on July 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Boozer, Okur stay with Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur are both staying with the Utah Jazz next season.

About two hours after Boozer let the Jazz know he decided against opting out of the final year of his contract — which he once said he intended to do — Okur joined him Tuesday night.

The moves keep the Jazz lineup intact, but at a hefty price, as Boozer is scheduled to make $12.7 million next season and Okur $9 million.

Boozer told an ESPN.com reporter in December that he was definitely going to opt out of his contract, but backed off his original statement and said when the season ended he wanted to consider all of his options.

He chose not to chance an iffy free agent market for more money and possibly a long-term deal.

“We are excited that Carlos has decided to remain with the Jazz,” general manager Kevin O’Connor said in a release. “We are hopeful he can continue to play at an All-Star level and will have an injury-free season.”

Boozer and Okur took until the final day to reach a decision, announcing their choice one day after Kyle Korver told the team he would be return for his guaranteed $5.2 million.

While relieved to have the three players back, O’Connor is looking at a huge payroll that also includes $16.2 million for forward Andrei Kirilenko — and could still get bigger.

Forward Paul Millsap is a restricted free agent who will draw interest in the next week, when teams can negotiate with players. The Jazz will have the right to match any other offers in order to keep him, but could easily top the luxury tax threshold if another team puts up a big contract.

When healthy, Boozer has been the Jazz’s top scorer and rebounder and helped lead Utah to three straight playoff appearances. He’s been an All-Star twice and was a member of last year’s U.S. Olympic gold medal team, but injuries have taken him out for large chunks of three of his five seasons in Utah.

Boozer has averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds since Utah signed him away from the Cleveland Cavaliers as a restricted free agent five years ago, but has only played in 276 of a possible 410 games with the Jazz. He was limited to 37 games last season, due largely to an injury that required surgery on his left knee in January.

Okur, who joined the Jazz as a free agent shortly after Boozer, has averaged 16 points and eight rebounds for Utah and is the team’s top 3-point shooter.

The Jazz struggled without him when he missed the first three games of the playoffs this spring with a hamstring injury, falling behind the Lakers and never recovering.

“He has clearly been an integral part of our success since his arrival and we are hopeful that he will continue to perform at such a high level in the future,” O’Connor said.

Millsap averaged 13.5 points last season, getting double-doubles in 19 straight games while starting for Boozer, and has career averages of 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds since the Jazz selected him with the No. 47 pick in the 2006 draft.