Utah Jazz: Boozer voices strong desire to stay in Utah
As decisive as he sounded in declaring himself one of the Jazz's "cornerstone" players after Monday's Game 5 loss to the Lakers, Carlos Boozer might have been even more emphatic Tuesday in stating that Utah remains in his future.
"I do want to stay here, I want to be in Utah, I want to play for the Jazz," Boozer said at EnergySolutions Arena as the Jazz met for a final time and cleaned out their lockers. "I made that loud and clear from Day 1 and we'll see what happens from here."
Boozer has until June 30 to decide about opting out of the final year of his contract, paying him $12.7 million. He spoke Tuesday about his belief that the Jazz are a championship-caliber team and that things in Utah are "comfortable" for him playing with the Jazz.
"I think everything starts with me and D-Will and I think everything goes down from there," Boozer said, adding, "I think we have a really good, talented team that can win a championship and it's just a matter of us sticking together and seeing what happens."
Asked if his first inclination were he to opt out would be re-signing a long term deal with the Jazz, Boozer answered, "Yes. Absolutely" and called it a great question.
Boozer missed 44 games and more than three months with an injured left knee that ultimately required surgery. He also filed for divorce last month in Miami. Asked about the intrigue of a fresh start, Boozer said that could come in Utah.
"A fresh start could be right here," Boozer said. "It doesn't have to be a new venue. Just for example with the playoffs, I felt like I had a fresh start to start the playoffs.
"I had to start my season over when the playoffs started and I felt great, obviously played well. Part of it was just getting past the knee surgery and getting past the knee problems and gaining strength and going on from there."
Boozer also was pressed about rumors that he is unhappy in Utah: "They didn't come from me. I can't control what other people say. All I can control is how I feel."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was asked where he saw Boozer fitting in and answered, "In a Jazz uniform. Always have," adding that Boozer was a player who could help the team win.
"He's indicated that or shown that whenever we've gotten in the playoffs and he's healthy and able to play," Sloan said.
The Jazz, meanwhile, were still dealing with the sting from their first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Lakers.
"We've kind of regressed the last couple years," Deron Williams said. "We went to the Western Conference finals, then the second round and now the first round and really didn't put up much of a fight. We've kind of taken a couple steps backwards, which is not good."