Jazz not looking to move Boozer?

GM Kevin O’Connor disputes the notion that he and Carlos Boozer’s camp have mutually agreed to a trade.

Utah Jazz GM Kevin O’ Connor refuted a statement by Boozer that he and the Jazz had mutually agreed to a trade during an interview with 1320 KFAN on Tuesday afternoon. O’Connor dismissed Boozer’s recent assertions that a trade from Utah was imminent, saying that the power forward is committed to a contract and must fulfill it.

“We have not told Carlos that we will trade him,” said Jazz player personnel director Kevin O’Connor in a Twitter post by David Locke of KFAN. “We have not mutually agreed to trade him. We are here to win games.”

This could be a case of the Jazz just trying to play down their desperation/desire to move Boozer in the attempt to get the best possible deal. It’s the difference between someone using terms like “must sell” and “firm” when trying to sell a car.

The Jazz just spent a sizable sum on Paul Millsap and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have two of your highest paid players playing the same position. Utah is now deep into luxury tax territory, and since Boozer’s contract is expiring, the Jazz aren’t just going to trade him for expiring deals. They need to get a good young prospect out of the deal, or else they’ll just hold onto Boozer for the rest of the season.

The Jazz are still very likely to move him, but it may not happen until the trade deadline. Typically, the best possible deals occur in the summer, so I’d expect Boozer to be moved before the season starts, though there’s no guarantee it will happen.

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Boozer may stay with the Jazz for another season

For a time, it seemed like it was inevitable that Carlos Boozer would opt out (or not opt in, in this case) and hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. But the economic climate has changed and the market for his services does not appear to be as strong as it was once thought to be. Boozer might very well play another year in Utah.

Boozer has until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to decide whether to exercise a player option on his contract with the Utah Jazz. The contract is set to pay Boozer $12.7 million next season if he opts in. Could he make more than that on the open market?

For months it was assumed that Boozer would land in Detroit. But last week Pistons sources told ESPN.com that Boozer wasn’t the team’s highest priority and that if they pursued him, they weren’t willing to give him the $13-15 million a year he’s looking for.

The Jazz aren’t in a great position to re-sign him either. Utah has to sign another free agent, Paul Millsap, and possibly a second, Mehmet Okur, if he opts out of his contract. Okur’s agent told The Associated Press on Monday that his client was leaning toward opting out. Those two contracts would put the Jazz near the luxury tax threshold. It’s unlikely they would go over to re-sign Boozer.

“As soon as it looked like the Pistons were the only team with the money and desire to pay him,” one Eastern Conference GM said, “I knew Boozer would be changing his mind. Unless I knew for sure that the Pistons would pay me big bucks, you just can’t make that gamble. I fully expect him to be back with the Jazz next year.”

Earlier this week, I estimated Boozer’s market value at about $12-$13 million per season. I think that if he does opt out, he’d eventually get that kind of a contract because a team willing to spend would work out a sign-and-trade to acquire him. The problem there is that Utah would have to take on near-equal salary for the first year and that would potentially push them over the luxury tax threshold (assuming Mehmet Okur returns and the Jazz sign Paul Millsap to a lucrative deal).

Assuming the Pistons don’t step up with a deal averaging $10-$11 million, Boozer’s absolute worst case is signing a one-year mid-level deal (~$5.8 million), which would cost him about $7 million this season. If he plays another year in Utah, he’ll have the opportunity to prove that he can stay healthy and would join the vaunted free agent class of 2010, where there will be a greater market for his services. Teams are saving up for that summer, so Boozer would be a nice consolation prize for those teams hoping to add Chis Bosh or Amare Stoudemire.

The downside of staying in Utah for another season is the lack of the security. Is it better to sign a five-year deal at a discount (say, $11 million per season) and have a guaranteed $55 million or play another year in Utah and risk a career-ending injury for the prospect of signing for an extra $10-$15 million in 2010? There’s a saying — a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

This is the quandary that Boozer is in today. It’s a tough call.

His decision is due in a few hours.

Are the Pistons interested in Boozer?

Not so, at least according to Chad Ford.

Over the past few months, we’ve assumed Carlos Boozer is their primary target, but that might not be the case. A league source told me Tuesday that the Pistons’ free-agent strategy likely would preclude a run at Boozer.

The Pistons want to add several players to the roster and want to keep salaries at or less than $10 million per year. With Boozer likely demanding a deal in the $15 million to $16 million a year range, his contract demands are out of their league. Add in concerns about Boozer’s injury history, and I don’t think the Pistons will make a play for him.

Instead, you can look for them to make a run at Ben Gordon, try to re-sign Antonio McDyess and find one or two other players they can sign for smaller salaries.

That stance in Detroit could put Boozer in a tough position. If he opts out of his contract with the Jazz, he’s going to struggle to find any team far enough under the cap to offer him what he wants. And with the Jazz interested in keeping Paul Millsap, Boozer could be out of luck in Utah, too.

Chad Ford contradicts himself in this piece. He says that the Pistons won’t be willing to pay Boozer’s asking price ($15-$16 million per season), but then says that the market won’t support what Boozer is asking for.

With $23 million in cap space, why can’t the Pistons sign both Boozer and Gordon? I bet Boozer ultimately signs for $12-$13 million per season, while I think Gordon will sign for something in the $8-$9 million range (which may be tough to swallow, since he turned down a contract worth $10 million per season from the Bulls).

Both players are flawed. Boozer is a great power forward, but he’s injury prone. Over the past five years he has only played in 67% of his team’s games. For that reason, he’s not worth a max contract, so I don’t expect him to get one this summer. Gordon is a great scorer, but his shot selection is suspect sometimes and he doesn’t have a reputation for being a good defender. Is he really worth $10-$11 million per season? I don’t think so.

If the Pistons play their cards right, they could sign both players (assuming they want both players) and then move Rip Hamilton to a contender looking for some good outside shooting.

In a smallish move yesterday, the Pistons agreed to trade Amir Johnson to the Bucks for Fabricio Oberto, who has a contract that is only partially guaranteed, potentially freeing up a little more cap space. Still, I don’t understand why the Pistons would give up on the 22 year-old Johnson when they clearly need to bolster their front line. If moving Johnson ultimately results in the signing of Boozer and Gordon, then it will have paid off.

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