NEW ORLEANS — Carlos Boozer was asked Monday about the NBA MVP candidacy of New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, whom the Jazz will see tonight.

The Jazz's All-Star power forward opted instead to endorse another Western Conference guard, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

"For what (Paul) does for that team, and the way he affects it, I think (he's a deserving candidate)," Boozer said. "I think Kobe's the favorite. If I had to give it to somebody I'd give it to Kobe, or Kevin Garnett because of what he did for Boston.

"But I'm not taking anything away from Chris Paul," he added. "Those are my two. Maybe even (Cleveland's) LeBron (James) may be ahead of (Paul) a little bit, even though (James') team has lost a little (too much) for me. Great player, though."

Boozer also offered, when asked, thoughts as to why Paul is a top-four candidate and Jazz point Deron Williams is not even in the conversation.

"One is his team is at the top of the West," Boozer said. "Another one: He's one of the few guards in the league that rebounds the way he rebounds.

"Like he'll have 30 points; 12, 13, 14 assists; six, seven, eight rebounds. He's leading the league in steals. He's doing some other things that other people aren't doing. ... What he's doing for the game right now, it's at a different level."

WILLIAMS ILL; BREWER BETTER: Williams sat out practice Monday morning due to what the Jazz called an "upset stomach," but he traveled with the team to New Orleans later Monday and is expected to play tonight.

Said center Mehmet Okur, who recently missed multiple games due to a stomach virus and flu-like symptoms: "I've got nothing to do with that."

Meanwhile, the Jazz are calling starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer a "game-time decision" for tonight. But Brewer, who has missed the last three games due to a strained groin sustained March 30 at Minnesota, is expected to play.

SEEING BOTH SIDES: A reported proposal from NBA commissioner David Stern that the league bump its minimum age requirement from 19 to 20, effectively meaning players must spend two years in college rather than just one, was met with mixed reaction from at least a couple Jazz players Monday. "There's definitely two sides to that. I mean, you look at some of these who've come in and done a great job — they can come in and help their families, things, like that, and it's great. There's also so many kids that don't make it who come out early," said shooting guard Kyle Korver, who spent four years in college. "And I think if a kid does know he's going to have to go to college for two years, and he's going to have to go to some school and he can't just do whatever through a year and take some cake classes ... when they're done they're gonna be that much closer to graduating."

"I'm one that believes you put in rules like that, and you (don't) get a chance to see some of the great talent we have in this game. So, for me, I'd rather them keep it at 19 — or not even think about it," added Boozer, who left Duke University early. "There's a lot of kids that do get hurt by coming out early. I definitely agree with that, too. But there's a lot of talent out there that we want to display in the NBA, and get a chance to see if they can be at this level."

ALUMNI UPDATE: Ex-Jazz forward Danny Manning, selected Sunday to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, was an assistant coach on Kansas' bench for the Monday NCAA championship game against Memphis.


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