Farewell Boozer

ChicagoistHere’s a look at Carlos Boozer’s 2009-2010 numbers:

  • 19.5 PPG, 21st overall and 5th among PFs
  • 15.7 RPG, 5th overall and 3rd among PFs
  • 3.2 APG, 3rd best among PFs
  • If you look at PPG and RPG together, only Zack Randolf has better numbers as a PF
  • If you combine PPG, RPG and APG, there is no other PF in the NBA with better numbers.

Any other year, Boozer on the market would have made a bigger splash in the sports media. It makes sense that Chicago and Miami and New Jersey and half a dozen other teams would want him. The Jazz wanted him too. Kevin O’Connor identified Boozer as priority #1 as free agency began and was reported given the last opportunity to meet or beat Chicago’s offer.

The Jazz just weren’t willing (or able), to do so.

Chicago’s offer of 80 million dollars for five years was just too rich an offer for the Jazz to beat, or for Boozer to ignore. For what it’s worth, I got the impression that everyone walked away from this amicably, which is as good a way to end things as I could have hoped.

From the very beginning, Jazz fans had a rocky relationship with Boozer, starting with how he wound up in Utah. For those not familiar with this story, let me share this from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Despite an outstanding college career at Duke, Boozer slipped into the second round of the 2002 NBA draft. Cleveland took him with the 35th pick and gleefully watched as he emerged as a top-tier power forward.

After the 2003-04 season, however, Boozer wanted a raise.

To accommodate him, the Cavaliers agreed to release him from his contract, with an understanding that he would turn around and sign a six-year, $39 million deal with them, even though such a pre-arranged agreement was against NBA rules at the time.

No matter.

Boozer became a restricted free agent but, instead of returning to the Cavs, he ended up signing an unmatchable six-year, $68 million offer sheet with Utah.

The Cavaliers and their fans were incensed that Boozer had allegedly gone back on his word. But he denied ex-Cleveland owner Gordon Gund’s claim that he promised to return if allowed to become a free agent.

“… I’m not a guy that gives his word and takes in back,” Boozer said.

Gund disagreed.

Days after Boozer signed with the Jazz for $29 million more than the Cavs could have paid him, Gund wrote an open letter to Cleveland fans which said, in part, “In the final analysis, I decided to trust Carlos and show him the respect he asked for. He did not show that trust and respect in return.”

Regardless of what actually went down, this incident stuck in the heads of the hardcore fans, and Boozer was labeled as a business-first guy, more concerned with money than with winning a title. That initial impression wasn’t helped by the fact that Boozer missed more than 25% of his games to various injuries over his six years.

And before you point out that injuries are a fact of the NBA and that, in fact, the NBA IS a business; there’s something important you have to remember. Stockton and Malone played for 19 and 18 seasons respectively and missed a grand total of 32 games COMBINED.

For better or worse, Jazz fans expect their players to fight for every ball, stand up to every bully, and pick themselves up should they get thrown to the ground. Injuries shem-uries. (Yeah, that’s right, I just invented the word ‘shem-uries!’)

For all his talent (and the dude’s got it in abundance), for all his Duke developed skill, I think there were a lot of Jazz fans who were waiting for Boozer to turn into a LSU bruiser like Malone, and he just never really did. At least not consistently.

But don’t get me wrong. I always liked Boozer a little bit more than my fellow Jazz compatriots, and I’m going to be a little bit bummed when the Jazz fans boo Boozer when he returns to play some time next season – and believe me folks, they will.

I think Boozer is a good fit for Chicago, and if LeBron announces that he too will become a Bull, then Boozer suddenly becomes part of what I think would become the odds on favorite to win next year’s title.

Earlier tonight, I saw some tweets from the Salt Lake Tribune’s beat writer:

Just got e-mail back from Deron Williams about Boozer’s departure: “Happy for booz wish him the best in Chicago….”

“…we had a great 5 seasons while he was here! He made a business decision that was best for him and u have to respect that…”

“….Gives Paul a chance to play extended minutes and shine like he is capable of doing!”

Speaking of Paul, the Milsap era begins today in Utah. Once again, the Jazz faithful place their hopes in the arms of a Power Forward from LSU.

Let’s see what Sloan can do this time.

~ by djepperson on July 8, 2010.

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