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Utah Jazz: Speculation mounting on free agency front

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2009 10:23 a.m. MDT

A few items of note from the morning rumor mill on this, the final day for some NBA players — including the Jazz's Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur — to decide if they're going to opt in or out of the final season of their current contracts.

Boozer and Okur, by the way, have until 3 this afternoon to make their decisions; if either or both opt out, the Jazz's starting power forward and starting center, respectively, would become unrestricted free agents when the NBA's summer shopping market opens at 10 tonight.

Though ESPN.com reported Monday night that "there's a significant chance Boozer will exercise his player option and return to the Jazz next season," the Detroit News reported today that "the Pistons would love to sign Carlos Boozer should he decide today to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Jazz and become a free agent."

The same newspaper reported that "Boozer, as has been widely speculated, would look to start his next contract at $14 million or $15 million," and that, "Boozer was believed to be the Pistons' top choice at power forward, but not at $14 million per year. Assuming Boozer does not dramatically reduce his asking price, the Pistons would go after (Milwaukee) Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva."

The Detroit News also reported that Jazz backup power forward Paul Millsap, who will be a restricted free agent as of 10 tonight, is "on the radar" of the Pistons, along with, besides Boozer and top-target Ben Gordon of the Chicago, New York restricted free agent forward David Lee and Dallas unrestricted free agent power forward Brandon Bass.

The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reported today that the Memphis Grizzlies will be among Millsap's suitors.

Oklahoma City also been identified as a possible Millsap pursuer, with one NBA agent suggesting Monday that the Thunder will make "a big offer" to the Louisiana Tech product.

At the same time, however, The Oklahoman newspaper's Thunder beat writer blogged that while "it's an easy connection to make" and "there are reasons to believe the Thunder will make a run (at) Millsap," there "are also some that suggest OKC won't."

Among them, according to The Oklahoman: Millsap "almost certainly will come with a hefty price tag," Oklahoma City basketball boss Sam "Presti will be cautious in his approach to free agency this summer" and "the Thunder is trying to save room to re-sign Kevin Durant and Jeff Green to contract extensions two years from now, not have a $12 million burden on the books by then for a role player."

Meanwhile, a suburban Philadelphia newspaper reported today that if Philadelphia 76ers unrestricted free agent point and University of Utah product Andre Miller goes elsewhere, "the Sixers have contingency plans."

One of those — according to PhillyBurbs.com, Web site for three papers include the Doylestown (Penn.) Intelligencer — "would be signing a veteran set-up guy like the Jazz's Ronnie Price to share the job for 2009-10 with (rookie Jrue) Holiday and combo guard Lou Williams."

But the Jazz also have suggested they plan on a return for Utah Valley product Price, who will be unrestricted as of 10 tonight.

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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