Utah Jazz: Boozer to report; Harpring to sit out

GM doesn't believe Harpring will play, given his health issues.
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While they announced Wednesday that Matt Harpring will miss all of training camp, the preseason and the start of the regular season due to ankle and knee injuries, the Jazz will have Carlos Boozer on hand when they report to camp.

Despite a summer of tension with the organization, Boozer will report on time and be in attendance Friday when the Jazz host media day, The Tribune has learned. Boozer has not commented publicly on his situation in nearly two months.

Boozer and the Jazz have been at odds ever since the All-Star forward decided June 30 to play the final year of his contract at $12.7 million rather than opting for free agency.

Only weeks later, Boozer asserted in a series of radio interviews that he and the Jazz had mutually agreed to a trade and went so far as to name Chicago and Miami as preferred destinations.

Although he explored trade options, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor will bring back Boozer.

As for Harpring, the Jazz stopped short of declaring the veteran forward's career over, but Harpring will return home to Atlanta rather than stay in Utah and will be re-evaluated in six weeks.

"It's going to be entirely kind of up to him," O'Connor said of the possibility of Harpring playing this season. "I don't think it looks like it at this point, but at the same time I don't want to say it's not. He's such a competitor, part of him still wants to play."

Harpring has struggled to overcome the effects of a post-surgical ankle infection last summer. He has undergone more than a dozen ankle surgeries and two microfracture knee surgeries in his 11-year NBA career.

It will be the third consecutive year in which Harpring has missed the entire preseason due to injuries. Harpring voiced concern about his ankle and knee in July, with O'Connor saying of his progress since: "I think it's probably in the same spot."

With Harpring on a rest protocol instead of a rehab protocol, the Jazz allowed him to return to Atlanta, partially out of acknowledgment of his contributions over the years.

"I think he knows our system, he knows what we're doing," O'Connor said. "We didn't want him out there shooting and playing and running around. We want to get to the point where he can get out there and decide if he can go or not."

Harpring's $6.5 million salary is fully guaranteed for this season and the Jazz would see no salary cap/luxury tax relief were he unable to play, as the NBA requires a one-year waiting period following retirement in such cases.

The Jazz should be able to recover the majority of Harpring's salary from insurance if he misses at least half the season.

By keeping him on the roster, Harpring gives the Jazz a 13th player under contract as the NBA requires. He also could prove an attractive trade chip with an expiring contract.

At the same time, the Jazz face the prospect of opening the season with only 12 available players. For years, though, the Jazz carried just 12 players, leaving O'Connor largely unconcerned.

"If everyone stays healthy, we'll be fine," he said.

Briefly » Karl Malone's stepfather, Ed Turner, died Tuesday of natural causes, the family announced. Turner married Malone's mother, Shirley, when Malone was 8 and helped run the general store in their hometown of Summerfield, La. No age was given for Turner. Services are pending.