Did the Grizzlies pick Randolph over Boozer?

If this story is true, it’s mind-boggling…

The hottest Carlos Boozer tale to blip onto the radar this week: Sources say Memphis had the option of trading for Boozer instead of Zach Randolph earlier this month.

Yet the Grizz decided, apparently with considerable input from coach Lionel Hollins, that Boozer would have been less than thrilled to play out the final season of his contract in Graceland, thus convincing them that Randolph — starting over for the third time — would be more productive.

As difficult as it remains for many league observers to digest the idea that Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley felt he could no longer afford Pau Gasol but now is willing to give the combustible Randolph some $33 million over the next two seasons, there’s little doubt that Randolph will feature hugely for the Grizz next season.

It’s not like Randolph is a guy who has been mired in a bad situation his entire career. He has been with three different teams and they all wanted to get rid of him. It’s unbelievable that the Grizzlies had a shot at Boozer and instead decided to go with Randolph, who isn’t half the player and has a far worse contract. The piece is correct — the Randolph trade makes the decision to get rid of Pau Gasol all the more insane.

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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.

Marc Stein with the latest on Odom, Boozer and Iverson

Okur re-ups

The Utah Jazz have locked up at least one of their big men.

The Utah Jazz and center Mehmet Okur have agreed in principle to a two-year contract extension worth just under $21 million, according to NBA front-office sources.

Okur could have been a free agent this summer but elected on June 30 to complete the final season on his current contract with the Jazz at $9 million.

Sources told ESPN.com that Okur and the Jazz have quickly reached terms to extend the contract by two more seasons at $20.8 million starting in 2010-11.

I pegged Okur’s value at about $8-$9 million per season, but like most of my estimates, I bought into the idea that teams were going to be more frugal this offseason. Okur is a 6’11” face up center who averaged 17.0 points and 7.7 rebounds this season. He also has terrific range for a big man, nailing almost 45% of his three point attempts. He’s not a factor on help defense, but with his girth he’s pretty good one-on-one in the post.

Paul Millsap is a restricted free agent, but hasn’t yet signed an offer sheet with another team. Carlos Boozer elected to play one more year in Utah, but there is talk that he may be headed to Chicago as part of a three-team trade involving Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas. If Utah pulls the trigger, they’d be building around a core of Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Thomas, Millsap and Okur. It doesn’t make much sense to keep both Boozer and Millsap around, as they are very similar players. It seems the Jazz feel that Millsap is the better value, but would like to get something in return for Boozer. Thomas wouldn’t represent equal value, but it’s tough to get equal value these days.

Boozer headed to Chicago?

There is a possible three-team trade brewing…

Sources stressed to ESPN.com that no deal was imminent Thursday and that both Portland and Utah are still evaluating multiple trade scenarios. But two sources with knowledge of the three-team proposal confirmed that there have been substantive talks regarding a trade that would land Boozer in Chicago, Hinrich in Portland and Tyrus Thomas in Utah.

A deal featuring those main components would deliver the elite low-post scorer that the Bulls have been chasing for years in Boozer and furnish Portland with a lead guard in Hinrich that the Blazers are known to rate highly as a potential backcourt mate for Brandon Roy. It’s possible that other players would be added to balance out the transaction from a salary-cap perspective if the three teams elect to take these talks further.

It’s not clear whom the Blazers would have to give up to land Hinrich, but they have cap space so they have some flexibility with regard to how the salaries match up. For the Bulls, this looks like a decent deal depending on whether or not anyone comes over with Boozer. Hinrich and Thomas for Boozer sounds about right.

The Jazz would like to move Boozer, but want to get something in return, and in this case that’s the up-and-coming Thomas. He’s more of a face up forward, so his game should compliment Paul Millsap’s pretty well.

As for the Blazers, they’ve long been rumored to be interested in Hinrich, who can initiate the offense and is a good enough shooter to create space for Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. More importantly, he’s a pesky defender that can cover the other team’s best guard, allowing Roy to get a breather on defense. The Blazers need a point but they don’t really want to go too young at the position. They need veteran leadership and Hinrich fits the bill.

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