Utah Jazz: Many possibilities for potential Boozer trade

Published July 3, 2009 7:31 pm
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Should they explore a Carlos Boozer trade in the wake of the two-time All-Star forward's decision Tuesday to opt against free agency in favor of playing out the final year of his contract, the Jazz can expect to have several options.

A Boozer trade is expected in some circles if the Jazz re-sign restricted free agent Paul Millsap, to avoid a lame-duck season in which Boozer would be expected to leave afterward while Millsap possibly would have to continue to come off the bench.

To make it happen, though, the Jazz would have to find a team interested in adding a power forward in Boozer or a team trying to save on a long-term salary commitment and/or clear salary-cap space for the free-agent class of 2010.

Although Boozer would have value both as a player and as a $12.7 million expiring contract, a potential trade partner would have to accept the possibility that he could leave as a free agent after the upcoming season.

The Jazz, meanwhile, would have to decide about taking on salary commitments both this season and in future seasons in a potential trade.

Their payroll has climbed into luxury-tax territory at more than $73 million after last week's decisions by Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver not to opt for free agency.

That's without re-signing Millsap, who is expected to command a salary of between $5.5 million and $10 million. The NBA's tax threshold is expected to be set around $70 million, with the Jazz facing a dollar-for-dollar penalty for the amount they exceed it.

While they appear willing to pay the tax for one season, the Jazz must be cautious with an eye toward the 2010-11 season, when Andrei Kirilenko and Deron Williams will make nearly $33 million combined.

In any potential Boozer trade with a team over the salary cap, the Jazz would have to take back at least $10 million in salaries. They also could receive up to $3 million in cash not counted as part of the salary calculations.

Surveying the league, the Jazz appear to have several possibilities for a Boozer trade, the majority of which would have the added appeal of involving an Eastern Conference team.

Detroit » The Pistons could have signed Boozer outright with their free-agent money, but opted instead to spend on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

They still could use a post player alongside Villanueva (and Kwame Brown), while Richard Hamilton could be expendable with Gordon's arrival.

Hamilton averaged 18.3 points last season and has much to potentially offer the Jazz as both a shooter and a veteran with vast playoff experience from the Detroit teams that advanced to six consecutive Eastern Conference finals.

But Hamilton's contract is problematic, as he signed a three-year, $37.5 million extension just last summer. Hamilton is due to make $12.5 million each of the three seasons after this one (only $9 million is guaranteed in 2012-13) and turned 31 in February.

Chicago » Having to rely on Brad Miller, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas and Aaron Gray, the Bulls have a definite need in the frontcourt that Boozer would address.

The Jazz had interest in a sign-and-trade for Luol Deng last summer, before Deng agreed to a six-year, $71 million extension with the Bulls, but it is uncertain if Deng, Thomas or Kirk Hinrich would be valued by the Jazz in a potential trade.

Milwaukee » After watching Villanueva head to Detroit, the Bucks have a void along their frontline. They could offer the Jazz various expiring contracts as part of a Boozer package as well as possibly Michael Redd, who is owed $18.3 million this season.

New Jersey » The Nets have a hole to fill alongside Brook Lopez and could explore signing Boozer as a free agent next summer. In the meantime, New Jersey has little to potentially offer the Jazz beyond a package of expiring contracts.

Charlotte » A return to North Carolina might hold appeal for Boozer as a Duke product, as well as the prospect of playing alongside Emeka Okafor. The Bobcats' top players, however, are all locked into long-term contracts, including Gerald Wallace.

Sacramento » The Kings might present the best Western Conference option and offer a variety of possibilities, from Andres Nocioni to expiring contracts to maybe one of their young big men in Spencer Hawes or Jason Thompson.

Washington » The Wizards' payroll already is in excess of $75 million, so it is unlikely they would continue to add salary. With Antawn Jamison having signed a new contract last summer, Caron Butler probably is Washington's most attractive trade chip.

Cleveland » No way Boozer can return to Cleveland, right? The answer probably is yes, but the Cavaliers are making a championship push for LeBron James and could offer Zydrunas Ilgauskas as an expiring contract or Anderson Varejao in a sign-and-trade.

rsiler@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">rsiler@sltrib.com

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