaches fired.

"Moreover, it's hard to ignore the fact that (the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau) Gasol destroyed him in the last two postseasons. Or that Utah would love for him to walk away now, so they can pay Millsap.

"It's a long-shot at best, perpetuated by a very nervous agent who suddenly sees his market drying up."

MichiganLive.com: "While his injury history is a concern, the one factor that plays into the Pistons' favor is Boozer …, as a free agent, would not cost the team anything other than money, unlike a deal for (Toronto) Chris Bosh, where you are still tied to a long-term deal on top of having to give up two or three talented players."

NetsDaily.com: "If the Nets and Jazz follow the usual pattern, the Jazz will get what most NBA teams have gotten for their unhappy star: a package drawn from a menu of expiring contracts, draft picks, young players, cash and if possible, a trade exception. ...

"... It would seem at first glance that the Nets could offer its biggest expiring contract, Bobby Simmons, who has one year and $11.24 million remaining; one or more of its younger players — Yi Jianlian, Ryan Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Josh Boone and/or Sean Williams; and one or more of its five first-round draft choices over the next three years — three of their own plus the unprotected (Dallas Mavericks) pick in the 2010 draft and the heavily protected (Golden State) Warriors pick in the 2011 draft.

"Couldn't the Jazz do better? ... Probably, but sometimes GMs want rebuilding pieces more than big contracts.

"Boozer is indeed a prize, IF healthy and that's always been his issue. ... But he is a two-time All-Star, an Olympic gold and bronze medal winner and an NCAA champion. There's only one other player in the NBA with that resume: (Denver's) Carmelo Anthony, and we all know how the Nets swooned over him last summer. Boozer could be this year's 'Melo.

"Bottom line: we think this rumor has legs."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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