Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap: For the Jazz, It's Just Not That Simple
All the buzz in Jazzland these days revolves around Carlos Boozer.
No question that between his suspicious exit from Cleveland five years ago, mountains of injuries and the occasional inflammatory sound byte, Boozer does a fine job of keeping his name on the lips of local sports media and the Jazz faithful.
This time around, the question is usually, "Should he stay or should he go?"
The debate seems to center around whether the team is better off to let him go and turn over the power forward reigns to Paul Millsap or to keep Boozer in Utah and hope he plays more than 60 percent of the games. But, that is only one facet of this very complicated situation.
While it's too soon to know for sure if the Jazz will keep him or trade him, there are signs that point to Boozer's departure.
First, there are the teams rumored to have interest in Boozer. First it was Miami and now Detroit and New Jersey have been thrown into the rumor mill. Then there's team owner, Greg Miller's comments when asked by local media about both Boozer and Millsap.
Miller was succinct about the organization's feelings about Millsap stating clearly on local television sports programs that the Jazz want Millsap back next year. However, Miller's comments were less complimentary of Boozer, "I do have concerns about Carlos' defense, and I have some concerns about his ability to lead the team."
Throw in the fact that Boozer has missed one-third of his games since arriving in Utah, has alienated the Jazz fan base and has been rumored to be an unsettling presence in the locker room and the indications are that Boozer's days in Salt Lake City are done.
So, let's assume that Boozer is moving on.
Where do the Jazz go from here? Local talk says Millsap is the heir apparent. But, is it that simple? Is Paul Millsap a 35 minutes per night guy? Is he a 20/10 guy? Is he an 82-game starter?
The truth is, we don't know yet.
The fact is, we don't even know for sure that the Jazz will be able re-sign Millsap.
So where does that leave the Jazz?
Even if a few of their nine free agents don't re-sign the Jazz will be above or near the luxury-tax threshold. Team owner Greg Miller has said he is willing to pay the tax in order to put a great team on the floor each night. So, there are options out there for the Jazz.
Perhaps the most interesting option may be Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors. Bosh stated recently that he will not sign an extension with the Raptors this summer and would rather become an unrestricted free agent in 2010.
The Raptors are not likely to just let Bosh walk away a year from now with nothing in return. A sign and trade of Boozer to Toronto for Bosh is very intriguing. Toronto gets something for Bosh. Bosh gets to go to a playoff team and play alongside one of the best point guards in the league. The Jazz get a top tier power forward with the potential to re-sign him in 2010 or go hunting through the greatest free agent class in memory.
Even if the Jazz retain Millsap they are already thin in the middle and Boozer's departure only makes that situation tougher. There are a handful of good power forwards and centers that could split time with Millsap and/or Mehmet Okur.
From the Nuggets both Nene and Chris Anderson are free agents and intriguing possibilities. They are worth considering even though Anderson doesn't seem like a good fit for Utah's conservative style and Nene has missed as many games as Boozer.
Milwaukee's Charlie Villanueva could also be a good fit in the Jazz front court.
The hustle and passion of Cleveland's Anderson Varejao should appeal to the Jazz' blue-collar style, as well.
The point is, it's not so simple as to ask whether to turn over the starting power forward spot to Millsap or retain Boozer. There are other options; some of which are interesting, if not truly tantalizing.
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