Despite all of the summertime rumors to the contrary—some from Boozer himself—it seems certain now that the Jazz will ride with the 28-year-old forward and then hope to salvage something in a sign-and-trade this offseason.
That’s the best-case scenario for Utah, if they stay committed to Boozer for the rest of the 2009-10 season. Although there’s a smaller chance the Jazz could resign the often-injured forward too.
Yes, trading Boozer was all a mirage, Jazz fans.
Back in July, we heard all the speculation: Boozer would wind up playing for the Miami Heat, and why not? He lives there and he didn’t like Utah.
Fast forward to February 2010, and zero hour is about strike. Boozer is still in a Jazz uniform, and furthermore, none of aforementioned deals have a snowballs chance in hell of coming to fruition.
Last Wednesday, team owner Greg Miller made that abundantly clear, via the Internet.
Miller, more-or-less, squelched all the Jazz's trade rumors. He wrote on the team’s website that Utah wouldn't make any moves in order to get under the NBA's luxury tax.
Let’s stop right there.
The Jazz, in one of the NBA’s smallest markets, are $5.1 million over the league’s luxury tax for the first time ever and are bracing to pay a big penalty. Something Larry H. Miller vowed the team would never do.
And, according to the team’s current player salary projections for 2010-2011, the team has already committed to pay $57 million to seven players.
Not much wiggle room for a young team looking to improve, is there?
The obvious answer to this dilemma is to trade Boozer and his expiring contract worth $12.8 million.
With Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas available to the world, Utah should revisit the deal that nearly went down last July between the Bulls, Jazz and Warriors.
In addition to shedding Boozer's salary, Utah would be allowing back up forward Paul Millsap to blossom. Millsap would finally get to show whether or not he’s actually worth the $10 million Utah invested in him.
And bringing in a player like Thomas would only make the Jazz longer and better on defense. He'd improve their chances of beating teams like the Nuggets and Lakers, who are clearly superior to Utah at this stage.
What will happen as the deadline approaches?
Most likely, Utah will stand-pat when the trade deadline passes and that will be a missed opportunity. Especially if Boozer plays well the remainder of the year.
He could then immediately sign in Miami this offseason, leaving the Jazz empty-handed.
Here’s the question Jazz fans have to ask themselves: When Utah got dominated at home earlier in the year by the Lakers (playing without Kobe and Andrew Bynum) what does the franchise have to lose by dealing Boozer?