Carlos Boozer back with Jazz despite rumours of off-season trade

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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SALT LAKE CITY - Carlos Boozer says he's a little surprised to still be a member of the Utah Jazz.
He's not alone.
After a tumultuous summer of speculation - some by Boozer himself - that the Jazz were going to trade the two-time all-star and his hefty contract, Boozer reported with the rest of the team Friday for photos and interviews during Utah's media day.
"Management brought me back so I'm here in town," Boozer said. "I'm ready and looking forward to playing."
Actually, it wasn't management's decision. Boozer could have become a free agent by opting out of the final year of his contract, but with a weak economy he wasn't getting better offers than the US$12.7 million he was guaranteed from Utah.
So Boozer opted in, then said a few weeks later in interviews with media in Chicago and Miami that the Jazz had told him he wasn't part of their future plans and that he expected to be traded soon.
Boozer also claimed there was a mutual agreement between him and the team to work out a trade that benefited both sides. The Jazz declined to comment throughout the summer, saying only that as long as Boozer was under contract he was expected here once training camp begins.
Boozer didn't say anything publicly after the interviews in July until Friday, when he was swarmed by reporters at the Jazz practice facility. Boozer said he was only answering the questions he was asked about potential trades during the interviews, but acknowledged he may have said too much.
"Sometimes you put your foot in your mouth," he said.
A trade could still happen between now and the deadline in February if Utah wants to unload Boozer's salary, but for now the Jazz have a power forward who can average 20 points and 10 rebounds a night - and his next contract will depend largely on what he does this season.
Boozer's teammates didn't seem bothered by Boozer's off-season comments and the rumours that followed. They were, however, happy to see him in the gym to field the questions some of them have been asked for months.
"I told him to have fun today," swingman Kyle Korver said with a mischievous grin. "I don't have a problem at all with all this stuff. The comments he made were after he thought he was being traded."
Coach Jerry Sloan has said all along that he would love to keep Boozer, who has averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds in five seasons with the Jazz but has played in only 276 of a possible 410 games because of injuries.
Sloan, who is entering his 22nd season coaching the Jazz, noted that Karl Malone also had summer spats with the team over contracts and trade demands, but he was always welcomed back. And both Malone and the Jazz did just fine during his 18 seasons with the team.
"Carlos is a good player and we need good players to win," Sloan said. "You can read about teams that have played and been successful, somewhere along the line they had a disagreement."

Organizations: Utah Jazz

Geographic location: Utah, SALT LAKE CITY, Chicago Miami

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