Will the Jazz trade Carlos Boozer?

With regard to Carlos Boozer’s future in Utah, Johnny Ludden of Yahoo Sports writes that the Utah Jazz “are expected to explore trading him and devote their resources to keeping Paul Millsap.”

Boozer angered franchise officials and teammates alike early in the season, when he spoke openly of wanting to test his free agency this summer. It didn’t help that he made the comments while he was nursing a quadriceps injury that cost him more than half the season.

After Monday’s season-ending loss, Boozer now says he’d like to return to the Jazz, adding that he feels like “one of those cornerstone people who brought this team back to prominence.” In truth, the decision might not be entirely up to him. Even if Boozer doesn’t opt out of his contract, the Jazz are expected to explore trading him and devote their resources to keeping Paul Millsap.

As if the Jazz needed any more evidence of Millsap’s value, he helped lead Monday’s comeback while Boozer watched from the bench.

“We’re not getting that effort every night from everybody,” [Deron] Williams said, “and we’ve got to have that.”

I may be wrong, but this sounds like the general feeling of the writer more than the actual position of the club. The key phrase is that “the Jazz are expected,” which only means that some nebulous person or persons is of the opinion that Utah will explore trading Boozer in order to keep Millsap. It doesn’t mean that that’s what the franchise is planning to do.

This summer’s free agent market is going to be tough on the players, so even though Boozer has previously stated that he plans to opt out, he may ultimately decide to play out the final year of his contract in order to prove to teams that he can stay healthy. Other than the Jazz, there are five teams that have the cap space to make an offer of $10 million per season or more — the Pistons, the Hawks, the Grizzles, the Raptors and the Thunder. He’d certainly help make the Thunder a playoff team, and he’d be a good fit in Detroit with their current problems along the front line. The Grizzlies have the need, but may not be willing to make the commitment. The Hawks don’t really need a power forward, but the Raptors could certainly use him as a complement to Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon (and it might ultimately keep Bosh in Toronto).

In addition to Boozer, Mehmet Okur ($9.0 million) and Kyle Korver ($5.3 million) can each terminate their contracts early this summer, so the Jazz might have a very different face heading into the 2009-10 season. My guess is that Okur and Korver will play out their contracts since they are unlikely to find that kind of money in free agency. Boozer is set to make $12.3 million next season, so he’ll probably be looking for a deal averaging somewhere in the range of $13-$15 million. But with his history of injury, will anyone be willing to pony up?

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Is the NBA ’09 free agent class better than ’10?

When I saw the headline — “’09 free agents may be better than ’10 class” — I was ready to jump all over David Aldridge for saying that any free agent class could be better than the one that will likely feature LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire. But as I read the full article, he made some sense. I still don’t agree with him, but I see his point.

Here’s a look at the possible free agents in ’09:

Those with asterisks either have options for ’09 or can terminate existing contracts for ’09, and many are expected to do one or the other, for one reason or another:

Kobe Bryant*, Carlos Boozer, Shawn Marion, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Hedo Turkoglu*, Mehmet Okur*, Andre Miller, Mike Bibby, Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Kyle Korver*, Anderson Varejao*, Drew Gooden, Stephon Marbury, Grant Hill, Brandon Bass, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, Zaza Pachulia and Anthony Parker. Jermaine O’Neal could join the group if he walks away from $23 million next season. (Don’t hold your breath. There’s no asterisk by Boozer because he’s already said he’s opting out next summer.)

Aldridge has four major arguments:

1. 2010 is fool’s gold.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that unless seismic changes take place, James is either going to stay in Cleveland in 2010 or go to New York. Maybe Los Angeles. Wade will almost certainly choose between Miami, New York, L.A. and Chicago. Bosh will choose between the preceding cities and, perhaps, Detroit. And that’s it.

Without the Big Three on the market for most NBA cities, the ’10 class loses a good bit of its luster. That’s going to leave a lot of teams with max money to spend on mostly not-max players.

Read the rest after the jump...

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