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Boozer opts…in!

Tuesday Afternoon Update: Mehmet Okur is going to play the final year of his contract as well.

Earlier today, we discussed the possibility of Carlos Boozer playing out the final year of his contract, and that’s exactly what he decided to do.

Boozer’s decision was a reversal from his December comments to an ESPN.com reporter that he was planning to opt out and would get a raise regardless. The Jazz, however, long questioned if the market that Boozer believed existed was more fantasy than reality.

In the end, it sounds as if Boozer considered his prospects and decided to take the sure $12.7 million instead of rolling the dice on the open market. If he is able to play at a high level and without injury, he stands to significantly improve his value heading into the summer of 2010. There are so many teams cutting salary in preparation for that summer’s free agent frenzy, so if he can stay healthy, he definitely stands to gain. However, by playing out the last year of this deal, he is forgoing the security of the long-term contract that he otherwise would have signed this summer. If he were to suffer a career-ending injury next season, he’d be leaving perhaps $42 million on the table.

How does this affect the team’s payroll?

The Jazz also are treading in dangerous territory in regard to the luxury tax. Boozer’s return gives them approximately $64.5 million in salary commitments to 10 players for the upcoming season.

That’s before making decisions about re-signing Okur – should he opt out – and Millsap. The NBA’s luxury-tax threshold is expected to be around $70 million and the Jazz would have to carry at least a league-minimum 13 players on their roster.

“It could be [a problem],” Miller said, “but it’s like I said before: If we need to go into the luxury tax to protect our players and protect our team, keep it intact, we’d have to take a look at that.”

If Okur opts out, the Jazz projected payroll would be around $63 million, leaving some (but not a lot) of flexibility to sign Paul Millsap. If Okur plays out the final year of his deal, Utah will have to pay a steep luxury tax to re-sign Millsap. Essentially, if a franchise is over the luxury tax threshold, they have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax. Simply stated, now that Boozer has opted in, if Okur opts in, it’s going to make it tougher for the Jazz to retain Millsap.

I’m sure there are a few teams out there licking their chops at the prospect of signing Millsap.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Time for the Cubs to stop playing Board Games

It’s safe to say that this past offseason has been one of the worst for Jim Hendry during his tenure as General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. The Los Angeles Dodgers made a mockery of the Cubs’ right-handed lineup in the playoffs by not throwing a single left-handed pitcher at them, and the Cubs responded to this glaring weakness by trading Mark DeRosa, the most versatile and well-liked player on the team – not to mention cheap, since he was in line to make an affordable $5.5 million in the final year of his contract – in order to free up some cash to sign a left-handed power hitter. For God knows what reason, Hendry doesn’t even make an attempt to sign Raul Ibanez, a clubhouse prince who is good for 25 home runs and 100 RBIs year in and year out. Nope, Hendry set his sights on Milton Bradley, a talented but mercurial journeyman (the Cubs are the eighth team he’s played for since his Major League debut in 2000) who just happened to put up career numbers in a contract year. The words “career numbers” sound good, but they come with one big-ass asterisk. Take a look at Bradley’s career year numbers versus the 2008 stat lines of DeRosa and Ibanez:

Raul Ibanez: .292-85-23-110-2
Mark DeRosa: .285-104-21-87-6
Milton Bradley .321-78-22-77-5

It’s a pretty average stat line as career numbers go, and don’t forget that he put up those numbers primarily as a DH, and he still only played 126 games due to nagging injuries. Yep, this is the man that the Cubs hoped would save them, to the tune of three years and $30 million. To add insult to injury, DeRosa now plays for the rival Cardinals.

“Let’s see, if I strike out like that 100 more times this year…I still make $7 million! Ahhhh hahahahahahaha!”

And would you look at that; now that Bradley has his money, he can’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Well, let’s qualify that — he’s actually hitting .333…from the right side of the plate. He’s hitting .194 as a lefty, has been suspended for bumping an umpire, sent home by his manager after trashing yet another water cooler, and poisoned yet another clubhouse with his unpredictable temper. Bradley said before the season started that he had changed, that those days of flying off the handle (remember when he tore his ACL yelling at an umpire?) were long gone. How on earth did the Cubs believe him? Didn’t they see the “South Park” movie? Bad people always say they’ll change, but they never do.

So what do the Cubs do with Bradley now? He’s expected to take the next two days off to work on his approach from the left side of the plate with new hitting coach Von Joshua. A good start, but we have some other, admittedly extreme suggestions to the Bradley problem that we think the Cubs brass should consider.


Read the rest after the jump...

Mayne Street 2.4: “Cutbacks”

Pistons fire Michael Curry

Per ESPN…

Hours before the start of NBA free agency, Detroit Pistons president Joe Dumars made a splash of a different sort Tuesday, firing coach Michael Curry after just one season amid ongoing concerns about Curry’s command of the locker room and fears that keeping him could hamper Detroit’s offseason business.

NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com that the Pistons — projected to have more spending money than any team in the league when the market opens for business at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday — had been contemplating the move for weeks after Curry’s rocky debut season, and decided to go ahead with the change, in part to help maintain their position as the team with the most free-agent ammunition this summer.

The Pistons went 39-43 under Curry in a tumultuous 2008-09 campaign that ended with a first-round playoff sweep against Cleveland. Curry gradually lost support from some of Detroit’s veterans — most notably popular shooting guard Rip Hamilton — after he elected to move Hamilton to the bench to accommodate November trade acquisition Allen Iverson.

The article mentions Avery Johnson and Doug Collins (whose name is seemingly mentioned for every head coach opening) as possible replacements.

Pirates send Morgan to Nats in four-player trade

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates have agreed to trade speedy outfielder Nyjer Morgan and pitcher Sean Burnett to the Nationals for outfielder Lastings Milledge and right-hander Joel Hanrahan.

While Burnett and Hanrahan are decent relievers, the two outfielders will determine which club gets the better of this deal in the end. Morgan has been a pleasant surprise this year for Pittsburgh (he’s batting .277 with 39 runs scored and 18 stolen bases), but he turns 30 in a couple of days and doesn’t have a ton of upside.

At just 24-years old, Milledge does have long-term upside, but he’s yet to fully cash in on his raw talent. He’s a better all-around athlete than Morgan is, but he underwent surgery to repair a broken finger in mid-May and continues to be sidelined because of it. He has top-of-the-order potential, but he’s been slowed by injuries and when given the opportunity to be the Nats’ leadoff hitter at the start of the season, he stumbled to a .167 average and had no extra base hits in 24 at bats. He was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on April 15 and hasn’t seen major league action since.

What’s interesting is that even though they’re currently 17.5 games back in the NL East and have zero hope of competing this season, Washington still decided to trade for a player in Morgan who doesn’t have as much long-term upside as Milledge. That should tell you that the club didn’t think too highly of Milledge’s potential and decided to get a productive player for him while they still could. Milledge is worth taking a flier on if you’re the Pirates, however, because he could still wind up developing in the future.

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