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Utah Jazz: Korver stays; what about others?

Mehmet Okur's agent in Salt Lake

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2009 12:46 a.m. MDT

Mehmet Okur (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Mehmet Okur (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Kyle Korver won't be leaving Salt Lake City, and Mehmet Okur's agent has come to town.

But Carlos Boozer's vow to opt out of the final season of his current deal with the Jazz may have hit a roadblock, setting up today as a likely wild one in Utah for down-to-the wire decisions on the NBA's deadline day for contract opt-outs.

Korver's agent, Jeff Schwartz, informed the Jazz on Monday that the backup shooting guard won't exercise his early termination option and will return next season, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said.

Meanwhile, Okur's agent, Marc Fleisher, flew in from Connecticut on Monday night — perhaps indicating either a contract extension agreement or a termination opt-out decision today for the Jazz's starting center.

Mehmet Okur (Utah Jazz) Mehmet Okur (Utah Jazz)

Fleisher on Friday said Okur was "leaning toward opting out," but his surprise trip here Monday seems to signal the two sides were continuing to talk. If no agreement on an extension can be reached, Fleisher must hand-deliver termination notice today.

"Nothing new," Fleisher said via e-mail Monday night.

As for Boozer, ESPN.com on Monday cited unidentified "sources close to" Utah's starting power forward and two-time NBA All-Star as saying he's "still mulling his options and won't make a decision until (today)," but, "there's a significant chance Boozer will exercise his player option and return to the Jazz next season."

If so, that could spell financial doom for the Jazz — and perhaps adversely alter their hopes for keeping both Paul Millsap, their backup power forward who becomes a restricted free agent when the NBA's summer shopping market opens at 10 tonight, and Okur.

Kyle Korver (Utah Jazz) Kyle Korver (Utah Jazz)

Boozer said in late April that he wouldn't return to the Jazz for just next season, when — if he doesn't opt out — he's due to make $12,657,223. He also told ESPN.com in December that "I'm opting out" and "no matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless."

But with only Detroit reported to have both enough interest and team payroll salary cap money to sign Boozer now, and even all that uncertain at best, he might have to reverse course.

The only other teams with cap money to sign Boozer are Memphis and Oklahoma City. The Grizzlies don't have interest, and ESPN.com cited an unidentified source as saying the Thunder don't either.

If Boozer does opt out by today's 3 p.m. deadline, it seems unlikely now that Utah would meet his demands and sign him to a new multi-year deal.

Wrote ESPN.com's Chad Ford on Monday: "For months it was assumed that Boozer would land in Detroit. But last week Pistons sources told ESPN.com that Boozer wasn't the team's highest priority and that if they pursued him, they weren't willing to give him the $13-15 million a year he's looking for.

"If neither the Pistons nor Jazz offered Boozer a contract, he might be forced to take the mid-level exception from a team — a drastic $7 million pay cut for Boozer next season. That, according to sources, is what is keeping Boozer up at night. If he opts out, he's taking a huge gamble ... one that few GMs expect him to take."

ESPN.com also quoted one unidentified Eastern Conference GM as saying, "As soon as it looked like the Pistons were the only team with the money and desire to pay him, I knew Boozer would be changing his mind. Unless I knew for sure that the Pistons would pay me big bucks, you just can't make that gamble. I fully expect him to be back with the Jazz next year."

Korver will be back.

He had until today to decide, but Schwartz informed O'Connor Monday afternoon that Korver would return.

The 28-year Creighton University product, six-season NBA pro and former Philadelphia 76er will make $5,163,636 next season.

"We are thrilled to have Kyle remain with the Jazz," O'Connor said in a team-released statement. "We appreciate him as both a person and a player and are pleased he has shown a commitment to this organization."

Korver now will become an unrestricted free agent in 2010, when many NBA teams expect to have more summer shopping money than this offseason — unless, that is, he negotiates a contract extension with the Jazz later this summer.

Korver played 78 games last season, averaging 9 points and 24 minutes, despite being bothered by the wrist most of that time.

Acquired in a December 2007 trade from Philly for shooting guard Gordan Giricek and a future first-round draft pick now owned by Minnesota, Korver also hit 38.6 percent from 3-point range while making a team-high 103 treys last season.

Korver's return puts the Jazz's payroll — for now, and counting nine players, including soon-to-sign rookie Eric Maynor — at $52,250,757.

That's below the NBA's projected salary cap of $57,300,00 to $58,600,000 for next season, but leaves the Jazz less than $13 million for four players — including Okur and Millsap — without exceeding the league's projected luxury-tax threshold of $70 million to $72 million.

And if Boozer returns, they'd be right around $65 million — even without deals for Millsap, Okur and a required 13th player.

If they brought Okur and Millsap back nonetheless, and Boozer indeed didn't opt out, that could push their payroll upwards of $85 million — and would mean Utah, unless it later dumped salary via trade, would owe the NBA a whopping $13 million to $15 million in tax penalty for exceeding the threshold.

Under-the-threshold teams would divvy the windfall, and the Jazz would not get a share of the tax collections, which amount to millions per team.

Millsap's camp, meanwhile, spent Monday in wait-and-see mode — and wishing they knew what sort of offers are coming.

"But you can't really, because that's the nature of the business," said Millsap's representative and uncle, DeAngelo Simmons. "Because with the deadline, and not being allowed to talk to other teams yet, it's one of those things (you can't avoid)."

According to one NBA agent not representingy Millsap, however, Oklahoma City "will make Paul a big offer."

Also impacting Millsap's situation is Milwaukee's decision Monday to not make a qualifying offer to veteran Charlie Villaneuva, making him an unrestricted free agent rather than restricted.

That adds one more unrestricted forward to this summer's market, which could affect restricted types such as Millsap and New York's David Lee.

The biggest decision influencing Millsap's fate, however, is Boozer's.

Should he not opt out, it could kink the Jazz's plan to either re-sign Millsap or match any offer sheet he signs with another team.

"It's not comforting," Simmons said late last week, "that it's left up to somebody else. But it is what is."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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