Quantcast

Utah Jazz: Boozer still keeping options open for next year

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 23 2009 2:48 a.m. MST

Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer cheers after scoring and being fouled against the Spurs. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer cheers after scoring and being fouled against the Spurs. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

MIAMI — Even with Miami a chilly 75 or so on Tuesday — sorry, socked-in Salt Lake City — the place has its appeal.

Beautiful people. Beautiful water. And, yes, beautiful weather.

Palm trees. Sand. And, don't forget, no state income tax.

No wonder Carlos Boozer has long been lobbying to play here, including a radio campaign when he was trying to get traded to the Miami Heat — a team with which he's frequently been linked — over the summer.

It hasn't happened yet, but the possibility of Boozer playing in one of his preferred locales — and the city that the one-time Alaska resident now calls home — will increase exponentially in the offseason.

If, that is, Miami doesn't target and land instead another high-profile big man, with Toronto's Chris Bosh one possibility.

Utah's Carlo Boozer five highs Deron Williams as the Utah Jazz defeat the San Antonio Spurs. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah's Carlo Boozer five highs Deron Williams as the Utah Jazz defeat the San Antonio Spurs. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

And if, that is as well, Boozer hasn't been traded and signed to a contract extension by another team before then.

As it stands now, though, the Jazz power forward has no reason — "unless y'all know something I don't," he told a couple of reporters Tuesday — to think he'll be moved when the NBA's deadline for dealing rolls around on Feb. 18.

Nor does teammate Deron Williams, whose response when asked if he figured Boozer will be with the Jazz for the rest of the season was short and to the point.

"Yeah," Williams said. "Why would we not? We have no reason to think otherwise."

They had even less later Tuesday, when the Jazz dumped several million dollars in payroll by trading backup point guard Eric Maynor and injury-hampered forward Matt Harpring to Oklahoma City.

Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer drives by Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer drives by Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

For now, then, Boozer plays on as if he will stay in Utah for the duration of his sixth season with the Jazz.

He maintains that he's trying not to ponder the future, but suggests the subject simply can't be avoided when constantly peppered by questions about what awaits.

Including, that is, the possibility of playing for the Heat — the Jazz's opponent tonight at the end of a five-game road trip, and a team that could have upward of $18-plus million in team payroll salary-cap space next offseason.

And, oh yeah, a star guard whom Boozer considers a good friend, Dwyane Wade.

"We'll see when the time comes," Boozer said when asked about the likelihood of having the Heat high on his list when searching for a new team in the summer. "You know, I think that'll take care of itself at that point in the season. They're a good team trying to get better, we're good trying to get better. That's where I think both teams are right now.

Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer gets ready to start the game against the Magic. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer gets ready to start the game against the Magic. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"We're getting healthier, we're getting better," added Boozer, who is averaging 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds for the 16-12 Jazz. "If we keep playing the way we're capable of playing, we're able to reach our potential, and hopefully for us that's a championship."

Hard as it may be for some to fathom, Boozer suggested Tuesday he hasn't ruled out the possibility of remaining with the Jazz.

His words of good will, however, came with a caveat.

"They'll talk to me, we'll talk to them and go from there," Boozer said. "You know, I think it'll be one of those situations that should hopefully take care of itself.

"It's hard to know what's going to happen," the two-time NBA All-Star and two-time Team USA medal-winning Olympian added. "I mean, you never know what's going to happen. But, obviously, whatever will happen is going to come forth soon. I mean, we're already 30 games in almost. It's coming up fast, faster than people think."

The caveat? Utah likely would have to stay in the NBA luxury-tax paying stratosphere — something they're trying to remove themselves from, as evidenced by Tuesday's trade — to keep Boozer, who is making $12.67 million in the final year of a six-season, $68 million deal.

"It could be (possible), if they wanted to spend it," Boozer said. "I think all the competitive teams that win championships are obviously all over the cap, and that's the reason why they win championships — because they have stud players.

"So, if they were willing to pay it, yeah.

"If they're not willing to pay it, then no. ... But, it's not my money to spend. It's theirs. It's not my team. It's theirs. You know, I play for the team. So, that's a decision they have to make."

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, for his part, has no issues with the way Boozer's handled himself in what potentially could be a quite-awkward season.

"Karl (Malone) was in some of those situations whenever he was here, and you just go play basketball," Sloan said. "Keep your value as high as you can by playing well."

Miami, meanwhile, isn't the only place Boozer would like to continue his career.

On Monday in Orlando, he told a Web site how "great" it would be to play with Magic center Dwight Howard, asking AOLFanhouse.com, "Who wouldn't want to play with Superman?" Boozer said he considers Howard a "brother," and spent Sunday — a Jazz off-day — hanging at Howard's house.

Orlando, though, is capped out — and likely would have to pull off a sign-and-trade to acquire Boozer or someone in his pay grade.

Any and all Boozer suitors, in fact, will have to keep payroll in mind.

Asked Tuesday if he'll be seeking max money — several million more per season than he's making now — Boozer didn't entirely refute the notion.

"I don't know," he said. "I let (agent) Rob (Pelinka) take care of all that. I just go out there and do what I do every night on the court, give it everything I have, and Rob will tell me what it is."

For now, Boozer is content to soak up a few days' worth of Miami sun — and chase a few more victories with the Jazz.

His return to Utah, after all, hasn't been nearly as problematic as some suspected it could have been.

"I think once you start playing, you start winning, I think everything from there will take care of itself," he said. "I think until then, it's just everybody has this thought in their mind, or perceived thoughts.

"And then when you see us out there working hard and playing and going at it, they succumb to you a little bit, they root for you again.

"So, feel like I'm having fun." he added. "And hopefully everybody can see that."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company