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They're watching the playoffs from afar. But if you ask forward Trevor Booker, the Utah Jazz are on the cusp of a breakthrough.
"I think this program is going in the right direction," he said last week as the team parted ways for the summer. "I see huge things coming in the future, within the next couple of years. Definitely next year, I see the playoffs."
But does Booker see himself there, too?
The 6-foot-8 power forward will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, the only one from the Jazz's roster, and after spending the past two seasons in Utah, his future with the franchise is uncertain.
"I would definitely love to stay, but I know it's a business, so I'm not sure what's going to happen," Booker said. "I know other teams are interested, but I would definitely love to stay. But you never know."
In two seasons with the Jazz, Booker's toughness and energy off the bench made him a favorite among his coaches. His leadership made him a favorite in the locker room and it may have also helped groom his replacement.
Rookie forward Trey Lyles averaged 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17 minutes a game this season and, with his versatility, size and skill, he should be in line for an even bigger role during his sophomore campaign.
"He's going to be a special player, especially offensively," Booker said. "I don't know if I've ever seen a rookie just have the confidence he has and can score the ball as easily. I can easily see him being an All-Star one day."
Lyles' rise could spell the end Booker's run in Utah. Still, Lyles' defensive game lags behind his offense. And Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey credited Booker with helping the team move from the 12th-best defensive squad in the league a season ago to the seventh-best this season.
"He was excellent defensively from his mobility, his edge, his toughness," Lindsey said. "… I think Trevor, while he might have struggled a little bit offensively or with some of his finishes, he always was really good defensively and improved to a large measure."
But for all the intangibles Booker possessed, his game was still inconsistent, especially offensively. The springy forward wowed with his high-flying dunks, but he struggled with simple finishes at the basket early in the season. Booker averaged 5.9 points a game in his second season with the Jazz, down from 7.2. Meanwhile, his 3-point shooting, an area of emphasis for him last season, regressed this year, dropping from 34.5 percent to 29.3.
Two summers ago, Booker signed a two-year deal worth about $10 million and he would likely see a raise this summer given his play with the Jazz and the rising salary cap. The Jazz will have to weigh their options before deciding whether Booker is worth the money.
"We'll look forward to having a conversation with him," Lindsey said. "He'll have great options. He's a guy that quite a few teams inquired about and usually when that happens that means they're going to have a good market."
About Trevor Booker
Position • Power forward
Contract status • Unrestricted free agent
Height • 6-foot-8
Weight • 228 pounds
2015-16 averages • 5.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists