The NBA preseason is now less than two weeks away. The annual summer basketball draught is finally coming to an end. And none too soon!
After a full summer of listening to innumerable poorly-informed speculations as to what the Jazz will do about Carlos Boozer I figured it was about time to weigh in.
I have been a devoted Jazz follower for over 25 years. If there is one word to describe the Jazz it is: consistent. Twenty consecutive years of making the playoffs. The same coach for 21 years. The same GM for 10 years. This team prizes three things—hard work, loyalty, and consistency.
So when it comes to Boozer the answers are really pretty simple. The odds are nothing will happen.
Unlike most teams in the league Jerry Sloan, Kevin O’Connor, the Miller family and the entire Jazz organization do not react publicly to players antics. This means that all of Boozer’s shenanigans on Miami and Chicago radio stations don’t mean much to the Jazz.
The Jazz already knew Carlos wanted out of Utah. They also knew that there wasn’t a market for an oft-injured, no-defense-playing, super-talented, high-priced power forward this summer. Kevin O’Connor made it clear back in June that they had analyzed the situation and planned for every possible scenario—including the possibility that Boozer would opt-in for the final year of his contract.
Here’s where all the rumors about Boozer for David Lee and Boozer for Michael Beasley, etc, etc, etc, come in. You bet the Jazz have and will shop Boozer around. Everyone knows that he is on the market and there is no question that the Jazz perceive Boozer as a cancer and would like to relocate him ASAP.
The Jazz will not make a move just to make a move. They will only make a move that truly makes the team better and benefits the team long-term.
They have a strategy and Boozer’s (or anyone else’s) antics will not change that strategy.
The rest of the league could learn something here.
Boozer is now high-priced, damaged goods. He’s high potential with high risk. He may give you 20 points, 10 rebounds and a trip to the All-Star game. Then again he may miss two-thirds of the season with injuries of a suspect nature and drag down the morale and psyche of your entire team.
Are you willing to make a $12.7 million gamble?
Boozer does represent an expiring contract and with the bumper crop of free agents in 2010 that has value.
You can be certain that the Jazz are well aware of that fact. They can retain Boozer for the season, even though he represents a huge salary and luxury tax payments, and enjoy the fiscal relief next summer.
Here’s how the Jazz think: “Why trade a problem that is guaranteed to go away next summer for a problem that we could be stuck with much longer?”
The Jazz will happily trade Boozer—for a player that fits their strategy. If a team offers up a player (or players) that fit into the Jazz’ long-term plans you can be sure Kevin O’Connor will be all over that deal.
They will not trade Boozer just for the sake of getting rid of him.
Hopefully Boozer’s agent has explained to him that he can go on every sports talk show on the planet and talk trade, but it won’t move the Jazz.
Here’s the prognosis for Mr. Boozer and the Jazz.
1) Jerry Sloan is nothing if not fair. Boozer can work hard (play defense) and earn playing time. Carlos has to. He needs to remind potential suitors why he is a two-time All-Star.
2) The Jazz will quietly shop Boozer around the league. With most teams in a holding pattern waiting for free agent fest 2010, don’t expect a lot of action.
3) If Boozer does something stupid and makes himself an even worse cancer in the locker room Jerry Sloan will park him at the end of the bench and his stock around the league will plummet even further.
4) Barring a surprise deal, one that truly benefits the Jazz, Boozer will walk away next summer and the Jazz will remain largely mum about the entire affair.
I know it’s not sexy and it lacks the drama of a Terrell Owens—Jerry Jones throw-down, but that’s the Jazz for you. You can count on it; because the Jazz are consistent.