It’s not a complete shock, but it's close.
What a difference eight months make. Last July, Utah Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer was very close to signing with the Bulls, Pistons or Heat—or so we thought. The Jazz denied reports that Boozer was told he was no longer in the team’s future plans, and just like that—the war of words was on.
The end was predictable. Boozer would be traded—either before the start of the season or prior to the Feb.18 deadline.
Well, a trade never came to fruition, and now the Jazz organization has expressed interest in beginning new contract talks with Boozer and his agent. The team isn’t expecting to offer the 28-year-old forward a new deal anytime soon, but according to team reports the franchise is planning on making a substantial offer to the two-time United States Olympian.
And yes, just a few months ago, this was the same organization that didn’t want anything to do with Boozer.
The perceived animosity between the team’s starting power forward and Jazz management is apparently water-under-the-bridge. Boozer is not a selfish player but just a "misunderstood millionaire" with a nasty fade-away jumper.
Although, many fans on sports talk radio still believe that Boozer can’t stay healthy for long enough periods of time to keep the Jazz competitive with the elite teams in the West.
On Monday, general manager Kevin O’Connor announced that the team could make Boozer a formal contract offer before he becomes a restricted free agent later this summer.
"We've had conversations with everyone's agents throughout the year," O'Connor said, "and I don't think we ever said we'd rule out anything."
"I think if you look at it at the end of last year and end of last summer," the Jazz GM said to the Deseret News , "I think you keep things alive."
Boozer’s options are two fold: He can entertain Utah’s offer, which should contain a substantial amount of money, or he can take his chances and seek a better contract or team, on the open market.
But here’s the catch.
Chris Bosh and Amare’ Stoudemire are both expected to garner plenty of attention in free agency and potentially receive very lucrative contracts.
If that happens, then Boozer becomes a less marketable player. Bosh and Stoudemire will soak-up the majority of the free agent dollars, and Boozer would have no choice but to deal with Utah. He could probably sign in Miami for less money, but if he wants a second big contract, it most likely will come from the Jazz.
And if Boozer signs back with Utah, he’ll be ripping the current team apart.
Understand this: Utah has committed $57 million to seven players for next season alone—this puts the team over next year’s luxury tax right out of the gate.
Adding Boozer’s potentially large deal to the mix would be too much of a financial strain on the small-market Jazz.
With Millsap’s new contract and Andrei Kirilenko’s max-money deal still in effect for next season, it would be impossible to keep this group together, unless the team is willing to pay an enormous luxury tax penalty in 2010-2011.
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