Boozer to the Bench?

Carlos Boozer was expected to opt out of his Utah contract after last season. But with the economy in the dumper and most of the league either cap-strapped or planning to spend money next year, he decided to stay put for one more year.

The move made life much more difficult for Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor, who was already planning for life without Boozer. He was planning on re-signing restricted free agent Paul Millsap to take over Boozer's spot. When Portland made an offer to Millsap, O'Conner faced a tough decision -- match and tie up entirely too much money in guys who play the same position, or don't match, let Millsap go, and risk losing both players with no return?

O'Connor matched Portland's offer -- which means Utah will open the 2009-10 season with both Boozer and Millsap on the roster.

Theoretically, that makes Boozer the starter once again, and Millsap a guy who won't get starter's minutes unless/until Boozer gets traded. But why? Boozer clearly isn't part of the team's long-term plans... Millsap is. The only reason Boozer should get minutes ahead of Millsap is if a) he makes the team significantly better or b) he's being showcased for a trade.

I'm not at all convinced the Jazz are better off with Boozer on the floor -- and as for showcasing... c'mon. You showcase a guy like Eddy Curry, to prove he run up and down the court without an oxygen mask. Boozer is a known quantity at this stage of his career; the trade offers aren't going to get better or worse based on his November numbers.

So when Jerry Sloan opened Jazz camp by telling reporters he's not yet settled on a starter at the four, my response was, "Right on."

From a fantasy perspective, any de-emphasis of Boozer's role in the offense means an upgrade not only for Millsap's value, but for guys like Mehmet Okur and even Andrei Kirilenko.


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