Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor responded Monday to the perception in NBA circles that Utah is committed to trimming payroll and getting below the league's $69.92 million luxury-tax threshold by the Feb. 18 trade deadline.
"I don't think we would get under the tax at all costs," O'Connor said. After trading Eric Maynor and injured forward Matt Harpring to Oklahoma City last month, the Jazz still have $74.7 million in remaining full-season salary commitments.
The Jazz were able to save more than $10 million in salary and luxury-tax considerations after last month's trade, but they still project to pay $4.8 million in tax penalties at season's end.
"I think we've heard this luxury-tax stuff long enough," O'Connor said. "We're trying to win games and we're committed to trying to win games. We made a move that I think saved us a great deal of money and going forward we're going to try and win games."
The Jazz went into Monday out of playoff position and 10th in the Western Conference, though they trailed first-place Denver in the Northwest Division by just three games. "I think we're in a fight and that's where we want to be," O'Connor said.
At the same time, there is strong incentive for the Jazz to shed payroll and come in under the tax threshold. Teams that do so are projected to receive a $4.5 million share of the tax penalties paid by other teams.
The Jazz, however, are not inclined to trade a player with an expiring contract -- Carlos Boozer , for example -- for an undesirable player making less money this season but with additional years on his contract.
In addition, the Jazz do not seem inclined to trade the first-round draft pick they are due from New York even with the Knicks now in playoff contention. The Jazz value having young players on their roster signed to less expensive rookie contracts.
Miles, Price out
C.J. Miles went home sick from shootaround and missed Monday's game with a viral infection. Ronnie Price also was held out as he continues to battle tendinitis in his left shoulder.
Price said his shoulder felt better Monday than it did Saturday, but that he'd been advised rest was the best thing. The Jazz won't play again until Thursday, and Price plans to be in the lineup against Cleveland.
"I'm not planning on sitting out any more," Price said. "This will be my last game sitting out."