Draft pick, Boozer to dominate offseason
As they head into the offseason, the Jazz can look ahead to a summer defined by the arrival of a lottery-pick rookie and the potential departure of Carlos Boozer as a free agent after six seasons in Utah.
The Jazz's best chance for an impact addition might come with the first-round pick they own from New York. The draft lottery will be held May 18, but if the draft order holds, the Jazz would be left with the No. 9 pick.
That would be the Jazz's highest draft pick since they selected Deron Williams with the No. 3 pick in 2005. Several promising big men are projected lottery picks, which could bolster the Jazz should Boozer leave and Mehmet Okur start next season injured.
As for their current roster, the Jazz have seven players under contract to return next season in Williams, Okur, Paul Millsap, Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles, Ronnie Price and Kosta Koufos. Those seven players are set to make $56.7 million for the 2010-11 season.
The NBA's latest projections call for next season's luxury-tax threshold to be set at $68 million. Assuming they end up with the No. 9 pick, the Jazz's newest rookie would be expected to make $2.4 million next season.
That would leave the Jazz about $9 million to spend in deciding about re-signing free agents Boozer, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver and Kyrylo Fesenko without pushing their payroll into luxury-tax territory for the second consecutive season.
How the Jazz could re-sign Boozer without trading Williams, Okur, Kirilenko or Millsap remains unclear. At the same time, the Jazz run the risk of watching Boozer sign elsewhere without getting anything in return for the former All-Star forward.
Boozer is expected to draw interest with several teams having cleared significant salary-cap space to sign free agents this summer. For their part, the Jazz matched a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to keep Boozer's backup in Millsap last summer.
Millsap has averaged 15.9 points and 9.9 rebounds in the 49 games he has started for his career, giving the Jazz reason to believe he could potentially replace Boozer.
The Jazz also could look to work with Boozer on a sign-and-trade deal that would bring them back players and/or draft picks while providing Boozer with a more lucrative contract. Such a deal, however, would add to the Jazz's payroll.
Matthews and Fesenko will be restricted free agents, assuming the Jazz tender each a qualifying offer, which would enable the Jazz to match any deal either signed with another team. The Jazz kept both Millsap and Miles that way in past summers.
Matthews is due a significant raise after making the NBA minimum $457,588 and starting 48 games this season. Korver, who will be an unrestricted free agent, expressed a strong desire to re-sign with the Jazz at the end of the regular season.
Wiliams will play for USA Basketball at this summer's FIBA world championships while Kirilenko will do likewise with the Russian national team.
Set to make $17.8 million next season, Kirilenko could be attractive to teams looking to clear future cap space given his enormous expiring contract.
Koufos will be closely watched during summer league as the Jazz try to evaluate his development. The team also could opt to bring back Sundiata Gaines and Othyus Jeffers, both of whom have non-guaranteed contracts to return in 2010-11.