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Utah Jazz: Up next is free agent frenzy

Published: Tuesday, July 7 2015 12:16 p.m. MDT

One may be looking to get out. The other is looking to cash in.

Together, based largely on what their agents had to say Friday, starting center Mehmet Okur and backup power forward Paul Millsap could make next week even crazier for the Jazz than already anticipated.

While waiting to hear if starting power forward Carlos Boozer and backup shooting guard Kyle Korver will opt of the final season of their current contracts, the Jazz — who according to general manager Kevin O'Connor will offer Millsap a multi-year contract as soon as the NBA's summer free-agency market opens at 10 p.m. Tuesday — quietly have been negotiating a potential extension with Okur.

Like Boozer and Korver, the big Turk has an early termination option that gives him until Tuesday to escape the last season of his existing deal.

Indications from both sides Friday, however, seemed to suggest that the gap between them is wide enough that Okur — due to make $9 million next season if he doesn't opt out — will enter the summer shopping market. "We're gonna wait right up until the end," Okur's agent, Marc Fleisher, said when asked if his client's plans had been finalized yet.

"I think he's, right now, leaning toward opting out," Fleisher added. "But we'll make that decision at the last possible minute."

Asked Friday if it's possible any of the three — Okur, Boozer or Korver — reach extension agreements before Tuesday's opt-out deadline, O'Connor said, "I wouldn't take anything out of the equation."

Meanwhile, Millsap's representative has set the starting salary he will seek at equal to — if not more than — the sort of money New York Knicks soon-to-be restricted free agent David Lee's camp might attempt to command.

That, suggest both multiple agents and a New York Newsday report, would be a multi-year deal beginning at $10 million per season.

Millsap, rep DeAngelo Simmons suggested, compares statistically quite favorably to the Knicks' big man.

Lee, like Millsap a three-year pro, averaged 16.0 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 54.9 percent from the field last season.

Millsap averaged 13.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 53.4 percent — but, according to 82games.com, had a plus-266 net points plus-minus count that easily trumped Lee's minus-198.

"I really can't say (precisely how much money Millsap is seeking)," said Simmons, who also is Millsap's uncle. "But the two guys are pretty close, with what we're looking at."

Simmons also mentioned a recent deal for Philadelphia power forward Elton Brand as being comparable to what he feels Millsap deserves. Brand last summer signed a five-year, $79.8 million contract that started at more than $13 million.

"He's a big time ballplayer who can help the team a lot," Simmons said of his nephew. "What's the next level for Paul? Probably All-Star. He has that capability."

Though they can't negotiate an extension with him because he'll be a restricted free agent, O'Connor said the Jazz would be "aggressive" in trying to re-sign Millsap when the market opens.

"I think we'd like to show our loyalty back to him," the Jazz GM said Friday. "We'll try to make a deal with him, and if it doesn't work then we'd ask him to set a market for himself."

Whether or not Millsap — who made $791,581 last season — actually can attract the sort of offers Simmons suggests remains unknown, at least for now.

The Jazz, though, have vowed previously to match any offer sheet he signs with another team — even if Boozer, Okur and Korver all opt-in and it makes them an NBA luxury-tax paying team.

And on Friday, as expected, they tendered a qualifying offer to Millsap that allows the team to retain its match rights. The qualifying offer, essentially a formality procedure in this instance, is for one year and $1.03 million — just as Millsap's camp expected.

Okur, meanwhile, is a one-time All-Star.

He's offered previously, via his personal Web site, to give the Jazz a home-team discount of $3 million to $5 million on a deal's total value in order to stay in Utah.

And he's made it clear his preference is to get a long-term extension from the Jazz.

Whether that happens by Tuesday, however, also remains to be seen. If it doesn't, the Jazz would risk losing Okur — but wouldn't be precluded from re-signing him after he tests his value in the open market. "We certainly would not rule out Utah," Fleisher said, "but we would look at other opportunities as well."

E-MAIL: tbuckley@desnews.com

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